Editor’s Note: This week’s Beast Life is brought to you by none other than the Dark Triad Man himself, my friend Ivan Throne. This week’s topic was the importance of self defense, and I knew that it would best be written by a true master.
Martial training has been prevalent in human society and culture from the very dawn of human social structures. As apex predators focused both outwards on prey species and inwards on warlike dominance, we have from time immemorial sought to cement predatory outcomes by the twin goals of reducing risk and increasing predictability of engagements.
The individual martial traditions of both East and West developed from and focused upon those twin pillars of attrition and stacking: paring away the useless and adding to the repertoire of the warrior.
History repeats itself. And similarly, cultural cycles of hard times and hard men, weak times and weak men go through an inexorable roundabout of transition.
Today the man of the West finds himself in an odd and unusual crossroads. The risks to his family, his community, his country and civilization are ever increasingly more profound even as his natural ferocity is subordinated to transient political directives of tolerance and multiculturalism, of practical weakness masquerading as moral strength and grotesque spiritual abandonment upheld as a pinnacle of cultural development.
This is not sustainable, and men with eyes to see and ears to hear are well aware of it.
Martial training is a connection to the root of the human being as an apex predator.
It is why it touches the full development of the human being.
It is why, when approached and conducted correctly, it is a powerful augmentation to your natural state. It is also why, when conducted inappropriately, it is a dangerous diversion into fantasy.
You are responsible for the correctness of your training.
It is easier, and more difficult, than the common man realizes.
The common man believes in magic, in wizardry and drama.
The warrior believes in sweat, consistency and reality.
Strong, fit and staying alive in the real world.
Today’s vast availability of empty calories, artificial propounded safety and entitled cultural spiral has produced circumstances where the common man is not merely bound by unsustainable media illusions, but also passes through his life bereft of the stresses that ensured a minimum subsistence level of personal hardness for our forebears.
This is a deleterious and dangerous circumstance, one that has been deepening for generations in the West. Death is sanitized and removed from your daily experience. Threat of pillage and fire, raiding lords on horseback rampaging through your community and harvesting your crops and young women, are no longer an expected part of Western life. Feudal banners planted outside your city walls and the starvation of siege are now merely distant cultural memories.
In one respect this is a good thing.
How wonderful to live a life where insurgent warlords do not track your crops into the mud and torch you screaming from your homes! What joy there is in a life where peace is the standard, and hard lessons on the heels of illusion are not a foregone denouement!
Yet the dark world does not change, and your raw physical strength and fitness must remain a bulwark against the inevitability of risk and human danger.
It is an important beginning.
Strength and fitness must be recovered.
The most pervasive damage on the lives of men sustained by the advance of our digital world is the removal of physical hardship. Where once even the dread lord of the castellan was required to maintain reasonable skill at arms and the ability to ride a horse at gallop, today even the meanest and most miserable serf easily spends his entire day seated and staring, moving a hand on a mouse and fingers on a keyboard as the pinnacle of his daily exertion.
Do you believe that men are so far removed from the feudal age that the value of physical strength is gone? Are you convinced that physical fitness is no longer applicable in the great contests of human destiny?
Are you prepared to sacrifice yourself and your loved ones upon that idle and infectious complacency?
I tell you today that the dark world remains what it is, and so does the simple nature of human beings.
We are predators. More than that, men are apex predators, and there is none so cruel or dangerous.
There is no altruistic forgiveness among strangers when individual survival is at stake.
Thus strength and fitness are the basal foundations of warrior power.
Observe those men who are upheld as the elevated paradigms of martial expertise. Consider Morihei Ueshiba, the great sensei of aikido, memorable as a wizened, tiny ancient who espoused wisdom and world peace and forthright calm from the heart of sublime and seamless skill.
Discover his survival through wintry storms and his work as a firefighter! Appreciate his background as a far-right paramilitary nationalist, who trekked through the harsh lands of Mongolia as part of a group responsible for targeted killings, spycraft and sabotage. Consider the physical demands placed upon a man famed for defeating seasoned, merciless opponents in aggressive, repeated individual combat.
