“Not even a god will defend un-warlike men.”
The Way Of The Warrior, and authentic warrior culture in general has all but disappeared from the developed world.
As traditional cultures began to disappear, along with them disappeared any traces of organic rites of passage.
The disintegration of the nuclear family after the 1960’s, and the baby boomer’s rejection of anything resembling warrior culture, self-sacrifice or duty in favor of hedonism left a gap in the developmental process of the next several generations – the repercussions of which we’re witnessing today.
But – they themselves often benefitted from that which they either were not willing or were not able to pass on to the next generation.
The Warrior Model
Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II. My maternal grandfather in North Africa and Europe, and my paternal grandfather was written about in the New York Times upon his induction into the army – the doctors proclaiming him “the most physically fit man in the US Armed services.”
That fitness and toughness had been hard won on the streets during his youth.
As a child of immigrants from the Ukraine, he lost his mother at an early age to disease, and his father to suicide.
He was a teenager during the great depression, and like his father and grandfather and great-grandfather back in Eastern Europe – they raised hogs on a small plot in New Jersey.
During the Great Depression, his older brother had a garbage truck, and they collected trash from the upscale restaurants in New York City and drove back to New Jersey, in order to feed the trash to the hogs.
He was forged during those years – during which he and his brothers had to brutally fight other families who were also scavenging for premium garbage.
During the war he was a non-commissioned officer and had been a combatives instructor.
After coming home, although he was to never finish high school himself, he was able to put all 5 of his children through University.
He worked random menial jobs throughout his life.
When I was growing up, he was in his 60’s, but was a monster of a man – an expert in physical fitness decades before it became popular, running marathons, entering bodybuilding competitions well into old age, etc.
From my father I learned how to box. We had a weight bench made out of car-tire jacks and a heavy bag in the basement. Before I learned to box, I had already learned to shoot.
My grandfather taught me combatives, in the same way that he had taught my father and the rest of his sons.
Take out soft tissue…
Impose crippling joint locks…
Be merciless and unrelenting in the face of certain defeat…
Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was to benefit tremendously later in life from growing up around real men.
When my grandfather finally passed away, I was in my late teens and like most guys my age who grew up in the post-industrial blight of the Midwest – already in trouble with the law.
I never got to attend his funeral.
I was told by one of my uncles that after the services, one of his old construction crew co-workers came up and told him a story about his father carrying “more” wood…
Having experienced war, the Great Depression, and poverty – he wanted more for his own children, and never stopped struggling to provide it for them.
He knew that when lay-offs came, as they always would – that he had to be the last man to go. 5 hungry mouths at home and an adamantium sense of duty would never let him do otherwise.
He didn’t have an ounce of fear in his heart…
He never backed down from anyone in his life…
He saved multiple people’s lives as a civilian – even into his old age while others hid or looked the other way…
And all of that was indicative of his warrior spirit, but none of that alone is the case-closing evidence.
His former co-worker recounted his memory to my uncle that day when they met at the funeral:
“Your dad always carried more wood.”
“When we were working, everyone else would just do what needed to be done, or just enough to get by, but when we were working, your dad always carried double, TRIPLE the amount of wood that anyone else did. He always worked harder than anyone else – for the same pay.”
That single word is the singular definition of The Way Of The Warrior:
This book, and all future training on warriorship, martial arts, or physical culture is dedicated to his memory, and the inspiration that he continues to provide to me to be more. To go further. To be better.
Testimonial From POW’s
A TESTIMONIAL TO
Lt. M. Ccemenuk
We, the Russian prisoners of war, have experienced all of the horrors of this war, and have felt upon ourselves, beatings with sticks a system used when we were prisoners of the Germans where thousands of our brothers have perished from execution and starvation. The rest of the survivors the bloodless fascists trying to show their extreme cruelty, by using their rifle power, threw us on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, for the sole purpose of using our bodies as barricades. But they miscalculated!
We Russians, saturated with a deep hate toward these barbarians, have tried in many ways to jump our wire fences, in groups and individually to join the American section. Many of our companions have fallen, having received a bullet in the back.
Now we are in America, we see the constant good care we receive from the American government.
In you, Sir Lt. we see a representative of the American command.
We people, during this war, have forgotten how it felt to have someone care about us. We see how you do your best to take care of us. We see how you do your best to take care of our material and moral needs. Our hardened and sad hearts know how to differentiate the good and bad.
We all, as one, from the bottom of our soul, thank you for your fatherly care, and wish you all the best in your life. Being here with you, with your job, we will lighten your load. We wish you luck and health.
From the Russian prisoners of war. Company Commander
M. Olokvin – A. Vosnek – V. T. Lapin
The Post-Modern Warrior
“To seek perfection of the warrior’s spirit is the only task worthy of our manhood.”
– Carlos Castaneda
In “The Philosophy Of History”, Schlegel said that Chivalry is the poetry of life.
My own generation, and the generations which followed have lost touch with that essence of reality.
Young men aren’t trained to be warriors. In fact, the vast majority are never placed in any sort of rite of passage into manhood and adulthood at all.
Instead, they have been programmed and lied to by the baby-boom generation – many of which grew up isolated from the reality of violence in middle class suburban life (ironically provided by their warrior-worker fathers) to believe that the state should own a monopoly interest in violence, that “good” men never fight, that “every fight begins with the second punch”, and that they should avoid and shun not only physical confrontation, but exceptionalism, competition and winning at anyone else’s expense.
This is the way to be a “good man” in the post-modern world that young men find themselves in.
But people are slowly beginning to wake up…
Now many years old – the pop-cult film hit “fight club” resonated deeply with my generation of men – “a generation of men raised by women”, and – there is a growing swell of both men and women rejecting both the loutish ignorance of wanton violence and the politics of pacifism, deference and Fire-external level “sharing and caring”.
The post-modern warrior dialectic is beginning to emerge…
“Truthfully, in this age those with intellect have no courage and those with some modicum of physical courage have no intellect. If things are to alter during the next fifty years then we must re-embrace Byron’s ideal: the cultured thug.”
– Jonathan Bowden
The Way Of The Warrior recognizes that warriorship, and physical power are an integral component of personal development, and that when left un-developed, leaves man un-whole.
As I have stated elsewhere – there is a reason that monks and monastics in all spiritual traditions must be provided with the requisites of life – food, clothing and shelter.
We only have to look at Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to see the foundation upon which all subsequent development is predicated.
I teach a 4 element model, which is loosely based on Leary and Wilson’s developmental model:
That model is a simplification of the Clare Graves model, and it’s a modified Clare Graves model that I use to teach The Four Elements at deeper levels.
Until you have worked out your bio-survival ability – you can never make true or real progress towards higher levels of personal consciousness or social development.
Unless and until we move towards a post-modern warriorship, Western culture is doomed to implode under the weight of itself.
So long as Atlas is consumed by materialism and petty self-interest – the world will continue to fall.
“The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he didn’t exist…”
– Verbal Kent
Competition and violence exist as realities of human society.
In this world, those who rise to the challenge – in their own self-interest, the interest of their families, and the interest of their communities and who do so consciously unified win.
Those who fail to face the reality of a world that requires warriors, or who only embrace petty thuggery and violence lose.
Lose their freedom…
Lose their lives…
Lose access to autonomy, opportunity and choice…
The good news is that you can have the best of both worlds without riding any fences.
You can be both a warrior, and a sage, and – even a man of peace.
But you must develop your own warrior-nature…
Once developed, it can be incorporated into your existence and transcended towards higher levels of development, but neglecting that nature will prevent you from feeling any sense of security – which is a pre-requisite for peace without surrender, will destroy your self-confidence, and leaving any gaps in your development at the Earth element level will retard your social, intellectual and post-personal development.
But – you can do it.
