The romance for warfare made the life of an Aztec warrior. Remembered in history as an embodiment in courage and esteem, they formed the backbone of the empire of the Aztecs. The Aztecs were a Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Indians of central Mexico in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. Their capital was Tenochtitlan overlooking Lake Texcoco. Today’s Mexico City is built on the ruins of Tenochtitlan.
Like most ancient people, the art of war was a part of their everyday life and the martial arts were obviously their primary preoccupation of the people of the empire. Most of the young had to learn the customs of the art of war from early childhood. The custom was that right after birth the umbilical cord of a boy was cut off, dried, and then buried on a battlefield, implying that he would live the life of a warrior forever. Though a life full of hardships, the military career was highly revered in their society.
Most young Aztecs joined the military services at the age of 17. Most of the Aztecs were eagle and the jaguar soldiers. Their special military attire demarcated these elite warriors. The jaguars wore jaguar skins and animal headed helmets. The eagles wore feathered helmets with a gaping beak. Only those soldiers who were exceptional in combat could form this elite military group.
Aztecs who were soldiers had uniforms adorned with paintings and patterns and had war motifs created with feathers and leather. Most soldiers also adorned tattoo art. The weapons that the Aztecs used were spears made of wood, with obsidian edged blade, and a wooden maquahuitl (war club), which was about 76cm (30in) long. The maquahuitl had grooved sides set with sharp obsidian blades. Warriors also carried stabbing javelins and round shields with feather fringes. The Aztecs had woolen slings to shoot stones at their enemies and also used Flint and obsidian knives.
In fact, new rulers could reign only if they had military prowess to add more territory to the empire and capturing prisoners for ritual sacrifice. One important custom for every warrior is the sacred sacrifice of prisoners to their Gods.
The Aztecs also trained young boys in the calmecacs. They took their students to the battlefield to train them on how to take a prisoner. A boy was deemed a man only after he got his first prisoner.
These indomitable warriors made the Aztecs the most dreaded of all the Indians in Mexico. In fact, the glory of their empire and the throne resided in the hands of the Aztec warrior.