On the Warrior’s Path

On the Warrior’s Path by Daniele Bolelli has had a huge impact on me ever since I casually picked it up at the public library several years ago.

What makes it so great?

First of all, it’s not a “how-to”book–> rather, it’s more of an “applied martial arts philosophy” book.

But to even call it that misses the true beauty behind it.

He opens the book with this challenge:

“If you don’t believe that the martial arts have anything to do with American Indian rituals, surfing, globalization, Tom Robbins’ novels, the destiny of the world, the beauty of nature, and our way of perceiving reality, call my bluff — read on.”

His first chapter, titled “The Body As A Temple”, begins with who you are as an individual–are you your thoughts, or something more?

In his eloquent style he shares the power that comes when we truly start exploring our physical realm.

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“During a training session, when the rational mind slows down the flow of thoughts, the body begins to disclose its secrets. Consciousness is free to travel from one muscle to the next, and gives access to powers unknown to those who can’t go beyond cerebral activity.

“For a few minutes or for a few hours, the social identity is left behind. Our names, our professions, our ideas stop having any importance. The only thing that matters is the stream of energy flowing within us.”

Why is any of this important?

As Daniele sees it, “most human problems have their origin in a bad relationship with the body.”

This applies to more than simply those who choose not to workout.

“Many people who go to the gym…as well as many martial artists, treat their bodies as inanimate objects, as machines in need of a tune-up….

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He goes on to share his vision of what a true athlete/scholar is like and what he can accomplish.

He concludes with:

“Turn your body into a temple and nature starts talking to you. It brings you back to a wilder, more authentic state.

“Nature is not just a name to identify what we have not yet covered with concrete and asphalt. It is life lived without fear, without a sense of guilt; life not enslaved by the artificial rules of a society that has lost its center.”

Every chapter continues in his inspiring and almost poetic style.

My favorite chapter is, “The Warrior As Bodhisattva”.

He opens it with:

“Once we have given shape to a body that moves with grace and power wherever it is — once we are at peace with ourselves, our minds are clear, and we feel rivers of internal strength and love for life flowing in our veins — why should we choose to return to our 9-5 world and channel all this energy into aseptic, lifeless environments…

“The inner strength, willpower and confidence that martial arts can bring would be better used for something much more radical than just providing a little help in our daily lives.”

It is his belief that these qualities developed through martial arts practice could serve a much larger purpose, a purpose that, collectively, could change the whole world.

“Every day, another piece of the planet we inhabit is destroyed….

“But this is only the reflection of our inner crisis. No ecosystem is as badly damaged as the hearts and the souls of human beings.

“The destruction is the product of a lost, wounded spirit that has forgotten how to live. We destroy anything crossing our path because we don’t remember how to create.

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Next, he turns the conversation to a more personal note, pointing out the limiting beliefs we’re raised to accept.

Among these is the belief of–

“The true hero is the one who doesn’t get lost in fantasies, but conforms to reality, setting for himself modest goals….

“Bullshit. Colossal, immense, unbelievable bullshit….

“Becoming part of a system that feeds disharmony and does nothing to change the state of things is not a sign of moderation, but of mediocrity. Let’s not settle for such a low ideal.”

So, where does martial arts training fit into all of this?

“It is at this point that martial arts come into play. Hidden between the fighting techniques are the tools to forge our character….

Bolleli (2)

He goes on to say that the real battle is against “mental limits, dullness, short-sightedness, resignation, greed, sadness”, and that the only way to win is to become both a creator as well as a fighter, an artist and a warrior: a Martial Artist.

These two chapters are only a fraction of what makes this book amazing.

I encourage you to pick up a copy and read it.

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