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Friday, October 8, 2010

Chip Weighs in on the "Warrior" Discussion

Every so often, I find myself speaking to someone who questions what it truly means to be a Warrior. I am sure there are many different images that come to mind when you hear someone referred to in that light. Is the running back who rushes for 1000 yards in a single season a Warrior? How about the Heavy Weight Boxing Champion who wins most of his bouts by knockout, or the MMA fighter who is undefeated?


"Bushido" means "way of the warrior," and the word "Samurai" literally means "one who serves." On the surface at least, a solider or police officer must surely qualify for the title. Does graduating the police academy or completing basic training make one a Warrior? Perhaps....

Let's consider this from another perspective: Trained mechanics know how to change the oil in a car. I know how to change the oil in a car. Does that qualify me to call myself a mechanic? Certainly not. I am missing practically all of the other skills necessary to deserve that title. Using that logic, is it possible that one can fight and even serve others, without being a Warrior? I offer that someone can be an extremely skilled fighter or a selfless public servant without being a Warrior. So, what then is the difference?

Physical competence is very important. I think a Warrior must be skilled in combat and properly conditioned. She must be able to protect others and have the confidence to face deadly threats. The Warrior doesn't have to fight, but she must be prepared to do so if the need arises. I think a Warrior must have mental clarity. He must know what he can do and be astutely aware of his limitations and options. The Warrior understands that battles are won or lost in the preparation. A Warrior should have a spiritual certainty that permits him to lay down his life in the service of others. These things are all critical to Warriorship, but they are not unique to the Warriors among us. There is another, invaluable ingredient.

The true Warrior understands that the most important battle to be fought is an internal one, and the foe is extremely formidable. The Warrior's battle is the battle against his own fears, biases, prejudices and loyalties that prevent him from acting for what is right. It is a battle against self. A Warrior respects the humanity of all persons and, as a result, respects their adversarial potential as well as their individual rights. The Warrior is tactically and interpersonally effective. The ideal balance of compassion, love, virtue and viciousness. A Warrior faces ALL her fears, both internal and external.

The path of the Warrior is not for the feint of heart. Some of the attributes appear soft on the surface, but nothing could be further from the truth. Many people are at war with the notion of valuing the humanity of others. I was for a long time, and I continue to struggle with it everyday. The battlefield is in our hearts and minds, and the true Warrior exists for the fight....

7 comments:

  1. Great stuff Chip. Here is my addition...What is a warrior and what does it mean to follow a warrior?

    The warrior, lives by strategy. And by living by strategy I mean, breathes it, tastes it, feels it, thinks it, hears it, smells it. Every part of his being is based on strategy. It is a matter of knowing, timing, spirit, stance, gaze, approach. Physically, mentally, subconsciously and automatic…all part of “the way” of strategy. Not only does the warrior know himself in all of these ways, he knows his enemy in these ways as well.

    To follow a warrior is to study the way of strategy in the path of the warrior. To learn all aspects of “the way” as the warrior lives.

    I learned this “way of strategy” from a book written by a warrior of Japan in the mid 16th century. His name was Miyamoto Musashi and his book is titled A Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho). I say “I learned” by I should say “I am learning”. These teachings are not achieved just by reading a book. Each method and detail takes great study and concentration to achieve as a part of your life. It is not a long book, but it’s teachings are of great content. If you have not already read it, I highly recommend it.

    In all your endeavors..."Ganbatte" - Do your best!

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  2. Most of the examples we can conjure up about being a "warrior" find their substance in a warrior archetype. Physical prowess, code of conduct, bold action, self-sacrificing, and admirable as a human hero...just a few attributes of that archetype. Each culture has their own to point to: Ajax, Arjuna, and less known Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Chinese, and African figures.

    Today we seem to be seeking less a theme of violent action against an enemy, and more a life of action to protect others. Action defined by courage, self-sacrifice, and consistent commitment.

    This allows the archetype to inform the role of parent, partner, and professional.

    I.Welch

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  3. What it takes to be a Warrior can best be described in Chip and Jacks book, Unleashing The Power Of Unconditional Respect. One who reads the book, lives and breathes its concepts, and ultimately treats others with unconditional respect is a true warrior in my book.

