Saturday, October 27, 2012

Warrior Strategem#134 Create Your Own Rules

Whoever first said it wasn't a fair fight probably lost.

In war, the idea is to overwhelm your opponent to secure victory. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as by strength, stealth, or trickery. There are numerous strategies for dealing with an adversary, but they all have to be employed in real time. Most enemies don't wait for your to destroy them.

This brings me to a subject that deserves reflection for the warrior and his path: rules.

Rules in battle in this day and age are a romantic ideal by which we would all prefer everyone abide so as to decrease risk to the good guy in a particular conflict. Many of us, myself included, were brought up on the notion that the virtuous knight always overcomes the evil villian or evil dragon. We want to buy into the fantasy that because one is good, he wins.

Ultimately, good does win over evil. We know the end of the story, those of us who are Christians, but the truth is many good people have died to advance the eradication of evil. And it is troublesome.

We don't like this, but it is a fact. Sometimes evil people are better skilled or have better advantages that put our hero at risk. The warrior must face and acknowledge this so that any preconceived notions of wins in a conflict don't get in the way of his actual victory.

All that being said, fighting fair does not exist. There is no such thing. "What about sport? MMA or boxing?" you ask. "Those guys are tough." Yes, they are, but they are bound by the rules of an event, at a predetermined time and day. It's as much a psychological as well as physical display of  combat, and it has its place. But the warrior's individual path should determine if that path is for him, but in reality showing up to an event to play by someone's rules reduces your chance of victory.

To increase your chances of victory, play by your own rules. Strike when least expected, where least expected. Take superior opponents by surprise. This is not cowardice, it is common sense. This is how a smart adversary thinks. He keeps an eye on the shadows, for at times he has been the one who lurks there.

Peace Out,


Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Warrior's Reform...

I have studied the arts of personal combat for a very long time. I am fascinated by it, and no matter what I do in life, I am always drawn back to interest in martial arts, the study of war on the small scale, and living the modern samurai way.

There's a plethora of information out there on the martial arts, fighting, and survival. I think it's time I advance my opinions, now that I believe I have earned the right to have one on the subject.

Martial Arts

There is no one martial art that is an answer to all problems and situations. General principles may
carry over from situation to situation, but the my "art is the best" syndrome is the recipe for combat disaster. Your Art is one way, and hopefully a very good one, but there are many schools of battle, all of which have strengths and weaknesses.

Proper Martial Path

My particular belief is that one on this path should find a martial art they like and make that their foundation for studying other arts, if martial arts is something they want to do. At some point, usually after about 3 years maybe, it's good to diversify your portfolio, to go outside of your school and comfort zone and see the world of hand-to-hand from other perspectives.

Here's an example of what I mean. I am a karate-ka from way back. Lot's of punching, kicking, and old-school conditioning. At the higher levels of the art you discover softer techniques give you more weapons in your arsenal. Later study of Aikido, ju-jitsu, Judo, or even Tai Chi, gives you greater insight into what you have already learned, expands your knowledge, and can provide a larger path for training and living.


I have met Sandans (3rd Degree blackbelts) who inspire fear and others whose ass I can kick, with or without a black belt. Rank is the most dangerous obstacle to being combat ready. Let me repeat that: RANK IS THE MOST DANGEROUS OBSTACLE TO BEING COMBAT READY.

Rank is ultimately meaningless, except as a measure of how long you've been in a school and how much knowledge you are supposed to have in you. It is not a measure of how good a fighter you are. In the old days, before belt rank in karate was given, there used to be a sign-in board that had your name. The senior students who had been there the longest were at the top of the list.


This whole blog is about proper mindset, so I will try to keep it short. My thoughts about battle might be summed up thus, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight that counts, but the size of the fight in the dog."

The sheer will to win is the most important aspect of training and battle. If this is forgotten in the name of other goals, however noble, you will do yourself a serious disservice. You may still have some effective techniques, but you personally will not be as effective.

