December 19, 2012

"The Ethical Warrior"

The new book by Jack Hoban
Full disclosure: I know Jack Hoban; known him for many years and am now privileged to work with him and the many other gifted colleagues at Resolution Group International (RGI).

I’ve also trained with Jack in martial arts - he’s arguably one of the best in the world. His background and experiences are of the (very) few, certainly not the many: US Marine Corps officer, MBA, successful businessman/owner, father, husband, president of RGI, and a sought-after speaker and leader for many within LE and military communities including the NYPD. And to boot, he’s a “Subject Matter Expert” for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, which takes him regularly to Camp Quantico, Virginia, to train active-duty Marines.  
All this stems from his mentorship under two men: A diplomat sage, who may have just figured out the meaning of life, and Japan’s last living Ninja. Yeah, Jack Hoban is that guy. Jack is also a mentor of mine. The reason is in this book.

“The Ethical Warrior” is the culmination of decades of hard-learning and moral failures by a stubborn young Marine trained to kill and judge others with contempt. It is the story of transformation and more importantly the exquisite activation of an “ethical warrior.” The work is both autobiographical and how-to guide; an instruction in “anti-intuitive” thinking to reach the “common sense,” so desperately needed in this age.

There is renewed focus on ethics within law enforcement and the military - keenly aware a ‘win the people’ philosophy is crucial, whether in the United States or around the world. Jack’s message is simple: Save lives - all lives - innocent, professional, and even perpetrator, if tactically possible.
To do this Jack’s developed a keen understanding of nothing less than the profound: A simple, practical theory of human nature providing directions to resolve individual conflict - even war, respect the equality of our fellow person, improve cross-cultural relations, reject dehumanization, and articulate a fundamental recipe for human happiness.

He examines becoming your best person, the root causes of conflict, and how to be certain personal values are, in fact, “valuable.” He also uncovers humanity’s core values and submits the possibility of the existence of a universal value - one so compelling it can qualify and adjudicate every other competing personal, societal value. Jack’s theory may also serve to better protect from the psycho-spiritual damage that occurs in having to contend with violence, and there is great hope it may even lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and suicide.

When our role within the human condition is clarified, we make ourselves aware of the natural rights and duties that exist toward each other, and can voluntarily choose to place ourselves at greater risk – spiritually, emotionally, and in some cases, even physically - to protect and defend the welfare and lives of those around us. But in order to do so, we need direction, instruction, and a guide, who knows the way.
As far as I'm concerned, "self-reliance" never goes out of style. By reading the book, we can grant activation of our own Ethical Warrior to be the guide for ourselves and others.


December 17, 2012

In the Wake of Tragedy, Train

This post was originally written and posted 12/17/12 after the Sandy Hook massacre, but it is apropos after what happened in Orlando this past weekend. 

How do I deal with gut-wrenching tragedies? Like the horrors of a Sandy Hook? I train.

I drag my questions, my doubts, and fears - specific and non - into the dojo and compound them, let them gang up on me, and even sometimes, let them win. Because in dissecting their victory, I can best plot a trajectory for their defeat.

Last Friday night, the echo of the massacre still loud, we addressed it, talked about it, trained about it. We broke out the Red Guns and worked through various scenarios using the Sanshin, the Kihon, and henka in our armed and unarmed answers. Most importantly, we group-trained to protect and defend others. 

Placing partners in seemingly no-win situations, we crafted viable options for their escape and defense. Bear in mind, when attempting to save someone else, do not count on them to assist - chances are they'll be too traumatized to do much. They may even unwittingly give you away in the process, so in the approach to disarm, one may need to conceal themselves not just from aggressor, but also the victim.

Could we reconcile the crime? Of course not. Some evil cannot be resolved as any tailored answer presupposes the initial question is somehow reasonably answerable. But this highlights the paradox of training itself: memorizing specific answers to questions, like techniques, is not useful when the nature of the question is to continually change. We must instead learn to shape the questions themselves to apply the answers our ability is most able to provide.

So, don't just contemplate horror; that brutal stripping of life often leaves us confounded and inert.

Do something. 

Give your thoughts to the physical: train and teach others to train to protect and defend life.


The post below is non-political and contains no direct solutions, but grants the gift of perspective on such an awful topic:

October 16, 2012


School has started up again leaving me with little time for posts. Got some ideas though and hope to have them up soon.

In the meantime, we just had our annual Gasshuku - 14th year running - this past weekend. What could be better than sharing great training with great people?

Hoffer lodge

Friday night training
Shidoshi Joe Bunales
Camp Edwards
Protecting others
Getting the chest-mounted 'GoPro' perspective
Separating the Murphey twins 
Let's do it again next year!

August 26, 2012

The Painting or the Guard?

Vincent van Gogh's "The Starry Night," 1889
So, I'm in philosophy class. The discussion is centered around an author's ideas that are not inherently ethical, but instead decidedly ambiguous when it comes to matters of right verses wrong. 

For a little clarity, there is nothing unusual about this. Many philosophers, especially modern, do not take stands on matters of why right is right and wrong is wrong, an aspect sometimes referred to as the, "source of normativity" - the reason, basis, motive, cause, aim, goal, purpose, none of these words are strong enough - for the "ought-ness" of action, of life. The reason is simple: They don't know. Or maybe they just can't make up their mind. (Hell, Aristotle never said either. He didn't argue as to the truth of ethics, only said one needs a proper upbringing to know their "why." Huh?!) And to avoid answering the question they wind up engaging in torturous conflagrations of thought - we're talking backbends and shit - in order to make their nebulous points seem clear. Still with me?

This sets us off discussing the nature of values, what people value, and how they find these values valuable. Eventually it brings us back to the professor who lays out in methodical detail how the nature of autonomy is in essence to decide for oneself what is important and just how these issues, values, and concepts are of importance.

"Not everything is about ethics," she begins. Some find great value in art, and when confronted with choices about these values, reasonable questions on action are posed about what we should or should not do. For instance, if a museum is on fire and one can either save only a priceless van Gogh painting or wake up a sleeping guard (and save his life), these would present legitimately tough choices to make. She then looks over the room, seemingly for approval.

History's greatest art. So boring ...
Wow. Did she just say that? Did she just equivocate the value of human life with a painting under life and death circumstances? This inadvertently pulls the pin on my "Life Value" grenade. I debate tossing it.

Didn't have to. Turns out she also pulled the pin of the student next to me - she explodes: "What?! That is a human being! A human life! How can you even compare the two?!" Me, sotto voce: "This just got awesome."

