- Series: Manual for the Way a Modern Warrior Should Think
- Paperback: 312 pages
- Publisher: Barricade Books; First Edition edition (January 1, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0942637763
- ISBN-13: 978-0942637762
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 152 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Living the Martial Way: A Manual for the Way a Modern Warrior Should Think Paperback – January 1, 1992
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From the Foreward by Dennis Palumbo
Though I have some minor criticisms that I will mention in the notes I include here, this is truly an invaluable book. The richness of the knowledge that Morgan conveys as well as the systematic, practical as well as philosophical, expression of how to live the warrior way is something that I deeply respect, honor, and have striven for in my own life and martial practice over the last three decades. Morgan has a deep knowledge of the “Asian” martial arts (one of my criticisms—but it is still one of the best modern books on martial arts I have ever read)—which, as expressed in the book really are the Japanese, and to lesser extent Korean and Chinese.
“You must be deadly serious in training. When I say that, I do not mean that you should be reasonably diligent or moderately in earnest. I mean that your opponent must always be present in your mind, whether you sit or stand or walk or raise your arms.”
Gichin Funakoshi’s First Rule for the Study of Karate-Do
Quoted in Chapter 1 of Forrest Morgan’s “Living the Martial Way”
“Start today by thinking of yourself as a warrior. Stop being a dentist or an accountant who does karate as a hobby and become a warrior who practices both his profession and karate to hone his spirit. You’ll discover that both your professional competence and your karate will improve.
But the true mastery in The Martial Way involves more than a mere prowess and expertise. The master warrior is a man of character, a man of wisdom and insight. These goals are far more elusive than those regarding technical expertise. Elusive they may be, but you can begin the long road towards character development by learning to recognize and pursue internal versus external objectives.” (27)
“I hope martial artists are more interested in the root of martial arts and not the different decorative branches, flowers, or leaves. It is futile to argue as to which leaf, which design of branches, or which attractive flower you like; when you understand the root, you understand all its blossoming.”
Bruce Lee, “Tao of Jeet Kune Do” (23)
I have to disagree with Morgan’s assertion that “So once you reach the black belt level in your core art (never, before then), you need to critically examine the holes and weaknesses in it and find other disciplines to fill in those gaps.” (47) This is absurd on numerous levels. It requires a blind obedience and faith that is very much unmerited. In the context of the chapter, Morgan is explaining how most martial arts styles have a limited “doctrinal” focus that conditions them to fight at a certain range (Tae Kwon Do—using kicks, Judo—grappling, etc.), and that one needs to have a core style and then build upon it to create an integrated style of one’s own, as he, very insightfully, asserts that all martial arts systems are created, and that one really needs to be a well-rounded and effective warrior, not just an adherent of a received style of martial arts. I agree with this strongly, and I agree in training in a core style very assiduously—with years of training and discipline. Tae Kwon Do was my first martial arts style, and I spent years training at the very least two hours a day independently of classes in basic drills, etc.—it was a deep commitment and one should never enter a martial art without this commitment. I have trained in many different martial arts styles since—and consider Muay Thai to actually be more of my core style now, with Eskrima, a style in which I have a black belt, to be a truly combat oriented extension and further development of my original core training—however different Eskrima may be from Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Ninjutsu, Kenpo, Karate, etc. What I strongly disagree with is the idea that you should not critically think about a martial arts style before earning a black belt. Instead, I would assert that it is essential to do so—not to be contrarian or disrespectful, but to actually learn and be able to apply techniques or principles from the martial art in reality. There is much excess in most modern commercialized martial arts, and anyone who asserts otherwise has not been to many dojos or contemporary tournaments (and it is a lapse in critical thinking on his part to assert so, in my opinion, and a bit ironic as he writes very eloquently earlier in the book about the obsession with externals in the martial arts world now at tournaments, etc.—in sharp contrast to the rondori of Kano and the kumite of Funakoshi).
