War was an important part of the Aztec life. In war, the Aztecs tried to capture their opponents alive, so they could be sacrificed to one of the Aztec gods. Before being sacrificed, many captives were kept alive for a year, and were well treated. A death in war, or in sacrifice, was an honorable death.

All Aztec young men were trained for war. They were educated in schools according to their neighborhood.

When they were ready, they were sent along with a more experienced warrior to learn his ways. Next a young man would try to capture a warrior with other young men. If he succeeded, he was raised in status which was noted by a change in hairstyle. Next he would try to capture an enemy alone. If he did not succeed after a few attempts, or was seen to be cowardly, he would be dishonored for life.

Successful warriors were given many honors. Their success was measured by how many enemies they captured, as well as the status of the enemies. Successful warriors were given land. They were allowed to wear beautiful clothes. They might advance in social rank. All warriors however also had other occupations so they were not considered professional soldiers.

How did they conduct a war? An Aztec warrior carried a large club, flat on the side, with sharp blades made of stone around the edges. To capture an enemy, he would try to hit him with the flat side of the club to knock him down or daze him. Then he would try to wrestle the enemy down and grab him by the hair.

They regularly waged war on their neighbors, in battles known as the flowery wars or blossom wars. The main purpose was to obtain men to sacrifice to their gods. They had other purposes too--to gain land to feed their growing population. Another aim must have been to keep order among their subjects by training fine (and frightening) warriors. These wars took place during certain seasons.

It is estimated that the Aztecs usually sacrificed about 30,000 people a year.

Weapons: Not only did they use their studded clubs, they also used bows and arrows (although they mostly used the bow and arrow to fish). Their armor was made of padded cotton. When the Spanish came, they wore captured Aztec armor because it was more useful than their own, but the Spanish never were able to recreate it.