The True Martial Artist Must be a True Warrior by Shihan Bohdi Sanders, Ph.D.

What Makes a True Warrior or Martial ArtistsThe True Martial Artist
Must be a True Warrior

Shihan Bohdi Sanders, Ph.D.

I am not a warrior because I know how to handle
myself in a fight. I am a warrior because I discipline
myself to behave correctly in every situation.
Bohdi Sanders

In today’s martial arts world, it appears that the vast majority of “martial artists” believe that they are training simply to learn how to handle themselves in a fight. They almost appear as if they are obsessed with fighting, but give little time to any of the other aspects of true martial arts. This is wrong thinking.

If you want to be a true martial artist, there has to be much more to you than the fact that you have been trained how to fight. Furthermore, if that is your ultimate objective, you may not even be achieving it, as the majority of martial arts dojos today are teaching sports applications or very watered down fighting techniques which are meant for the dojo only. Neither of these common training programs actually train you to truly know how to handle yourself in a real, life-or-death situation.

These types of dojos are fun and exciting for the martial artists, but they are just that – a fun and exciting hobby. They are not meant to train you to handle an experienced street fighter, who is big, bad, covered with scars from previous fights, and ripped to the max. And if the average instructor leads you to think that you are prepared for such an encounter, he is putting you in a very dangerous situation.

Fighting is not fun and exciting; it is dangerous, dirty business. You must realize that sparing, tournament competition, and matches are all sports. They have rules, referees, and sometimes, even sportsmanship. But they are not fights. A fight is serious business where the ultimate objective is to destroy your attacker’s body to such a point that he cannot continue to be a threat to you or those around you. There are no fancy techniques or cool looking spins, just down and dirty destruction.

The true martial artist, the man or woman who is training because they live the warrior lifestyle, instead of simply visiting the dojo a couple of days a week, knows the difference between “playing” and fighting. He or she knows this because they have been trained by an instructor who is a real martial artist who lives the warrior lifestyle. He isn’t in it just for business, money, or fame. He is there because it is his life and he feels the desire to share it with others who would like to walk the same path.

This kind of martial arts instructor is more than a coach; he is a teacher, a mentor, a friend, and if you continue long enough, a brother in the warrior lifestyle. He will not only teach you how to fight, but how to defend yourself against any attack, and how to walk away from the pettiness and the idiocy of the world. He teaches those who are patient and willing, how to live the warrior lifestyle.

Warriors are not warriors simply because they know how to fight. You can train dogs and roosters to fight, but that doesn’t make them warriors. Warriors discipline themselves to behave correctly in every situation. They are just as comfortable in a tuxedo at some ritzy function, as they are on the mat. They are just as much at home meditating in a Japanese garden as they are meeting a friend in a seedy bar. They are real. There is no pretense in their life. They are who they are, period; and they are the way they are because they disciplined themselves and made a decision to live their life by the code of the warrior.

The difference, you see, is that the true martial artist, the warrior, trains for life. His training is not segregated from his life; it is an integral piece of his life. He trains himself to respond correctly in all walks of life, not just in the dojo or in a physical confrontation. He is a man (or woman) that seeks excellence in every area of his life. His life is not compartmentalized, but rather, his life is a holistic life where he balances every component of his life. He combines each part of his life into one, disciplined whole which is molded to his code. This is the warrior lifestyle.

It is not the fighting skills that make a warrior, although that is definitely a part of the warrior’s skill set. It is the fact that he takes his whole life seriously. He doesn’t just discipline himself in the dojo, but in every area of his life. He strives to reach perfection of character in all aspects of his life – spirit, mind and body. He expects nothing, but rather responds to everything. The warrior lifestyle is his life; it is not something where he dresses up for a couple of days a week in traditional Asian garb, works out for a couple of hours, and then forgets about it until next time

The true martial artist strives hard to integrate his martial arts into every area of his life. To many, this sounds strange. They wonder how you integrate fighting skills into every area of your life. They are confused because they do not have the correct grasp of what the martial arts truly are.

True martial arts are a way of life – the way of the warrior. Taught correctly, they are valuable in every aspect of your life because the teachings of the way apply to life in general, not just to the dojo. Miyamoto Musashi, the great Japanese swordsman, stated, “The truth is that strength lies in the interior of the warrior; in his heart, his mind, and his spirit…One must make the warrior walk his every day walk.” The elite instructor will teach you how to live, not just how to fight, and that is one of the things which is missing in today’s society.

People need to be taught how to live and conduct themselves with character, honor, integrity, courage, and respect. People need to be taught the wisdom and philosophy that lead to a happy, well-balanced life – spiritually, mentally, and physically. Disciplining yourself to live this kind of lifestyle, the warrior lifestyle, is what makes a warrior, not fighting. You must learn how to respond correctly in every situation of life, and then you are on your way to being a true warrior.

Bohdi Sanders
author of the #1 Bestsellers,
and the new book, BUSHIDO: The Way of the Warrior.
All of Dr. Sanders’ books can be found on
Amazon and on his website,

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