I dart back to the professor. She straightens in her seat, clearly caught off guard by the torrent of common sense. Her only response is, "Well, okay, if that's what you think ..." I wonder if anyone else is thinking it as well.

The incident compelled me to establish the analogy as a proper philosophical question:
You find yourself inside a museum on fire. Let us suppose you are the last person inside that you know of. As you make your escape, you come to a fork in the hallway and can make out two distinct paths: One leads to a priceless, world-famous painting - perhaps your favorite - that would allow you to save it from certain destruction in your escape. The other path leads to an asleep security guard, who you could wake and escape together. Let us also suppose the roar of the fire is enough to drown out any yelling to wake the guard. Which way should you go? There may not be time enough to do both and escape injury or death.
Which in that moment is of greater value to you? Should you have an obligatory value for the protection of life? You yourself are trying to escape, so we can discern you at least value your own life. But tell you what, let's put in a third option, one that might not be reasonable to everyone, but may be at least justifiable from one's own perspective: Wake the guard and tell him to skeedattle. Then, because you value "priceless" art, you can choose to risk your own life to rescue the painting as the building burns around you. This is not going to be reasonable to everyone (especially to the people who love you), but at least you are not risking the lives of others to satisfy your own relative value.

Perhaps to some the choice between saving the painting and saving the guard is equivalent. They might even have arguments for why saving the priceless painting is a better choice than saving the guard. Except for this: Unless you are the guard. Unless the guard is someone you love, you care about - a husband, father, brother, son, a wife, mother, daughter, sister. And here's the thing: Chances are it's somebody's someone. The guard is somebody's father, daughter - somebody's someone. And if you conclude it wouldn't be right for anyone to supersede the value of your own life or anyone you cared about for their own arbitrary, relative value - in this case a value for "priceless" art - then why would you think it is in any way allowable for you to impose that value upon them?

That's what my professor apparently could not understand and it led to some insight. This is a well-respected university professor, one who recently played host to a symposium on world poverty and human rights with similarly-minded people from around the globe. And yet here she is in measured voice, rationally, "reasonably" condemning a fellow human being to death because their life is simply outweighed by her own vision of "equality." The very same dehumanizing equivocation made throughout history to justify the moral failures of the human condition - all life is not equal. Some people (and in this case some things) are simply 'more equal' than others.

I really don't mind she made the analogy - let's face it, it's hypothetical and I like to think under actual circumstances she'd do the right thing. What I find most troubling is the fact human life was not "out of bounds" when discriminating between saving a painting and saving a person. Would she have made the same equivocation if it wasn't a guard? What if it was a baby? Or some eminent professor? What if the guard was 19-years-old? And had kids? Would it make a difference then? And if it did, what makes it different? Seems to me if it is different, there would be an infinite number of mitigating factors requiring analysis prior to decision. One would have to discern value amounts for each and every factor and weigh them against each other. You'd need a roomful of actuaries just to keep track. (See Utilitarians.)

I really wanted to engage my professor's analogy with her saying: Okay, let's say you decide to rescue the painting. You run outside (saving yourself) and make it to the parking lot. You look up at the building now engulfed in flames, when a woman runs up to you - she's clutching two small children - and asks, "You were the last person to come out of the museum. My husband is a guard inside. Did you see him?"

Question: Would you tell her the truth or would you lie to her? And if you would lie, are you lying for her or are you lying for you?

I say, you made your choice - stick by it and tell the truth: You condemned her husband to die over a painting. See, it's a very famous painting. You should explain that. Perhaps it will console her and her children in the future.

But perhaps you feel you must lie - for her. But if you are lying for her, then you are clearly not lying for yourself. And if you are not lying for yourself, then why not just tell her the truth? Besides, why would you feel you must lie for her? You don't wish to hurt her feelings? Why do you care about her feelings? You certainly didn't care about the guard's.

Is it possible the lie is for yourself? A lie to cover up the fact you did something wrong - and you know it - and do not wish to reap the consequences that will surely cramp your lifestyle?

Isn't the lie, in fact, because you are trying to protect, trying to preserve and save your own life? Again? That's twice in one day. Know who could have used just one of those saves?

The guard.

August 10, 2012

Taijutsu/Makko Ho Workshop: Los Angeles, CA

UPDATE 12/02/12: This workshop has been postponed due to a scheduling conflict. We're hoping to get out there in 2013.

This January, Tomoko and I will make our way to Los Angeles joining my very good friend and Buyu, Michael Govier (SGTI dojo LA), as host for a Taijutsu and Makko Ho seminar on Saturday, January 19th. Michael has been training for several years now and recently moved out to LA to ramp up his acting career, which was quite successful for him here in Chicago.
Position 1

From 12:00-1:00pm, Tomoko, one of only two licensed instructors in the United States, will take everyone through this esoteric Japanese art's four distinct poses as well as the "Hodo Taiso" - a kind of massage that teaches practitioners to use their body (Taijutsu) for healing purposes. Makko Ho is a remarkable method of stretching and bodywork, complex in its simplicity, much like Taijutsu. Hatsumi sensei studied Makko Ho and we know these movements as the Bujinkan's "Ryutai Undo/Junan Taiso." I myself am very fond of the art - it's how I met Tomo.

Then from 1:00-6:00pm, I'll engage everyone with my perspective on training in general, the ethics coded into Budo Taijutsu, and concentration on discovering the principles inherent in movement and how to refine them with the alignment of technique. I am of firm belief principles make one effective, techniques make one efficient and care must be taken not to place efficiency before effectiveness - part of what I think makes our training rather unique and accessible to all levels and abilities. We'll cover unarmed movement - kihon happo and sanshin - and any and all weapons available looking specifically at the universality of their use. If there are questions regarding specific weapons, please bring them.

Cost: Training with Tomoko from 12-1:00pm is $20.00, for those solely interested in Makko Ho. Training with me from 1-6:00pm will be $50.00, although if planning to stay for both sessions, the combined cost is $60.00.

Location details are forthcoming, so stay tuned. In fact, join us on Facebook to keep up on changing details.

Any questions should be directed to Michael at:

We look forward to seeing you out there!


July 30, 2012

An Extraordinary Loss

This is heartwrenching. A long-time Bujinkan-er and a fellow I have known for many years has lost everything. Pat Lee's daughters, Vivian and Lillian, ages six and eight, are gone. The links below spell out the details. His former wife was also lost in this horror. And now he needs our help. 

Please donate whatever you can to assist him with funeral costs - $20 would be great. 


