In the nineties I taught under the banner of Warrior Arts. It was a great name that wasn’t in use at the time, at least not to my knowledge. I dropped the name after a conversation with my aikido teacher, who told me: We are not warriors. A warrior is a military person. Someone specially trained in warfare. These days the only ones that qualify for this bill are military personnel with actual battlefield experience, the elite of these being Special Forces.
This isn’t to say that our practice has no merit, but perhaps “civilian arts” would be a more appropriate title for what we do. We use our arts for expression, physique, sport, and self defense. As civilians, we don’t use our arts on any battlefield. Despite dropping the name “Warrior Arts,” I’ve since reinstated the name as homage to our practice but not to be taken literally. We are not warriors—save for those who have been in military combat—although we train in their ways. In doing so, we take on many of their attributes in order to be successful. When I train, I am fully prepared to die on the training floor. This is not an abandonment of safety; rather, it’s a commitment to the process that was laid down before us by the warriors of old. In fact, not being a battlefield warrior, the perfect death for me would be taking the best fall I’ve ever taken while in the dojo.
Warrior focus is a quality that can be learned through studying the warrior ways. It is not necessarily inherent to all students who train. Maintaining a mindset throughout your learning develops warrior focus. Focus and stay in the moment. Don’t let your outside life defeat you with your current training goals, and more specifically, the exercise at hand. Whether you are giving or receiving technique, your level of presence and intensity needs to remain consistent. They are two parts of the same whole. This is the beginning of how to find and practice warrior focus.
The preceding is a excerpt from Full Circle: Lessons Learned on the Martial Path written by Alessandro Ashanti. Available on Amazon.com