Two good no gi throws from Travis Stevens – both would apply from a weapons-aware position:
Two good no gi throws from Travis Stevens – both would apply from a weapons-aware position:
Spent some time reading yet another blog hawking a false dichotomy within the tactical training community, with all sorts of ideas from the instructors on firearms and defensive tactics training. It went back quite a few years.
This one was the venerable “principle based” versus “technique based” argument. The blog is not the only one espousing this idea. It’s right up there with the other false dichotomies marketed in martial disciplines: “traditional vs. modern combatives,” “street vs. sport,” “internal vs. external,” “point vs. sighted” and…”guardians vs. warriors….”.
The problem is that WHAT you train is just as important, or moreso, as HOW you train. There is a very clear lack of this going on with the overall training concept.
It is often unfortunately the DEFINITION of Lowest Common Denominator training, at least as it applies to law enforcement.
Officers, we are reminded, receive so little training, are not martial artists or specialists, and often don’t have the physical fortitude or attributes of many martial athletes, and so technical training can often be a bad experience for them. This leads to fear of pain, fear of being injured (in dynamic training), fear of looking bad by not getting it, and finally lack of confidence in themselves and their skills in the field. Moreover, many techniques taught are not suitable for the kinds of applications police actually use them for, especially the combat sport stuff. They have come to this assessment, apparently, in part because of their own experience as highly trained martial artists unable to make their traditional martial arts stuff work on the street.
They are largely correct in these assessments, which is what makes this kind of thinking appear sound, and reasonable, when it is not.
Instead they sell training that is “principle based.”
They are again not the only ones. Once I had an experience with a completely different group believing in “principle based training” where the highly skilled and supremely confident instructor was unable to do anything to prevent his gun being taken away or being taken down with basic grappling techniques when actual used against him with intent, versus cooperatively.
People who are not taught “techniques,” but trained only in principles, end up knowing WHAT they are supposed to do, but have no means of doing it ….If they encounter ANYONE who has actual technical skill, even halfway developed, or whose attributes overwhelm them, they are, simply stated, left adrift on a raging current without a paddle.
ALL good training is principle based. Training in techniques without principles is….. bad training. It absolutely does occur and is probably the bulk of police in-service training, and I have no qualm with those seeking an alternative. But an alternative offering NO functional technical skills training or development is just piling bad training on top of bad.
Techniques are principles applied. Technical applications give practical shape to principle. They may not always be done efficiently or skillfully, but without them all you have is over powering people, or if unable to do so just holding on for the ride or laying and praying for help to get there.
The crux of the problem is not that officers are being taught techniques over principles, its that they are being taught bad technique and practice so rarely, with no expectations of functional performance under pressure.
Or they are taught a principle based approach with no techniques at all…
The ONLY reasonable response to this is to have more on duty training time, higher expectations of officer fitness and technical performance, and oft-repeated, progressively challenging, realistic and contextually relevant adaptations of proven tactics and techniques.
It is NOT to offer agencies a program that claims that these things are misguided, or out of context, or that officers shouldn’t be trained a certain way all the while ignoring the fact that officers are given a laughable amount of training in what is a highly technical and high liability subject with actual expectations for performance that are ignored with peril.
But police training “experts” are often more expert at selling what agencies will pay for versus confronting them with inconvenient truths.
“But do you not admire, I said, the coolness and dexterity of these ready ministers of political corruption?
Yes, he said, I do; but not all of them, for there are some whom the applause of the multitude has deluded into the belief that they are really statesmen, and these are not much to be admired.
What do you mean? I said; you should have more feeling for them. When a man cannot measure, and a great many others who cannot measure declare that he is four cubits high, can he help believing what they say?
Nay, he said, certainly not in that case.
Well, then, do not be angry with them; for are they not as good as a play, trying their hand at paltry reforms such as I was describing; they are always fancying that by legislation they will make an end of frauds in contracts, and the other rascalities which I was mentioning, not knowing that they are in reality cutting off the heads of a hydra?”
