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The Ethical Warrior: Values, Morals and Ethics - For Life, Work and Service Paperback – April 9, 2012
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I learned more about values, morals and ethics and their application, especially to law enforcement, than in my entire almost two decades of study.
- Robert C. (Bob) Willis, Instructor, NWTC Tactical Training Complex
About the Author
Jack Hoban served as a U.S. Marine Corps officer and is a long time practitioner of martial arts. He assisted in the creation of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and remains a subject matter expert for the program. Hoban has led more than 500 workshops and seminars around the world addressing universities, government and private organizations on ethics and martial arts, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Chicago Police Department and the New York Police Department (NYPD). He was a longtime associate of the late Robert L. Humphrey, noted conflict resolution specialist and author of “Values for a New Millennium.” Hoban is also a master instructor in the Japanese Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu martial arts system.
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But there are some problems. The book is incredibly repetitive , which the author acknowledges, and poorly organized. For instance, part two consists solely of a single chapter with approximately 2.5 times the length of a single chapter. Each chapter feels like a stand-alone independent reiteration of the same content of every other chapter - it is a testament to the interesting life of the author that he manages to make this enjoyable through his anecdotes. The book is at times surprisingly tone def - Mr. Hoban alternates between incredible humility - deferring all credit to his mentors, and admission of his own personal failures, to self indulgent blustering through conspiratorial thinking with claims of how the establishment has sabotaged the adoption of his ideas, claims that compare his mentor to Jesus ("he often reminded me that people did kill socrates, and also jesus christ ... "), and even a quote that he endorses suggesting that he should consider himself at risk from alqueda given the potential of his ideas for military success. The least palatable parts of the book are his constant attacks on academia. He claims that educated Americans are to blame for harming America, and consistently suggests that 'the ivory tower' cannot understand his 'theories', while unironically teaching their universality and intuitive nature. He also oddly strawmans or misunderstands the ideas of others to claim the superiority of his mentor: For instance, claiming empiricism demands a 'blank slate' human nature which is incompatible with his ideas - when oddly enough, empiricism is an epistemology rather than a theory of human nature.
That said, these problems are all things that can be looked pass. The book is inspiring and incredibly motivational. In an age deprived of unironic genuine, authentic content Jack Hoban has something to say worth hearing. The book contains gems like his warriors creed (which may or may not have saved a marriage in south America), and incredibly interesting anecdotes from his life including training with Hatsumi. The core of the book, the idea of an objective morality based on mutual understanding of the intrinsic value of life is an incredibly fascinating and pragmatic idea. Hoban lists very clear ideas about conflict resolution and evil given this framework, and this seems to be a very practical and valuable decision making framework. His ideas , presented as asides that the most capable humans available in the situation will step up to defend others is also an idea of human nature that I find inspiring and that squares with my anecdotal personal experience. His ideas about PTSD are worth investigating. And his cautions not to neglect the physicality of morality are explained and insightful. Its hard, given the 'radical indifference' of the universe to Human life as intrinsically meaningful 'objectively', but easy to take the idea of the 'dual life value' as apart of the collective human unconscious, and valuable to other humans intrinsically.
I wonder if they ethic presented in this book is suitable for a Soldier. The Ethical Warrior cautions to kill to protect life. But, a Soldier frequently must agress and take life to complete an objective presented top down. The objectives presented to a solider which a solider must live and die on may not translate as Hoban suggests to protecting life. He mentions this as soliders must complete the mission while minimizing life loss, but perhaps in some cases, not preforming the mission would result in most life protected. What is the soldier to do when tasked with an objective at a macro scale that is opposed to protecting life? This work focuses on the micro: the mission must be done, and given that constraint, soldiers protect each other and the enemy where possible to minimize life loss, but what if a war were to be conducted against an enemy that was moral? The book fundamentally urges against this , urging a kind of pacifism where 'relative values' conflict. This seems at odds with the reality of a soldiers life. Despite this, I think the ethic the book presents is compelling for a civilian as a civilian.
I think that any good review should start with a preface: my will start telling that I personally know the author and this could probably affect my review in a way we'll discuss later.
The Ethical Warrior is not a martial art training book: you won't find inside any mystical secret that will improve your warrior skill. IMHO this book is about the true that any of us know but hardly can face on the daily: good and bad things always happens, but how do we sense it ? and how do we (re)act when something happen ?
I'm a martial art practicing and before I met Jack Hoban (the author) I firmly believe that on a daily bases I had to protect myself in order to protect the person I love. Believe it or not, I was wrong because I was leaving outside something very important: the others. Now here is where things become interesting (perhaps complicated): the others are all the people around me, include those that I can consider my enemy. How easy is defend yourself with a a year or two of martial art, perhaps with a few more year we can even protect our family: but about the rest of the people around us, what about the enemy that we found in our way. Is it possible protect all of them ? Can't give you the answer, but in the Ethical Warrior you can find a good starting point to believe in something different, something that, as I said, is inside of us but probably lost somewhere.
The Ethical Warrior is about Moral and Ethic and how to understand to use it in simple way to look at them from an inside-outside prospecting (seem to me the right way to interpret those concept). The author takes the reader into a journey trough his life and personal experience to awake the spirit of the Ethical Warrior in all of us.
After reading this book, I'm not looking at myself as an Ethical Warrior, but I'm now training everyday to do the right things anytime. As I said, this book don't include any special technique or secret to be a better person, but if you want will get you on the right way.
It's really hard to describe the huge amount of feeling I had reading this book and how this changed my life while I was reading it. This is a book for any mankind that is looking for an inspiration, a different prospective, a life boost to become a game changer.
One more thing about my preface. As I said I personally know the author and he is the only man I know that truly believe and act following this creed. Jack Hoban is really an Ethical Warrior.