It was not enlightenment that preserved Morihei through the storms of the Mongolian badlands. Nor was it elevated, spiritual perspective that kept his body going through the stress of repeated duels.
It was strength. It was physical hardness and ability to live despite cruel interventions of the dark world.
Never forget the demands of the world or of men. They are placed upon each one of us.
They rest upon you, and never lightly.
Ensure you possess strength and physical fitness to withstand them.
Train the body, mind and heart with reality at the forefront.
Your training for martial competence involves not simply the physical body, subjecting it to stress and rigor, meeting repeatedly increased demands of power and explosiveness.
Your training must also work the mind and heart.
Far too many men understand this to be a matter of seeking enlightenment, of pursuing calm and wisdom in the tumult of living.
This is an approach from an illusory direction.
Your training of the heart is not in pursuing rare and esoteric wisdom, but in learning to overcome hardship and the human experiences of sorrow and loss, regret and resentment until such a deep resiliency is achieved that the immovable spirit is a part of who you are.
Your training of the mind consists not of memorizing platitudes and koans and formulaic recitations of virtue signal, but in critical thinking and exploration of doubts and accepting the full array of shocking, transforming realizations that come from discovering your own errors as they crash against the rocks of the dark world.
It is brutal and bloody seasoning that gives birth to the peaceful heart of the master, not imitation.
It is real living that drives wisdom into the body of knowledge cultivated by the scholar.
It is hard won awareness of limitations that informs the decisions of the practitioner.
In the integration of these things with the strong and hardened body of the warrior lies the path of the one who has faced the worst life can offer, and survived it, and thereby earned the respect of others as sensei.
Sensei, he who has walked the path before.
And survived it, with success.
This is the demand of realism.
One does not cultivate powerful survival skills from digital illusion.
They come from the living world, the dark one that we are inexorably killed within.
Learn this well, and grasp what it means.
Tumble and turn the raw material and the manifestation!
How fit, strong and trained complement each other
“Tumble and turn,” Ivan says.
What does this mean for the practitioner of martial skills, who wishes to increase his resiliency and competence, his power and anti-fragility in the realm of human combat?
It means complementing strength with competence, skill and hardness, so that the failure points of one are supported with the other just as they are stacked and layered and brought to bear as conjoined values in the moment of impact.
Where the posture of the combatant is in error and he suffers the blow of an adversary, it is hardness of body and frame that makes the difference between continuation of movement and collapse.
When the strength of the man who fights for his life is failing, it is his timing, distancing and angling that can nonetheless see him through to survival despite the overwhelming muscle of his opponent.
As the fragility of age and its loss of muscle become an unavoidable and visible weakness, the advanced practitioner employs the critical perspective of experienced intelligence to avoid danger long before it arises.
How much more powerful a blow becomes when brutal strength and sinew accelerate perfect alignment and targeting!
How decisive the cut becomes when raw muscle and mass drive the shimmering blade forward with relaxed and instinctive precision!
The dark world is a place of reality.
Strength matters. Skill matters. Grim, hardened frame matters. Repetitively practiced movement that is firmly ingrained in the fiber of the human being, matters.
It is an infinitely immediate moment where the decision of life and death is made.
Own that moment through complete and rounded development.
Pointers for getting started.
Where does this leave the man who now stands from his keyboard, hitches up his business casual slacks and realizes he cannot even throw his office chair across the room?
It leaves him alive, and able to change and grow.
It finds him equipped with potential, which can be turned to the most critical and irreplaceable heart of all forms of martial training, and that which he must learn to embrace and embody.
The heart of training is purpose.
You must have sacred purpose behind your training.
That purpose is the heart of you. From your purpose all other questions flow!
Why should you survive?
Why should you not be killed?
What might you need to do, and why?
Who depends upon you to return home alive?
These questions are the essential foundation that will drive your commencement of growth and transformation into a more powerful human being. You must ask and answer them, tumble and turn them, examine your heart and motivations – and from a perspective of icy honesty.
From that honesty will rise authenticity, and authenticity is the heart of power.
It is from that authentic heart that the mind will find stable basis to investigate, and further from there that the physical body is best developed to meet the requirements the mind has formulated in service to the heart of your sacred purpose.
The birth of your training must flow from your purpose.