Developing your warrior-nature and abilities isn’t so difficult that it can’t be done, and it doesn’t take decades or even years to accomplish great enough gains that every other area of your life will improve.
Think about it – it’s the most natural thing in the world to do.
Nothing else in nature other than man believes that it needs an instruction manual, a book of rules or law to fulfill it’s own highest and best purpose.
And the truth is, neither do you.
It’s only a matter of a little elbow grease, and rejecting the useless middle-class baby boomer programming that most people were born into and have never examined from the outside before.
You can be a warrior…
You can be a good and a great person…
You can begin turning the rest of the rest of your life around, right now…
Thuggery – Failed, Unfulfilling Warriorship
A Four Elements Model Of Warriorship
“Given enough time, any man may master the physical. With enough knowledge, any man may become wise. It is the true warrior who can master both….and surpass the result.”
– Tien T’ai
I’ve spent the majority of my adult life in Asia.
Since the time I first came here, I began trying to rebuild myself – literally from the “ground-up”.
What that means is that all development has to start from the Earth quadrant – physical or bio-survival ability.
The 4 elements model represents all aspects of the human psycho-physical complex, and all of the ways in which it can interact, from:
- Earth: Internal-Personal
- Water: External-Group
- Fire: Internal-Group
- Air: External-Personal
All progress in personal development begins from the Earth quadrant, or – Bio-survival ability.
In the model of consciousness which I teach, each element has 2 facets – an internal and an external.
The Earth-internal level is pure survival instinct – and is not aware of any duality or distinction between self and other or self and not self.
At the external level, the Earth quadrant of consciousness manifests itself as tribalism, and it’s from this tribalism that real warriorship emerges.
If you’ve watched the video on the evolution of consciousness already at earthwaterfireair.com, you’ll probably already have begun developing some notion of how warriorship works at different levels.
Generally, in each of the four quadrants or four elements of development, the “warrior” emerges in the external side of the level.
So, to give you a quick breakdown of how that plays out, we’ll talk about warriorship at each of those external levels:
Earth-External Warrior: This is warriorship focused on the safety and protection of the small, immediate family group and small clannish communities, and self-sacrifice for those small groups. It emerges out of basic hunter-gatherer groups and is:
- Traditional and ritualistic
At this level of warriorship the warrior has a basic level of group awareness, attributes events in life to supernatural causes, has a great fear of and belief in magical forces and strictly adheres to and follows the will of the shaman and tribal leaders.
At the upper ends of the Earth-external level, the warrior faces a transformational dilemma when he realizes that sacrificing for the tribe gets him less than using his strength and taking for himself.
At this point he moves to the water internal level of consciousness.
Water External Warrior: This is the first level where social rules, laws and norms emerge. Consequential thinking and the ability to control emotional impulses also develops at this level, along with guilt – to enforce compliance with group norms. The Water-external warrior is:
- Obedient as higher authority and rules direct
- Driven by guilt
The Water-External warrior offers his life I sacrifice to obtain later for the group and the law/Dhamma/absolute truth.
He encounters a transitional dilemma at the upper edges of this level when he realizes that rules, regulations and black/white thinking restricts his success in a grey world, and makes the jump to Fire-Internal.
Fire-External Warrior: If you’ve seen the movie “The Men Who Stare At Goats”, or have looked at the Earth Army of Jim Channon – it is the exact archetype of the Fire-external warrior.
This level of warriorship is characterized by thinking that is:
- Respondent to human needs
The warrior at this level develops the ability to take on multiple perspectives and there is an emphasis on “caring and sharing” and allowing everyone to be heard.
The Fire-External warrior faces a transformational dilemma at the upper end of this level when he realizes that egalitarianism alone doesn’t solve serious social and ecological/systemic problems.
The Air-External Warrior: At this level of warriorship, the warrior has developed the ability for complex systems thinking and global actualization.
The highest priority has become global survival and the warrior realizes that the breakdown of space-time dimensions requires global solutions, and that it may be necessary to sacrifice entire groups of people for planetary survival and deep ecological or systemic balance.
The Air-External warrior is characterized by:
- A holistic approach
- Experiential reasoning
- Collaborative work
It’s only within the scope of this book to address warriorship at the Earth/Water/Fire external levels, and most of the source material that I’ll draw from will be from the Water-External level of consciousness.
If you’re interested in warriorship at higher levels – that will require real face-time and mastermind membership.
The development Of The Way Of The Warrior
I began developing this post-modern, Four Elements model of the warrior in order to rebuild myself from the ground up.
I have used this Four Elements model for my own personal development through each quadrant of power, and it works very well with The Way Of The Warrior.
In brief, the Four Elements model for The Way Of The Warrior is:
Earth – Warrior skills
Water – Warrior ethics
Fire – Warrior mindsets
Air – The way of peace
These horizontal levels are constant throughout each of the vertical levels.
Warrior skills represent the core physical competencies necessary for the survival of the individual and the group.
Warrior ethics, as we have already seen are an integral part of The Way Of The Warrior because warriorship has its roots in the group and loyalty and preservation of the group.
Warrior mindsets are the core inner-game strategies necessary for survival and long-term victory for the Warrior.
Finally, The Way Of Peace is the highest expression of Earth-External power, wherein the warrior approaches a transformational dilemma that forces the realization that the survival of the group is contingent upon the long term survival, prosperity and sustainability of other groups, as well.
Each of our developmental training categories –
- The Way Of The Warrior
- The Way Of The Leader
- The Way Of Strategy
- The Way Of The Sage
not only corresponds to each of The Four Elements, but each element also contains each of The Four Elements.
Truly strong people look for ways to become exactly who they want to be, and they don’t compromise in that effort.
You can be who you want to be, and you can develop yourself to your own highest and best potential.
It begins with The Way Of The Warrior.
“The boys of my people began very young to learn the ways of men, and no one taught us; we just learned by doing what we saw, and we were warriors at a time when boys now are like girls.”
– Black Elk
Obstacles On The Way
There will always be a temptation among most people to swing to either pole of The Earth Element of selfish thuggery or abstraction and inaction.
“Without Knowledge, Skill cannot be focused. Without Skill, Strength cannot be brought to bear and without Strength, Knowledge may not be applied.”
– Alexander the Great’s Chief Physician
People who are only interested in violence for violence sake, or “winning” fights run a dangerous risk of never developing past the Earth element or the bio-survival circuitry.
In The Way Of The Warrior, we’ll assume that this isn’t the case for you, and that your interest lies in using your body as a vehicle to understand and develop yourself, and that you understand that there are times when it’s either necessary or expedient to fight and win. As Mencius said:
“I dislike death, however, there are some things I dislike more than death. Therefore, there are times when I will not avoid danger.”
Even more dangerous and far more likely than low-brow thuggery is the real most common pitfall facing people interested in developing their warrior nature from an intellectual or cultural perspective.
“If you do not train in technique, but only fill your breast with principle, your body and your hands will not function. Training in technique, if put into terms of your own martial art, is in the training that if practiced over and over again makes the five body postures one.”
Similarly, Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Don’t Explain Your Philosophy – Embody It
A philosophy of life should be lived.
A warrior must actively train and refine his warrior skills, ethics and mindset, and must embody the very nature of a warrior in each of the 4 quadrants of his life.
That’s one of the reasons why the Four Elements framework for The Way Of The Warrior is so powerful –
Because it’s simple…
Because it’s easy to implement…
Because it results in cumulative gains in all four quadrants…
By integrating all 4 elements of warriorship, you change not only your life, but the way in which you move.
The way you move through life can be seen in the way you move through space…
By working with how you move through space, you can change how you move through life.
The more of yourself you bring to each moment, the deeper and more far-reaching are the results.
This is the true meaning of The Way Of The Warrior.
