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All my life I have had to fight. As a child in a family that constantly moved and changed schools, I had to fight to defend myself and my younger siblings in the days when school yard and neighborhood fights were just part of life. Since I was always one of the shortest and skinniest kids, I could not rely on strength or height but needed to learn strategy, tactics...especially evasion techniques...as well as how to ignore insults and "de-escalate" if possible. My father taught me to run fast, jump hurdles and endure tackling. I learned how to use humor, wild and unexpected physical as well as mental moves, and fight verbally. Soon I realized how to buddy up with stronger, bigger friends=mates=and how to back off, fight "dirty" and "live to fight another day". I became a fierce fighter, but I wasn't yet a warrior.
A true "warrior" trains and fights for peace. It may seem a contradiction and counter intuitive but those who relish disruption, discord, criminal exploits, who revel in creating chaos, cruelty and destruction seek out individuals, communities, tribes and nations who are not well defended, are not "warriors". They are the predators and they lust for prey. They have their own rules. They deviate from what is considered a code of "honor" but do not underestimate their strength.
Peace is only achieved and kept through strength. Strength must be cultivated, trained, practiced and combined with other means to expand and endure. Noble peace is founded on principles and virtuous ideals as well as action.
I suppose most people think those in the military (of any nation) are de facto "warriors" since they are taught to use weapons, to defend and to kill. However, throughout human history, we know because of written and illustrated historical texts and drawings; the most successful "warriors" are those who have a rigorous, disciplined, continual relentless training, who pledge to a cause and a higher purpose than themselves, and who commit to a code of honor within their cadre with severe consequences for disobedience. There are warriors who pledge to a ruler, a commander and there are spiritual warriors-warrior monks, warrior societies within tribes. There are human beings who war with the dark forces outside and inside themselves. There are warriors who "fight" to defend the land and all the creatures and natural resources therein, as part of their community. These are some of the significant differences between a true "warrior" and a member of the military.
There is a foundation of reverence in a warrior culture, a nation which values it's warriors and nations who limit their "fighting class". Warriors are not living just to fight but to keep the peace and protect their loved ones. Peace requires restraint, compromise, commitment, respect, trust, honor and protection.
It is my opinion that peace also requires "love". Warriors may love the act of fighting but more, they "love" the code, the ideals and way of life for which they fight. They "love" each other most when having to fight an outside force. You can sense this feeling most acutely when you are preparing and in the midst of a fight/battle. It is a bonding sensation almost as strong as when you give birth to your children and first hold him/her to your own skin. Poets describe these phenomena, yet no amount or careful choice of words can actually describe this energy. It would be like trying to describe swimming in the ocean to someone who has never seen nor swum in an ocean. You can only approximate. You have to experience "the fight" to actually know what the historians, poets, singers and soldiers are speaking about when they attempt to recount the feats of a "warrior".
The warrior culture within most of the over 500 Native American tribes in North America are the longest living line of warriors on the planet. Their codes, feats, ceremonies can be dated back tens of thousands of years. We have the scientific knowledge to understand that when certain people say that they have "warrior blood" or that certain attributes are "in their DNA" they are correct in terms of epigenetics. www.geneticsdigest.com/epigenetics-a-beginners-guide-to-how-it-works-examples/ The behavior, thought patterns and muscle memories can be transferred down generations. See a short documentary about Native American warrior culture for men and women throughout US history, entitled "The Warrior Tradition" at this link: www.spiritalk.net/
What is left out of historical accounts of battles and training, is the root of Native American warrior societies, which is "ceremony". The spiritual component to becoming a warrior is integral although specific rituals and the way ceremonies are conducted are unique to each tribe. . Only in the last hundred years or so, have inter tribal ceremonies been created to include those who may have lost their traditions through genocidal actions. The true warrior does not act only because of a paycheck, in fact they should not expect any "reward" in return for a noble or heroic feat. There are usual celebrations for victory and return but these are also part of "ceremonial warrior culture".
There are no short cuts for traditional ceremonies if conducted by an actual tribal elder, "Medicine" man/woman who has undergone the trials, lessons and ceremonies over many years and been known to have the "power" necessary to be an intercessor. You cannot just "sign up" to be a "warrior" there are a number of signs you need to receive and you have to be selected/chosen to undertake the grueling training and be humble enough to accept correction and even be told "you are not ready" or "this is not for you". This process takes years, not weeks or months.
The Shaolin warriors of China are arguably the second longest line of living warrior societies tracing their ancestry in what is now the Henan province of China, back over 4,000 years. Their powers, discipline and successes have been written in history and legend for over 2,500 years in the East. Only in the 20th century was the West introduced to a few of the Shaolin fighters, warrior monks, philosophy and "exercises". American television and film both demonized and mythologized Kung Fu and Shaolin training. Bruce Lee became and still is a worldwide martial arts icon, however there are tens of thousands of Shaolin over the last hundred years and most keep a low profile especially in the new surveillance/social "credit" system in place in communist China.