(Republic, Book IV, 426.d-e)
The more things change…..
Point-Counterpoint (bullet points? heh heh heh…) in the endless debate on Competitive vs. Combat shooting featured at Policeone.
How would I weigh in? It is foolish to think there is a plug-and-play relationship between competitive shooting sports and tactically sound combat shooting. Incidentally the same holds for MMA, or jujitsu, or any competitive fighting sport.
It is equally foolish to think that there is NO relationship, and that a skilled competitor will not have advantages in terms of attributes and abilities. But it’s all in the Why, and When, and What, and How…
To me “competitive shooting” is when people are shooting at each other. And the whole point of tactics is to avoid being in a competitive shooting situation.
A gunfighter trains for the worst case scenario so that he can beat the best in the world on his worst day under any circumstances
May 21, 2015.
By David Windham
I’m not anti-competition shooting, but I do find fault with most of the competitions out there. The reason being they aren’t realistic and cause the shooter to form extremely bad habits that can get them killed on the street. I realize that most gun owners will never be involved in a shooting incident, but it can happen at any moment to any of us, hence my passion to train in a realistic manner so that I am prepared as well as those I regularly train.
I also despise indoor ranges that don’t allow realistic shooting. If one can’t even draw his weapon from the holster, how can he be prepared for a real life shoot out?
Competition shooters are on the whole amazingly fast when it comes to getting off accurate shots. In and of itself, that is a great thing.
However, there are some huge downfalls.
1. All targets are single shot targets for the most part. Training yourself to fire one bullet at a target can mean your death in real life. Regardless of what caliber you shoot, in a real life gun fight you will generally need multiple shots on target to end a threat to your life. Training to fire once and then look for more targets can be a deadly habit to form.
2. Speed reigns supreme in competition. Speed is important, but not at the expense of accuracy and tactical technique. A good example of this is the goofy overhand grip you see many three-gun shooters using. It’s said that this grip helps them steer the gun. Okay, whatever works for them is fine, because no one is shooting back!
The problem is that many people see this technique and adopt it without considering real life situations. The most solid offhand shooting platform is using a vertical or horizontal grip that allows you to pull the gun tight into your shoulder pocket with your arms tucked in tight. This helps reduce muzzle rise, make quicker follow-up shots, and assists in overall control of your weapon.
3. There’s no need to take cover. What’s even better is the use of the kneeling or prone position if possible. By doing so, you reduce your profile and make yourself a smaller target as well as form a more solid shooting platform by having the ability to triangulate your limbs for support.
In a real life shootout, if the rifle or carbine has come out it is pretty damned serious and likely everything is happening at a distance where cover can be chosen, so this isn’t necessarily a hindrance to be prone because you have dug into your position and it’s safe. If you only practice off hand you will remain standing when you should be looking for cover and making yourself as small a target as humanly possible.
Speaking of cover, competition shooters never use cover in a tactical manner. They use the cover in a manner that facilitates speed. There is never any “slicing the pie” technique. What I normally see is peek and shoot at best or the shooter leaning out as far as possible to engage as many targets as possible.
4. You’re limiting your configuration possibilities. There are only so many configurations for a shooting stage in a match. A person can become like a trained pony and expect certain things when shooting rather than reacting to the clear and present danger at hand. No matter how you cut it, this can be a bad habit to form that will get you killed.
Muscle memory is what controls your ability to shoot under extreme stress. If your muscles remember doing the same things over and over then that is what they will do. Shooting two close targets, five medium range target, and four long range targets at varying heights is great for a match, but isn’t very realistic.
What happens when your strong side is injured in a fight and you have to shoot with your weak hand? Or you trip and have to shoot from your back? Did you practice these things while preparing for that three-gun shoot? Of course you didn’t. A gunfighter trains for the worst case scenario so that he can beat the best in the world on his worst day under any circumstances.
