What does it mean to have a strong fighting spirit and is this something that can be developed or rediscovered? Fighting techniques and skills are easy to describe but what do we mean by spirit? How has this fighting spirit been both lost and distorted in both humans and animals.
What is spirit?
Spirit is a persons vitality or life force and may be seen in their posture, attentiveness to their environment or a shine in their eye. Spirit can be expressed in ferocious fighting or in a speedy departure and is more about an instant and correct response to a situation than to pride or ego.
The fox fleeing the hounds may give a masterly performance of agility speed stamina and cunning. There is nothing cowardly in his hasty retreat but more a statement of how good it is just to be alive. Life is always worth fighting for and every day is a gift.
Fighting spirit and Dogged determination.
Fighting spirit is not blind aggression or having a short temper, nor is it a suicidal attack against impossible odds because you are ordered to do so. If your defending yourself with vigour and determination even when defeat is certain then you are displaying fighting spirit. Fighting spirit is that will to live that goes beyond our normal physical limitations.
Sometimes in a martial arts tournament it is the victor who is filled with respect for the vanquished. You may technically win due to greater skill or just having a longer reach but if the other guy has a very determined attitude you might be glad that it was ant a real fight!
Lightning quick response time,without a mistake.
To have fighting spirit is to feel when a relaxed environment starts to become tense and becoming more alert and ready to take any appropriate action at the right time. One person will smell approaching rain, notice the lighting change and put a coat on. Another person, either momentarily distracted or permanently living in la la land, gets soaked to the skin and wonders at the suddenness of it all! In a more dramatic way the true survivor, very in touch with their environment, is able to respond correctly to any threat.
The animal world.
The martial arts of Asia are said to have sprung from the observation of animals and the natural world. European warriors would go into battles with shields crests and banners bearing the images of wild boars wolves and lions to name but a few. Two of the main Red Indian chiefs at the battle of the Little Big Horn were called Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. The fighting spirit of animals has long been respected admired and mimicked by the warriors of all cultures.
Domesticated verses wild.
When humans domesticated animals they modified them to serve there own ends and to fit into the world of man. The last thing a horse wants is a large meat eating predator such as a human getting on it’s back. With persistent training a horse will allow a human to ride it without becoming stressed in any way. The awesome flight of a mountain goat from the jaws of a snow leopard over rocky terrain is a million miles away from it’s dulled down domesticated cousin the sheep.
In order to live in over crowded cities we humans have been modified and have lost some of our instincts and spirit in order to fit in to the modern world.
Our ancestors with only themselves and their extended families for help in times of need survived perfectly well for thousands of years. How many of us could survive alone or even in a group without modern comforts and conveniences? The sharp independent spirit and survival instincts of our forebears are for most people a thing of the past.
Martial arts training speeds up dull reflexes corrects lazy posture and teaches us to stay calm and calculating under pressure. Many many hours of martial arts practice may well go some way to restoring this lost fighting vigour.
Breeding condition and the opposite sex.
As well as an essential attribute in staying safe,fighting spirit plays a vital role in getting a mate and having young. The expression being in breeding condition is a term used by the owners of semi wild or feral ponies. After the harsh test of a hungry winter the ponies have proved their ability to survive natures toughest time. The next battle is to regain peak fitness in time for the breeding season.With food once again plentiful the race is on to gain weight energy and a gloss on their summer coat. Stallions will battle in order to win the females and upon seeing a rival are full of fighting spirit. Alert proud and quite magnificent, a projection of power might be enough to see off rivals when the stallion is in his prime.
The castrated or gelded pony is a more mellow fellow better suited to the needs of humans. The instinct to fight and to mate is still there but has lost much of its passionate fury.
The weaker sex.
Many a Dad is mortified to see his little girl ready for a Saturday night out and dressed to kill. The skirt is too short and the heels too high, a signal to every male that she is in breeding condition. Every detail of make up and hair is designed to exaggerate physical features and project spirit.
This same spirit can become fighting spirit in a second in the female defending her young. It is for good reason that it is often said that the most dangerous animal in the jungle is a tigress with cubs. Any farmer will testify that a cow with a calf is more dangerous than a bull.
The female of the species is more deadly than the male. Poem by Kipling.
Fighting spirit distorted.
Young people with little life experience can be corrupted, there natural instincts exaggerated and distorted by people who understand them far better than they understand themselves. The need to belong to a family group and the instinct to protect and fight for that group can be used for evil ends. Young men, especially from broken homes are particularly vulnerable to the sense of belonging that gang culture offers. They may violently destroy the lives of strangers that offered no threat to them just to be in the band of brothers. To please some father figure they may carry out deeds that will shame them in later life.
If the gang that they join is a military regiment they may meet their end on foreign soil. A young life taken as they helped to destroy a people who resented their presence within their own land as they themselves would resent a thief in their own mothers house.
A free spirit has true fighting spirit.
The essential life force of any creature will fight to stay alive, to protect its young and other clan members. This protective spirit is particularly strong in males. An enraged male will chase off rivals from a water supply food source or the females of the group but will rarely kill another male of the same species.
True fighting spirit is the mark of the true individual. This person is very aware of his personal space and is instantly indignant at the least threat to his freedom. Family and friends can be assured of protective back up when it is called for but needless violence is not on the cards!