To a warrior, life without honor is worse than death. A warrior who acts with dishonor on the battlefield will be ostracized by fellow warriors and many times bring disgrace upon his family for generations. A warrior will fight to the death because it is an honorable thing to do. Jeremy Borda joined the Navy as an underage seaman and, through hard work, dedication, and perseverance, became an admiral and the Chief of Naval Operations (the highest position in the Navy) in the early 1990s. He started a service-wide program for suicide prevention. Throughout his career, he earned a multitude of military decorations and medals. In 1995, after hearing that a reporter was to interview him in the afternoon about one ribbon he was wearing that his critics said he was not authorized to wear, Admiral Borda went home for lunch, went to his back yard, sat on a bench, and killed himself with a firearm. Later investigation showed that the error in wearing the medal was not his fault. Even though his death served no useful purpose, it did show the spirit of a true warrior who chose death over dishonor.
A true martial artist will have a warrior spirit. A warrior may live as a family man, loved in his community, and respected by all, but, when the need arises, a warrior will be able to fight to the death for his family, country, and honor.
For a Taekwondo practitioner, or any other martial artist, to be effective in a real-life fight, he or she needs to have the ability to fight (either a physical ability or a weapon) and be physiologically prepared to fight. Taekwondo techniques themselves are not dangerous if they are kept under control. Being physiologically prepared to fight to the death is not dangerous if it is controlled. However, when the two are combined under the right circumstances, Taekwondo is a highly effective “realistic” martial art, as would be practically any other martial art.
Therefore, no martial art is “realistic” because of its techniques. A martial art becomes realistic when it trains its practitioners to possess a warrior spirit and shows them how to keep the warrior spirit separate from the techniques of war until the time for battle. Without the warrior spirit, a martial art is merely a sport.
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