Saturday, May 16, 2009

Grossman&Christensen on the Warrior Spirit

Grossman&Christensen's On Combat is an outstanding text on the psychology and physiology of people under extreme stress. I mentioned in my previous review that parts of it mesh directly with a ongoing conversation we're having here on Mokuren Dojo. I'm referring to the Warrior Spirit discussion – whether or not there is really such a thing as a warrior... If so, what is the warrior spirit... That discussion.
Several well-known martial arts bloggers have jumped in on this topic, including...
A warrior is someone who makes war for a living. Period. It's not some autonomous, independent, noble killing machine, some reborn knight or paragon. It is someone who is paid money to make big problems go away, often in a messy fashion. Never been in a war? Not a warrior. Get over it. I know that there is a myth and an industry building up around the 'warrior identity' but there are parts of it that I really don't get.
I have come to be of the opinion that a true “Warrior” is someone who goes out into the world and engages in some sort of activity that serves someone other than himself. Soldiers, firefighters, EMT’s, LEO’s and numerous other professions can fit this description. That being said, being a “warrior” isn’t just having a job. There are plenty of people in those ranks that are just “grunts”. Being a “warrior” implies a level of dedication, mindset and professionalism that places one in a different class.
Well, I personally think that the Warrior Spirit does exist...
For the record, I disagree with the folks that say that there is no such thing as a warrior, or that it is a romanticized glorification of violence by weekend soldier-of-fortune wannabes, or that it is an artifact of imperialistic nationalism. The Warrior Spirit is a vague thing, but it does exist, it is noble in some sense, and is worth defining and discussing.
...and On Combat backs me up...
If you are in a war, you are a warrior. Is there a war on drugs? Is there a war on crime? Is there a war on terrorism? Are you confronting and containing aggression as a peace officer at home, a peacekeeper in some distant land, or a warrior combating terrorism around the world? Or perhaps you have chosen to be a martial arts practitioner or an armed citizen, seeking to defend yourself or your loved ones in their hour of need? Are there people out there who wake up every morning determined to send you back to your family in a box?
Then you are in a war and you are a warrior. (page xix)
If you are interested in the Warrior Spirit, or if you think you might be a warrior or even just know a warrior, you really ought to read this book. Great material by two guys who have been there and done that and really know the territory.
Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: or phone 601.248.7282
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