The scope of this tragedy is astounding. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Thank you,


July 18, 2012

The Chicago Way of the Warrior

The Rocks: Six innocent swimmers have become trapped on two rocks by the incoming tide. Five of the swimmers are on one rock, while the last swimmer is on the second rock. Each swimmer will drown unless they are rescued. You are the sole life-guard on duty. You have time to get to one rock in your patrol-boat and save everyone on it. Because of the distance between the rocks, and the speed of the tide, you cannot get to both rocks in time.

Question: What should one do?
Better question: What ought the warrior do?

An old friend contacted me recently. He used to live here in Chicago, but no longer. Surprised by the spiking levels of violence and death, he asked my take on it. A few years ago I wrote a piece called, "That which each one of us could provide for himself" detailing the violence and ideas that might help curb it, maybe even stop it. Since then, nothing has changed, in fact, it's gotten worse, now it's a gang war that even cops are comparing to 'tribal warfare,' like in Afghanistan.

The violence is primarily centered in and around black communities, where innocents and perpetrators do most of the dying. Everyone is a target now: Adults and way too many teens and children. Kids coming out of late-night parties are shot down in drive bys; arguments and disagreements end in beat downs, drawn weapons, and shots fired. The mother of a recent victim allowed her teen son to attend a party he begged her to go to. It was his last. When she arrived to pick him up, she found him covered in blood on the sidewalk. He died in her arms at 13.

And the violence is spreading. Just recently a fellow walking his dog in a "good" neighborhood had his throat slashed - he wasn't even mugged, his attacker just watched him bleed. A couple weeks ago, a block from Wrigley Field, home of Cubs baseball, four guys jumped from a white stretch limo and beat several people on the sidewalk, leaping back into the limo to speed away. Mob beatings, muggings, knifings - it isn't just about money anymore, it's about "respect," but combatants seem to be losing sight of exactly why they're fighting and dying. This from the UK Telegraph's report on Chicago:
"This is a block-to-block war here, a different dynasty on every street," said a dreadlocked young man heavily inked in gang tattoos who calls himself "Killer".

"All the black brothers just want to get rich, but we got no jobs and no hope. We want the violence to stop but you ain't safe if you ain't got your pistol with you. Too many friends, too many men are being killed. We don't even cry at funerals no more. Nobody expects to live past 21 here."
Chicago murders are outpacing actual warzones: Since 2001, 5,000 people have been murdered, compared to the 1,966 (Washington Post) troops America has lost in Afghanistan. The Chicago Tribune reports that just this year 228 residents have been murdered, compared to the loss of 144 troops in Afghanistan over the same period. For Chicago, that's up 38% from the first half of last year.

A career police officer told me this is the lowest he has ever seen morale in the department in nearly 40 years. Insights I received from another officer felt leadership was to blame: Low manpower, botched budgets, and failures in leadership to back officers up. He points out Police Academy classes used to have 200-300 recruits every six months, now they're lucky if they get 50-100. He calls the investments in the new Chevy Tahoes a waste. As he writes, "They are not even 4×4. What's the point? To get stuck in the snow?" He also says the street light cameras simply relocate criminals. But he's really hot about leadership who he feels are busier keeping tabs on officers with microphones in squads and GPS than actually fighting crime.

Now for my take. Let's approach this from the perspective of physical, mental, and spiritual or Shingitai-Ichi.

A quick note: Shingitai-Ichi is often translated as "unification" or "oneness" of shingitai - heart, technique, and body. But "Ichi" here does not mean the number one. The actual word is 一致, "Ichi" meaning "agreement." In this sense the heart, technique, and body converge to synergistically support each other and balance out as they are applied by the manner in which they need to "agree."

A healthy community also has to internally "agree." It makes certain its physical, mental, and spiritual aspects are healthy on their own, so in combination they strengthen each other, gaining the potential to become very resilient. A physically safe community allows people to come to the (mental) conclusion they can live there, plant roots, start a family, and invest in a (spiritually) satisfying future they are compelled to protect, which in turn upholds the physical. So, the truth here is simple: Physical safety must be fulfilled or the mental and spiritual aspects never get the chance to take hold.

So, what ought the warrior do? Here's a dose of philosophy taken from Elizabeth Ashford and Tim Mulgan's entry, "Contractualism," in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

The Rocks: Six innocent swimmers have become trapped on two rocks by the incoming tide. Five of the swimmers are on one rock, while the last swimmer is on the second rock. Each swimmer will drown unless they are rescued. You are the sole life-guard on duty. You have time to get to one rock in your patrol-boat and save everyone on it. Because of the distance between the rocks, and the speed of the tide, you cannot get to both rocks in time. What should you do?

Suppose you decide to save the lone swimmer on the second rock. Intuitively, this seems wrong. Surely you should have saved five people instead of one. The challenge for contractualism is to explain why what you did is wrong. Utilitarians have a straightforward answer, based on aggregation. You should save the five people instead of the one simply because five deaths is a worse result than one death. This case is tricky for contractualism because it rejects aggregation. The five people will each want to reject the principle that allows you to save the one, by appealing to the fact that such a principle leaves them to die. But the lone person on the second rock will want to reject any principle that allows you to save the five. And the reason for objecting to the principle is exactly the same in each case - this principle leaves that person to die. The five people cannot appeal to the fact that there are more of them - because this is not an individual reason. (Suppose you are one of the five. The fact that four other people will die is not something you can object to, as it is not something that happens to you.) It therefore looks as if we have reached a stalemate - and perhaps the best solution (the principle that no-one can reasonably reject) is to toss a coin. That way, each of the six people gets a fifty-fifty chance of survival. No-one can reasonably reject this principle on the grounds that it only gives them a fifty-fifty chance of survival, because any alternative gives someone even less chance. Tossing a coin is the only
principle that guarantees everyone at least a fifty-fifty chance. So it is the only principle that no-one can reasonably reject.
Perfectly logical - toss a coin. Awesome. Isn't that how you would want someone to decide if your life or your loved ones lives are worth saving?

One aspect overlooked here is this: Each of these people not only have an equal claim to be rescued, they also share an equal responsibility to protect themselves from dying, and, in fact, according to the original problem, are engaged in that very action by clinging to the rock to begin with. However, their responsibility does not end there, it inevitably continues until one of three outcomes occur: They are rescued, they give up - let go of the rock and die - or don't give up, but slip off the rock and die anyway.