Framework 1: Warrior Skills
“I hope that martial artists are more interested in the root of martial arts and not the different decorative branches, flowers, or leaves. It is futile to argue as to which leaf, which design of branches, or which attractive flower you like; When you understand the root, you understand all it’s blossoming.”
Choosing A Martial Path
“Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
I’m often asked – “What’s the best martial art to train?”.
The simple answer is that you have to evaluate your own physical and emotional assets and the types of physical confrontation or danger which you’re most likely to find yourself in.
I highly recommend not building your skills around any type of dogmatic core.
It’s ok to train in specific styles in order to extract what’s most useful from within the style, but you shouldn’t be constrained by styles themselves.
What often separates true martial masters from the martial “laity” is an ability and a willingness to be different and unique, according to their own anatomy, temperament and the needs of the situation at hand.
It’s generally accepted that when learning any new skill, we go through a developmental process of:
- Unconscious incompetence
- Conscious incompetence
- Conscious competence
- Unconscious competence
At the first stage of unconscious incompetence you’re ignorant about what you don’t yet know.
At conscious incompetence you begin realizing just how little you know and where the holes in your knowledge or skills are.
By the time you hit conscious competence, you’re already pretty skilled, but it requires constant thought and mental vigilance in order to execute upon your skill.
Finally, with enough training and practice you reach the level of unconscious competence – where you move to the highest leverage point and peak performance in every situation “on auto-pilot”.
Earth. Water. Fire. Air.
“One must transcend techniques so that the art becomes an artless art, growing out of the unconscious.”
In order to avoid getting locked into dogmatic technique or theory, The Way Of The Warrior is to focus on:
- Warrior Strength
- Warrior Speed
- Warrior Skills
The Way Of The Warrior is focused upon life, but you should always keep in mind that people die just as often and just as easily by violence now as they did at any time in the past.
Let that sink in deeply…
Keep in mind that defeat in real combat leads to death, and you’ll not only train more effectively but you’ll live more fully, as well.
When developing your warrior skills, rather than blindly and dogmatically following any system, you need to focus on:
- Training for muscular strength
- Conditioning your aerobic capacity
- Developing flexibility
- Mastering the core competencies of fighting in each range
After you become proficient in the basic range of skills (wrestling, parrying, striking, evasion – Also following our Four Elements model) you need to focus on your cardio conditioning.
In any situation where you’re more or less equally matched in terms of size and skill, victory always goes to the person who doesn’t gas out first.
As your training in each of the Four Elements of fighting plateaus, always return to intense periods of endurance conditioning and you’ll eventually break through those plateaus.
“Most beginning athletes are unwilling to drive themselves hard enough. They should punish themselves and then rest adequately – only to increase the output of effort after the rest. Long hours of work made up of many short, high-speed efforts interspersed with periods of milder activity seem to be the best endurance training procedure.”
Habitualize Daily Training
“It is no easy thing for a principle to become a man’s own unless each day he maintains it and works it out in his life.”
Focus On Simplicity In Training
You want to avoid over-training and focusing on an excess of technique, which leads to cognitive overload.
The truth is that we have a limited amount of both short and long term memory. It’s been said that the average person’s short-term memory can only hold on to seven chunks of information – and much, much less when you’re under adrenal stress from feeling threatened.
Until you get to a very high level of meditative development, your limbic system will always respond in certain ways to external threats.
Because you can only rely on a small amount of information or technique in a real crisis situation, you should focus 80% of your training efforts on the 20% of simple, core techniques that actually win fights and which can be programmed into permanent muscle memory the most easily.
There are generally only 4 types of punches: uppercuts, crosses, jabs and hooks. Again, following our four elements model.
There’s only 1 really effective way to block or parry, and that’s from the outside.
There are maybe 3 or 4 types of leg strikes that the average person can execute in normal clothing under duress.
Rather than focusing on an overwhelming amount of technique, focus on habitualized, daily training of simple movements, physical conditioning, realistic training, and emotional control.
Train For Conflict
You want to train in a way that’s as realistic as possible, in order to further develop a warrior’s spirit.
When facing an opponent, you need to be able to handle them with composure.
If the opponent is greedy, you should be able to bait him with small benefits or feinted openings.
Learn how to recognize chaotic, undisciplined states and induce them in opponents. When your opponents mind is in chaos – attack him.
When facing a stronger opponent, try to reduce their strength or wear them down systematically.
Developing these kinds of abilities which can be executed at the level of unconscious competence requires sparring, and it requires as realistic of an environment and situation as possible.
One caveat on sparring though – if you’re practicing striking or joint manipulation – you need to be training with someone who knows what they’re doing.
If you’ve ever run into a warrior faker – you’ve heard the ultimate faker’s warning: “I try to avoid fighting because my skills are so deadly and I’m afraid I might lose control and kill or maim someone…”
The truth is that any person who has a truly high level of martial skill can control someone who doesn’t like a rag doll.
Find a good teacher with good senior students who are focused and emotionally balanced to spar with, and to the extent that you’re able, reduce the risk of serious injury – especially head trauma.
I would also highly recommend studying anatomy, but the reasons why that would be useful seem so self-evident that I won’t talk about it at any length here.
Train In Strategy
“I studied morning and evening searching for the principle, and came to realize The Way Of Strategy when I was fifty. Since then I have lived without following any particular Way. Thus it is with the virtue of strategy that I practice many arts and abilities – all things with no teacher.”
Strategy in general is both a simple and deep topic, and if you are interested in learning strategy at the Master level, you should study The Way Of Strategy where I teach it at length, and if you would like a PhD. level understanding I highly recommend picking up my multimedia training program – The Lost Arts Of War.
Planning your actions and reactions for confrontational or martial situations you could face can me a daunting thing.
Strategic planning is much easier if you break it down into it’s core constituent elements (which also follows our Four Elements model – strange, that…).
The most basic model of strategy is:
- Identify your strategic objectives
- Collect intelligence
- Plan for the environment
- Program for engagement
“Single-mindedness is all powerful”
Once you’ve mastered strategic thinking, and are able to think strategically under duress and adrenal strain, you want to focus all of your efforts on your strategic objectives and the leverage points or tactics to achieve those strategic objectives.
Read Your Opponent
“See first with your mind, then with your eyes, and finally with your body.”
– Yagyu Munenori
“The maintenance of proper fighting distance has a decisive effect on the outcome of the fight – acquire the habit!”
– Bruce Lee
Use Rhythm And Timing
“There is timing in everything… You in in battles with the timing in the Void, born of the timing of cunning by knowing the enemies timing and thus using a timing which the enemy does not expect.”
– Miyamoto Musashi
Avoid, Evade And Intercept
“If the opponent is ready to challenge – When equally matched we can do battle. When fewer in number be ready to evade them. When unequal to the match be ready to avoid them.”
– Sun Tzu
Knowing When To Stop Fighting
“Those who know the Way must first take into account the failure of not knowing where to stop. They reject the idea that aggressive action will necessarily have success. If you seek battle at the drop of the hat, your opponent will then be still, calculating. If you go ahead your opponent has secured victory.
Therefore The Art Of Warfare dictates that if you follow enemies in pursuit, attacking them on sight and their leaders do not seem willing to put up a fight, you are losing to their strategy.”
– Wei Liao Zi
Framework 2: Warrior Ethics
“Chivalry is itself the poetry of life.”
As mentioned earlier, The Way Of The Warrior emerges out of protecting the interest of ever-widening concentric circles of affinity up the developmental model.
All warrior ethics flow from this: courage, selflessness, love of and loyalty to comrades, patience, self-control, the will to endure adversity – it all comes from the Earth Element External hunting band’s need to survive.
Applying the 4 Quadrants/4 Elements Model To Ethics And Morality
“The sword and the good should go hand in hand.”
– Masasaki Hatsumi
We can also use our Four Elements model when talking about what’s right/not right, ok or not ok to do, and in order to help us clarify our own objectives and more rationally make our decisions.
