The school motto of the Hwarangdo West L.A. Academy written on the scroll right on the side of the entrance. It is there, not for decoration, but to remind us why we train. If you just read it and simply think that the goal is to train to be so tough that we can beat up a thousand people, then you have missed its meaning. It is much deeper than what the four characters states. Allow me to give you a fresh look into this simple yet complex statement.
The image of a single horsed warrior on one side of the battlefield. On the other, an army of a thousand horsed warriors. The lone warrior releases his battle cry and charges towards the army. The army also cries out and charges forward. Both warrior and army race to meet each other in the center of the battlefield. Like an arrow, the lone warrior pierces through the army front wall, right into the center of the army. A symphony of metal clashes and battle cries fill the air. One by one, soldier after soldier collapses to the ground as the lone warrior methodically and relentlessly lays waste the army. At the end of the epic battle, only the single horsed warrior remains, battered, bloody and bruised; only slain bodies lay in his wake.
Did he conquer them? Is this victory?
First let me discuss the single horsed warrior; There are three parts to this figure; the person, the weapon and the horse. The person has thoroughly trained, mind, body and spirit to be sharp and battle ready. He is skilled in both hand to hand combat and with weapons. His weapons, both bow and blade, require an additional amount of skill that extends from the warrior to weapon. Lastly, there is the horse, which is his connection to nature. Horses, as are other animals, are barometers of both your emotions and energy. They can sense fear and anxiety in a person immediately. The warrior’s resolute spirit is well received by the horse and the horse is ready to ride into battle with the warrior.
Now, in this decree, this lone horsed warrior will conquer a thousand other horsed warriors. An army of warriors that are just as skilled, focused and balanced as he/she is. How is this possible? The army is a thousand times stronger; a thousand times faster, and they have a thousand more weapons. Is this a suicide mission? Is he a martyr? No. The key lays in what it actually means to “conquer”.
The definition of the word conquer means to gain control of or subdue, often by military force. It also means to overcome or surmount mentally or emotionally. It even means to gain the affection or admiration of.
Now, with this understanding let us look at our scenario again. An image of a single horsed warrior on one side of the battlefield; on the other, an army of a thousand horsed warriors. The lone warrior releases his battle cry and charges towards the army. The army also cries out and charges forward. Both warrior and army race to meet each other in the center of the battlefield. Like an arrow, the lone warrior pierces through the army front wall, right into the center. A symphony of metal clashes and battle cries fill the air. One by one, soldier after soldier, after seeing not only his skills as a fighter and his determination as a warrior, but seeing his heart and his passion, they turn from fighting against this lone warrior to fighting along side of him. At the end of the epic battle, the horsed warrior stands battered, bloody and bruised, with a thousand horsed warriors behind him, ready to follow him where ever he goes. Only captured hearts in his wake. This is victory.
He does this by using not only the skills he fights with, but the passion and compassion he fights with and for. It is not his physical strength that overpowers them, nor his intelligence to out think them; but it is the fire in his heart that engulfs them. It is not the body or the mind that is conquered, but their hearts.
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