Since entering the Taekwondo dojang at age 10, I realized I had a battle lust. There’s something energizing and uplifting about facing a challenger one-on-one, mental or physical, making use of physicality and energy, and the only reliance I have includes my will, instincts and skills. It’s almost euphoric and that’s how I left sparring sessions, whether I won or lost. The point was to step off the mat more evolved than before.

Continuous training made me realize there was an asset that martial practice conferred and I believe other rigorous activities do the same: an education in warrior’s spirit.

Unlike the old days where people walked around with swords on their backs and outwardly acknowledged the potential for a fight, we’re less lethally combative and rightfully so. But we also tend to have physicality pent up, unused, unexpressed, withheld.

And if we know from science that energy isn’t destroyed and only changes form, that unexpressed energy we have to be vigorous doesn’t just go away. It’s used in more self-destructive channels.

This means we need to find ways to use it properly, to cultivate a warrior’s spirit because our society needs more of it, an education in personal warrior-ship.

When our fighting energy is healthy, we:

  1. Are willing to stand up for our beliefs. We also have the energy to share our beliefs and be open to receive disagreements. We can handle when someone criticizes or outright puts them down. Confidence in our beliefs remain.
  1. Learn to say no and establish personal boundaries. It becomes tiresome to “yes” everyone’s request and instead there’s an ownership of personal time and how it’s invested. You gain a stronger set of boundaries and others know how far they can push you.
  1. Feel ready and willing to take on obstacles in front of our goals. Obstacles become friends. And why wouldn’t they? It’s not the goal that refines us; it’s all of the turbulence we experience on our way to the goal that does.
  1. See disastrous events as opportunities to become stronger. Chaos and destruction are prerequisites to creation. This principle exists in all of nature from the violent earthquakes reshaping the earth to our tendency to scratch out one idea to design another in a notebook.
  1. Are humble enough to learn from more advanced “warriors,” to learn their ways. When we see a skilled warrior, we’re aware enough to know we can learn something from that person. We become inspired to “learn her path.”
  1. Refuse to settle for inaction for our misfortunes. The warrior’s energy is rooted in activity, so it can’t just sit and wait and watch. Action creates ripple effects in our environment, so when we move, others move, life moves.
  1. Learn to think strategically about our choices. The first kingdom is the personal environment and we are the leaders of our lives. We must do things to consciously grow our lands (emotional, physical, spiritual).
  1. Maintain a general emotional hardiness (grit) that can help us persist over long time periods to achieve something. Since we understand point 3, there’s no need to feel like quitting when a goal takes a long time. And since we embody point 4, we’re ready for the mischief to reveal itself so it can be overcome.
  1. Appreciate what we fought for that much more. Since we embody points 3, 4 and 8, the feeling of reaching the goal is more joyous.
  1. The above and more.
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