Morality in general, and ethics more specifically – are a mess.
They don’t translate cross culturally, and they never function well as universal constants through vertical levels of development.
For example – growing up as a child in a working class family, and then living on the streets (not couch surfing with a neighbor – but literally being a feral urban kid sleeping outside in big cities and scrounging and scheming for my food) and then becoming completely independent, international and not location/employment centered as an adult, and always being a “foreigner” and being outside of the consensus reality left me with a very different moral view than most people’s.
So – How can we use our 4 Quadrants/4 Elements model to think more rationally about morality and ethics, and in a way that is less culturally conditioned?
“Martial arts without martial virtue are useless for the ways of warfare.”
– Nakae Toju
Let’s look at the model again:
As we mentioned – we can break these 4 quadrants (of life, of processes, of phenomena) down into:
- Internal personal
- Internal group
- External personal
- External group
When we’re evaluating a decision that we have to make, or any kind of action that we may have to take, we can quickly run the math against this model.
“To be a good martial artist, the qualities that make one effective must be augmented and guided by qualities of character such as compassion, courage and self-control.”
– Jean Jacques Rousseau
First, we have to think about:
Whether the decision or action will result in positive or negative outcomes in the internal-personal quadrant?
For example, will it cause you to have a better, or worse self-image, or feel good, better, bad or worse about ourselves)?
Will the decision or action create gain or loss for us in the external-group quadrant?
For example – will this positively or negatively affect the group(s) we’re a part of, such as our family, social group, business community, etc.
Will the decision or action create gain or loss for us in the internal-group quadrant?
For example – creating a strategic imbalance which is out of our favor?
Will the decision or action create benefit or disadvantage for us in the external-personal quadrant?
Will it positively or negatively affect the way we are in relation to the world around us?
We then have to consider the two following qualifications:
- Decisions or actions which create gain/loss in the internal quadrants can be called useful or not useful.
- Decisions or actions which create gain/loss in the external quadrants can be called noble or ignoble.
Therefore, when qualifying your decisions or actions, you can run them against a simple prioritized evaluation, going from the greatest good to the worst bad:
- Useful and noble
- Useless and noble
- Useful and ignoble
- Useless and ignoble
Using this type of model can allow us to quickly and easily process our decision making.
To give a very oversimplified example – one of the 10 commandments is “Thou shall not kill”.
That’s pretty broad.
Let’s use a more specific example, such as hunting.
If hunting an animal is useful (you need to eat urgently) and noble (your family or your group needs to eat urgently) – it is a useful and noble thing to do.
If, on the other hand – You don’t need to eat urgently, but you are hunting for sport, entertainment, because of a need to feel power over something else, etc. and nobody else needs to eat urgently or lacks food – it is a useless and ignoble thing to do.
Again – A model of reality is not reality…
The purpose of using a model like this is to allow you some flexibility in thought and to not be bound up by dogmatic ideas which are neither useful nor noble – depending on the situation in which you might find yourself.
The model is also not an absolute, and doesn’t need to be absolutely adhered to.
But, in situations where you have competing subjective or cultural values and you’ve reached an impasse in making decisions –
A Four Elements decision making model can be useful in individuals and the group gaining clarity, and building consensus towards a desired or necessary result, rather than staying gridlocked in analysis paralysis brought on by subjective ethics and cultural morality.
Simple Warrior Ethics
“Whenever you fight for justice, the initiative should come from yourself. You should engage in hostilities in private competition only when it cannot be helped. When trouble arises from antagonism, you should not make the first move but wait and see what happens first. Therefore, when there is a dispute, you should wait watchfully. While there is peace, you should prepare yourself.”
– Wei Liao Zi
“It is only when the heroism of the warrior is combined with piety and works for a goal rather than individual glory – be it for the country, the family, the gods – that anything is truly won.”
“He who is slow to anger is better than the might, and he who rules his spirit than he who captures a city.”
– Proverbs 16:32
“Here we discern the most cogent precept in the code of the samurai. Nothing is more loathsome to him than underhand dealings and crooked undertakings.”
– Inazo Nitobe
“In the absence of any positive commandment against bearing false witness, lying was not condemned as a sin, but simply denounced as a weakness, and as such, highly dishonorable.”
– Inazo Nitobe
“Even horses and dogs who are fed together form bonds and become attached to one another.”
“Fight for this alone: The man who stands at your shoulder. He is everything, and everything is contained within him.”
– Dienekes at the battle of Thermopylae
“Having been born a human, you should aspire to surpass the masses and help other people. Making it your pleasure to do your utmost for others, lifetime after lifetime, generation after generation.”
– Shiba Yoshimasa
“The superior man has a dignified ease without pride. The common man has pride without dignified ease.”
– Kong Fu Zi
“Those who are following this path should appear most gentle and kind-hearted and act right with justice and reason from the bottom of their heart. One writing says that ‘a gentle look is the start of a stratagem’”
– The Bansenshukai
“If you do not throw away your concern about yourself, your mind will do harm to you in the end.”
– The Bansenshukai
“These scars on my body were gotten for you, my brothers. Every wound, as you see is in the front. Let the man stand forth from our ranks who has bled more than I, or endured more than I for your sake. Show him to me, and I will yield to our weariness and go home.”
– Alexander Of Macedonia
Framework 3: Warrior Mindsets
“He who stands on tiptoes does not stand firm. He who stretches his legs does not walk easily. Thus he who displays himself does not shine. He who vaunts himself does not find his merit acknowledged. He who is self-conceited has no superiority allowed to him.”
– Lao Zi
In “The Way Of The Sage”, I talk at length about a contra-perennial philosophy.
Part of that philosophy is non-excess in thought or action.
That non-excess can be found in:
- Aristotle’s Golden Mean
- The Middle Path or Majjhima Paṭipada of The Buddha
- Confucius’s Doctrine Of The Mean
This type of moderation also calls for a type of dialectical thinking, rather than absolutist thinking.
The founder of the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana or Northern Buddhism, Nagarjuna was a strong proponent of this type of dialectical or even “quantum” thinking.
His Mulamadhyamakakarika was an early milestone in relativistic thought.
The Way Of Dialectics
The way of dialectics is one of the great contributions to philosophy that marked a huge leap forward in the maturity of philosophical thought.
It’s simply as follows:
“Reversion is the movement of the way. Weakness is the function of the way”
– Lao Zi
Reversion is the inter-relation between opposites in one sense (The state of being opposite).
It’s also the unity of opposites in another sense (The state of transformation).
It can be symbolized by the taiji, in which two forces known as yin and yang are always inter-dependent and interacting at the same time.
The way of dialectics lies in the movement and function of The Way itself.
Things are inclined to reverse to their opposites in a constantly changing process.
- Everything is doomed to roll downhill once it reaches the top.
- Things that are too high fall down more easily
- Things that are to clean stain easily
- Songs that are too pretentious have fewer listeners
- Reputations that are too high fall short of reality
All of these possibilities conform with the concept of “inevitable reversal to the extreme”.
The way of dialectics is also reflected in the idea that “Have-substance” (You) brings advantage while “Have-empty” (Wu) creates usefulness.
- Like the hole in a wheel
- The empty space in a bowl
- The inside of a room
- Like spokes around the empty hub of a wheel
- Like the clay used to shape a bowl
- Like the doors and windows that are cut out to form a room
These two aspects are seemingly opposite.
Being counter-parts, they help complete each other.
Therefore they remain inseparable and inter-dependent.
This reminds us of the importance of the in-concrete dimensions of things, which we tend to neglect.
At it’s simplest form, dialectical thinking for a warrior is the shift from an absolutist “it is” to a relativistic “it both is and isn’t”.
Systems theory teaches us that in any closed system, the agent with the most flexibility in terms of response to stimuli eventually dominates the system.