“If someone asked me what a human being ought to devote the maximum of his time to, I would answer, ‘Training.’ Train more than you sleep.”
”Karate” Master Masutatsu Oyama (19)
“The warrior trains daily. Physical conditioning, technical proficiency, tactical fluency, spiritual strength, emotional control—these are the substances of his goals and the weapons of his arsenal. Every day he devotes some amount of time to honing and polishing at least one of them. Some days he pushes himself to the limits of his capability in one or more to test his progress
Friends, acquaintances, even family often think warriors aare obsessed or compulsive, but that isn’t true. Obsessive and compulsive behavior are, by definition, traits of individuals who are unable to control themselves. The warrior is just the opposite; he is the model of control. The warrior doesn’t seek pain, fear, fatigue, and the other unpleasant byproducts of constant training because he likes them. But he knows they are obstacles between him and his objectives. His goal is to overcome them, and he knows that to defeat an enemy, he must attack. It isn’t that the warrior is driven. He is the driver.
Do you train daily, or does your training consist of going to class two or three evenings a week? You say that’s the only time your class meets? Well, who says you have to be in class to train? Warriors hone their skills constantly, and if you’ve achieved the warrior mind-set, you’re looking for ways to fit some sort of training in every day.” (Morgan 54)
Dr. Alan Hasegawa:
Paradoxically, in many respects, the need for shugyo is even greater in an affluent society. The poet Berryman noted that ‘…the trouble with this country is that a man can live his entire life without knowing whether or not he is a coward.’ He saw a society of complacency an ennui, which was a result of a life of shallow distractions and luxuries. In an affluent society, it is necessary to purposely seek out the challenges which were once a part of the daily life of the warrior. This drive to test the limits of one’s own potential is universal.”
Quoted on pages 59-60
Shugyo is defined by Morgan as “ascetic training”, but he describes his own experience anecdotally as training past the normal physical/psychological breaking point and having the drive—digging deep enough to go beyond it.
A notable defect, as would be expected with the title “ancient Asian martial arts” is that the cultural orientation of the text is geared primarily toward Japanese, and secondarily Chinese and Korean mainstream martial arts to the exclusion of other regions of Asia. I mention this only because, when discussing religion, Morgan lists only four religions: Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Shintoism. There is no mention of Islam, which has been a religion in China for nearly 1400 years—and there are very important Kung Fu styles that have been transmitted and preserved intact only among the Muslim peoples of China.
An excellent, excellent book overall. I wish there were more like it.
I am grateful for all the great books that have all paved this very hard road....and this is TRULY A WONDERFUL MANUAL
I do not know how to safely handle a firearm (yet). I am only marginally familiar with knife defense techniques. And I sincerely hope I will never have to use anything I learn in the dojo in a real-world self-defense situation.
But Morgan's book isn't about how to train to be a kick-ass fighter, a self-important vigilante, or even a successful "martial artist" (with all of the various definitions of what people think "success" entails). The Martial Way is a way of thinking, a way of being, not a means of controlling or punishing others. It's a state of mind that many of us have perhaps felt drawn to but didn't know how to develop or focus.
Other reviewers have summarized the book, and explained it very well. I can only speak for myself.
Some have expressed indignation at the idea that warriors are, in a sense, a class apart from non-warriors. I don't believe the author is espousing elitism, or suggesting inherent superiority. I feel superior to no one, but I do have an innate sense of responsibility to better myself and, thereby, make myself more useful to those around me - even if it's without acknowledgement or praise. For this reason I am drawn to the Martial Way.
I am glad for this book, and recommend it to anyone.
Will I always be a white-belt? Perhaps not, but I don't study Jujitsu in order to rack up advancement. I do it because I love what it has done for my ability to focus, my self-esteem, my physical health, my self-discipline. Through the art, I have met people whom I consider modern warriors - men, women, and even youths: those for whom honor isn't a slogan but an internalized way of being. Am I that? Do I have that? Am I a warrior? I'm working on it.