5. Competition shooting breeds an environment of gizmos, gadgets, and race guns. Reflex sights are great, but batteries fail. Any electronic gadget can and will fail, especially under harsh conditions. Daily carry is harsh! My gun gets wet, dirty, and beat up daily.
The other big consideration is that the more there is hanging off your gun, the more likely you are to snag your gun upon drawing it from the holster. Competition shooters usually have belts set up for just that competition. Everything on the belt is easily reached and even the holster is built for speed. You aren’t going to carry your gun in the same manner that you shoot it in a competition. You’d walk around looking like Wyatt Earp at best and an idiot at worst.
Again, I’m not against matches or competition shooting. My point is to make you think. If you shoot IDPA or any other discipline, that’s great! Just don’t neglect real world training for real world situation that can occur. Mix things up, find new and different ways to challenge yourself and don’t live life preparing for a competition when your life is on the line!
This article originally appeared on FirearmsU.com. David Windham is a retired law enforcement officer and is currently a firearms instructor and the Director of Sales and Marketing for FirearmsU.com – a website directory designed to match students to the right firearms instructors and find courses that meet their needs.
This article was followed by this from Ron Avery:
Anyone who has competed or watched competitive shooters in USPSA, IPSC, Steel Challenge, 3-Gun Nation, and other action-shooting sports knows just how fast and accurate these shooters can be
Jun 13, 2016
This article is — in part — a rebuttal to David Windham’s article on “5 reasons why competitive shooting falls short of real-world training.” It is a peer-to-peer conversation about the value that competition adds to any training program and why I believe it is an essential element of your training program.
Mr. Windham wrote, “A gunfighter trains for the worst case scenario so that he can beat the best in the world on his worst day under any circumstances.”
Interesting statement — how then does one go about being able to beat the best in the world on your worst day? Does this happen while training safely on your range without any sense of what being the best in the world actually means? Do we make assumptions about our presumed skill level without ever being tested against another human being? Is the street the only place where valid testing occurs?
Accuracy, Power, Speed
Mr. Windham makes the statement that competition is about single shots on target and that speed is largely irrelevant in gunfighting. He talks about how accuracy is not important to competitive shooters. He also takes issue with the way 3-gun shooters hold their carbines when shooting rapidly and apparently has come up with a much better way of holding the carbine when shooting fast and accurately. This leads me to conclude that he has formed his opinion not through participation in competitions but rather from the sidelines.
Competition is about testing your will and your skill against other competitors. It teaches you to manage your emotions, manage your thinking and manage your weapon. It tests your ability to perform under duress. It can be unforgiving, but it will actually show where your real skill lies when it is put to the test as opposed to what you do when there is no consequence and you get to “do it over.”
Competition need not be formal. It can be as simple as two people competing on a drill with the gear they carry. However, when you become the big fish in the small pond, it is time to look for bigger waters.
This is where the arena of more formal competition comes in. On any given day, in any region of the United States or the world, there are skilled shooters who are more than happy to test themselves against the “best in the world”. If you don’t know what kind of skill is out there, how do you know how good you really are?
Delusional thinking about your superiority will get you killed way faster than any form of competition you participate in.
Jeff Cooper — founder of Gunsite and the sport of IPSC — uses the motto “Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas” as the operating principles. They stand for: Accuracy, Power, Speed. There needed to be a blend of accuracy with speed, using a weapon of sufficient power to deliver an incapacitating hit.
NASCAR, MMA, USPSA, and IPSC
Anyone who has competed or watched competitive shooters in USPSA, IPSC, Steel Challenge, and 3-Gun Nation know just how fast and accurate these shooters can be.
Do you think that a skilled MMA fighter doesn’t have an advantage over the average person in a street fight? Do you honestly believe that a NASCAR race car driver can’t outdrive you in a street car? Do you think they are robots who cannot function out of their arena?