However, the original problem states you are a life guard, meaning you have training. Are there other solutions here, not yet articulated, based on the fact one is trained? I can think of two:

Drive the boat toward the sixth swimmer. When you are reasonably certain he can reach it, because you are trained as an expert swimmer, dive in toward the five swimmers - risking your life - to attempt their rescue. Since the sixth swimmer is alone he only has himself to rely on, unless he has some overwhelming technical advantage, like a boat. The five swimmers are not alone and can work together to stay afloat, and perhaps even more so with your strong, expert help. The sixth swimmer could even drive the boat over to pick up all of you.

However, I think this is the choice with the best chance:

Drive the boat toward the rock with the five. When you are reasonably certain they can reach it, dive in to attempt a rescue of the sixth swimmer, since your chances of rescuing (and possibly reviving) just one person are better than all five. The five are still responsible to save themselves and have an opportunity to work together to swim for the boat and/or keep each other afloat, saving one another. At that time, they can drive the boat to pick up the sixth swimmer and yourself.

(For those of you who dislike changes to their ethical riddles, I say this: The reason ethical questions are composed in the first place is to allow one to think them out. If "right" and "wrong" are only to be reacted to by one's "gut" in knee-jerk fashion, they deny us any opportunity to explore the process and conclude new options and hence, open new pathways of thought.)

The bottom line here in Chicago is this: Just like the folks trapped on the rocks, everyone has an equal claim to be rescued. But everyone also has an equal responsibility to protect themselves. If the violence and death in the city is ever to be resolved, then everyone - residents under siege, law enforcement, and all of the city's citizens - is going to have to risk at least some of their personal safety while recognizing their inherent responsibility to protect it.

My belief is unless there is overwhelming sustained security - boots on the ground providing for the physical safety of residents and their children - there is never going to be the kind of cooperation between these troubled communities and law enforcement. Never. And one thing is for sure, nothing will change without risk, on behalf of the city and its residents, law enforcement, and the members of these troubled neighborhoods.

Citizens will have to risk their personal safety by agreeing to have less law enforcement on hand and available to them, reducing their usual expectation of safety, so manpower can be redirected to troubled areas. Neighborhood residents will have to risk their personal safety, due to their proximity to the problem, and bear the risk of retribution for cooperating with police. And law enforcement (or National Guard) will have to risk their lives by physically standing between residents and the thugs who mean them harm for as long as it takes.

How long will it take? Until residents trust law enforcement more than they fear the thugs.

No trust means no cooperation, means no safety, means no peace.

June 24, 2012

"36 to Desk ... Did you just say, fight?"

I stop short. "Did you just say, "Fire?""

"Right. A fire," the voice cracks back.

"A fire. A real fire, in the kitchen," I'm running - fires are bad; laundry and all its airborne lint is the worst - like fireworks shooting off in a gunpowder factory - but kitchen is bad too, what with all the grease, flour, pissed-off chefs ... I snatch an extinguisher I pass on the wall.

"That's what they said," the dispatcher's voice flat.

Like he cared - he hated this job, like everybody else, including me. For several years, (several years ago) I work at this five-star hotel as a security officer. Midnight shifts are supposed to be boring, predictable. But this is a weird start: First, a medical emergency - 'Housekeeper-bleeds-everywhere' cuts herself and runs to the security office. After patching her up, a call of "fire" and this is in the first ten minutes of shift change.

I race to the kitchen and yeah, they had a fire; flames and everything. Started with a discarded sterno unit nobody thought was still lit, and burned a bunch of trays. But there's no serious damage - a chef puts it out. Bit of a mess, but at least he didn't pull the ANSUL unit, which would have been a freaking disaster. I whip out my notepad to get his name for the report, which is all I ever seem to do - write reports. That's when I hear it, but ... it can't be right. I press my jacket mic to confirm, "36 to desk, repeat your last."

"(Garbled) ... fight!"

I process this. "A fight?"

"There's a FIGHT in the bar! GO!"

This is ridiculous. More has happened in the last 20 minutes than in six months. I drop the extinguisher and race to the bar. Larry, the bartender, is waiting outside. He's exasperated, desperate - not him, this guy is always mellow, like he has single malt for blood.

"The hell's going on?"

His arms in surrender, "They just won't stop ..."

We march in - the whole room is yelling - a crowd of people surround two men, one is young, in his twenties, wearing shorts and sandals - an odd choice for a swanky five-star hotel, but whatever. But the other fellow is also sporting odd fashion sense and it would turn out, that's what starts this fight.

See, this other guy is wearing a suit. A green suit. A really green suit, like, leprechaun green - he needs to be hoarding a pot of gold, dancing a jig this thing is so green. Now, he's an older guy and he's wagging his finger in the face of the kid and they're both trying to out scream everybody else's screams.

I raise my own voice - I can go hella loud when I want to - and the place quiets (I'm slightly proud of this), "People! Let's calm down! Now, what is going on?!" You know, hindsight is 20/20 and at this time I did not have it. As it turns out, these words are most probably exactly what I should NOT have said - it was just too good a set up ...

Green Suit turns to me and in a measured, calm tone says, "Hey, we were just enjoying our evening until this mother-" In this next moment several things happen at once. Let me detail: Green Suit screams, "FUCKER!!" and pastes the kid in the mouth with a left cross. The Kid drops like a stone and it is at this point God takes hold of the carpet with both hands and violently whip cracks it - the place literally goes up for grabs. In fact, this phrase, "goes up for grabs" doesn't accurately describe just how "Three Stooges" this scene becomes: It's like everybody is fighting everybody with pies, but there's no pies.

And then it hits me - holy crap, this is a melee. I mean, I grew up watching melees: Adam West and Burt Ward - melees every week as Batman and Robin against guest stars like Vincent Price as Egghead; The Monkees - sing a song, melee; The Banana Splits - meleed all over that jungle gym thingy they had. Melees were everywhere when I was growing up, clearly instilling zero respect for them, because let me tell you, melees are not wholesome, silly fun, where mustachioed bad guys in top hats are maypoled to a post as you dance to Benny Hill's raunchy theme. Real melees suck. And this one sucks ass: Women are throwing wine glasses everywhere - shattering - furniture is whipped around, shit gets all kinds of broken, everybody's swinging at everyone, screaming, crying - in one second this five-star hotel bar becomes a SLAYER mosh pit with sharks with lasers on their freakin' heads.

Now, rather than start Kung Fu-ing everybody, I decide I am not going to Kung Fu anybody. In fact, I decide, rather quickly, to restrain the biggest guy - a barrel-chested fellow, head down, like the famous toughman 'Butterbean,' knocking people down left and right. I grab hold of his elbows from the front and pin them to his sides - he sees me and gives in, not wanting to fight the "law," I guess. I yell at everyone else to stop fighting. This works as well as distracting a dog from a meaty bone with an algebra expression, demanding he solve for x. "Solve it, Rover! Solve for x, now!"

