Philosophy and Psychology
When we left off in Part 2, we were talking about what holds people back from having a “Warrior Mindset”, and Joe was telling me about fears, and people not seeing their own possibilities. We continue from there.
Joe: Most people don’t want to get hurt.
S: Where is the switch between the head and the heart that prevents knowledge from the head from getting to the heart?
Joe: The challenge is in getting them to get their mind out of the dojo and in a dark house at 0200 where there are no rules. That is normalcy, that is how real life works. They have to let their minds go into those dark places and most people don’t want to do that.
I switched gears for a second and asked Joe how he came to work with Scott “Buzzkill the safety squirrel” Van Kirk who taught me about my “Systema happy place” which is where a person would need to be in that dark house at 0200.
Joe: Scott had heard about me through the grapevine. He showed up for a basic seminar about 6-7 years ago and we became good friends and now work on these projects together.
S: So, the warrior mindset, born with it or can you develop it?
Joe: It’s very individual. It depends on where a person comes from. It’s not just about picking up arms. It’s a whole mindset. It’s being able to fight for and defend things of value when it comes down to it. This can also be manifested by working extra to pay the utility bill, to buy good shoes or even to put food on the table. It’s not just physical. It’s about fighting the good fight, it’s bigger than any fight with your two fists. You pull into that, the warrior fights to protect everything they hold dear. It’s about being willing and able to do whatever is necessary to take care and protect those people and things of value.
S: So how prevalent is that mindset now?
Joe: It’s very diminished. People expect someone else to pick up the blade. You have parents that call 9-1-1 and say “My kid doesn’t want to go to school”. Physically, mentally, morally and spiritually no one wants to fight their own battles.
I admitted I was shocked about the parents part. If I had refused to go to school my parents wouldn’t have called the Police, they might have wound up calling an ambulance, but not the Police. Well, ok, they weren’t that strict, but I might have had trouble sitting for a spell.
S. In the book it talks about “Ten wounded is better than one dead”. That sounds very much in line with the Israeli code of “Purity of Arms”.
Except Joe was talking about our side, and I took it as the opposition side.
Joe: Well, if I’m wounded, I can still recover. I can still go on and have a life. For the opposition, you wound as much as you can without taking a life. But just because you are wounded doesn’t mean you are out of the fight.
Then I brought up a line from the book, The Systema Warrior Guidebook :
“An aggressor can only be overcome by one who is strong spiritually.”
I said that the spiritual component of Systema resonated strongly with me, it’s part of why Systema feels like it fits. What percentage of Systema would you say is made up of the spiritual component?
Joe: It comes down to this one thing. We don’t fear death because we are spiritually sound. When you’re good spiritually, you know whatever comes after is going to be good. You have to be one with your maker. You can be dangerous, but still be good, not evil.
S: So let’s talk about acting vs. reacting. In the book it talks about different situations, from a fight to losing a job, these came from different sections in the book:
“Acting is what makes you happy. Reacting is what makes you miserable.”
“Acting is independent of the context; reacting is totally dependent on the context.”
“Acting is rewarding, reacting is frustrating.”
“Action creates results, reaction creates excuses.”
Acting vs. reacting. This applies to many things in life, But to me, it seems if you add in the spiritual component that they sometimes merge. The job example, let’s say you are due for a promotion or raise. In your mind you’ve thought it through. You like the job, but unless you advance you’ve hit the ceiling. So you decide based on the next review, if you are not promoted or given a raise, or whatever, you will leave to gain a better opportunity. If you are promoted, you have the opportunity where you are. Or it could be some decision you are unsure of, so you wait and be quiet until you feel G-d guides your step. Rabbi Lazer Brody in The Garden of Emuna says if you’ve prayed, and nothing in your circumstances has changed, it is time to be quiet and listen, guidance will come. Is that still reacting or is it choosing your path and acting?
The chapters on fear, pain control, and trusting our intuition, to me, make this book a good guide book for life, not only in Systema, but in all parts of our life. Was it written with that intent?
And yes, he stayed on the phone for the three minutes it took me to ask this one question.
