Category Archives: Who are We ?

In an age of Facebook and Twitter it’s increasing more important to understand who we are as individuals, citizens, and warrior brothers.

Strength and Honor

What Does It Mean to be in a Tribe.

What is a Tribe?

A tribe is viewed, developmentally or historically, as a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states. A tribe is a group of distinct people, dependent on their land for their livelihood, who are largely self-sufficient, and not integrated into the national society. It is perhaps the term most readily understood and used by the general public. Stephen Corry defines tribal people as those who “…have followed ways of life for many generations that are largely self-sufficient, and are clearly different from the mainstream and dominant society”.This definition, however, would not apply to countries in the Middle East such as Iraq, where the entire population is a member of one tribe or another, and tribalism itself is dominant and mainstream.

Thor: The Ultimate Example of What it Means To Be a Man

What we can learn from Thor.

When looking at the three pillars of manhood — Protect, Provide, Procreate — Thor arguably embodies them all more than almost any other god in any culture’s mythology. Though he’s not the pinnacle of “goodness,” he’s the ultimate example of being good at being a man (or a god, that is). Thor uses his strength to defend his own honor, as well as that of his friends, family, and loved ones; he’s the ultimate defender of the perimeter. His tools help him provide for his family, but he knows how to improvise should he need to. And even though we don’t know many details about his family, he does indeed procreate and helps raise up the next generation of world-creators.

While Odin represented the cultivation of the mind and the attainment of wisdom, Thor represents the cultivation of the body. Physical strength is just as important as mental strength; just because it’s not as needed in our current climate doesn’t make it a less worthy pursuit. In the Viking age, those men who deftly combined the characteristics of Thor with those of Odin (as well as other gods) were the most revered and fulfilled. They could recite poetry and engage in “battles” of words and rhymes (yes, the Vikings had rap battles), but could also maneuver a hefty battle axe and willingly sacrifice themselves for their family and community. May we emulate those Viking men of old, and seek to better not just our minds, but our bodies as well, using Thor as our compass.

 

Strength and Honor.

The Lost Art of Manliness

The Lost Art of Manliness

If it seems that political correctness has made real men something of an endangered species, it’s not as bad as you think. Real men have always been a rare commodity. For the majority of the male species, it is far easier to sit down, shut up, and do as we’re told. It has historically been the duty of only a precious few to act as bulwarks against the rising tide of male mediocrity. This is the order of things.

In Heaven’s name, be a man, sir! Your pitiful whining sickens me!
Alan Moore, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman

We looked up to manly men. They raised the bar, and gave us someone to emulate and in the process, improved our collective masculinity. In our heart of hearts, we all wanted to be Frank Sinatra or Clint Eastwood or David Hackworth. We wanted to be worthy of nicknames like Old Blood and Guts or The Chairman of the Board. And if we never quite cut the same swath, we took solace in the fact that we had at least fought the good fight.

Our heroes were larger-than-life, but at the same time, unflinchingly human. Audie Murphy was the most-decorated American soldier in history, but gambled away a fortune. Theodore Roosevelt ranks among the greatest of the U.S. Presidents, but believed in forced sterilization. Sean Connery, his mustache, and his Scottish burr all could have separate entries in the Encyclopedia of Manliness, but said it was okay to slap a woman, as long as you didn’t use a closed fist.

Somewhere along the way, it became unfitting to possess those qualities that, while they could make us terrible, could also make us great. Suddenly, we had to apologize, seemingly, merely for being men.

No, if there is mourning to be held, let it be for the slow, tortuous demise of the idea of manliness as a virtue. Yet before we sound the final death-knell, let us examine once more what exactly makes a real man. Let us do this in the hopes that more will take up the standard and keep the ideals alive.

Borrowing heavily from the leadership principles of the U.S. Army, an organization known for its manly men, you can say that a real man must Be, Know, and Do certain things to master the lost Art of Manliness.

He has an air of honest manliness, too, which in these days of fribbles and counter-coxcombs, I own I find refreshing.
Georgette Heyer, Bath Tangle

It’s all about character. By simply being true to those innate qualities that make up the best part of himself, a real man will stand out in a world of lesser men whose convictions change with the direction of popular opinion.

A real man must Be Confident. Nothing promotes loyalty in men and attraction in women more than a leader who is calm and self-assured. The goal isn’t false arrogance or foolhardiness. No, a real man exudes a confidence based on his own determination and abilities. Deep within himself, a real man knows that whatever situation may arise, a cool head and a steady hand is often all that is needed for him to come out on top.

When Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader of the Royal Air Force lost his legs in a crash in 1931, he knew that his life in the skies wasn’t over. He re-qualified as a combat pilot, and is credited with over 20 kills during World War II. When he was finally shot down and made a German prisoner-of-war, he made numerous escape attempts, until finally his captors had to take away his artificial legs to keep him in one place.

A real man must Be Courageous. There is no substitute for physical and moral courage. Manly courage means recognizing the situation and the difficulty, and when necessary, going forward anyway. He knows that as a man, he has duties and obligations that sometimes come before self.

Jackie Robinson had a well-earned reputation for not kowtowing under racial pressure. In college, and again in the Army, Robinson faced legal trouble for confronting racist antagonists. When he was chosen to be the first African-American to play Major League Baseball, Robinson, understanding what was at stake, agreed to have “the guts to not fight back.” He endured immeasurable abuse, but continued to carry himself with dignity and grace, and today, his number, 42, has been unanimously retired by baseball.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects
Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough For Love (Lazarus Long)

It’s all about knowledge. A real man must acquire and use the knowledge necessary to master the world in which he lives. This knowledge can and should include a well-rounded formal education, but that is by no means the only path. Frequently, men must learn by doing–by rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty. Farmer or philosopher, poet or pugilist, men who are to truly be men seek out that knowledge which best affords them the opportunity to control their own destiny.

A real man must Know Himself. A man who has a keen sense of self-awareness, one who is sure of both his abilities and his liabilities, can be formidable, indeed. Because such a man lacks the uncertainty and crippling self-doubt that handicaps other men, he is able to surmount obstacles that otherwise thwart him.

By now, the story of Kurt Warner’s Hollywood-esque rise from an overnight grocery sacker working for minimum wage to a NFL Super Bowl champion with a bust in the Hall of Fame is familiar to most people. Although it’s hard to imagine now, there was a time that most people had never heard of him. After his breakout season, Sports Illustrated put him on its cover, asking “Who Is This Guy?” In reality, it seems that his seemingly-sudden ability to play at the highest levels came as a surprise of everyone–everyone, that is, except Kurt himself. “This is how I expect myself to play. If you look at the things I’ve done over the past few years…when there’s a play to be made, I expect myself to make it.”

A real man must Know How to Accomplish Things. To live a truly manly and independent life, a man must possess a wide variety of skills that can be called upon when necessary. When the chips are down, the wolves are at the door, and the Zombie Apocalypse has begun, others will turn to the nearest real man, because they know that his knowledge and skill may be the only thing standing between them and certain doom. They know that somewhere within his repertoire, a real man will have the maximum effective anti-Zombie solution at the ready.

Captain Sir Richard Burton is remembered as one of the explorers of the Victorian Era. He spoke twenty-nine languages, and used this skill to travel to areas in Africa and Asia never before seen by white Europeans. . A true Renaissance man, Burton could have been called, at various times of his life, an explorer, cartographer, soldier, spy, author, falconer, translator, diplomat, and master fencer. Among his accomplishments were visiting Mecca in disguise as an Arab, and bringing the first translation of the Kama Sutra to Europe. Known also as “Ruffian Dick” during his Army days, it was said he had fought more enemies in single combat than any other man of his era. At one point during his explorations, he was impaled through both cheeks by a spear, and escaped by riding away with the shaft still in his face.

Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It’s all about action. Even the best character, knowledge, and even intentions in the world do not matter if we refuse to do anything. Two of the defining characteristics of a real man are his ability to recognize a problem and his willingness to take action to solve it. Put another way, you could that say that what makes a real man is his inability to simply sit on the sidelines when something needs doing.

A real man Does the Right Thing. Faced with a choice between expediently violating his own personal ethos and facing hardship for adhering to his principles, a true man will typically view that as no choice at all. A real man decisively acts for those things he believes to be right, and damns the consequences to himself.

By her own recollections, the wife of Oskar Schindler says he did nothing remarkable with his life either before or after World War II. A deeply flawed man with an askew moral compass, Schindler originally was merely a wealthy industrialist member of the Nazi Party hoping to make war profits by manufacturing items for the German military. He had an attack of conscience when he saw firsthand the atrocities committed during a 1943 Nazi raid on a Krakow ghetto. At great risk to himself, Schindler began to protect the Jewish workers in his factory. Through a combination or bribes, false statements, guile, and his own considerable force of personality, he convinced the Nazi party that his workers were essential to the war effort and could not be sent to concentration camps. Over the span of six war years, 1939 to 1945, his actions directly resulted in the preservation of the lives of 1200 of his Jewish workers. Oskar Schindler bankrupted himself to achieve this, and died penniless. Today, he is the only former Nazi Party member who is buried in Israel.