Green Suit and the Kid wind up on the floor, with Greeny choking Kid from behind like a jiujitsu match. But Greeny's poor technique is about as close to choking the Kid out as he is of winning respect for his fashion choices, so I have time to talk him out of continuing his 'head hug of doom,' or whatever it was. Finally, they separate, everybody gets up, dusts off ... and leaves! Just like that! I'm left dumbstruck and a little lost. I look at my partner, who must have showed up after the whip crack - "Should we call the police?" My partner yells into his mic, "CALL THE POLICE, NOW!"

Chicago PD arrives - in like, two seconds - with a cigar-chomping, fedora-wearing detective right out of some cancelled cheesy cop show. Butterbean retires to his room to sleep on his mattress that I later learn is made entirely of strippers, but Green Suit gets mouthy with the family (as they run for the elevators) as well as the cops, which is hilarious. He gets restrained and a good talking to. Probably about his wardrobe.

I would find out later, the Kid is here with his family - mom, dad, brothers, sisters, grandma - from Michigan, celebrating his twenty-first birthday. Isn't that nice? They are staying at this five-star hotel - hundreds of dollars a night - to celebrate their big boy's b-day and are all getting shitfaced on top shelf when Green Suit and his buddy waltz in and the Kid makes a crack about the suit. Green Suit's buddy, Butterbean, is the owner of a local strip club and has just spent more than $300,000 at this hotel's ballroom for the wedding of his daughter. (Flowers $80 grand, cake $14 grand, pounding a grandma and her punk grandson for insulting your pal after your daughter's wedding reception - priceless.) Yes, he has just come from the ballroom where his daughter's wedding reception is, walked into this bar, and rumbled with a whole family from Michigan. Stay classy.

Now, before we get to the family, ask yourself: When was the last time you brawled alongside your mom, dad, sisters, and grandma against two "Goodfella" extras from Central Casting? If your answer is anything other than "never," I will assume you have a very exciting life up there in Michigan. This family - still drunk and who were more than happy to fight these two goofs - now firmly believe that Butterbean will awake from his silicone-rich stripper bed, and join Greeny to flat-out execute them in their rooms with silenced hi-tech pistols as they rappel from the rooftop and shoot through the windows. Totally serious here.

Riding up in the elevator with them, I whip out my note pad to get their names and - NO NAMES! The family nearly jumps me at the very thought, lest like spies they be "burned" or something. (I roll my eyes - I don't remind them they are all on file at the front desk.) They pack their bags like Jason Bourne on the run from a Ninja hit squad and insist on fleeing the hotel from the dock - usually reserved for fleeing celebrities and fleeing heads of state - to escape back to Michigan, unless that's a contradiction in terms.

I would spend the rest of the morning writing the stupid report. I was so proud of it I kept it and was just going to re-post it here, but must have lost it.

Damn shame - best report ever.

June 18, 2012

A Book Worth Reading

Some years ago I was on the bus, reading a book, headed to a job I hated. I have since quit the job and finished the book. I still ride the bus from time to time.

As I remember it, it was a good book. It had a fine cover, nice print, and was sized well enough to carry each day without hassle. The quality of its paper was decent and would absorb ink from my red pen, should I mark notes. It was non fiction. As a rule, I only read non fiction. I write fiction and find myself uninterested in the delusions of others - I have enough of my own.

On this particular day it was sunny. Perhaps it was summer. The bus itself was crowded, stuffy. I was riding at rush hour. I was standing in the isle reading my book. I do not remember which page.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that this rush hour bus, normally loud with banal conversations and cell phone use, had become quiet, and strangely so. It is the kind of quiet one does not welcome, even while trying to read a book worth reading. It is the kind of quiet that makes one wish it were not quiet. The kind of quiet that makes one pay attention. And so, I stopped reading my book and paid attention.

This is what I saw: Two men, sitting on opposite sides of the bus, were, let us say, interacting. One was yelling - terribly so. The other, made faces back. This might not have been unusual had they each been four years old. Or six. Or ten. But they were older than this. Old enough to know better, although their behavior belied this point. The faces of the Face-maker were varietal, spontaneous - a kissy face, a tongue-sticking-out face, a scrunchy face. Had he made them to a baby they might have been cute, endearing even, bringing squeals of laughter or joy from a brand-new person just now discovering the world. But the man on their receiving end - the Yeller - clearly not a baby, was not amused. He was downright mad and getting madder. And what was clear to me (and I am certain clear to Face-maker as well) was the profanity and spitting intensity of Yeller, as well as his odd fashion sense, body language, word choice, and inflection - think of a riled-up Barney Fief - pegged him as mentally challenged, unstable even. And these "cute" faces were provoking him.

I don't know who started it, in fact, I didn't care. I could not concentrate to read, and no one else, I noticed, could much concentrate either. Yeller was yelling louder - and at shorter intervals - and Face-maker's face-making grew more intense. I watched the bus driver for signs of intervention, but there were none - he was nervous. I knew he was nervous - scared, maybe - because although this situation merited attention, he withheld it - not a word, not a stare, not even a glance. He drove in determined ignorance.

I folded the corner of the page I was reading, so as to return to it, and made my way forward, weaving and squeezing past the stolid riders of the terminally quiet bus to finally step into the loud and charged space between Yeller and Face-maker. Once positioned directly between them, so as to force them to look around me to continue, I reopened my book and watched the page. And as I watched the page I watched both of them peripherally. I never once looked at them. I never once acknowledged them.

Now, the yelling did not stop. The faces did not either. And for several moments this dynamic duo peered around me and continued their awkward conversation with more profanity and more faces. But not for long. Soon, the yelling grew less, then quieted. And the faces became like reruns - his creativity exhausted.

Eventually they both settled. The drone of the bus' engine became noticeable again. The conversations banal again. I stayed where I was, managed to find my place upon the page and concentrate on my book.

It was a good book, as I remember.

One worth reading.

June 4, 2012

Confessions of a "Real-Life Ninja"

"Upcoming guest on the podcast: REAL-LIFE NINJA! Send us questions for the ninja..."

-Nerd Nite Podcast Twitter Feed
Okay, I got interviewed. About ninjas.

"Nerd Nite Podcast" host Dan Rumney interviews people around the globe from authors to neurologists and the fact their expertise makes them a "nerd." Now, if you have 50 minutes to burn, have at the interview, perhaps you'll find it mildly interesting. Like pineapple salsa.