Yet, time and time again, many firearms instructors will rail against competitive shooting and expound on how they are superior to competitive shooters when it comes to shooting fast and accurately under pressure. It just isn’t true. They refuse to be tested; refuse to believe they are not what they think they are and continue to believe that somehow they will win a gunfight because they are “more tactical.”
Please explain to me how — at three to five yards in the open, person-to person contact with a subject on the street — you are going to be better than a competitive shooter who trains far more than you do? How will you perform better than a person who can move and shoot faster and more accurately than you can, who has the will to win honed by countless hours of competition and has better basic tactical concepts than you? Do you honestly believe they are going to “cave” when the moment of truth arrives? Do you think they cannot react to subject cues and are going to wait for a start buzzer to get into action?
I can give you numerous examples of competitive shooters having to put their skills to the test in real world challenges. Further, I would trust a USPSA or action pistol competitor behind me in any situation because I know their finger won’t be on the trigger with the muzzle pointing in my direction.
Anyone who has competed or watched competitive shooters in USPSA, IPSC, Steel Challenge, 3-Gun Nation, and other action-shooting sports knows just how fast and accurate these shooters can be — both stationary and on the move. Many attend tactical training courses. A lot of them are cops or military as well with plenty of real world experience.
Mental, Physical, and Emotional Control
Competitive shooting, blended with tactical training and tactical thinking and other skills areas, leads to a superior performer who knows just how good he/she is on any given day with the equipment they are carrying.
I can personally attest to the fact that competitive shooting training and competition — along with other training — aided me greatly by providing me with the mental, physical, and emotional control skill to confront deadly force situations in a calm manner without overreacting.
If you want to know how good you are, you need to compete and find out. If you want to be the best you can be, competition will get you there faster and more surely than any other way I know. Putting yourself to the test needs to happen before you get in a gunfight and there is no better way to learn to deal with pressure then by competing and learning to manage pressure and make it work for you.
What you do in a training class is not what you can do in a competition.
Jeff Cooper designed man versus man competition as well as the sport of IPSC precisely because he realized how competition honed gunfighting skills.
There is no doubt in my mind that a hard core competitive shooter is one of the toughest people to beat in the world when it comes to a straight up gun fight — especially with handguns.
Some may look at this site and see my use of “Guardians” and “Warriors” and make a snap decision as to the nature of the content.
They are probably wrong.
I use the term in order to take back what has been taken out of context in the current discussion surrounding law enforcement and “Guardianship,” pointing out that the Guardians, in the original sense, absolutely were warriors, in fact were a warrior class, and that ideas surrounding their cultivation addressed them as such.
To be fair, I am not sure our society really would want a ruling class such as the Guardians. (Yes, imagine that, the police as a ruling class...that really is worse than some of your cops being warriors, innit?)) And I am not so sure that many law enforcement officers would want to be warrior-guardians or soldier-guardians in the Platonic sense, either. There were some pretty strict aspects as to how they could live their lives.
But all this only further illustrates that taking a concept and term out of context for a political end, versus truly understanding its meaning – or even what you are trying to define – is fraught with difficulties.
As far as I can tell, the original dissemination of the whole Guardian vs. Warrior idea came from this op-ed in the Seattle Times, by Sue Rahr, current head of the Washington State Basic Law Enforcement Academy. I post it in it’s entirety here:
Guest: From warriors to guardians — returning American police culture to democratic ideals
Originally published August 26, 2014 at 4:10 pm Updated August 26, 2014 at 6:16 pm
By Sue Rahr
In a republic that honors the core of democracy — the greatest amount of power is given to those called Guardians. Only those with the most impeccable character are chosen to bear the responsibility of protecting the democracy.
BEGINNING in the 1960s with the so called “War on Drugs” and later fueled by post-9/11 fear, American policing has slowly drifted away from Plato’s vision of law enforcement by guardians toward a culture and mindset of warriors at war with the people we serve.
As a nation, we have tended to acquiesce and relinquish some of our sacred constitutional rights in favor of the perception of improved safety and security. Constitutional rights are now viewed by many, including police, as an impediment to the public-safety mission.