A real man Does More with Less. With four pieces of clothing, a real man can dress for almost any occasion, and if he has WD-40 and duct tape, he can affect repairs on nearly anything. A master of re-purposing, lateral thinking, and possessing an uncanny ability to squeeze every possible bit of use from what he has on hand, a real man realizes that the only tools he every truly needs are his hands and his brain. Everything else is just bonus.

The Apollo missions were a perfect example of masculine teamwork. Brainy real men were expected to send other real men into space, and, hopefully, bring them home, using machines that had less computing power than the average smart phone. As might be expected, this did not always go smoothly. During the infamous Apollo 13 mission, en route to the moon, the spacecraft suffered a catastrophic malfunction when an oxygen tank exploded. The entire lunar mission was scrapped, and the only objective became a scramble to bring the astronauts home alive. With resupply impossible, the ground and flight crews worked together to formulate on-the-spot plans to handle this unforeseen circumstance. Rather than panic or give up, the two crews ingeniously cannibalized existing on-board items to jury-rig a field expedient apparatus suitable to remove carbon dioxide from the craft’s environment just long enough to return to Earth. Everyone on board survived.

Being, Knowing, and doing the right things at the right time isn’t always politically correct or diplomatically possible. Real men and their ideals and actions should lay sacrosanct outside the purview of milquetoast naysayers who quail at the sight of blood and turn up their noses at the exhilaration felt from a live lived near the bone. Manliness is a lost art that celebrates our ascension to our rightful place atop the food chain, and as such, is a philosophy worth adopting. Only by embracing the noblest parts of the savage and beautiful beast within us, can we be sure that manliness of men, by men, and for all men shall not perish from this earth.

7 Lessons from Socrates on Wisdon, Wealth, and the Good Life

 

deathofsocrates_large_large

What is the Good Life? What is the meaning of Strength and Honor to you?

 

 

What is the Good Life ?

Our character is molded by the choices we made each and everyday.  I’ve found that these 7 lessons from Socrates help me bridge the gap between the person I am and the person I strive to become.

 

1.  “Those who are already wise no longer love wisdom – whether they are gods or men. Similarly, those whose own ignorance has made them bad, rotten, evil, do not strive for wisdom either. For no evil or ignorant person ever strives for wisdom. What remains are those who suffer from ignorance, but still retain some sense and understanding. They are conscious of knowing what they don’t know.” Here, Socrates notes that many of us are aware of our intellectual limitations, even while we’re striving to acquire wisdom.

2. “Well I am certainly wiser than this man. It is only too likely that neither of us has any knowledge to boast of; but he thinks that he knows something which he does not know, whereas I am quite conscious of my ignorance. At any rate it seems that I am wiser than he is to this small extent, that I do not think that I know what I do not know.” Socrates is famous for knowing the limits of his knowledge.

3. “Oh my friend, why do you, who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? Are you not ashamed of this?” This is a simple plea by Socrates for all us to have more balance in out lives.

4. “For I go about doing nothing else than urging you, young and old, not to care for your persons or your property more than for the perfection of your souls, or even so much; and I tell you that virtue does not come from money, but from virtue comes money and all other good things to man, both the individual and to the state.” I love this particular quote, though it’s not easy to decipher. He appears to be saying that all of us don’t spend enough time striving for moral perfection. If we did, then good things would result.

5. “Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth, and, yet, take so little care of your own children, to whom one day you must relinquish all.” This quote is particularly helpful to those of us who are parents.

6. “In truth, the fear of death is nothing but thinking you’re wise when you are not, for you think you know what you don’t. For no one knows whether death happens to be the greatest of all goods for humanity, but people fear it because they’re completely convinced it is the greatest of evils. And isn’t this ignorance, after all, the most shameful kind: thinking you know what you don’t.”

7. “At the time, I made it clear once again, not by talk but by action, that I didn’t care at all about death – if I’m not being too blunt to say it – but it mattered everything that I do nothing unjust or impious, which matters very much to me. For though it had plenty of power, that government didn’t frighten me into doing anything that’s wrong.” 

 

We all need to stand for something in life, and sometimes we’ll need to pay a price for our beliefs. What price are you willing to pay?

Live with Strength and Honor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of the Ritual

Does modern life ever feel excruciatingly flat to you? A bleak landscape devoid of layers, rhythm, interest, texture?

Are you ever haunted by the question “Is this all there is?”

Have you ever looked at an old photo and felt that the scene held such an inexplicable richness that it seemed you could practically step right into it?

