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 […]
Warrior Flow, being a variant as it is of what is commonly known as “World War II Close Quarter Combatives,” prizes the martial virtue of what it refers to as “Ruthless Intent.”
Ruthless Intent is nothing more or less than the resolve to “kill the bad guys,” as its founder, retired USMC Lieutenant-Colonel Al Ridenhour, puts it.
To be clear, in stark contrast to competitive and contest-oriented pugilistic arts, Warrior Flow is designed to prepare its students for victory in potentially mortal combat. Yet to this end, students must remake themselves into war machines, human beings with an unqualified will to utterly crush any and all who would imminently endanger them, their loved ones, or, for that matter, any other innocents who are in their presence.
No Marquess of Queensbury Rules, or some variant thereof.
And no opponents.
Warrior Flow practitioners train in order to decimate enemies.
Whether they are one or many; black, white, or other; religious or irreligious; male or female; young or not-so-young; terrorist, mobster, gangbanger, or any other street criminal; ideological fanatic or random psychopath—anyone who poses imminent, physical harm to the innocent and the law-abiding is the Enemy of both God and man.
As such, it is the Enemy, or, more precisely, his violent and rapid extinction from the spatial-temporal universe that is the raison d’etre of Warrior Flow.
As Master Al has shared with me, Ruthless Intent is perhaps the Crown Jewel, so to speak, “the King,” as he put it, of the martial virtues, for unless students are taught to constantly train with an eye toward ending the existence of those who would attack them, they are never going to achieve the thing for which they enrolled in a combat art in the first place.
Unless, that is, they make themselves into men and women who will not hesitate to kill the bad guys, they are not getting the self-defense training for which they signed up.
There is, still, another invaluable point that Master Al made to me: Only by weaving Ruthless Intent into their characters can students hope to surmount their irrational fears.
Fear is a universal emotion. It is primal. It is also a gift, in and of itself, for when fear is rational—when its object is something of which any rational person should be afraid—then it can keep us safe and even spur us into action.
Yet more often than not, particularly for the inhabitants of the contemporary Western world, fear is not rational. The various anxiety, panic, and even depressive “disorders” that pervade our culture supply us with an ocean of proof that for the vast majority of people, the vast majority of the fears with which they contend are wildly irrational. The “self-help” industry that has sprung up over the last few decades to speak to these phenomena, for however many people that it may have helped, has only gone so far by virtue of a single fatal flaw that lay at its root:
The dominant psychological model focuses on the mind at the expense of neglecting the body.
To put it another way, the prevailing paradigm upon which the Self-Help Industrial-Complex depends presupposes, even if in only an inchoate way, a metaphysical mind-body dualism that has no referent in reality.
The body is given scant attention relative to the mind.
Warrior Flow, however, affirms that the human-person is a spiritual unity. You don’t have a mind. You don’t have a body. You are your mind and body. Your body and mind are simply different aspects of your identity.
This being so, Warrior Flow underscores the need for people to overcome their irrational fears in their bodies. The training modality for this end consists of physical drills, of course. Yet it also includes, crucially, the development of the will, of Ruthless Intent.
And this returns us to Master Al’s point. When irrational fear consumes a person, when it infects a person’s mind and, thus, his body, there is confusion. A person confused is blinded, impeded from acting with the singularity of purpose with which he needs to act. Ruthless Intent, though, is salvation from this murky condition.
Ruthless Intent is, in the final analysis, identical with what Warrior Flow calls “Perfect Clarity” and “Moral Certainty.” The plurality of terms should not conceal the fact that they all refer to a single phenomenon:
The mindset of the Warrior.
Ruthless Intent, the willingness, the eagerness, if need be, to force the Enemy into a head-on collision with his own mortality, is not some abstraction. It is a conviction, a moral conviction that saturates its bearer’s whole being and utterly precludes all ambiguity.
In my next essay, I will delve into Self-talk, Visualization, and what Warrior Flow refers to as “visceralization,” the three ways by which students can cultivate Ruthless Intent.