What that means is that the more flexible you are in terms of how you respond to things – the more likely you are to come out on top.
That kind of spontaneity in response to the needs of the situation at hand can be developed and trained.
What Else Could It Mean?
One of the simplest examples of developing flexibility in thinking is simply asking yourself – “What else could it mean?”.
In any situation, but especially in situations which provoke a severe emotional reaction in you, or in which you become very agitated – this simple question can be a game changer.
As mentioned before – all perspectives are partial and incomplete, and more often than not our initial opinions or assessments of situations, especially confrontational situations are often dead wrong.
Take the man who comes home after a hard day’s work at a job he hates to a wife who’s in a bad mood and arguing with him.
The initial, gut-level reaction to this could range from “I’m not appreciated at home” to far more dangerous ideas.
Acting on those first impressions without any critical thought can and often does lead to irreversible problems and a narrower range of choices.
Take a deep breath…
Ask yourself – “What else could it mean?”…
Nine times out of ten, you’ll find that your initial limbic/stress system driven assessment was completely wrong, and that if you had responded based upon that first impression – you would have created even more serious or dangerous problems for yourself.
When it comes to inter-personal conflict, resource competition, wars of ideology, etc. it’s just the same.
Sometimes it’s useful to trust your initial instincts.
Usually it’s better to think things through, and expose yourself to a wider range of possibilities for “why”, and by doing so expand your range of options.
This is the most simple level of non-reflexive thinking, and it’s both the easiest to train and probably the most useful for most people.
It’s a habit that you have to develop.
Maybe you have to carry around a note to yourself…
Maybe you need a WWJD? Type of bracelet…
Or you could just keep practicing until it becomes natural…
Anytime you feel extreme or polar emotions arising in yourself – step back.
Ask yourself – “What else could it mean…?”
Developing Your Diamond Network
No – you’re not to about to get hit with an amazing multi-level marketing “opportunity”… Where you have to recruit your friends and family to sell my books to their friends and family – but that would be pretty awesome for me.
This is just a simple thought exercise which is based on Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika and which if practiced regularly can lead to a heightened ability for relativistic thought – opening up more options and giving you more flexibility in your response to stimuli, and thereby helping you develop a stronger position in the closed systems of society, the tribe, etc.
It’s pretty simple, and I can explain it easily on a whiteboard or with a pen and paper, but basically you just imagine a diamond shape.
- At the top corner is “Yes”.
- In the bottom corner is “No”.
- In the left corner is “Both Yes And No”, and –
- In the right corner is “Neither Yes Nor No”.
This exercise can’t be done by most people in real time, when faced with confrontational situations without some disciplined mental training, which is why I recommend beginning with “What else could it mean?”.
However, it’s well worth training this thought process.
If you read the other chapters of this book you’ll see that I’ve had a life-long fixation with hunger, so let’s use that.
You could build out a simple thought diamond beginning with an initial pre-supposition like “I am hungry”.
Then you examine the polar opposite view – “I am not hungry.”
Then move to the left quadrant – “I am both hungry and not hungry.”
Then the right – “I am neither hungry nor not hungry.”
From any point on the diamond we can expand out into a further networked array of thoughts.
Since we’re talking about warriorship – let’s use a related example:
- “I’m going to have to fight”
- “I’m not going to have to fight”
- “I’m both going to have to fight and not going to have to fight” (and what would that mean?)
- “I’m neither going to have to fight nor not have to fight” (and what would that mean?)
Let’s say we roll with option 3: “I’m both going to have to fight and not going to have to fight”.
From there, we could branch off into a couple of other unique directions:
“I’m both going to fight and not going to have to fight because I can’t avoid a confrontation but I can quickly and easily subdue this person” so – “I’m going to subdue this person”.
“I’m both going to have to fight and not have to fight because a fight is unavoidable but the risk is too great, so I am going to do what needs to be done to finish this person off immediately”, so – “I’m going to shoot this person”.
From either one of these statements you can build out another network of dialectical diamonds, and on and on…
Again – for urgent situations, just stick to “what else could it mean”, but within the context of long-term competition or protracted fighting – this strategic model opens up a LOT of options for more flexible decision making and will allow you to win and dominate more often than following your gut reactions.
The Way Of Strategy
Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit of the warrior. Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.
– Miyamoto Musashi
When you find yourself faced with emergency or unexpected life threatening confrontations, as described later – you must go on the attack and you must single-mindedly attack.
Often in life though, we engage in longer term, protracted struggles.
For these types of situations, you need to be able to think strategically and master The Way Of Strategy.
Strategy is a topic that can take a lifetime to master, but the basic concepts can be learned quickly, by anyone and put to good use.
The simple strategic model that I’ll teach you here also follows our Four Elements framework.
You can think of it like this:
- Earth – Environmental analysis
- Water – Formulation
- Fire – Implementation
- Air – Feedback and controls
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
― Sun Tzu
This stage of the mission involves critically assessing both yourself and your opponent’s relative strengths and weaknesses, as well as the ground on which you’re fighting or competing.
You want to look for ground or terrain or situations that play to your strengths, and your opponent’s weaknesses, and find ways to attack their few and weak with your many and strong.
At this second stage of the game, you need to clearly define your specific goals and objectives.
When formulating your strategic goals, you need to ask yourself:
- Do my goals represent some net positive
- Are my goals achievable?
- Are my goals prioritized?
If you can answer “Yes” to all 3 of these questions, you can move on to the formulation of your strategy.
I cover formulation of goals, strategies and program extensively in The Way Of Strategy, which will help you understand all of this at a much deeper level.
When executing strategy, you always want to try to gain a first-movers advantage, be flexible in execution and create strategic deception, or feints.
The core issues related to execution are:
- The Principle of Speed
- The Principle of Adaptability
- Deceptiveness in Action and Strategy
Feedback And Controls
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”
– Winston Churchill
Once you have begun implementing, you immediately want to begin evaluating your results.
You first measure your results, then diagnose them, and based upon the diagnosis you make course corrections.
At this stage in the game, if your results are significantly different than you anticipated, you need to go back and re-evaluate the mission itself, and then re-evaluate your goals, strategy and strategic program.
The Only Way To Win Is To Attack
In The Way Of Strategy I talk about this at length, but it’s worth mentioning here.
Many of the hacks who taught traditional martial arts since the mid-sixties stress the defensive nature of their art – often to the complete exclusion of any offensive techniques.
And, if you’re sending your 5 year old to train in order to get some exercise and to be able to hang out with other kids his own age – that’s great.
The problem with that line of thinking however, is –
It leads to losing fights…
It leads to not being able to protect your family or group…
It leads to death…
The truth is, that the best possible outcome of defensive fighting is a no-lose scenario.
I suppose Wu-peddlers can make a case for “losing in the interest of winning”, and Lao Zi and any of the great sages did talk about this, but it was generally within the context of competition and interpersonal discord, rather than life or death combat.
The truth is, that when it comes to confrontation, there is only one way to win – and that is to attack.
Let’s look at the world of sports for a moment:
In playing a game of soccer, the only way to win is to kick the ball into the opponent’s goal.
You cannot win by just defending your own goal. If you focus on defense only, the best possible outcome is a draw.
You cannot win a basketball game without putting your ball in the opposing teams net.
Of course, you need to get back on defense too but you can’t win by focusing on defense only.
In boxing, you can slip and dodge but ultimately you need to punch to knock out your opponent.
However, this doesn’t mean you should just charge into the conflict unprepared.
The best overall strategy is to build a strong defense first, then once you have established a solid position, wait for an opening and attack when the opportunity presents itself.
In ordinary situations using the military, if the enemy does not make an error in judgment, how can our army conquer them? It may be compared with chess where two enemies begin in equal strength. As soon as someone makes a mistake, truly no one can rescue him. For this reason, in both ancient and modern times, victory and defeat have proceeded from a single error.
