Living the Martial Way (Forrest Morgan)

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I think I had the same reaction to this book as everyone else:  it was groundbreaking when it first came out. Looking back 20 years later, it’s still very good but we have perhaps a more critical view.  Forrest Morgan addresses the problem: how can we live a warrior lifestyle in a non-warrior society? To answer that question we need to get beyond the strictly physical aspects of being a warrior and approach it via mental (or maybe spiritual).

Honor and integrity are what separates warriors from thugs.  I think what made this book “click” back then is kind of what makes Jordan Peterson click today.  I’m not personally a fan of Peterson, but I do understand why people find him compelling. He isn’t a Marxist and he urges you to take charge of your life.  Good for him. Morgan does the same thing, but without the Jungian baggage.

His take on religion is balanced.  Some martial arts are more closely aligned with religions than others.  You just have to be discerning.

If we could boil this to a few quotes or main ideas, Morgan highlights the role of strategy in a warrior’s mindset.   That’s where this book is probably unique and what caught me off-guard when I first read it.

“Strategy is the essence of warriorship. It lives in the heart of everything the warrior studies, practices, and does with his life.

There are individuals who step beyond the mere technical mastery of artificial systems to touch the essence of personal warfare, the very soul of The Martial Way. But you can’t achieve this kind of mastery studying one system alone. Remember, all systems are artificial. The only goal truly worthy of a serious warrior’s efforts is mastering The Martial Way itself.”

There are some areas of the book I think are dated.  While Morgan was correct that we don’t need as much protein as the average bodybuilder intakes, we need more than he gives us credit for.  Further, most people won’t get “bulky” by working out. Proof? Check out the guy at the gym who has been lifting for the past 3 years and still weighs 150lbs.   Bruce Lee did standard weight training, 3×10 and while he had one of the greatest physiques of all time, he wasn’t “bulky.”

With that said, he does have a point about training effectively.  While I do chin ups regularly, I never go to exhaustion and I don’t need to do bicep curls.  I do kettlebell squats instead of regular squats. While deadlift is king of exercises, I’m too injury prone and kettlebell swings is probably a better exercise.

Table of Contents Below

 

Foreword ……………………………………….. 1

 

INTRODUCTION ……………………………………. 3

Background on the Martial Arts ……………………. 5

Martial Arts, Martial Ways, and The Martial Way …….. 9

Why Practice The Martial Way Today? ………………. 10

The Design of This Book …………………………. 11

 

         PART ONE: THE WAY OF TRAINING

 

Chapter 1: The Warrior Mind-Set ………………….. 17

Getting the Mind-Set ……………………………. 24

Acknowledge Your Warriorship …………………….. 25

Pursue Internal Versus External Objectives ………… 27

 

Chapter 2: Your Martial Destiny ………………….. 33

Doctrine, Strategy, and Tactics ………………….. 36

Choose Your Strategic Foundations ………………… 40

Analyze the Threat ……………………………… 41

Evaluate Your Physical and Emotional Assets ……….. 42

Select a Doctrine ………………………………. 43

The Pitfalls of Narrow Doctrine ………………….. 44

Build Your Skills Around a Doctrinal Core …………. 47

 

Chapter 3: Train as Warriors Train………………… 51

Make Training a Daily Regimen ……………………. 54

Employ Shugyo in your Training …………………… 56

Take a Jutsu Approach to Training…………………. 61

 

Chapter 4: The Warrior’s Way of Strategy…………… 75

Plan Your Strategy in Four Phases…………………. 79

Identify Your Strategic Objectives ……………….. 79

Collect Intelligence…………………………….. 81

Plan for Environment…………………………….. 83

Program for Engagement…………………………… 85

How to Develop Tactics ………………………….. 87

Read Your Opponent ……………………………… 98

Control the Fighting Range ………………………. 90

Feint Effectively……………………………….. 92

Use Rhythm and Timing …………………………… 93

Avoid, Evade, and Intercept ……………………… 95

 

Chapter 5: The Warrior’s Spell Book ……………… 101

Kiai and tiki …………………………………. 103

Find Kokoro …………………………………… 107

Practice Haragei ………………………………. 111

Develop Kokyu Chikara ………………………….. 116

Apply Kime ……………………………………. 118

Practice Kata With Utmost Seriousness ……………. 122

Mushin – Mind Without Thinking ………………….. 123

Zanshin – So Alert You Dominate …………………. 128

 

         PART TWO: THE WAY OF HONOR

 

Chapter 6: The Foundations of Honor ……………… 137

The Basic Tenets of Honor ………………………. 142

Obligation ……………………………………. 143

Justice ………………………………………. 144

Courage ………………………………………. 148

Honor and Face ………………………………… 149

Develop Your Own Sense of Honor …………………. 152

 

Chapter 7: Honor in Action ……………………… 157

Putting Honeor to Work …………………………. 159

Truthfulness ………………………………….. 159

Courtesy………………………………………. 161

Restraint …………………………………….. 163

Loyalty ………………………………………. 165

Service ………………………………………. 170

Honor in the Fog of Life ……………………….. 171

 

Chapter 8: Revenge and Suicide: Perversions of Honor . 177

The Forty-Seven Faithful Ronin ………………….. 180

Revenge and the Scales of Honor …………………. 182

Suicide: Courage or Cowardice? ………………….. 186

Standards for Planning Revenge and Suicide ……….. 188

 

         PART THREE: THE WAY OF LIVING

 

Chapter 9: Warrior Fitness ……………………… 195

The Great Sham of Modern Martial Arts ……………. 197

The Qualities of Warrior Fitness ………………… 199

Body Types and Muscle Physiology ………………… 205

The Three Pillars of Fitness ……………………. 209

Train for Muscular Strength and Endurance ………… 210

Condition for Aerobic Capacity ………………….. 212

Develop Flexibility ……………………………. 217

Nutrition and Weight Control ……………………. 220

 

Chapter 10: Religion and Mysticism ………………. 227

Eastern versus Western Religious Thought …………. 229

The Principle Asian Religious Doctrines ………….. 231

Confucianism: The Way of the Sages ………………. 232

Taoism: In Pursuit of the One True Way …………… 235

Buddhism: Following the Eightfold Path …………… 240

Shinto: The Nay of the Kumi …………………….. 248

Mysticism and the Danger of Cults ……………….. 252

Martial Arts Training and Religious Convictions …… 256

 

Chapter 11: The Warrior Stands Alone …………….. 261

The Three Keys to Warrior Dignity ……………….. 264

Develop a Commanding Posture ……………………. 265

Discover the Power of Physical Grace …………….. 268

Cultivate the Austere Quality of Shibumi …………. 270

The Secret of Personal Power ……………………. 274

 

Chapter 12: Mastery and The Martial Way ………….. 281

Mastery in The Martial Arts and Ways …………….. 286

Mastery in The Martial Way ……………………… 291

 

Appendix A: Glossary …………………………… 301

Appendix B: Selected Bibliography ……………….. 309

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