Sadly, we seem to have forgotten that protecting constitutional rights — the foundation of our democracy — is the mission of our police. The images being broadcast from Ferguson, Mo., of peace officers clad in military-style uniforms using equipment designed for modern warfare, serve as an impetus for public-safety leaders and political leaders to pause and assess the state of American police culture.
It is easy to rush to judgment about the equipment — armored personnel carriers and high-powered rifles — and condemn its use by civilian police. In fact, this equipment can be essential for modern police forces to protect themselves and their communities from very real threats of the 21st century.
The fundamental issue is not the equipment — it’s the philosophy, policies and protocols directing its use. The equipment has been relatively easy to acquire, but carefully considered protocols have not. It’s time for law-enforcement and political leaders to step up and develop policies and protocols for the wise use of this valuable and sometimes necessary equipment, and more important, to address the culture that will determine acceptance of new model policies. Developing those policies will be relatively simple. Addressing the culture is tougher.
So where do we start? At the beginning, in the academy. Most police academies are run like military “boot camp” despite the absence of logical, evidence-based reasons to train police officers as we do soldiers. Although police officers wear uniforms and carry weapons, the similarity ends there.
The missions and rules of engagement are completely different. The soldier’s mission is that of a warrior: to conquer. The rules of engagement are decided before the battle. The police officer’s mission is that of a guardian: to protect.
The rules of engagement evolve as the incident unfolds. Soldiers must follow orders. Police officers must make independent decisions. Soldiers come into communities as an outside, occupying force. Guardians are members of the community, protecting from within.
This is not a simple distinction because the role of a police officer is not one-dimensional. There are times when the guardian officer must fight fierce battles, as a warrior, without hesitation or apology. So our guardians must also possess the skills of a warrior. The challenge of training new police recruits is to equip them with the judgment and confidence to properly balance both roles, rather than simply follow orders.
We need police officers with the skills and tenacity of a warrior, but the mindset of a guardian.
Sue Rahr is director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, overseeing the state-wide police academy. She is the former King County sheriff.
I’ll let that stand as it is written.
The whole thing may actually prove to be a non-starter in law enforcement circles; though even the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing uses “Guardian” language (perhaps because Ms. Rahr is on the commission…). The launch of this idea seems to be faltering, because even in changing the narrative pertaining to “law enforcement’s warrior problem,” everyone must admit to the fact that “sometimes,” officers have to be warriors.
As in places like Orlando, and Dallas.
The rest of this post will address what the Platonic Guardian actually was, and that the problem we have is not so much with terminology or inculcating a Warrior Mindset, but rather with what a Warrior Ethos means, and how it is cultivated.
It will also hopefully make it clear that law enforcement executives, politicians, and intellectuals who do not understand this ethos – frankly who seem afraid of it as they are afraid of those exemplifying it – are the last people who should be in charge of defining, codifying, or disseminating it through the ranks.
No matter what you call it.
“I don’t think that word means what you think it means…”
Before delving into the concept of the guardians, a brief introduction of the topics in Republic is in order.
Note: I have been reading from two different versions of the Jowett translation. One is available online and for download., as well as an annotated version of the same by Barnes and Noble Classics, with an introduction by Classical scholar Elizabeth Scharffenberger.
The gist of Republic is a philosophical discussion on justice and the conduct and thinking of the just man, and the formation of an ideal state. Some have concluded that this was in actuality intended as a Socratic dialogue, that is, to stimulate the reader’s own thinking and questioning to come to their own conclusions. Socrates is in fact the principle interlocutor in the book.
An inherent message – though openly stated – is that the views and opinions of “the many” are unreliable, and pale against the light of the enlightened few. These few are those that are truly just; the ones who should be in charge.
An aristocratic and just elite.
Democracy is negatively contrasted with the moral excellence of the just elite. Indeed Democracy is seen as among the “most defective” of governments.