– Questions and Replies Between Tang And Li
In addition, it is important to have a correct assessment of relative strength and advantage before you attack.
One who cannot be victorious assumes a defensive posture; one who can be victorious attacks.
In these circumstances by assuming a defensive posture, strength will be more than adequate, whereas in offensive actions it would be inadequate.
Those who excel at defense bury themselves away below the lowest depths of the Earth.
Those who excel at offense move from above the greatest heights of Heaven. Thus they are able to preserve themselves and attain complete victory.
– Sun Tzu
The Power Of Committed Attack
“Be true to the thought of the moment and avoid distraction. Other than continuing to exert yourself, enter into nothing else, but go to the extent of living single thought by single thought.”
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo
When people ask me about fighting, I generally tell them the same thing.
And it’s not about training…
It’s not about strategy…
It’s not about fighting tactics…
It’s really a mindset, or inner game that is necessary for a warrior.
Before we get into what I think is the most important thing that you need to know for physical or martial art I want to mention that people in general should be treated well or crushed.
What that means is that 99.999% of the time, when you get into a conflict or confrontation you have to ask yourself – “does this person deserve to die?”.
And if they don’t deserve to die, you really just need to let it go because it’s not worth it.
It’s going to cause you legal problems, and no matter how good of a fighter you are – if you take a wrong fall towards a wall or towards the floor and land on your head the wrong way, or – somebody just gets off a luck shot, you’ve got a very thin shell of a dome piece and you want to protect that no matter what.
People should be treated well or crushed.
.000001% of the time, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you answer – “yes, this person needs to go”, and then you just do what you need to do.
A lot of people know some details about my martial arts background.
In China. In Thailand. In South Korea. In India, and most recently, in Myanmar.
Without fail, people always want to know “What’s your lineage”, or “What’s your title” – which I think is irrelevant.
What matters to me and what should matter to you when choosing who to listen to is:
- Whether they can do what they say the can do
- Whether they can teach you to do what they say they can
So I’ve lived an epic life of training across Asia for nearly the last 20 years by now, but really – most of my most useful training goes back to my family.
I used to throw out specific names and lineages to credentialize myself, but in recent years have decided that it’s kind of ridiculous because I’ve never learned more from anyone about fighting than I learned from my family.
To tell you a bit about my family, starting with my paternal grandfather:
This guy was an immigrant from the Ukraine just after the Russian revolution.
His father worked on the railroads with the Chinese for 5 years in order to bring his family over. Tough, tough guy.
He later committed suicide by jumping off of the Brooklyn Bridge, and so my grandfather and his siblings were orphaned in New Jersey as immigrants who couldn’t read or write or speak English.
By the time the Great Depression hit, when the entire world’s economy had collapsed the older brother Mike had gotten a trash truck.
The way that the siblings were subsisting at the time was by hog farming.
They’d take the trash truck into New York City to collect restaurant garbage, which could be fed to the hogs back in New Jersey.
A hard life for sure, but made harder by the fact that during the great depression – even restaurant garbage was a valuable commodity.
Every day, as they’d pull up to the back alleys to collect the precious trash which could keep their hogs and them alive – they had to be ready to fight, even to the death for their trash.
That’s the environment that he grew up in. Fighting for trash and carrying 80lb. bales of trash up and down flights of stairs.
He was extremely hard, as a lot of guys of that generation were. A lot of your grandfathers or possibly great grandfathers were extremely tough cats.
In all these years of martial arts training with the highest level masters in Asia – the only thing I’ve really accomplished is sharpening my sword.
I’ve developed more precision…
I’ve developed greater accuracy…
I’ve changed my thinking on combat theory a little bit…
None of the professional martial artists were combatives trainers during a real war.
Nobody was leading one of the roughest unions in the USA (meatpackers) during the 1950’s.
Most of what I learned about fighting was learned from my father and grandfather.
My father had me down in the basement with a heavy bag, and taught me a lot about firearms.
So, I learned to shoot and some combat hand gunning and rifle tactics. Space control. Things like that.
The first time I ever got into a serious fight was when I was in the 6th grade…
I grew up in a very working class neighborhood and that first time that I really got worked over is when they really started teaching me.
My dad went hard on the boxing, and sent me to my grandfather for the combatives.
Crazy stuff like how to break someone’s back when they have you in a headlock.
When my father and uncles were young he had the boys in the yard teaching them how to rip out soft tissue…. Sentry takeouts, etc.
Just monstrous training.
The first time I ever saw my grandfather fight I was probably about 5 years old and we were at a high school football game.
My youngest uncle was either still in high school or had just finished high school.
He got into some kind of a fight and was getting massively jumped by maybe 10, 12, or 14 guys.
I was sitting there at 5 years old and heard the commotion down on the field. The next thing I saw was my grandfather literally flying out of the bleachers, and I’ll tell you what happened a little bit later.
The basic point I want to make about fighting is that once you’ve committed to it, you have to fight like you have a gun to your head.
“Thus proclaim I, and it shall be accomplished: I will utterly bruise mine adversaries flesh and break his bones, so let his friends abide together here to bear him forth when vanquished by my hands.”
– The Iliad
The Hagakure and a lot of the great Samurai texts are very clear on this:
Combat under duress and which you aren’t prepared for or didn’t expect requires no “b” plan.
No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy…
The way that a lot of people teach martial arts is very reactive.
You’re in a mindset of being at effect, rather than being at cause.
Rather than being at cause, what bad martial arts teachers do is teach you follow up technique:
“If he does this, I’ll do this”…
“If he counters, I’ll counter with this”…
“If his hand goes here, I’ll put my hand there..”
“Everyone has a plan, until they get hit in the mouth.”
– Mike Tyson
This is all nonsense, because when the adrenalin flows, when you get cracked in the dome piece, when you’re in that first-brain bio-survival circuitry you don’t think strategically.
The real thing you need to do rather than putting yourself in a mindset where you’re effect, you need to be at cause.
“Fix your mind upon it’s object. Hold to this, unswerving. Disowning fear and hope. Advance only upon this goal.”
– Krishna to Arjuna before Battle in the Bhagavad Gita
Rather than saying “if he does this, I’ll do that” – the only thing you need to be thinking about is “no matter what he does – I’m going to do this”.
Anytime that I’ve fought as a teenager or adult, I completely ignore responsive technique and stay focused on task.
I come into a conflict thinking “No matter what he does – I’m going to blast him in his head until he goes to sleep”.
No matter what, I’m going to hit him and hit him and hit him – until he stops fighting…
The real moral of the story is that you want to fight with no plan B.
First thing’s first, second thing’s never.
If you’re an extremely talented, world class martial artist – then you can go in with some strategy, but for the average guy, you’ll get killed thinking reactively.
You have to be in a causal mindset.
“As to what happened next, it is possible to maintain that the hand of heaven was involved, and also possible to say that when men are desperate, no one can stand up to them.”
My grandfather flies out of the bleachers…
Then the other brothers – uncles, dad, etc. jump down.
I remember watching my grandfather fighting.
Guys would be hitting him non-stop and it looked like the shots just didn’t effect him at all.
No matter what angle they were coming from, he completely ignored it and just took the shots.
He would choose 1 guy and walk up to him, catch him, and pummel him until his knees gave out under him.
Then he’d catch the next guy and pummel him until his legs gave out.
And on and on.
So really what we’re talking about is the idea of burning the ships when you land.
You’re invading another country. The first thing you do when you reach the shore is burn your ships so that you have only 2 choices: Win or die.
When enemies or life in general presents you with unexpected dangers and life-threatening challenges – you have to remove all of your options and become an unstoppable force.
Most guys that are actually good combat fighters have 1 finishing technique, and they go into a confrontation thinking – “I’m going to use my one highest leverage technique and I’m going to do it and do it and do it until I’ve won.”
