The Warrior Sage

My friend Jack Hoban  often jokes about how easy it is being a "Warrior Sage" for a couple hour class or weekend seminar, but then there's the rest of your life. There is how your students see you and then there is the rest of the world. Your significant other, sibling or best friend probably has a much different perspective of your sage like qualities compared to that guy or gal who read your book, watched all of your videos and is hanging on your every "enlightened" word of inspiration regarding human nature and the path of the Bodhisattva Warrior.

But all cliche's aside, if you are training protector tactics, self defense, personal protection, etc. there is a reason and benefit for you (professional protectors or not) to find someone or group of someones who are helping you to clarify, connect and sustain this warrior ethos. Being an Ethical Protector as Jack says, or a PeaceWalker in my lingo is essential.


Because if you don't it can be detrimental to your own well being. If you are just training for physical effectiveness minus the ethics of being a protector you may find yourself beginning to see the world in a different way and that view will cause you to make decisions that may increase the violence you were initially trying to defend yourself (and others) from. You may even become the very problem you are training to prevent.

When I was younger I would train with anyone who I thought I could benefit from regarding learning martial arts and defensive tactics. I would even seek out people who saw a lot of "action," meaning instructors who had experienced real violence. I often let my perspective overlook a fair amount of "character flaws" in them. Now don't get me wrong, we can learn something from anyone or thing, however be careful who you continue to train and surround yourself with because that "Out Thug the Thug" mentality is challenging to contain only in your training. The next thing you know you may likely develop a perspective of aggression and violence to others in general. The line between "us" and "them" broadens and it really becomes more about your fear, ego and relative values. Your "tribe" shrinks which can increase the violence (emotionally, verbally, physically, socially, spiritually, etc). Not to mention because psychologically speaking we will seek to feel good about ourselves, we will begin to narrate a story that will support our fear mongering, out thug the thug perspective and actions to ensure that we are justifying our beliefs and behavior, keeping us the "good guys" so to speak. The hidden, yet circular validation process becomes a vicious cycle of disrespect and violence. Eventually you may become a tribe of one! Treating others with disrespect that causes or increases violence.

Because training in defensive tactics deals with human conflict including hurting, maiming and possibly even taking someones life; it has to be done from the right perspective, with the right heart. If it is approached in the wrong way it could not only harm the other person, but it can also physically and emotionally harm you if you are not careful about your ethical and physical training methods.

This is even more important when responding to incidents such as the recent terrorist attack's in France, Beirut and Kenya. In the wake of such violence it is human to feel a wide array of emotions: Anger, fear, sadness, frustration, helplessness, uncertainty, etc. People want to do something. We want something solid to push against, to defeat, for justice, or maybe revenge and to feel safe again. Unfortunately it's not that simple. It's not conventional warfare. It's not army vs. army as much as conflict within our boarders. No longer is it the foreigners "over there" it's our neighbors, our customers, our vendors, cousins, friends and family. We can try to make higher fences, wider rivers or more check points to keep the threat out, but it will be minimally effective at best. Our worst fear is the truth: The threat isn't outside of us, it's in each of us. 

Terrorist attacks in France, Beirut, Kenya, Israel, 9/11 - Incidents in Saint Louis, Baltimore, Ferguson, Sandy Hook & Fort Hood, Boston bombing, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Texas bell tower, McVay, Kaczynski, Rodney King incident, Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, segregation, Rwanda, Khmer Rouge, the Holocaust, Stalin's Holodomor, Mao's Great Leap Forward, the KKK,  slavery, wounded knee, the trail of tears...

What do all of these things have in common? Incidents where individuals or groups of individuals put their relative values over the value of other peoples lives. Many of these situations were carried out by people from within the very society in which they lived. Each, in their own unique way convinced themselves (and in some cases many followers), that their beliefs were more important than someone else's life. This belief justified the decisions they made leading to their acts of violence.

About now you may be thinking that I am naive, unrealistic and very liberal; none of which are accurate. I believe that we should have a strong defensive position and be willing to bring down a good ole' fashioned ass whoopin' on folks who go around hurting and killing people over their relative beliefs, but at the same time we have to be careful not to let our emotions get the better of us. We have to have the clarity and skill to see through our emotions to the tactical space and ultimately to the Life Value that we are trying to protect. Doing the right thing without over reacting or reacting in the wrong way isn't going to help anything or anyone. It is easy to do both of these things if we're not careful.

I have always liked Teddy Roosevelt. He was far from perfect, however he was one of my favorite presidents. His words; "Speak softly, but carry a big stick" always made good sense to me. Keep in mind that when you use that big stick you should:

A) Know when to use your stick.
B) Know when to not use your stick.
C) Know how to use your stick (skillfully).
D) Know why you're using your stick.
E) Know how much whoopin' is needed to solve the problem.
F) Know when to stop using your stick.
G) Be clear that using your stick is the last resort. (So you don't end up with regrets [aka PTSD], false justification and more [or more resolve] enemies).  
H) Know what to do after the whoopin'.

Seek to be an individual/society who is well versed in being a protector not just physically, but ethically, emotionally, verbally, socially, etc. It is essential for healthy development, making better decisions, creating a better global community and living a more fulfilling life. The skills, technology and resources that we are developing should protect life, not simply create profit or inflict injury. If we are training to out thug the thug, don't be surprised if we actually become one ourselves.

Is it risky being an Ethical Protector? You bet it is! That's why you have to be good! 

In the words of Iwo Jima Marine and cold war conflict resolutionist Dr. Robert Humphrey:

Where ever you go everyone's safer because your there.
Where ever you are someone in need has a friend.
When ever you go home people are glad you are there.

It's a better life.

Keep going,


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