Republic critiques what is seen as pervasive problem issues in Greek culture – and democracy – at the time: materialism, the prioritization of “good looks, wealth,social status, and political power” over inner goodness. The concern was that “Hellenic culture encouraged a fundamentally childish attachment to pleasure -not just physical and sensual pleasures, but to the psychological pleasures gained through the exercise of power, or through the indulgence of ambition, pride, grief, grief, anger, and other strong emotions. Athenian democracy is seen as exacerbating these childish tendencies, because it maximizes the number of individuals who are permitted to indulge themselves with little real restraint.”(Introduction pp.xxxv)
Modern Western Democracy…. there is a knock at the door.
Let’s point out that the Guardian concept was not formulated to protect THIS state of affairs. The institution of the Guardian is in fact antithetical to it, as is the ideal state the guardians are to protect – a theme also current in discussions over instilling a Warrior Ethos in our military.
In Republic, an unjust aristocratic elite is equally unacceptable, for that is tyranny. Indeed, tyranny is seen to arise from Democracy and be the other of the two most defective “constitutions.”
Things that make you go hmmmm.
However, there is a presumption that there are those few – and only a few – (“best men”) sufficiently gifted to wield political power. These people will take responsibility for their people.
These are the Guardians and the Philosopher Kings.
After discussing justice with a fascinating association with “expert knowledge,” that is specific professionalization with each individual being given to “doing their own work,” a discussion of the Ideal State (it is never called “The Democracy”) commences, to include how the people will be organized, “including how it’s classes of warriors and leaders will be selected, educated, and provided for,” to include the training of guardian children. (Ibid pp. xlii)
The lifestyle of the chosen Guardian class in the ideal state is laid out, which includes: the abolition of individual families, communal wives and children, “near-equality” (this is ancient Greece, remember…) of female guardians who would be warriors and leaders, and the abolition of private property for the guardians. (Ibid pp. xlii-xliii)
From here, we will start to explore what Republic says about training its soldier-guardians…
But is not War an Art?
Serious discussion of the guardians begins in Book II. The term itself is phylax, which literally means “watchman.” Innocuous enough, but in the description that follows over the next chapters, it is very clear that the guardian is viewed as a warrior class. Indeed, at least in the Jowett translation, the terms guardian, soldier, and warrior are used almost interchangeably.
The combination “guardians and their auxiliaries” also comes up a bit later (in 414.a-b), with the auxiliaries described as the soldier/warrior, and differentiated from the rulers, though the latter are drawn from the same class.
The guardians are so called specifically relating to the ideal state, which as noted is not called “The Democracy,” which is the term quoted in the law enforcement field today when re-defining guardians.
This is not what is said in Republic. Republic uses the term “The State.”
It is recognized that ideal state must have recourse to go to war when necessary to both expand its borders and to protect itself. To meet this need, an army (of guardians) is required. Apropos the idea of each “doing his own work,” and that “one man cannot practice many arts with success,” Socrates then asks:
“But is not War an Art?”
“Certainly.” it is replied.
And the discussion then goes that as other artisans were not allowed to do work outside of their field, so…
“Now nothing can be more important than that the work of the soldier should be well done. But is war an art so easily acquired that a man may be a warrior who is also a husbandman, or shoemaker, or other artisan, although no one in the world would be a good dice or draught player who merely took up the game as a recreation, and had not from his earliest years devoted himself to this and nothing else? No tools will make a man a skilled workman or master of defense, nor be of any use to him who has not learned to handle them, and has never bestowed any attention on them. How, then, will he who takes up a shield or other implement of war become a good fighter all in a day, whether with heavy armed or any other kind of troops?”
(Book II, 374.a-d)
One wonders whether Plato was taking a page from the Spartans, the professional soldiers of the Greek world, at least as conveyed in our times when Leonidas asked in the movie 300
This specialization is continually stressed, and forms the basis of the guardian concept.
How the Guardian Grows (pardon the pun)
Now that the profession of guardian has been delineated, Republic goes on to treat the qualities and education and training of the guardian, as well as various social aspects and restrictions on the guardian class.
