All You Need

Objective judgment, now, at this very moment.

Unselfish action, now, at this very moment.

Willing acceptance- now, at this very moment- of all external events.

That’s all you need.

Meditations, Marcus Aurelius, Book 9



Fear and Weakness and Fortitude

Due to recent events, this older post is topical once again…

Despite political grandstanding from both sides – a politician police officer on the one hand and a reality TV politician on the other – talking about what ‘they’ would have done. The fact of the matter is they don’t know.

No one knows what they will do when they are first faced with that moment, when they must walk toward Death to preserve life, risking everything, to get the job done.

It can be an enlightening experience. And what we do in that moment – or fail to do – can literally define the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, the rest of many others’ could be defined as well – or simply cut short. 

This is what you get when you stop training your cops to be Warriors…


“Death fear and Death weakness hit the boy, shutting off his breath, stopping his blood.”

William S Burroughs, Naked Lunch

Fear exists at the core of so much of  human concern. Most in our modern society will have little need to summon the physical or moral courage necessary to address matters when the consequences are truly meaningful: death, or serious injury, or the loss of livelihood for doing what we must; Or social status and support systems (like our jobs)  for standing up for what is right.

And when that need arises, some will find themselves lacking. Hopefully without  the kind of devastating consequences we see in the news today, on a number of levels.

Two books addressing the development of the kind of courage needed to do these things, particularly in soldiers and “other professions that go in harm’s way” are:

Conquering Fear – Development of Courage in Soldiers and Other High Risk Professions


Power of Courage in Combat and Danger

both by Halim Ozkaptan Phd, Gen. Crosbie Saint (Ret.) and Col. Robert Fiero, (Ret.).

Actually they are the same work, the latter an expanded version published later, with Appendices and more background information. It is specifically addressed to Army leaders interested in fortitude, and instilling, developing, and maintaining it in combat troops.

Essentially it boils down to Character and Courage – the “strength of mind allowing one to endure pain or adversity courageously,” which of course applies to anyone hoping to manifest these traits in times of danger. Liberal use is made of historical quotes providing examples to help define the topic, offering perspective and wisdom from times past, and confirming that we have known for a long time how to develop fortitude in people…

It’s just that the prescription is hard to swallow.

The book breaks it down into leader training, individual training, and collective training. Specific to military applications, most of what is discussed is universal. There will be nothing groundbreaking for those in the Interdisciplinary tactical training world, spanning as it does the elements of sound character traits and actions of the leader, inculcated personal ethics and knowledge, and skills and physical attribute training.

All are spoken of in general terms, though a few specifics are mentioned in passing: targeted symbolism, rites of passage, and esprit de corps; the difference between leadership and management (spot on, this bit!); combat sports and games (“boxing, judo, wrestling and pugil sticks”…sense a theme?); maneuver training, etc. Each is attached to a particular realm: leader, individual, and team training, and all are geared toward allowing the individual to manage fear under duress, as well as just going about everyday life with integrity and resilience. The effects of military life and of managing fear over time and with repeated exposures are addressed at length.

As a collection of general principles on developing fortitude through constant attention to training the inner self as well as developing leader and warrior skills, this book has much to offer. It could stand some editing, and once again, while nothing earth-shattering is presented there is often some value in having our belief systems – and life path – confirmed.


Polishing this Sword

The Swordsman

For ten years I have been polishing this sword;

Its frosty edge has never been put to the test.

Now I am holding it and showing to you, sir:

Is there anyone suffering from injustice?

– Tang Dynasty Chinese poet Jia Dao.


As printed in Liu, James J. Y. The Chinese Knight Errant. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967, p. xii. See the Wikipedia page regarding the youxia, or Chinese knight-errant.

I have owned this book since my Chinese martial arts days, and recently revisited it for a project I’m contemplating, and discovered the Wiki entry linked,.

Liu wrote that this poem:

“seems…to sum up the spirit of knight-errantry in four lines. At the same time, one can also take it as a reflection of the desire of all those who have prepared themselves for years to put their abilities to the test for some justice.”

Gray Wolves and Higher Jeopardy

Another great piece at MTI – about not conflating ‘wellness’ with fitness. 

While this is Truth, the Reality is something different. The forces of political correctness bring with them an attitude of reducing standards in the interest of allowing access, and wouldn’t deign to allow anything like a high jeopardy performance test. In the last twenty years I have seen fitness standards previously in existence reduced or eliminated to allow for more people to “pass,” increasing the risk for both those that are given – versus earning – a pass, and everyone else around them.