Your purpose must be shaped from your honest and critical mind.
The body is then forged, in strength and skill, to meet what is demanded.
And thereby an integrated, comprehensively correct and properly forged being is created.
From that basis, seek out your arena of growth with care.
The wrong one will destroy you.
Practical dojo selection reminders for the common man.
Once the correct nature of the Way is understood, the inherent profit of strength and fitness are valued, and the foundations of sacred purpose and meaning are entrenched – how does one select a dojo or choose a martial tradition to study and absorb, practice and perhaps ultimately master?
This is often something that those who are young in experience needlessly obsess over.
Should you select a Japanese, Chinese or Korean tradition? Is hard or soft kung fu better? Is one ryū -ha more officially authentic? Which teacher is the “real” teacher of any particular method?
Return to the basics. Recall your purpose, remember what you face in the dark world.
You do not face arts or traditions.
You face men.
Thus it is men you must train to accommodate or overthrow, to avoid or smash, as dictated by the circumstances and environment and in accordance with your purpose.
To train to face men, you must train with men. And there lies the point of your assessments, and the practical approach to selecting a dojo.
You must select the men.
The dojo or kwoon must be a place you are happy to be. The teacher must exhibit and foster healthy thinking in his students. The man who heads the dojo must exude a healthy spirit that does not fixate on the stroking of ego or titillation of observers, but rather the grave and serious purpose that you have chosen for your driver upon the Way.
This does not mean that grim, unsmiling rectitude is the correct path. The dojo must be a place you are glad and delighted to enter, where there is support and respect for the individual as his pursuit of experience and experimentation takes place.
The best dojo is where the worst examples of human cruelty and ugliness are competently and safely dissected. It is a place of consistently demanded realism, of promoted development, where exploration and discovery are married and assiduously cultivated until they become more than the mere sum of their psychic parts.
The most rewarding investment for your time and money is the development of actual skill, reliably usable in the shatteringly dangerous environment of the real world, and delivered through a framework of genuine respect, authentic care and honest friendship.
Men who care about you do not wish to see you killed.
Men who do not wish to see you killed will teach you what they know.
Men who understand the grave reality of the dark world appreciate the importance of love and compassionate respect, and share their hard and painfully won knowledge because they care.
Align your sacred purpose with the declared mission of the establishment you select as your home dojo. As they accord, so will one drive and enhance the other… or failing that, destroy both.
Align your values with the organization and cultural mores of the home dojo. As you dive deeper into exercises designed to expose you to the reality of grapple and throw, strike and cut, you will inevitably take on the flavor of the group and hierarchy you study beside.
Align and contrast your experience and expectations, always thinking critically, and compare the teaching you receive to the real world you have experienced. Balance the truths you have learned through life with the instruction you encounter, and in that sifting take note of new gems that have not previously penetrated your awareness.
Once more I tell you: you are responsible for your own training.
Own it. Never abdicate it.
And in that manner, with that habit, you will advance.
Clarity, consistency and joy.
The most fundamental reason we train is because to live is a joyful thing.
Training should reflect this, and be a source of laughter and appreciation as well as profound and stark from moment to moment.
Thus heed what I tell you today, and put it to profitable use as you commence exploration in the martial methods. You must be clear why you are training.
Your training must be consistent, and you must find pleasure and camaraderie and support in your training environment.
Most of all, you must adhere to the reality that is demanded for accurate cultivation of survival skills.
I do not speak of martial arts.
Art is the province of one who has transcended form, who has mastered principles, studied methods and ceaselessly practiced techniques until all of them are a seamless and inseparable blend of personal and individual expression.
Art comes later.
Survival comes first.
Get strong, my brothers, and train hard.
If you survive, art will come in time.
Until that day, train well.
About the Author:
IVAN THRONE is the bestselling author of THE NINE LAWS. He is a powerful speaker, business manager
and seasoned veteran of the financial industry with over thirty years of study in the classical Japanese
military fighting arts. His vivid lessons and ruthless mentoring for the hard and often cruel demands of
our pitiless high performance world have helped millions of people across social media deeply connect
with radical, authentic success to the joys of partners, lovers, colleagues and clients.