The barren flatness of modern life is rooted in many things, including mindless consumerism, the absence of significant challenges, and the lack of shared values and norms, or even shared taboos to rebel against. But what is the solution?

Many would be quick to say faith, or philosophy, or relationships. All good answers.

But what is it that vivifies beliefs to the extent they can transform your perspective not simply for an hour on Sunday, but also in the mundane moments throughout your week? What can move an understanding of abstract truths from your mind into your very sinews? What can transform superficial ties with others into deep and meaningful bonds?

The answer I would suggest is ritual.

Our modern world is nearly devoid of rituals – at least in the way we traditionally think of them. Those that remain – such as ones that revolve around the holidays – have largely lost their transformative power and are often endured more than enjoyed, participated in as an obligatory going through of the motions. Ritual has today become associated with that which is rote, empty, meaningless.

Yet every culture, in every part of the world, in every era has engaged in rituals, suggesting they are a fundamental part of the human condition. Rituals have even been called our most basic form of technology – they are a mechanism that can change things, solve problems, perform certain functions, and accomplish tangible results. Necessity is the mother of invention, and rituals were born out of the clear-eyed perspective that life is inherently difficult and that unadulterated reality can paradoxically feel incredibly unreal. Rituals have for eons been the tools humans have used to release and express emotion, build their personal identity and the identity of their tribe, bring order to chaos, orient themselves in time and space, effect real transformations, and bring layers of meaning and texture to their lives. When rituals are stripped from our existence, and this fundamental human longing goes unsatisfied, restlessness, apathy, alienation, boredom, rootlessness, and anomie are the result.

Join next post as we dive into the historical meaning of a ritual.

Strength and Honor

Rules to Live By.

Man Rules to Live By.

Strength and Honor Code Series:

It was not long ago that men were born to be warriors and had no other obligations than to uphold the warrior code and to pass it on to their offspring. It was only during the past 500 years that man forgot this way of life and replaced it with a complacency seemingly suited for a new world of convenience. The time that has passed since we have forgotten our warrior days has been a mere fraction of the entire existence of humans, meaning that this warrior instinct is still entirely intact and awaiting to be awoken in the lives of all men.

A Warrior’s life was driven by his own survival instinct and his fear of death. It was this fear that drove him to persevere and constantly improve himself. After all, survival of the fittest was in full effect at this point. Without this fundamental understanding about life’s impermanence and an obligation to achieve greatness, we become complacent and unmotivated in life. If it is true that nothing defines manliness more than a motivated and inspired individual who lives with a quiet confidence and a zest for life, then the lessons we have to learn from warriors of the past will get us far on the path to Manhood.

It is only until after a life changing event that most of us have this warrior instinct woken within us. For many it is the call to overcome adversity through a circumstance in their lives that requires a warrior spirit. For Teddy Roosevelt it was his childhood illness that gave him his first mountain to conquer, as well as his first taste of success. For Lance Armstrong it was his battle with cancer that gave him the strength to achieve his unprecedented success. For Martin Luther King Jr. it was the racist, segregated world that he was born into that lead him to become a force for change in the civil rights movement.

It is through the understanding and application of the following ideas that you too can achieve true warrior status and get on the never-ending road to greatness. Realized Strength and Honor.

Master Your Body. Although most people associate being a warrior with fighting and hunting, these are the most basic principles through which a warrior’s strength is expressed. It is the mastering of your intention and strength to find discipline and power in every aspect of your life that distinguishes the warrior from the common man. The first conquest for any man should be the mastering of his body. For a warrior this was a necessity for survival due to the extreme physical demands placed upon him. Today’s man should always strive for this goal for a number of reasons. The cause and effect of hard work and muscle gains is a microcosm of the bigger picture in life in which hard work is the only catalyst to success. Another important reason to push your body to be its strongest is the long list of physical benefits such as hormonal regulation, mental clarity, and the general feeling of well-being that will all combine to improve your life physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Use Death as your Guide. We all could die at any moment. It could be today, tomorrow, or next week. You could go and visit your dying friend in the hospital and then get hit by a bus the next day. Whether or not you have an existing condition is of no importance in your actual mortality. If this was the common outlook of today’s man, do you think we would sit around watching cable TV and spending our time worrying about how to afford the next big thing in consumer electronics? Hell no! We would go out today and start doing the exact thing that we have always wanted to do (our purpose) while not wasting any of our time on the petty, pointless things. After all, there is no better a teacher in time management than having death knocking at your door.