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  4. Chip –

    Good stuff! What is a warrior and what does it mean to follow a warrior?

    The warrior, lives by strategy. And by living by strategy I mean, breathes it, tastes it, feels it, thinks it, hears it, smells it. Every part of his being is based on strategy. It is a matter of knowing, timing, spirit, stance, gaze, approach. Physically, mentally, subconsciously and automatic…all part of “the way” of strategy. Not only does the warrior know himself in all of these ways, he knows his enemy in these ways as well.

    To follow a warrior is to study the way of strategy in the path of the warrior. To learn all aspects of “the way” as the warrior lives.

    I learned this “way of strategy” from a book written by a warrior of Japan in the mid 16th century. His name was Miyamoto Musashi and his book is titled A Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho). I say “I learned” by I should say “I am learning”. These teachings are not achieved just by reading a book. Each method and detail takes great study and concentration to achieve as a part of your life. It is not a long book, but it’s teachings are of great content. If you have not already read it, I highly recommend it.

    As they say in Japan - "Ganbatte" - Do your best!

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  5. I agree with you that an "enlightened warrior" is a person (male/female) who stands ready: Ready for the physical, mental, and spiritual battles that come to him; ready to face those parts of his character that are found wanting, own them, and grow beyond their limiting factors; ready to be emotionally present to effectively orient to any situation; ready to be compassionate and conscious, utterly ruthless when called for, merciful when needed, and genuinely gentle to those who permit it. An enlightened warrior is a student of history and context, psychology, physiology, tactics (the study of time), weaponry and its expert application, sciences--all of life and learning fascinates a warrior. A warrior's life is broad rather than narrow.

    I believe we need to discuss among ourselves and with our students the difference between the "historical warrior"--rampaging, raping, murdering, ravaging locusts...extremely dangerous men whose very presence is threatening to everyone around them--which is, in my opinion, still very present in today's world, and the "enlightened warrior." Because s/he is multifaceted, and because of the commitment to learning and growing, the enlightened warrior is capable of effectively bringing the fight to the enemy in creative and inventive ways with exacting efficiency. But it is more than just "fighting." Having been in this game for more than three decades, I have met and worked with men and women I believed to be "enlightened warriors." A true warrior is a "whole" person. While capable of great violence, each had a presence of great safety to those around him or her, as well as a curiosity about the world that was irrepressible.

    A mujahideen, fighting the Russians in Afghanistan, said three weeks before he was killed in combat, "A man has to be prepared to do the right thing regardless of the cost." I have had this quote taped to my computer since 1987. While I believe that Islam is antithetical to Western civilization and is the greatest threat to our individual and collective survival, this warrior culture puts doing what they believe is "right" above their own lives. As a matter of routine and without question. While I ardently disagree with their value and belief system (having studied it in depth for over ten years--I'm currently reading, "The Suicide of Reason" by Lee Harris), I respect their warriors' commitment to their beliefs, however unenlightened I believe them to be.

    I believe a warrior has to be prepared to do the right thing regardless of the cost in every situation. When wrong, accept responsibility without question, stand tall, and take the consequences. Act with courage, especially in the small times of life when it would be "easy to let it slide." When faced with a fight to the death, meet it with your boots and spurs on, eyes open, and fight like hell on wheels.

    I love your phrasing: "The Warrior is tactically and interpersonally effective. The ideal balance of compassion, love, virtue and viciousness. A Warrior faces ALL her fears, both internal and external." This topic has always been a question of definition for me, and I appreciate you posting this topic. I think it is a very important question that all associated with the profession at arms must take up. Our definitions of ourselves actually do define our actions and beliefs.

    As always...good job, Chip. Be safe.

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  6. Chip-

    After reading the book you and Jack authored there is no question in my mind what defines a Warrior. It is one who lives, breathes, and has a deep understanding of the concepts identified in your book. It takes a true Warrior to treat people with unconditional respect.
    Keep up the good work.......

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  7. Hi Chip, just wanted to recognize your greatness as a trainer. I was in your handcuff training and it was more than i could have ever expected. Thanks!

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