Nerd Nite Podcast - Episode 20

How did I feel being interviewed as a "Real-Life Ninja?" Easy - I said I wasn't a 'real-life ninja.' In fact, with the exception of Hatsumi sensei, there are no more ninjas. And yet, I can't completely deny any connection.

Look, if you meet someone who says they are a real-life ninja, or insists they can teach you to become a real-life ninja, you need not think further, need not trouble your weary mind for answers, for the truth is staring you - crazily and wild-eyed, probably - in the face. Don't ask questions, don't become argumentative, just relax, breathe - smile even, it will calm them - and back away.

Saying you're a real-life ninja is like saying you're training to be Batman - it's weird. In all my years training I have never, not even one time, used the word "ninja" to promote myself. Ever. I know of no one training legitimately who would either. The baggage attached to the word highlights the stylized, confused, and stereotypic view society has concerning ninjas and martial arts in general.

Not the hero treats deserved, but the one they needed.
It's also an example of the double edge of the ninja craze: Serious practitioners are often defined by the loudest frauds and loonies looking to live up to, train up to the hype of being a "ninja." And like I mentioned in the interview, instead of being inspired by Batman's sense of justice and doing something worthwhile, they're duct taping their batsuit together and spray painting their mom's Camry black. These are the same people buying antique Chinese scrolls on eBay to claim they're inherited densho from Soke Cucamonga.

You will cover up that sack ...
I know of no other martial art with the kind of deep-rooted misconceptions like those found in Ninjutsu. And one really does have to shrug it off - ninja stuff is tailor made to be exploited and exaggerated - what with all the shadowy, black-clad assassin, cloak-and-dagger, mythical nonsense that's attributed to it. And yet, these stereotypes reveal the very aspects people find intriguing. On a recent video shoot for a temp agency, one of my guys met a woman known as the "Office Ninja." She gets sent in ahead of time to handle all the logistics - it was even on her business cards.

People want to be invincible, undefeatable, they want access to that kind of power or at least training that they believe can lead to it. And when they don't or can't find answers about the training, they make it up - they find an answer that satisfies. And so, you wind up with handfuls of "YouTube ninjas" doling out everything from techniques to recipes.
Full disclosure: Had it. Wore it. Loved it. 

But here's the funny part: The reality of training, the actuality of the art, is way cooler - WAY 'effing cooler - than any comic book could ever detail, than any exaggeration could imagine. Use any weapon? Move/fight from any disadvantage? Turn "invisible?" Absolutely. All true. All totally true. True because within reality is the real way to do it. The folks trying to live up to the hype are only seeing the cartoonish aspects of the art, in other words, only what they can imagine. "Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." So, they are unconscious of the art's tactics, strategies, and principles, let alone its values, morals, and ethics - the stuff that can actually assist us in living better lives and help others to do so as well.

RealLifeNinja says: Everybody wins.
So, what is the reality? Simple: I study not just a martial art, which is actually a combination of historical Japanese lineages and techniques; I also train a martial way, a manner of perceiving the art and its inherent principles so I can apply them under the circumstances in which I need to protect myself and others to live a better life.

Crap. Maybe I am a real-life ninja. Except, like, you know, in real life and stuff ...

May 14, 2012

May 7, 2012

10 Questions with Shidoshi Joe Bunales

I think I first met Joe Bunales in 2000 - it seems so long ago now I've forgotten. He was one of the first to trust me with his training, even though he'd already been training for years in other arts and was highly competent.

Joe is an artist by trade - photography (he worked for PLAYBOY - hello!), video production, graphic, and Web design - I don't think there's anything he can't do. His artistry impacts his training on every level and he's better for it. He also thinks and sees the world through artist's eyes which gives him a rare glimpse into Budo that few others see - a colorful palette of tactics and techniques and a flare for brushstrokes. 

Lately, I've found myself reflecting on the people who have become the long-standing pillars of the Shingitai-Ichi Dojo and the fact that all of them display such Aristotelian 'excellence' in their character. They are all truly Ethical Warriors. Joe is no exception. He is also one of the greatest friends I have ever had the good fortune to meet.

Joe is raising three precocious boys with his amazing wife Norine, juggles work, family, being a Boy Scout leader, and still makes time to teach several times a week.

~ James

What is your personal martial arts biography?

I grew up in a quiet suburb (it was back then anyway) in the Washington D.C. area. As a kid, I was always fascinated with martial arts.

In the late 70s, the only martial art available in my area was Tae Kwon Do and I started classes with my brother and sister when I was 8 years old. After hearing a news report that the Grandmaster of the school had been hospitalized after being mugged, I was soon disheartened at the age of 10. It was around this time that I realized that there was something more meaningful in martial arts, although I was not sure what “IT” was at the time. The "Ninja Boom" hit in the 80s and I, like many others, began reading books and magazine articles from Soke, Stephen Hayes, Jack Hoban, etc. It was around that time I discovered my lifelong dream of taking the Godan test, which I kept to myself for 25 years.

In 1984, I moved to the Midwest and found a training group that frequented Stephen Hayes seminars. We soon became close friends and trained throughout the 80s. There were seven or eight of us who trained in basements, backyards, forest preserves, wherever and whenever we could. That was all we had back then – no formal instructors, just a bunch of young enthusiasts who loved to train and didn’t mind the bruises and cold weather.

As the decade of the 80s ended and the next one started, I spent some time back on the East Coast. I met a Bujinkan instructor in Maryland and ended up following him to the 1993 Tai Kai. I finally met Grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi, Noguchi Sensei, Jack Hoban and many others. Watching Soke for the first time on stage was phenomenal. During the seminar, Noguchi Sensei would stop by our training group. Sometimes he’d correct us, sometimes demo techniques on us, and always with a smile. I thought to myself, “Wow, there’s nothing you can do to stop this guy, he’s great – he’s got IT.”

I soon moved to Santa Barbara. I trained for short periods of time in other styles such as Kung Fu, Hapkido, Aikido, Boxing, and eventually took a 5 year break to pursue marriage, a career in commercial photography, web design, development, and family planning.

In the summer of 2000, I found a class that trained every Friday night that was only a 30-minute drive from my house that changed my life. I started my first class with my current instructor, Shihan James Morganelli.

In the Spring of 2006, while in Japan, my dream became reality. At the Budokan in Ayase, Noguchi Sensei stood, holding a shinai in hand behind me. I never would have imagined that the same shihan that came over to me at the Maryland Tai Kai 12 years prior, would be the one to help me pass the Godan test. Since then, I have been teaching at the Alfred Campanelli YMCA in Schaumburg, Illinois and remain a faithful student of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu.