This state of affairs will not change until we change the way the public thinks about law enforcement. Demands more physical and technical ability alongside those de-escalation skills, and higher levels of fitness so that de-conditioned and unskilled officers don’t get overwhelmed and feel they have to shoot people because they can actually fight and control a situation, and aren’t gassed within a minute’s time because they have no base in combat conditioning.

“Wellness” is simply more politi-speak used in place of fitness standards, under the guise of addressing an obvious issue, without actually doing anything about it.  And thereby not offending anyone, or being forced to hold people accountable, or to exclude them.

Bureaucrats, versus leaders, specialize in this kind of thing.

It shouldn’t be. Fitness is a neutral concept. Its benefits and applications don’t change based on color, gender, creed, or senescence. Being fitter is being a better version of oneself. Fitness is recognized as a public health issue of great importance, yet as an officer safety issue is pretty much ignored.

A fitness standard is a fitness standard, period, and it should apply in ALL first responder professions. It should be high jeopardy, because what they do is high jeopardy – mainly for other people that rely on them.

This is particularly true for specialized teams with even higher jeopardy.  The old dogs need to pass the SWAT physical standard just as do the eager pups. The “Up and Out” policy the author describes is relevant only when the aging tactical officer can’t keep up. While it is certainly true that some teams may have those “legacy” members, it is a very different thing to have a few gray wolves still leading toward the front of the pack.

In fact, that is exactly what we want, gray wolves that can still lead the way, because trust me – just about the last thing you want on a professional tactical team is the “younger athletes on the front lines.”



While athleticism has nothing to do with tactical acumen, as the article says, fitness absolutely does equal armor. Fitness training is training resilience, mental and physical toughness, commitment, and will power. All of these are force multipliers for the tactical professional and first responder.

Over the years more than one officer has told me they would do well in a survival situation because they “had the Will to Win.”

And how, exactly, did they know they had the Will to Win, if they didn’t even have the will to work out?

First Teachers


Lately I’ve been reminded of the importance of First Teachers….and First Lessons.

In learning theory,  the Law of Primacy tells us that we tend to remember best what we learned first. Our first teachers lay patterns of thought, conduct, and practice that can become very deeply rooted. So when choosing martial instructors, firearms instructors, or tactical/self defense instructors it is important to choose our teachers well, to avoid being led down the wrong path and later having to spend  countless hours unteaching, rebooting, or rooting out, the programming a bad – or unknowing – first teacher installed.

I have found this to be true in the different disciplines I have practiced, both in myself and now, down the road a bit, in observing other teachers and students. That being said, the saying that there are “no bad students, only bad teachers” is foolish. Of course there are bad students – I’ve been one myself.

And we all know that “some people, you just can’t reach.”

Some teachers I knew were bad, and moved on fairly quickly. Some were fine, good even, but they just weren’t for me, or did not bring me closer to my goals at the time.


Others I thought were bad, or weren’t for me, until I learned that it was me that was the bad egg. Sometimes, when we learn to see what we could not have seen before – we get closer to that bird’s eye view of the map the teacher was laying out – we might realize in our obstinacy, or pride, or foolishness that we could not or did not place our trust in the teacher.

Such trust is very important. Without it, real learning cannot occur. The student will always doubt, and the teacher, even if subconsciously, will glean this doubt and realize the student isn’t ready for – or worthy of – real learning.


And so we go. I’ve stepped off more than one path, and sometimes I’ve found I’d been right to do so. Others I later learned were leading exactly where I wanted to go – but I got off the map, and had to find an alternate route to get back there.

Thankfully, the principles of learning also tell us that what was learned last – most recently – is also best remembered. So if we have got back on that proper path, or toward that goal, we are learning what is best remembered.

In every sense of that term.


In Command and Out of Control

An article from law enforcement and security consultant Fred Leland’s LinkedIn page:

In Command and Out of Control – how complex and chaotic events require adaptive interaction and adaptive response…..what I would call an Integrated, Adaptive, Interdisciplinary response.

Taking Boyd off the page and into the action!

I’ve been able to read more of his work and there is much value here, not only for Law Enforcement leaders and professionals, but for anyone interested in the principles and concepts behind Adaptive Interdisciplinary Studies.