Shaolin have a sad history of being betrayed by Chinese emperors, foreign "allies" and their own governments. They still maintain their traditions and vows although the Chinese government has made Dengfeng (sacred Shaolin/Kung Fu training center) more like a theme park similar to what happened to some Native American tribal members who were put on display and in rodeo/clown and "western traveling shows" as a not so subtle way to denigrate them and make a profit off them. More restrictions and scrutiny are put on Shaolin monasteries and training schools and Shaolin keep having to go further up into their mountains. Shaolin need their privacy and certain traditions are not written down but only passed on from Shifu (masters) to student and in person. Not everyone is meant to train Shaolin or become a Shaolin "warrior" or "monk" it takes years of rigorous training, observation by the Shifu and/or monks, dedication and destiny. There are certain physical requirements which have proven to be necessary and should not be overlooked. The Shaolin in Dengfeng "theme park" area in Henan province is open to tourists. They have had to lower their standards because of the communist government interference. Because of this, the acrobatics and physical endurance are "performance" oriented but as my Shifu's pointed out when we visited there....they have "no power". They have lost the "qi" and they are trained as if in a factory, not individually.
Shaolin vow never to murder/kill. They vow to protect, defend and if necessary restrain those trying to harm them or any in their communities, or anyone who is vulnerable, weak and in need of help. They are not to deliberately kill. They have their own strict form of Buddhism which is often seen as antithetical to government aims. Communist governments demand atheism and subservience to "the state". Reverence for "masters", family, ancestors is actively and insidiously disparaged. The silence used in training is being replaced by mandatory, government approved patriotic songs, chants and political sayings blasted into training centers and schoolyards continuously combined with surveillance cameras and large screens displaying the "President for Life" photos, videos and admonitions. This is done to supplant/replace the centuries of Shaolin wisdom, codes of honor and loyalty. It is heart breaking to behold.
Throughout human history we have records of warrior societies such as the Assyrians, Spartans, the Romans, Vikings, Mongols, Samurai, Zulu, Aztec, the Knights, Nepalese Gurkas, the Diyak (wild men) of Borneo and Maori. Most of these warrior cultures and societies have died out. A few have their traditions partially intact but the majority of their ancestral lines are mixed and their training has been watered down and redirected toward entertainment as a means of income. Weapons and gear have changed significantly. Training the whole human being in all aspects-physical, emotional, spiritual-needs complete support and isolation from the wider world. Few can afford to keep such cultures in contemporary society. (see photos below)
Unfortunately, there are "fighting" societies which train and maintain their "legions" for criminal purposes. They use some of the same exercises as ancient warrior cultures have used successfully, but combine their inculcation with fear, terror, cruel punishments, ruthless competition and excesses as rewards. Did you know the Assyrians created many of the strategies used in modern armies and by Daesh/ISIS including psyops, slavery, torture/interogation? They also recounted what is known now as Post Trauma reactions. Watch this clip for more specifics: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c5Wip0STNI
In their own minds, their leaders consider themselves as warriors and will even preach to their captive audiences that they are part of a "war" on another religion, another ideology, another group of people who are "infidels", "inferior", "capitalists", etc. They will twist their "codes" to require killing, stealing, raping, torturing, kidnapping, destroying property of their "tribe". They will recruit people who are easy to manipulate, who are psychopaths and who can supply them with any skills they need and who have money and resources. They exploit children as "product", "weapons" and "exchange". They have the most sophisticated recruitment tactics, IT, communication methods and they know how to break rules, codes and spirits. I suggest you read this recent report and watch the embedded video to be reminded of how present these threats are: www.breitbart.com/europe/2019/12/15/cubs-of-the-caliphate-isis-boy-tells-reporter-we-will-slaughter-you/
This is not new. The Hashshashins of Persia and Syria, (where the word "assassin" is derived) the Ninjas of Japan, the Mamluks, the mercenaries of the Foreign Legion, and criminal organizations of La Cosa Nostra to Vor v Zakone, prison gangs and cartels have a fierce and bloody history which continues to this day. Their existence is a compelling reason why the "warrior ethos" needs to be maintained and nurtured through the next generations. They adapt their methods and refine their tactics-we must never be behind. Remaining vigilant must be an integral part of the warrior's life and essential component of a "free society".
Signing off with a video from Dengfeng at the Fawang Shaolin temple in Henan province. It is for advertising, but you do get a glimpse of a part of the morning training for older children. Training is usually 5 hours a day six days a week. Some days training is hours longer depending on the season. www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIpXjISZtZ8
The training center I was at last winter (November-April) was not in the commercial part of Dengfeng and was "rougher" in terms of facilities, but the natural beauty of the mountains, and the deeply good hearts of the Shifus and their authentic training was a privilege to participate in with over 500 Chinese children. For their privacy I will not include any photos here, but do intend to describe my time there in my next book.
Happy Holidays wherever you may be...