Most of us have experienced this early in life. Often, during our college years, we want to make a difference in the world and accomplish something great to enhance humanity. Then life catches up to us, and we become stuck in our routines, living from one paycheck to another, always trying to make a little more money so we can enjoy a little more vacation, a little more freedom. We become stressed and pressured by life as we marry, have children, gain more responsibilities, and we begin to lose sight of our “why”—the purpose that drove us to do great things in our youth.That is the way for us. It is not an easy path, a road paved in gold, but a path of hardship, self-doubt, harsh criticism, trials and tribulation. In order to persist on this path, one must develop strength of mind, body and spirit—the strength of a warrior. Strength does not mean the absence of weakness, nor does courage mean the absence of fear. True strength comes from those in the most vulnerable and weak situations in life, and true courage comes to those in the direst of circumstances. The value of all things comes from how much sacrifice was made to attain them. One must constantly choose to adhere to or veer from his chosen path, not based on whether a given action or path is easy but whether it is true and righteous. As we practice the techniques to injure, maim and even kill, we more clearly understand the fragility of life and gain a renewed appreciation for it. This duality—understanding peace through violence—is a vital part of hwa rang do and is important in our daily practice; we must know the consequences of a technique and the pain it causes in order to appreciate its value. These concepts of duality are often difficult for the Western mind to accept. The occidental worldview is founded on the idea of absolutes and strives to make everything completely “good.” For us, the Hwarang, a full existence and a life of strength is based on knowing and understanding all aspects of ourselves—the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the strong and the weak—while always striving for what is honorable and right, not by hiding or denying our weaknesses but by confronting and
50HWA RANG DOovercoming them. This is the warrior’s path.As warriors, we must live our lives every day by embracing death and, in the same way, endeavor to succeed by embracing the possibility of failure. As warriors, we must seek to do what is right for the sake of righteousness, not for the reward. This brings a profound appreciation for the value of our lives.NEW CATEGORIZATION OF MARTIAL ARTSBased on these principles of the warrior’s path, I propose a new catego-rization and definition for the term “martial art” and its related terms:Martial Sport—Learning fighting skills primarily for competitive pur-poses and/or fitness.