We need not go into all of that here, as I fear the horse is nigh beaten to death…needless to say there were very specific restrictions discussed at length on the kinds of poetry and storytelling and music to which the guardians should be exposed in order to protect them from vitiating influences of popular culture, the attitudes of the times, politics and political personalities (uh-oh…),”moral deformity,” and various other psychological and physical ills.
It is here we see how the guardians as originally conceived simply are not a proper fit for a modern, pluralistic, free-thinking, and non-judgmental society. They had some of that going on in Greece at the time, and the ideal State was supposed to be the antidote to it.
It is more useful, I think, to go into the discussion how the guardian class were to “be” in the commission of their duties.
Here are various quotes from the text, italics mine:
“Selection will be no easy matter” for “it will be our duty to select natures which are fitted for the task of guarding the city.” (374.e)
“Is not the noble youth very like the well bred dog in respect of guarding and watching?…
I mean that both of them (dogs and guardians) ought to be quick to see, and swift to overtake the enemy when they see him; and strong too if, when they have caught him, they have to fight with him.
..and your guardian must be brave if he is to fight well?
..Have you never observed how invincible and unconquerable is spirit and how the presence of it makes the soul of any creature to be absolutely fearless and indomitable?
Then now we have a clear notion of the bodily qualities which are required in the guardian” (375.a-b)
Then we come to the crux of the comparison: the subject of the combined nature of the guardians.
“But are not these spirited natures apt to be savage with one another, and with everybody else?
A difficulty by no means easy to overcome, he replied.
Whereas, I said, they ought to be dangerous to their enemies, and gentle to their friends, if not, they will destroy themselves without waiting for their enemies to destroy them.
What is to be done, then? I said: how shall we find a gentle nature which also has a great spirit, for the one is the contradiction of the other?
I mean to say that there do exist natures gifted with those opposite qualities…
Would not he who is fitted to be a guardian, besides the spirited nature, need to have the qualities of the philosopher?” (375-376.a)
This dual nature of – dare I say “Pen and Sword” or “Bun Bu” in Asian teachings – a mainstay of warrior education in history and across cultures, is to be selected and cultivated through careful attention to who gets to be a guardian, who is bred to be guardian, and how they are trained.
(Image from http://www.wisegeek.com/in-greek-mythology-who-is-cerberus.htm)
“Like Wakeful Dogs”
We then get into the guardians physical training, which is termed gymnastics, necessary of course “for the men are in training for the great contest of all – are they not?” (404)
“Ordinary athletics” are not considered suitable training, for reasons to include that “athletes sleep away their lives, and are liable to dangerous illnesses if they depart ever so slight a degree from their customary regimen.” (404.a)
“…a finer sort of training will be required for our warrior athletes, who are to be like wakeful dogs, and to see and hear with the utmost keenness; amid the many changes of water and also of food, of summer heat and winter cold, which they will have to endure when on a campaign, they must not be liable to break down in health…”
And regarding diet:
“My meaning may be learned from Homer; he, you know, feeds his heroes at their feasts, when they are campaigning, on soldiers fare; they have no fish, although they are on the shores of the Hellespont, and they are not allowed boiled meats, but only roast, which is the food most convenient for soldiers…” (404.a-c)
Care is later taken to note that “excessive care of the body; when carried beyond the rules of gymnastics, is most inimical to the practice of virtue.” (407.b)
“The very exercises and toils which he undergoes are intended to stimulate the spirited element of his nature, and not to increase his strength; he will not, like common athletes, use exercise and regimen to develop his muscles.
Very right, he said.
Neither are the two arts of music and gymnastics really designed , as is often supposed, the one for the training of the soul , the other for the training of the body.
What then is the real object of them?
