What is Areti?

What is Areti?


Aρετi, the Greek word for which means wanted, liked, sought after, as virtue is something desired by everyone. From the word aρετi comes the word aριστος, which means perfect/excellent, and this explains why everyone seeks it; virtue makes excellence.


Virtue can be described in many ways for it is different for many things. The virtue of a knife i.e. is to be sharp. Likewise the virtue of a horse is to be fast. Humans though have different virtues, because they are required to have different roles in life and society.

Plato describes virtue in his work Meno, as “a gift from the divine grace” (Meno, XLII, B,8). Aristotle on the other hand describes it in the

Nicomachean Ethics, as an energy towards good. In a way they were both speaking of the same thing; Plato being more concerned with the

Metaphysical, after death, aspects of virtue, while Aristotle being more

Practical (from the word πρακτὸν which means done-able to be done), in other words more interested on earthly things.

In any sense though, virtue is a whole made of different parts that rest in the soul of an individual and as being part of the soul, it is immortal. As the ancient and Medieval Greek philosophers (Pythagoras, Epictetus, St. Basil the Great, St. Photios etc.) noted, “virtue is the only thing that belongs to you forever”.


According to the ancient Greek viewpoint, a man is composed of three parts: mind, body and soul. The soul itself is also composed of three parts: the logical (thinking), the emotional (feeling) and the desiring. The logical part of the soul should be the governing part of both the soul and the body.

Virtue as a whole is made up of different good qualities in all three parts of the soul. Generally speaking (giving more emphasis on the earthly part from Aristotle’s De Virtutibus et Vitiis), the qualities are as follow:

Physical Areti

  1. Strength
  2. Speed
  3. Power
  4. Coordination
  5. 5Flexibility
  6. Timing
  7. Precision/Accuracy
  8. Endurance
  9. Agility
  10. Balance
  1. Strength

Strength refers to the effort that can be exerted with a single maximal muscle contraction. Strength is developed by specialized weight training and exercises to support the particular strategy.


Speed comprises the following elements: awareness, reflexive action, hand and foot speed. Economy of motion and relaxed muscles enhance speed.  Wasted movements, overall tension, and unnecessary muscular contractions reduce speed and dissipate energy.

Speed in hitting refers to how fast a blow covers distance to get to its target. It includes sudden initiation (non telegraphing & non intention) and maximum acceleration up to the moment of impact. Regardless of distance, the final phase of striking should be the fastest.  

Speed is instantaneous. Any deliberation in movements is definitely detrimental to speed potential. Speed development drills include the use of the platform bag, double-end bag, focus gloves, and various sparring activities.


Power is the combination of strength and speed. It implies the ability to develop fast, explosive movements against resistance. Power is dependent on leverage and positioning of the body in such a way that it drives the supports the strike/attack.  It is not the product of mere arm or leg strength alone.   Power is enforced by tensing the working muscles at the moment of impact and not a second before. 

It is essential that the various muscle groups and tendons involved in the movement are kept loose and relaxed prior to contact. 

If the muscles are already tense, they cannot be further contracted when impact is made. Tensing either too early or too late diminishes hitting force. A powerful blow is a penetrating one.  It goes “through” the target, not just to it.  The idea is to focus past the target several inches utilizing the mind and body as one projection of force.

  1. Coordination

Coordination refers to the synchronized interaction between the body’s nervous system and muscular systems. This function is important for producing skillful movement. 

The well-coordinated fighter performs his techniques smoothly and gracefully. He makes purposeful actions with a minimum effort and maximum speed and power. Efficient movement is a matter of training the nervous system to send impulses to certain muscles, causing them to contract while halting impulses to the antagonistic muscles simultaneously, allowing them to relax.

 Properly coordinated impulses surge with the exact intensity required to attain the skill.  By forming proper connections to the nervous system through constant practice, the more familiar we become with the action.  Greater familiarity results in a higher level of skill.

  1. Flexibility

Flexibility is the range of possible motion in the joint or series of joints. Flexibility is developed through proper stretching exercises and contributes to better athletic performance while decreasing the risk of injury, such as muscle strains and pulls. It is beneficial to precede flexibility exercises with endurance training.  Flexibility has been proven to improve when there is an elevation in the internal temperature of the body, which results from endurance training.

  1. Timing

Timing is the sudden reaction to a stimulus. It includes the ability to realize the right moment for executing an action. Timing is best exemplified by a movement that is initiated without obvious preparation and proceeds smoothly without deliberation so that it succeeds in hitting the opponent before he is alerted and has a chance to defend.  The exact moment of launching an offensive must be seized instinctively.  For example, a blow should be made when the opponent’s concentration is misdirected or when he is deceived out of position.

  1. Precision (Accuracy)

Accuracy is the quality of landing precise blows on an intended target. No matter how potentially destructive a blow or kick is, it is ineffective if it does not land on the mark. Precision is made up of controlled body movements.  These movements should eventually be executed with a minimum amount of strength and exertion, while still achieving the desired result.  Precision can only be attained through a considerable amount of practice and training.

  1. Endurance

Endurance is the capability of the body and mind to resist fatigue while performing a prolonged, relatively strenuous activity.

There are two types of endurance (although they are ultimately linked): muscular and cardiovascular. Muscular endurance is the quality of the muscles to remain strong and in a constant state of relaxation over extended periods. Cardiovascular endurance (stamina) is the quality of the heart, lungs and circulatory system to function effectively for prolonged intervals.

  1. Agility

Agility is the ability to quickly and nimbly change the direction of the movement of the body. In combat, an agile fighter is one who can continually frustrate the offensives attempted by his opponent.

  1. Balance

Balance refers to the control of one’s center of gravity during moving, attacking and defending. Proper balance is necessary in the execution of sound technique in attack. Balance must be studied in motion, not from a rigid, immobile posture.  Good balance is important for follow-up movements. 

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