Joe: It’s about the space between action and reaction, the longer you take for the action to start, if it is a violent encounter it will become more violent. We are either going to act or react. Acting is you digest the action of the other person and then act upon it. Action is always seeing the writing on the wall and being preemptive. The longer we sit there it is going to be a reaction. In situational awareness reaction takes time and thought, whereas action is instinctual. We react too much, acting is opening up to the environment. When you only react to situations you lose some of the options you would have had if you had chosen to act instead.
S: The part about “preemptive striking”, that’s tough for someone my age. I was always told by my Dad as a kid “Don’t you start anything, but if someone starts it, you finish it.” I can’t be the only one in my age group that grew up like that, do you find that mindset common?
Joe: Reacting is more common. Sometimes we must act on preemption, it’s better to apologize later than tell my family I messed up and I’m hurt and can’t work, or they get hurt. We struggle inside with denial and it prevents preemptive action, those are things that hold us back from making a correct decision in time.
S: I saw a video on Missouri’s concealed carry laws where an attorney named Kevin Jamison was talking about when you were justified to use deadly force and it stuck with me because he used the acronym J.A.M. Is your life in jeopardy, do they have the ability and the means? He said those elements needed to be present for justification, will the same apply?
Joe: It still applies if you are using preemptive strike. In some situations if you do not utilize a preemptive strike you are not going to get another chance. It’s about how you are before and after the event. How you are before, during and after the event is key. It can’t become emotional. It’s all over and done with if we become emotional. Remember, professional, we just do the job, breathing smoothly is key.
S: If people haven’t added something like martial arts or blade work to their bag of tricks, how would you advise them to get started?
Joe: If they are not doing anything martial arts related they should know that awareness is paramount, 95% of crimes could be prevented if people were more aware. People put their awareness down, they lower the standards of awareness. When you walk to your car do you carry your bags in your dominant or non-dominant hand? If you stop at Wal-Mart late at night, when you leave the store to go to your car you see that the parking lot is mostly empty, but parked right next to your car is a van, what do you do?
I wanted to say “Shoot the hostage in the knee” but thought I might be pushing my luck, since I hope to attend another seminar some day.
S: Your book, how did that happen? What was the impetus?
Joe: It started as a manual for the students. I started it 7 years ago and I just kept adding things to it. I kept adding things as people kept asking questions. The more questions they asked, the more information it stimulated. A lot of the same questions kept coming up, so I wrote out the answers to the most common questions. Then 2-3 years ago people started asking me to publish it. It was something I wanted to tell people and what I wanted to do, was tell people it’s about living life as a person of dignity, honor and courage.
S: You have a new book coming out in May of 17, what the title and what will it cover?
Joe: The Bodyguard Enchiridion It goes deeper into the aspects of bodyguarding, a bit like what we did at the end of your last class.
S: There is a whole chapter on “Fear” in the book, and it covers a lot more of life than physical fights. It is absolutely excellent.
Tidbits from the book:
Fear is a very powerful emotion. It has a very strong effect on the mind and body because it is one of our natural survival responses. It tells you what to do in an emergency, like a fire or if you are being attacked.
We can also feel fears when faced with less dangerous situations, like exams, public speaking, a new job, a date, or even a social situation. It is a natural response to something that a person feels are a threat.
In this chapter he goes through things that can help you deal with your fears, such as the segment on knowing yourself, and that faith and spirituality can help you cope. But there’s more in it than these two things, though these stuck with me. He talks a lot more about fears, their genesis, their impact and practical ways to deal with them and choose empowering beliefs instead. Now you see why I said it is much more a book for living life?
And this ladies and gentlemen is where we will end up for this section. I have one more section to come and I can about 99.9% guarantee you that you that it will be coming from a completely different direction than you expect, and it is absolutely heart-warming. So hang on to the horn.
So for your movie clip this portion, I took one of those name quizzes on Facebook. Turns out I’m Eowyn of Rohan. Huh. Well, the name does mean “horse lover or horse friend”. According to the youtube clip, I think I should probably ask for a class in defense against the mace and other medieval weapons of war. Maybe he could do one this summer?