Martial Arts as War (MAW) and Martial Arts as Sport (MAS)—these are the two paradigms that, by and large, define the contemporary universe of the martial arts. Or so I have argued in previous essays. Now, it’s true, of course, that—as my own Master-Instructor observed to me in one of our countless conversations over this […]
As decent, law-abiding, God-fearing human beings throughout the country (and the world) behold the spectacle of the wicked laying waste to scores of American cities while state and federal governments appear either incapable of stopping the lawlessness or unwilling to do so, some of us…train.
Some of us spend each and everyday training to develop martial prowess.
My own martial training began before this latest attack on Western civilization, for I certainly didn’t need for it to have occurred in order to know that there are evil, violent people in our midst. Rather, the mass violence that’s unfolded over the last few weeks has served to vindicate both what I have always known as well as my commitment to make myself into a person who will be ready to reckon with the wicked along the very lines—the only lines—that they seem to understand: violence.
To be clear, good people, Godly people, will use violence against the wicked only in order to defend themselves, their loved ones, and/or innocents (even strangers) in their presence. However, in the eternal struggle between Good and Evil—and, make no mistakes about it, the racial character of this latest conflagration aside, it is but the latest battle in the perennial war between the forces of Darkness and those of Light, between the City of Man and the City of God—the good must be willing to employ violence lest the wicked destroy them.
Gun sales over the last three months, since the COVID-19 Internment began, surged. The month of May broke records. The further spike in firearms correlating with the Black Lives Matter and Antifa riots promises to make June an all-time high record breaker. That an average of three million Americans a month since the beginning of 2020 have purchased guns, and that many of these are first-time gun buyers, assures us that there are far more men and women in this country who are willing to defend themselves against the thugs who garnered international media coverage while terrorizing citizens than there are the thugs themselves.
And the countless accounts of armed citizens successfully defending their businesses, homes, property, and communities against far larger numbers of vandals is equally encouraging for those who champion the Good and despise the Wicked.
This being said, while a simple show of force, a show of arms, could deter the violent, it need not necessarily do so. There are, though, undoubtedly many gun owners who don’t seem to be aware of this fact.
Among the features that makes unique the combat art in which I myself train is its emphasis on “ruthless intent.”
Warrior Flow is founded by Al Ridenhour, a United States Marine Core Lieutenant-Colonel with 40 years of martial arts experience behind him. Much more can be said about this art and its founder (see here, here, and here), but for now, suffice it to say that “Master Al,” or “the Colonel,” as his students refer to him, devised Warrior Flow for the purpose of helping ordinary, decent people of all backgrounds discover their own internal Warrior.
Given the indiscriminate manner in which the term is used these days, it’s crucial to recognize that in Warrior Flow, “warrior” is understood literally. As one combat artist memorably put it, “Self-defense is war in microcosm.”
The only violence for which Warrior Flow practitioners train is one and the same violence for which soldiers train. In other words, unlike police officers, Warrior Flow students do not train, as police officers train, to subdue and restrain criminal suspects.
We do not train, as today’s students of the classical martial and pugilistic arts train, to perfect forms, master combinations of strikes, and win matches.
Warrior Flow students do not train to beat opponents.
We train to destroy enemies.
And we train to incapacitate them, by whichever means necessary, with ruthless efficiency.
It’s true, of course, that there are proponents of different versions of “martial realism” who will object that, since all combat arts teach their students to train for the same end, Warrior Flow is not unique with its focus on ruthless intent. But here’s how their objection misses its mark:
While there is no arguing with the fact that self-defense/combat art instructors teach their students to neutralize the enemy by whichever means, they adulterate their message and, thus, impede their students’ cultivation of the mindset of ruthless intent by way another end that they emphasize:
As far as I’ve been able to determine, all combat arts, except for one, identifies survival as the ultimate goal for their students. To this end, all combat arts, except for one, instructs their students to run as soon as they think they are capable of fleeing.
From the perspective of Warrior Flow, this message—which necessarily permeates the training modality of these arts—does students a disservice, for it contradicts the idea of ruthless intent that the arts are supposed to instill in them.
Warrior Flow most emphatically does not teach its students to aim no higher than bare survival. As Master Al has said on many an occasion, rape victims (like victims of all violent crimes who have lived through them) “survive.” And anyone who spends who knows how much money and how many hours training deserves better than to have their instructor tell them to just run when they come under attack.
Warrior Flow teaches students not to merely survive, but, as Master Al says, “Win the damn fight!”
Students in Warrior Flow train to crush the enemy, to flourish.
Yet to accomplish this, physical ability is insufficient. It must be supplemented with the mindset of ruthless intent.
In order for the martial art student to surmount his fears, he must cultivate ruthless intent.
And, this, in turn means that he must train with an eye toward, yes, killing any who would pose an imminent threat to himself or his own.
Warrior Flow doesn’t teach its practitioners that they must actually kill those who would attack them. Training, however, is designed to equip them with the ability and will to do so if, relying upon their own practical wisdom, they should determine that their circumstances, which, of course, they know best, dictate this course of action.
Warrior Flow equips students with freedom, namely, the freedom to choose: If vicious attackers live to see the inside of a jail cell, it will only be because the Warrior Flow students upon whom they decided to prey chose to spare their lives.
Now, the practitioners of Warrior Flow are well aware of the reality that no human being is invincible. Although we are determined, as all warriors have always been determined, to score victory over the enemy, intrinsic to this resolve is a readiness to die, if need be. A warrior, the warriors of history teach us, must be willing to die an honorable death. Master Al has often repeated to his students the words spoken by mothers to their Spartan sons as the latter were about to set off to war: “Come back with your shields…or on them!”
For centuries, as part of the civilizational process, human beings have been educated into the virtues of head and heart through stories, fictional and otherwise, featuring moral exemplars—what we today tend to call “role models.” With an eye toward the end of facilitating my own education in the warrior arts, as well as helping anyone else who is interested in accomplishing the same, this essay will be followed by a series of profiles of the martial virtue of ruthless intent and the willingness to die honorably.