What do you think is/are the core value(s) of martial arts training?

Below are the core values that drive martial arts training with a positive purpose. There are definitely a couple more, but here's my top 10:

• Courage: Having the fortitude and willingness to do what is right regardless of your fears, difficulties, or the consequences to protect life, and the livelihood of those that impact our moral ethics and values.

• Faith: Having inner strength and confidence based on our trust in the teachings shared in our martial training as well as our higher sense of appropriate action.

• Honesty: Knowing how the truth preserves the purity of our livelihood and being worthy of trust. Dishonest training (not to be confused with kyojitsu) will only go so far - so avoid dishonest training.

• Perseverance and Endurance: Never giving up, even if it is difficult. Gambatte!

• Positive Attitude: Setting our minds to adapt to any given situation and finding the best in all situations.

• Resourcefulness: Using knowledge and training to be both effective and efficient.

• Respect: Showing regard to others with empathy and honor.

• Responsibility: Fulfilling our duty and support to your instructors, the dojo, training partners, other people, and ourselves within ethical reason driven by moral values.

• Health and Fitness: An appropriate level of commitment must be applied to keeping our minds and bodies clean and fit both in and out of the dojo.

• Asobi Gokoro: Lightheartedness, humor, brevity - keep it casual and light, but with respect.

Why do you train?

I train for a few reasons. First, I train for the protection of the lives of my family, loved ones, friends and those around me, which is a great deal of responsibility.

Second, because I've learned to appreciate the value in this type of training along with the rewarding satisfaction obtained from training in the Bujinkan.

Last but not least ... I enjoy it! I enjoy training and have a great brotherhood with the training group, and it’s all because of great teachers and great friends.

Can you explain your method of training and teaching?

I teach in a method that I believe will empower individuals with a certain type of character, which I hope would provide a positive influence with their livelihood. Therefore, with each passing day, this ethic then extends to all those that are in touch with them.

Is there a “secret” to training?

At my level - I say no, although I used to think there was. There are discoveries in your training, but no secrets. Whatever we are training now - regardless of how new it is to us, someone probably already did it. Soke and the Shihan understand things that they’ve been doing that we all have yet to discover. Some might think that those are secrets. I look at this type of question a bit like asking an old married couple what the secret to a successful marriage is, or asking a 100 year old what the secret to life is. In twenty years, my answer could change again. The reality is, one has to keep training in order to find the answer within oneself.

What would you recommend others do, to improve their training?

Generally speaking: Don't be wasteful with your time and when training with a partner, always be proper and respectful. Using excessive force in a situation expends energy that would have been better spent doing something more worthwhile. More importantly, be patient, especially when things appear challenging. This is where the lessons begin. Above all, persevere, and keep going.

What are the biggest differences today, than when you first began training?

Back in the day, there wasn’t much out there. Slowly, more and more instruction came about. Now that the Bujinkan has become more prevalent, the approach to training has changed a great deal. There’s also a maturity within the training nowadays that has developed over the years. It’s a little like the difference between rock music from 30 years ago and comparing it to today. The people who study music, would know how to appreciate the songs and artists from previous years as well as have the background to critique the songs and artists present today. Also, if you were alive during earlier days of rock-n-roll, there’s a certain amount of nostalgia and history you would have experienced which gives a certain feeling to you, compared to someone who was not, even though they may be listening to the same music today. That feeling may be very profound or very subtle. Either way, most people can tell the difference between the two eras.

What is the role a martial artist plays in our world?

As a martial artist, I can only say what I can do for the world around me and that is - help others be safe.

What one thing would you contribute to a “Book of Knowledge?”

Creativity should never be forced, you have to let it happen naturally, but with lighthearted feeling, and a sense of purity with your intentions.

Do you have any great hope for the future of martial training?

In general, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. I am confident that out of those that have been entrusted to teach and share their knowledge, there are those that will keep the purity of martial training intact - as well as add positive value. That's what I hope for.

April 30, 2012

The Tactic of the Technique is the Ethic

"All actions derive from philosophy."
                       ~ Ancient Greek saying

"Even if unsure what that philosophy is."
                                             ~ Jack Hoban
Well, it's been a week since I dropped Jack Hoban off at the airport - everything before that is a blur. The annual ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association) conference, annual Chicagoland Buyu Workshop, the new RGI Tactical Maneuver video shoot, candid talk and training (and steaks!) with Jack - the Ethical Warrior himself - not to mention my first ever experience of the man behind the man, the late Dr. Robert Humphrey, Jack's mentor. Arguably, the most profound moment of our time together.

With the great Tom Cline,
Chicago Police Academy
It is no coincidence that members of ILEETA, as well as some of the most prestigious tactical trainers and experts in the field today, showed up to hear and promote Jack on his Ethical Warrior(EW) presentation and mindset. LE officers from across the US showed their great support for Jack and his mission - to better protect those who protect - for one simple reason: It works. Not only has the training been tried, tested, and approved by the US Marine Corps no less, it is now being discovered by many others including the likes of the NYPD and the Park Ranger Service. Even leaders of the Chicago Police Academy offered their tremendous approval. And with violence out of control here in Chicago, they know we could sure use it.

What is harder to describe is why the EW method feels so right. See, the psychology of our inherent "life value" is rather inscrutable. When we hear the "Hunting Story" is it empathy we feel? Humility? Compassion? What is it that drives us to its inevitable conclusion, that our lives really are equal, in that we value them in the very same ways?

Now, the Hunting Story may be unconvincing and simply too abstract for the materialist, Randian, or relativist who may wish to say, 'We are obviously not all equal human beings, and as such do not deserve respect simply because we exist.' Which, you know, is fine to believe I guess, so long as they can answer this simple question: Then why not take the knife offered in the Hunting Story, jump down off the back of the truck and kill the villager? If life truly is relative, and not an objective, universal value as we suggest, then this action should bear one no concern.              

Jack and the team at Resolution Group International(RGI), offer ongoing certifications in the methodology. In fact, our next cert is this July. Join us! For more information goto: Resolution Group International
Also, check out Jack's interview by PoliceOne.

Chicagoland Buyu Seminar 04/21/2012
The annual Chicagoland Buyu seminar always brings together new and old friends alike and has over the years become the conduit for many in the Bujinkan to capture once again the feel for the positive warrior ethic. And we covered so much in just one afternoon: Integration from within the body of Taijutsu's physically sustainable protections, ethical transmission of tactical maneuvering, submission, and weapons, not to mention tried and true aspects of the Kihon Happo delivered with Jack's signature perceptions.

