“Moderation in Action, Thought, or Feeling.” That is the definition of this often over looked virtue.
I often pose this question to my students. “Out of the virtues of chivalry, i.e.. Fidelity, Justice, Courtesy, Honor, Prowess, Humility, Strength, Courage, and Honesty, which can stand alone?”
You may draw your own conclusion, but for the sake of brevity I will confide to you that the answer is Prowess. The simple contention is that it is entirely possible to be a great fighter and a terrible knight. While all the other virtues require and even sometimes demand support from one another, prowess can stand alone. Not for good or bad, but alone.
I was contemplating the implications this has on the concept of “being” a knight when I remembered an essay I had written on a mostly overlooked virtue. Temperance in all things as a path to being a truly great knight and martial artist.
The body of the idea is thus. I feel the greatest achievement of any martial artist is to have the ability to destroy, break, even kill without the need to do so. The absolute life long pursuit of an art form that has the primary objective of hurting or killing another human, and all the while finding the awareness of self and hope in the beauty of restraint.
The martial artist has the ability to break an arm, but through Temperance, only holds the arm in discomfort to their opponent so they submit. The martial artist can render unconscious or even kill their opponent with a strike of any number of weapons, but chooses to use their barring or attitude, even better, their ability to communicate with respect rather than damage someone.
Uncle Ben was right, “With great power comes great responsibility.” And that indication of Temperance still resonates today.
So work hard and rest when you need to. Fight hard and recover when you are injured. Train perfectly, train religiously, train vigorously, train HARD!… and be Knightly.
There are many martial arts around the world. Many from the Asian traditions have been passed down in one form or another for centuries.
It has often been a source of both honor and pride to be the "disciple" of So and So, or the descendant of Grand Master Such and Such.
In the western martial arts, the fighting style to which I have devoted my whole life has undergone drastic change due to the ideal of how duels were satisfied, personal honor and the ever changing style of warfare. I refer to it as style for reasons I will address at another time.
The idea of a person codifying a martial art remains with me, whispers to me as I wrestle with not only language and reference barriers but also the implications of creating a tradition of thought and movement. I wonder if those in the past had the same deep feeling of pride, purpose, determination and terror. All thrown into the prevailing notion that there will never be enough time and it will never be finished. But with every breathe you take thinking and working to make sure it survives the author.
"What we do in life, echoes in eternity"....
So practice you footwork every day, understand the Rule of Measure, work on the pell with both hands, and most important, train hard and be Knightly...