I believe, I said, that the teachers of both have in view chiefly the improvement of the soul.” (410. b-c)
In a fascinating comment differentiating the guardian’s training from that of the common athlete and musician, it is said that “the mere athlete becomes too much of a savage; ” and ” the mere musician is melted and softened beyond what is good for him.” (410. d)
To end on this point (though Republic goes on and on with it…) I’ll quote 411.c-d, which brings together the reasoning behind this cultivation of guardian-specific physical exercise, diet, music, and philosophy:
“And so in gymnastics, if a man takes violent exercise and is a great feeder, and the reverse of a great student of music and philosophy, at first the high condition of his body fills him with pride and spirit, and he becomes twice the man that he was.
And what happens? if he does nothing else, and holds no converse with the muses, does not even that intelligence which there may be in him, having no taste of any sort of learning or inquiry or thought or culture, grow feeble and dull and blind, his mind never waking up or receiving nourishment, and his sense not being purged of their mists?
True, he said.
And he ends by becoming a hater of philosophy, uncivilized, never using the weapon of persuasion – he is like a wild beast, all violence and fierceness, and knows no other way of dealing; and he lives in all ignorance, and evil conditions, and has no sense of propriety and grace.”
Make no mistake about it, there is a small but vocal segment of our society, to include many intellectuals and police executives, that think this latter comment describes many of our law enforcement officers.
These same people are in the place to define terms, and then to oversee the selection, education, training, and deployment of law enforcement with their own defintiion of “guardian.” They have so stated this, and that language has even gotten into the mission statement for “21st Century Law Enforcement.”
Yet without the warrior framework, the concept of the guardian, following the original, is simply unworkable. Moreover, the very means through which the guardian is to be selected and trained and developed and deployed is incompatible with today’s modern Western society in the most critical elements laid out in Republic – law enforcement seems instead most often to lower standards for selection and entry, for training, and to remove perceived barriers and notions of elitism and merit.
In terms of the expectations on the nature of the guardian, there is plenty of material there worthy of adaptation – things that we should be doing, but don’t.
But doing so will demand a heavy cost, for society in terms of time and treasure, for the guardian law enforcers themselves and a personal commitment to training and excellence, and for the police executives – who will be held personally responsible for the readiness of their people – and increasingly for their failures.
Shin, Gi, Tai – Mind, Technique (Tactics), Body…
The more I practice, the more it comes down to these things known for centuries: That preparation is all about cultivating one’s mind to the fighting mindset, and to anticipation of what could occur; That one trains both tactical and technical skills in a well rounded way, what Paul Howe calls the “layered fighting system.”(You really should read all of Paul’s books and articles, some of which are here) and with realism in mind. And training the body. Combat is the ultimate athletic event. While weapons and tactics can very much be an equalizer, all things are improved when the body is made as strong and resilient in a functional way.
Teaching another Active Threat (active shooter) class tomorrow, and with everything we ask our students to do it really boils down to this: if these things are in order, things will go as well as can be expected. People who practice a few times a year won’t remember tactics and technicalities and terminology…but they just might recall that when the mind is right, and the tactics realistic, and the body is prepared, they can be confident that they will prevail.
When these things are not in order, when there is little or no mental preparation or it is misguided; when there is little technical and tactical acumen under realistic conditions; and when the body is weak; it’s but a throw of the dice.
Chance always plays a role. But there is a saying, as far as Google tells us is from the movie The 13th Warrior, that “luck often enough will save a man if his courage holds.” On more than one occasion I’ve (thankfully) found this to be true.
Reading – and re-reading – Resilience by Eric Greitens. It’s available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and everywhere else.
This is a good book. Depending on your age, and your place in life, it may have different meanings and messages for you, but they come from sources as age-old as ancient Greece and current as SEALS BUD/S training. For me it provided both confirmation of things I have come to know, and allowed me to know other things better.
The “letter” style is a little annoying, but you can read past it…Get it and read it.
When I get less busy – ‘light duty’ for me means a lot more course development and teaching work – I’ll be writing more on specific subjects that Greitens addresses in this work. Please join me….