When it comes to the immediate inner-game of warriorship, I really think that Japanese thought on the matter is far superior to the Chinese.
Chinese thought is very subtle, and I really like it for strategy, but the Japanese have this quadrant locked down…
At the Earth-external level, if you’ve watched the video on the evolution of consciousness – forethought and planning doesn’t even exist.
That’s EXACTLY the headspace you’ll be in when you find someone has gotten the drop on you unexpectedly…
Yamamoto Tsunetomo said:
“Single-mindedness is all powerful”.
Benjamin Disraeli similarly said:
“I have brought myself, by long meditation, to the conviction that a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and that nothing can resist a will that will stake even existence for its fulfillment.”
Yamamoto Tsunetomo went on:
“Even if it seems certain that you will lose, retaliate.
Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this.
A real man does no think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death.
By doing this you will awaken from your dreams.”
This mentality not only applies to physical combat, but unexpected, unwanted problems of life in general, which often times can’t be planned for.
Most people imagine that they could never earn a million dollars.
They certainly wouldn’t imagine they could do so in six months.
If this same person found out that their mother, or spouse, or child had a terminal illness that required a million dollar surgery, and had six months to live – they would probably be able to raise the money in only 2.
Victory in life requires a maniacal commitment, and vicious sacrifice of everything else in the interest of your goals.
With all of that said, you should maintain enough clarity of thought to try to focus on the highest leverage points in any situation and use your “strong and many” against your opponent’s “few and weak”.
This goes back to the simple idea of using your “finishing techniques” against your opponents where he is most vulnerable…
Concentration Of Force
In terms of warfare, the economy of force means finding a way to concentrate your “many/strong” against the enemy’s “few/weak.”
“If I determine the enemy’s disposition of force while I have no perceptible form, I can concentrate my forces while the enemy is fragmented.
If we are concentrated into a single force while he is fragmented into ten, then we attack him with ten times his strength. Thus we are many and the enemy few.”
– Sun Tzu
“Many” and “few” are relative terms.
The principle of concentration of force recognizes relative strength, not absolute strength.
Ultimately, the point of contact dictates the outcome of the battle.
The strength of a warrior does not depend on physical size or strength.
Do not advance relying on sheer physical power.
Rather, one must concentrate the forces and anticipate correctly the enemy’s movements in order to capture him.
– Sun Tzu
How is this possible?
How can you concentrate all of your force at the point of contact and assure that your enemy cannot do the same?
This is one place where deception and unpredictability factor in.
The enemy must not know where I intend to attack.
If he does not know where I intend to attack, he must defend in many places.
The more places he defends, the more scattered are his forces, and the weaker is his force at any one point.
If the enemy prepares to the front, his rear will be weak; if he defends the rear, his front will be fragile. If he strengthens his left, he will weaken his right; if he strengthens his right, he will weaken his left.
If he tries to prepare everywhere, he will be weak all over.
– Sun Tzu
Framework 4: The Way Of Peace
“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”
– General George Washington
As the world becomes more violent and more dangerous, and the means of waging war become more and more devastating, the highest value of a warrior must be peace.
But it is not the peace predicated upon surrender or weakness of the ideological or philosophical pacifist.
It’s a peace which can be developed only through martial competence and confidence.
Anyone who is a good fighter knows – Most of the time it’s just easiest to either diffuse or walk away from conflict, and it doesn’t do any damage to your self-image when you know that combat would have presented no serious challenge for you.
Violence is an instrument of destruction, and it’s used by the warrior only when there is not any other choice.
People who “win” with violence are not praiseworthy, as they’re resorting to the lowest developmental level of power and consciousness.
“Even when he is victorious, he does not regard it as praiseworthy.
For to praise victory is to delight in the slaughter of men.
He who delights in the slaughter of men will not succeed in the empire….
For the slaughter of the multitude, let us weep with sorrow and grief.
For a victory, let us observe the occasion with funeral ceremonies.”
– Lao Tzu
Fighting and war, in general should be avoided to the extent that it is possible to avoid.
Once it becomes unavoidable – it must be prosecuted with absolute commitment and ferocity.
There’s an inherent and unreasonable danger in the use of force.
Regardless of the outcome – individuals, groups of individuals, or even nations are left badly fractured, and the victor themselves suffers from loss of health, personnel, resources and opportunity.
“Whenever great wars are over, years of famine are sure to afflict the land.”
– Lao Tzu
One only has to look at the protracted warfare of the United States from 1993 on into the 21st century to see that without clear advantages to be gained, fighting extracts terrible toll on everyone involved – physically, socially, intellectually and morally.
All great sages throughout human history have denounced military operations and violence – whether on an individual, small group or nationwide scale and have discouraged any delight in victory gotten through force.
They also go as far as to advise the winning side to practice humanism by mourning all of those killed in battle.
Anyone who follows the Way of The Four Elements never seeks to dominate others with force.
Neither do they show off their martial prowess or skill.
Sharp weapons should not be displayed, because eventually they must be used.
The Way Of Peace Leads To The Ideal Situation, In ALL Circumstances
The heart of a virtuous person has settled down and he does not rush about at things. A person of little merit is not at peace but walks about making trouble and is in conflict with all.
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo
Plainness, simplicity and self-contentment characterize a life of peace.
Above all, people enjoy a peaceful environment and embrace co-existence.
Practicum 1: Samatha
“Use your mind strongly even when you walk down the street, such that you wouldn’t even blink if someone unexpectedly thrust a lance at your nose. All warriors should employ such a state of mind at all times in everyday life.”
– Ichijo Kaneyoshi
In this practicum, we will help you develop the power of your warrior mind to achieve adamantium focus and concentration, and – will.
We’ll introduce you to Samatha Bhavana, which when practiced alongside a healthy physical training regimen and realistic training for conflict – will allow you to become the greatest warrior you can be.
Meditation – Bhavana
In general, the English word “meditation” is a bad substitute for the original Pali word “Bhavana” which means to grow, cultivate or develop.
The majority of the meditative practices trained by the world’s famous martial traditions all have their source here.
However, in most cases it has been stripped of it’s essense and it’s essential teachings.
Here, we’ll present you with a general overview of Samatha Bhavana and an actionable practicum that you can begin using right now to develop the highest level qualities of warriorship.
The Two Types Of Meditation
In general, the Buddha – who’s teachings are at the root of all Asian martial arts taught 2 different systems of meditation to his followers.
- Serenity meditation – Samatha Bhavana
- Insight meditation – Vipassana Bhavana
The term “Bhavana”, as we mentioned really means a method of mental development.
It is mental culture, which is practiced again and again and in different ways for the purpose of:
Lessening defilements like:
- Wrong View
All of which are anathema to the spirit of a warrior.
It is also practiced to develop wholesome mental states, such as:
- Loving kindness
- Sympathetic joy
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right concentration
- Right understanding
Bhavana means to cultivate, develop and practice wholesome states, which when trained regularly become higher and more wholesome Developmental Levels.
The Goals Of Samatha Bhavana
“Mental bearing (calmness), not skill is the sign of a matured samurai.”
– Tshukahara Bokuden
As we mentioned, there are several primary goals of Samatha.
They are suppressing nivaranas, or unwholesome mental states, developing wholesome states, and developing first access concentration, on to concentration in the fine material sphere and onto extra-ordinary levels of concentration in the fine immaterial sphere.
“SHUCHU RYOKU – Focus all your energy to one point.”
– Shioda Gozo
The Foundation Of Samatha Meditation
Moral training is the first stage of the Buddha’s Noble 8 Fold Path.
Moral training is the first stage of that 8 Fold Path, and the training of morality – Sila Sikha is also the foundation of meditation upon which the superstructure of mental concentration and wisdom must be built.
