The Heart of a Warrior
October 5, 1998 · 11:00pm EST · Posted by D. Murphy
Fujiyama Dojo
P.O. Box 20003
Thorold, ON, Canada
L2V 5B3
(905) 680-6389
What images come to mind when you hear the phrase "heart of a warrior"? Perhaps you think of a samurai in full armor, ready to do battle for his liege lord. Perhaps you think of some brave soldier from one of this century's many wars or some long-dead knight with his lance and his mace. These images are certainly genuine images of different types of warriors, but what about a warrior's heart?

It would be easy to memorize the characteristics that should be embodied in a true warrior - loyalty, dedication, strength of body and character, humility, selflessness, and others. But it is difficult sometimes to define clearly what these traits are, and how they should be expressed in our modern society, without compromising their true application to ourselves as modern-day, peacetime warriors. We are not permitted by law to walk around carrying a samurai's two swords, even if we have spent our lives earning the right to do so. We cannot devote ourselves to practice unendingly, if we also have to earn our bread, unless we are fortunate enough to have independent means, or are able to earn enough from teaching martial arts, which in itself probably necessitates some compromise of ideals. So how do we recognize, and create in ourselves, a warrior's heart? The truth is, the path to gain a warrior's heart is not made up of hours of training and proficiency with the sword alone. It is much more than that, but takes just as much practice.

Tanomo Saigo said, "When choosing someone to learn the arts of war, choose the one who loves peace the most."

And therein lies the key. I know a man, now in his senior years, who embodies the ideals of a warrior. He volunteered for service when war broke out in 1942, and fought bravely in World War 11 and in Korea, winning many medals and commendations. He served in Israel with the UN Peacekeeping Force in the 70's, retiring shortly after. He was a family man, supporting his English war bride and eight children with just a soldier's pay. He instilled in each of his children a sense of responsibility for their own actions, a willingness to help others, the strength of character to be their own person no matter what others thought, and respect for authority. He also taught them appreciation for beauty, humility and passed on his own keen sense of humor.

After retirement, he moved to a small town, and immediately took up many civic causes, including bringing better quality water to the town, and starting the town's first library. He never let anybody push him around, but stood up for what he knew was right, and what he knew was good for the community as a whole, even if it meant stepping on a few toes to get results. Eventually he became mayor, and during his many years' incumbency, he achieved very high goals for his town, cleaning up and improving parks, overseeing road improvements, expanding the library, etc. He taught his children that some "battles" are worth fighting, even if they take months or years to win. He taught them perseverance. And even when he was at his busiest, he was never too busy to drop what he was doing and give one of the old widows in town a ride to the doctor's, or drop off some food or clothing with a struggling young family. One time after a church rummage sale, he gathered up all the left over clothing, shoes, baby things, and a whole lot of his own vegetables and took them to a disadvantaged native community, hours from his home. He never told anyone, and I only found out about it by accident.

In spite of his municipal responsibilities, which he enjoyed immensely, his first love was, and still is, his garden. He moves a little slower now, and can't kneel in the dirt for as long as he once did, but he still spends hours and hours every day in his enormous vegetable garden. Every year he grows such a bounty of produce that he can freely give it away to any who ask, even strangers. Nothing makes him happier than, on hearing of some family that needs some help, immediately gathering up anything he can lay his hands on and bringing it over, often leaving it anonymously so as not to embarrass the recipients.

The part of this man's life that made the greatest impression on me was that he never did anything out of weakness, but always out of strength and courage. He always knew what to do and how to get it done, and he never let foot-draggers and naysayers get in the way of achieving his goal. He took charge, and leadership came naturally to him. Most people recognized instinctively that this was a man who knew what he was doing, and he was very good at getting others to give their best for a common goal.

Here you see a picture of a strong man, physically and mentally; a born leader, a true warrior. But a warrior needs his or her gentler side, too, or no balance can be achieved. This man never practiced martial arts in his life, and has no idea what bushido is yet he practices it every day of his life. He is a soldier, but also a gardener. He is civic leader, but also a gentle daddy who loved to spend time with his children when they were small, and even more so now that they are all grown with children of their own. He was a hunter, every fall bagging a moose or deer that fed his family for the whole year until the next fall's hunt, but he was also a humanitarian, doing good deeds for people he didn't even know. He is an avid gardener, laboring long hours to grow bushels of vegetables, but also taking the time to grow flowers all around the house and in the garden, just because they are pretty. At one time, he had a huge set of moose antlers in the hallway of his home, but he was confident enough of his own masculinity to learn how to braid his little girl's hair when his wife was unable to go on their summer holidays with the family one year. He could command companies of soldiers with confidence and authority, and then come home and play with his children.

He is a man, a real man. He is a warrior, with the heart of a warrior. He is my father.


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