The Will to Win cannot be practiced on the couch (unless you are laid up from an injury). The will to win comes from actual physical practice and conditioning with this mindset in your head. If you lose this mindset, you may still be very good, but you will become less of a warrior. Warriors win. That's why you train. To win. Being a good person usually comes as a result of training for lots of reasons, but the whole reason you get out of bed and on the mat is to kick ass, to be a winner in your personal battles, to overcome and win in your interpersonal-battles

Everything else comes second, on an instictual level that is. God and the commandments are first of course, but when it comes to battle, you train to win, and win at nearly any cost. I know there are purists and masters who disagree with my approach, but you learn to fight to protect yourself. You continue to train for other reasons.

How to Train

Conditioning is the most important aspect of training once proper mindset is established. Give me a beginniner who is physically fit who knows a few basics, and he will be much more dangerous than a senior student who can't do a 5 minute jog. The reason is that he has already conquered his mind and his body. He is actually ready for the work of mopping up enemies.

Senior students who emphasize conditioning as a pre-requisite to training--this is a WIN and the way of the warrior. It also hopefully keeps the warrior humble, hopefully, no matter how far he goes in his art, for he knows the body's limits and vulnerabilities.

Especially as you get older, you must condition yourself for battle, to do kick ass techniques in real life, and of course, over and over again on the mat. Without conditioning as the foundation of your training, one cannot expective to be optimally effective in combat. Conditioning is the way of the warrior. Check out the workout over to see what I mean. That is warrior conditioned.


There is much more I can say about the martial way. In my own path, I have found that a return to my foundational mindset and training has given me much-needed perspective. I know how tough I am and hide my weaknesses as much as I can on a daily basis, while improving upon them on my own time behind closed doors, as much as I can.

My weakness is conditioning. My strength is mindset. Somewhere in between are techniques. In every warrior, regardless of path, they all must become one.

Over and Out,


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Olde South

Interior of Warren Rifles Confederate
Today, Clare, myself and the crew visited Front Royal's annual Festival of Leaves. After the parade, which was neat but somewhat lackluster, we walked mainstreet strewn with tents and hawkers of all types. Everything from custom wooden bowls to covers for your gutters was on display. Additionally, the local history museum's were open, including the Warren Rifle's Confederate History museum on Chester Street.

Coming from the North, when I first entered Virginia, I had notions of the Civil War that I no longer entertain. I believed that the war was truly about ending slavery and scoffed at the idea that its present day partisans believe it was about states' rights. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed while in college when I first heard the term, "War of Northern Aggression."

Maybe it's something in my Virginia well, but now it makes sense. Maturity, experience, (aka, seeing policitians for what they are) and deeper analysis, as well as living in the remnants of the olde South, not to mention my grading gig, have caused me to look deeper at the root causes of the American Civil War. My current belief is that the cause to end slavery was used as a political tool halfway through the war to garner support for the Union armies in an unpopular conflict against people fighting for what they considered was their homeland.

Whatever side you come down on, the sons of the Confederacy now command my respect in ways they hadn't previously. Their military leadership was generally impeccable under Lee, who throughout his command achieved and maintained the highest respect of his fighting men, leading them to victory, facing difficult odds, with half the Union resources. Yet to the bitter end, they clung to his command until he formally discharged them from their duties at Appomattox Courthouse on April 12, 1865.

Which brings me to the inspiration of this reflection. In Front Royal's musuem is an Confederate Battle flag, shown above, inscribed with the names of the fighting men who died throughout the campaigns that was flown during the formal surrender at Appomattox. Worn and tattered, you could feel the steely gaze of men in gray who looked to and saluted that flag and sense the intense moment of their surrender. Guant, determined, and tall in defeat, they stared. I believe their sentiments were captured by their great commander, General Lee, in his now famous General Order No. 9:

After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources. 
I need not tell the brave survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them; but feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.

By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from a consciousness of duty faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a Merciful God will extend to you His blessings and protection.
With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell

If you live in or visit the deep south, the boldness of character and Southern pride, and in some instances, defiance, remain. I like that, though not all celebrate or salute it in these regions. People have their objections. I did too, but now find they ring increasingly hollow in the face of the rising tyranny of the welfare state that lies before us.

Over and Out,