Not me smiling.
Jack's frank and sincere perspectives on training and warriorship are as valuable as they are prescient. For the more we "get tactical" without getting ethical first, the more apt we are to incur the very kind of physical, mental, and emotional trauma and scars we are out to avoid through the single-minded pursuit of tactics and techniques. In other words, trying to "out thug the thug" just doesn't work.  

I was happy to see my RGI colleague Craig Gray, who came in from Michigan to train with us. Craig has become an integral part of RGI and assisted with the filming of the new tactical maneuver video we shot last Sunday. And a big thanks goes out to good friend and fellow Buyu Jon Phillips who was gracious enough to lend not only his production expertise, but also his studio for the shoot. Looking forward to the results!

But by far the most poignant moment came Sunday night. We had just returned from an incredible dinner at Morton's - the original, no less - were drunk on steak and had just sat down for a drink (okay, another drink) when Jack reminded me about Dr. Humphrey's video: nearly two hours of interview in the year before his untimely death in 1997.

Hearing him, seeing him was dramatic. I have studied his work and writings for almost 10 years now, but within minutes, he shattered whatever soundtrack and image I had. I pictured him with a baritone voice and broad shoulders, but that was not this man. The image that looked back was soft spoken, gentle even, with a wise and even handed gaze - Yoda-like. But his hands looked like baseball mitts - large and broken in - from all his years boxing, I suppose.

He spoke methodically, yet casually about the very same things we speak of today, using the very same words we continue to use - his approach to cross-cultural conflict, his thoughts on the value and meaning of life. He told not the Hunting Story, but talked about the hunting trip itself, a rare glance into his mindset at the time. There was no rush, no hurry to his thoughts, they came easy as he explained himself, his history, and his work. There was confidence there, assuredness in where he had been, what he had done, and how he had done it. It was not bragging - someone had simply asked and he answered, as he might answer a curious student, an interested service member.

Jack mentions the filming was actually done one night at training when Dr. Humphrey had visited the dojo. Which made perfect sense, for at the end of the interview, he kindly excuses himself and says he has to get back to the other room ... get back to training. Then the image went black.

I just stared at the screen like I'm staring at this one.

Shit. I gotta get to training.

April 25, 2012

‘When the Temporary Touches the Eternal’

“Budo only lives when you treat it as something that can die.”
That’s a pretty good line, if I do say so myself. I wrote it some years ago and happened on it recently looking over old writings. However, when I wrote it I'm not certain I fully understood it. Reading it again now, I’m struck by the fact it points toward a direction; indicates higher purpose. This is what art is supposed to do. Wait, let me rephrase that – this is what great art is supposed to do. And as such, Budo is not meant to be practiced for itself.

"Whenever he hears a man say that life is not worth living,
he takes out [his] gun and offers to shoot him.
"Always with the most satisfactory results," he laughs."
GK Chesterton, the sage of common sense, was a well-known art critic, among his many other expertises – the man could spontaneously give speeches on just about any topic – and wrote this about art, “You never work so well for art’s sake as when you are working for something else.” He’s right. Great art, he would say, is paradoxical: “The thing that survives is that which has a certain combination of normality with distinction. It has simplicity with a slight touch of strangeness … It is a tale just sufficiently unusual to be worth telling, and yet immediately intelligible when told.”

In other words, it is to say this is a thing I have seen a thousand times, and yet I never saw it before, for “All art is born when the temporary touches the eternal.”

Chesterton disparaged the movement in art known as “Realism” as a decidedly detached endeavor from the eternal. Dale Ahlquist, a Chesterton biographer, puts it best: “Realism claims to be: Life, warts and all. But what Realism really is, is: Warts, as Life. The Realists claim to be holding up the mirror to nature, but then they start believing only the mirror, even after they have broken it.”

Chesterton himself was a “Romantic,” where, “Philosophy is always present in a work of art.” He wrote this wonderful summation:
“All romances consist of three characters … For the sake of argument they may be called St. George and the Dragon and the Princess. In every romance there must be the twin elements of loving and fighting. In every romance there must be the three characters: there must be the Princess, who is a thing to be loved; there must be the Dragon, who is a thing to be fought; and there must be St. George, who is a thing that both loves and fights. There have been many symptoms of cynicism and decay in our modern civilization. But … none [have been] quite so silly or so dangerous as this: that the philosophers of today have started to divide loving from fighting and to put them into opposite camps. [But] the two things imply each other; they implied each other in the old romance and in the old religion, which were the two permanent things of humanity. You cannot love a thing without wanting to fight for it. You cannot fight without something to fight for. To love a thing without wishing to fight for it is not love at all; it is lust. It may be an airy, philosophical, and disinterested lust … but it is lust, because it is wholly self indulgent … On the other hand, fighting for a thing without loving it is not even fighting; it can only be called a kind of horse-play that is occasionally fatal. Wherever human nature is human … there exists this natural kinship between war and wooing, and that natural kinship is called romance … and every man who has ever been young at all has felt, if only for a moment, this ultimate and poetic paradox. He knows that loving the world is the same thing as fighting the world.”
Now, try rereading it replacing “philosophers” with “martial artists.” When we supplant the goal, the point, the truth of martial arts with the mere pursuit of martial arts and the robotic accumulation of its cold, methodical procedures, we cease to be “Romantics” and become “Realists” - rather than training techniques to protect and defend life, we start training a life to protect and defend techniques.

"St. George and the Dragon"
Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1868 
Disconnecting training from its original intent anticipates Chesterton’s conclusion, “Artists who refuse to be anything but artists will go down in history as the embodiment of all the vulgarities and banalities of their time.” Just like the great works of art are repository and haven for humankind's eternal truths, so too is Budo an embodiment, a repository, a haven for our life-protecting-preserving-sustaining moral values such as courage, honor, and sacrifice; methods to protect ourselves and others (including our enemies, if possible) and to a greater extent protect the very love we have for those others and even perhaps for humanity itself.

And so, our good friend GK, has a final thought on great art and unwittingly draws a timeless distinction about the efficacy of the Romantic heart of Budo:
“This is perhaps the test of a very great work of classic creation, that it can be attacked on inconsistent grounds, and that it attacks its enemies on inconsistent grounds. Here is a broad and simple test. If you hear a thing being accused of being too tall and too short, too red and too green, too bad in one way and too bad also in the opposite way, then you may be sure that it is very good.”