Choose the Path with Heart. All paths are the same. They lead absolutely nowhere. At the end of your life you will be in the exact same position except you will be able to look back with either regret or satisfaction on the choices you made. It is the path that is important, not the destination. It is better to have a followed a path in your life that brought you happiness in the moment, than to have followed a path that promised happiness at your destination. Using death as your guide will promote a distinct change in your level of presence and naturally lead you to living in the moment and choosing the correct path. The warrior who chooses his highest calling is also the one to achieve the greatest success, further strengthening the chance of the survival of his bloodline.

Fight Every Battle as if it was Your Last. If you are using death as your guide and living in the present moment then you will naturally fight every battle in your life as if it was a defining moment to make or break everything you have worked for. When you have this mentality you are naturally doing your best at everything and your chances for success are greatly improved. This is the type of performance that we have come to expect from our great leaders and role models so why should we sell ourselves short of realizing such greatness? It is through this concept that you will truly be living to your full potential and increasing your likelihood of being the man that others look to for inspiration.

Through the practical application of these ideas into your everyday life, you will begin to see a change in the outcomes of your goals and experiences. You will also take on leadership qualities as you start to embody the very essence of what every man secretly strives to become. You will switch from being a victim of circumstance, into being a master of intention. By living with Strength and Honor you gain and power and confidence, and eventually you will begin to manifest the conditions that will transform yourself from weak to warrior.

Strength and Honor

Man Rules

Who are we if not searching for meaning?

images-1

Warrior Training

What does it mean to be a warrior? A warrior means many things to me. I have had the honor of knowing and working with many warriors in my life. They all share common traits.

Military organizations are made up of real warriors. Police and fire organizations are full of them. Many of todays martial artists would qualify for “warrior status”.

Even though it may seem that I am only equating fighting/military/police with a warrior I am not. Anyone regardless of profession can be one. It is a mindset.

First of all a true warrior is someone that stands by his/her principles and beliefs. It is someone that is committed to conquering his/her fears and self-limiting beliefs. It is not just about being positive but about waging the war against self-doubt and a negative mindset.

The combat soldiers that I have known have that mindset. They may feel fear bit it does not consume them or stop them from accomplishing their mission. A firefighter will go into a burning building, save a family, and then say “it was nothing”. A police officer will put his/her life on the line everyday without giving it a second thought. We take these people for granted, unless we share the same mindset.

I have been a warrior. I have also been the exact opposite. I am now on my way back from the abyss of fear, doubt and negativity. The difference is astounding.

Living like a warrior means conquering yourself. Being a master of yourself. Being a master of your own destiny and taking responsibility for it. Period.

Training like a warrior means taking on the challenge of working hard. Of pushing yourself to the limits. The methods should be integrated, functional and in many aspects, primitive.

Military-type training is designed for that. It is brilliant in its simplicity and awesome in it’s functionality(for obvious reasons). Anyone that ever goes through any type of basic training develops those qualities. It happens by overcoming challenges that seemed insurmountable at the onset. When you accomplish something that seemed impossible it changes you. The more you do that the “stronger” you become inside and out. You develop the habit. There is nothing like obstacle course training without sleep for making a person tough.

Martial arts training also develops these qualities. The work is hard, the attention to detail is exacting and the inherent danger keeps you focused. I can’t recommend martial arts training enough for anyone looking for a great workout and greater self-confidence. It is said that a man learns his true nature in combat. This is true whether you are in a combat sport or in the military.

Another question is whether or not warriors are born or made. I am not totally sure. Most people never see their true potential and are not willing to put themselves in situations that would force these qualities to emerge. I think that their is a warrior in all of us. The trick is in finding the motivation to find it, dust it off and put a shine on it.

This is why I have so much respect for anyone that serves others, thereby putting the greater good ahead of their own needs. Whether you are a pacifist or at the other end of the spectrum, we all owe so much to the brave men and women that serve their country. They deserve our thanks and gratitude.

Many of the training techniques and concepts that I am known for are based on martial arts training and are great whether you are a cop,an athlete or a stay at home mom. They will develop the mindset, the warrior spirit and the physical conditioning needed to survive the chaos of combat and the unpredictability of life. Everyone that has experienced this training has found something that “spoke”‘ to their inner warrior.

So are you a warrior? Are you ready to walk through life like a warrior? Are you ready to go through the tough training that it takes? If so I wish you luck and success on your journey. It will afford you a life time of happiness and pride.

Strength and Honor© is created in the Spirit of the Spartan Warrior code.

We treasure Tradition, we value Honor.

We demand Respect, we are loyal to the Brotherhood.

We live by the Code, we die by the Code.

We are the Warrior Spirit that cannot be broken.