This is an important pre-requisite in all upright traditions, because without it – the practitioner generates concentration and force of will which is so strong, that it can easily subdue and suppress the innate or social human conscience.
So, we must first lay this moral foundation firmly before we begin Samatha meditation to develop concentration.
To understand moral training, you have to cultivate 3 constituents of the 8 Fold path which make up Sila Sikha or moral training.
- Right speech – abstaining from lying, slandering, harsh speech and vain talk
- Right action – abstaining from killing, stealing and sexual misconduct
- Right livelihood – abstaining from work connected to immoral speech and immoral actions
The Training Of Concentration – Samadhi Sikkha
“People without sincerity of heart should not be considered for anything. It seems to me that this is the sort of thin referred to by the expression that all abilities come from one mind. For warriors in particular, if you calm your own mind and discern the inner minds of others, that may be called the foremost art of war.”
– Shiba Yoshimasa
The training of concentration is the 2nd and middle stage of the 8 Fold path.
It’s trained to develop the 3 parts of the Path that are concerned with the training of concentration, which are:
- Right effort – sammavayama
- Right mindfulness – sammasati
- Right concentration – sammasamadhi
If you can exert strong enough concentration and be diligently mindful of a meditation object, you can build up concentration which leads to an unshakeable, undefiled and peaceful state of mind.
It’s called calm because it calms down the 5 nivaranas or constraints – including passions.
The mind is focused on an object of meditation, and diligent effort is made to be constantly aware of the object.
Whenever the mind wanders to other sense objects, it must immediately be brought back to the meditation object.
By trying to always be mindful of the meditation object, you strengthen your concentration, which associates with wholesome consciousness or kusala citta.
When the concentrative (jhana) factors are strong, they can suppress or temporarily remove the constraints which disturb the mind.
By meditating further, you can raise the concentration to meditative absorbtion – or a jhana state.
There are 4 stages (big surprise, huh?) of meditation in the fine material sphere (rupavacara jhanas) and 4 stages of meditation in the immaterial sphere (arupavacara jhanas).
We’ve talked about what Samatha means in general, but what it means specifically is “ekaggata cetasika”, a mental factor which associates with every type of consciousness.
Ekkagata means “one pointedness”. It focuses the mind on an object.
It binds the mental concomitants with consciousness together to create a state of one-pointedness on the object.
So, samatha bhavana or samatha meditation is mental training that calms down and suppresses mental constraints by strengthening the concentrative (jhana) factors, including ekaggata – to attain access concentration and higher jhana concentration.
The Objects Of Meditation – Kammathana
To practice samatha meditation, you need a suitable object to focus your attention on, because consciousness cannot arise without a sense object meeting a sense organ.
A meditation object serves as the place or base as well as the subject of meditation. It also acts as the training ground for training the mind.
The object of samatha meditation should be one of the 40 objects prescribed by the Buddha.
40 Kinds Of Samatha Objects – Samath Kammatthana
In this section, we’ll describe the objects of meditation in detail.
- Kasina – 10 kinds of objects or devices
- Asubha – 10 loathsome subjects
- Anussati – 10 recollection subjects
- Brahma Vihara – 10 subjects of divine abidings
- Arupa – 4 subjects of immaterial states
- Aharepatikula Sanna – 1 subject of perception of repulsiveness of nutriment
- Catudhatuvavatthana – 1 subject of the four elements
For our purposes, and for what I’m about to present to you, we’ll just look at the 10 kasina devices and The Four Elements…
Kasina means “whole” or “complete”.
It’s called whole or complete because it should be observed wholly or completely in meditation, and also because the light which comes from the sign or image radiates out to all directions without limit.
A kasina is basically a colored disk.
Because it should be observed wholly, the shape of a kasina should be round with a diameter equal to the span of 4 fingers, or about one foot.
If it’s observed from a distance, it should be about three feet, nine inches.
- Earth Kasina
- Water Kasina
- Fire Kasina
- Air Kasina
- Blue Kasina
- Yellow Kasina
- Red Kasina
- White Kasina
- Light Kasina
- Space Kasina
By meditating on a kasina device you can develop the 5 states of concentration in the fine material plane (arupavacara jhana), and then move on to develop the 3 arupavacara jhanas.
After attaining all of these jhanas in the kasina devices you can practice further to develop the 5 mundane supernormal powers (Lokiya Abhinnas).
The Four Elements – Catudhatu Vavatthana
The four primary elements are the basis for all corporeal phenomena.
They are also present in every part and particle of your body, so they must be characterized by their distinctive properties.
The properties of The Four Elements are:
Earth – heaviness/lightness
Water – fluidity/cohesiveness
Fire – heat/cold
Air – movement/stillness
Practicum 2: Warrior Strength And Conditioning
Remember at the beginning of this manual when I said:
“The way you move through life can be seen in the way you move through space…
By working with how you move through space, you can change how you move through life.
The more of yourself you bring to each moment, the deeper and more far-reaching are the results.
This is the true meaning of The Way Of The Warrior.”
It’s important to not only develop warrior skills, but you need to condition and develop the vehicle by which you move through space.
I’m not a medical doctor, and it would be risky for me to give health advice to the general public, so we’ll keep this section very general, and I’ll leave it to you to work out the specific details which match your body type, level of motivation, available time, etc.
Four Elements Of Warrior Physical Conditioning
Fitness training balances four elements of good health.
Make sure your routine includes aerobic fitness, strength training, core exercises, and flexibility and stretching.
Whether you’re a novice taking the first steps toward fitness or an professional fighter hoping to optimize your results, a well-rounded fitness training program is essential.
Include these four elements to create a balanced routine:
Strength training – Earth
Muscular fitness is a key component of a fitness training program.
Strength training at least twice a week can help you increase bone strength and muscular fitness.
It can also help you maintain muscle mass during a weight-loss program.
Most fitness centers offer various resistance machines, free weights and other tools for strength training.
But you don’t need to invest in a gym membership or expensive equipment to reap the benefits of strength training.
Hand-held weights or homemade weights — such as plastic soft drink bottles filled with water or sand — may work just as well.
Resistance bands are another inexpensive option. Your own body weight counts, too. Try pushups, abdominal crunches and leg squats.
Core exercises – Water
The muscles in your abdomen, lower back and pelvis — known as your core muscles — help protect your back and connect upper and lower body movements.
Core strength is a key element of a well-rounded fitness training program.
Core exercises help train your muscles to brace the spine and enable you to use your upper and lower body muscles more effectively.
So what counts as a core exercise?
A core exercise is any exercise that uses the trunk of your body without support, such as abdominal crunches.
You can also try various core exercises with a fitness ball.
Aerobic fitness – Fire
Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio or endurance activity, is the cornerstone of most fitness training programs.
Aerobic exercise causes you to breathe faster and more deeply, which maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood.
The better your aerobic fitness, the more efficiently your heart, lungs and blood vessels transport oxygen throughout your body — and the easier it is to complete routine physical tasks and rise to unexpected challenges, such as running to your car in the pouring rain.
Aerobic exercise includes any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and increases your heart rate.
Try walking, jogging, biking, swimming, dancing, water aerobics — even leaf raking, snow shoveling and vacuuming.
For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity.
You also can do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week.
Flexibility and stretching – Air
Flexibility is an important part of physical fitness, and fighting.
Stretching exercises are effective in increasing flexibility, and thereby can allow people to more easily do activities that require greater flexibility.
Stretching also improves the range of motion of your joints and promotes better posture.
Regular stretching can even help relieve stress.
For this reason, stretching and flexibility activities are an appropriate part of a warrior conditioning program.
Before you stretch, warm up by walking or doing a favorite exercise at low intensity for five to 10 minutes.
Better yet, stretch after you exercise — when your muscles are warm and receptive to stretching.
Ideally, you’ll stretch whenever you exercise.