Iconic historical warriors such as King Leonidas, Crazy Horse, and William Wallace didn’t own a gym membership, nor did they likely spend much time training to master sport, calculating their 1RM deadlift, or considering the aesthetic merit of their reflection. They didn’t move to burn fat, build muscle, or activate their glutes. They regularly participated in communal activities such as fighting, hunting, and task-oriented physical labor. They practiced a variety of movements that required the development and refinement of high levels of technical and cooperative skill. And they intuitively understood the value in doing tasks – both with other people and independently – that were tough and challenging.
For them, it was about maintaining a way of life; a pride and quality of community. Hence, their training was generally for a distinct purpose: to serve their people and preserve their culture. It’s easy to deduce that their drive toward developing extreme capabilities and mental fortitude – what many historical scholars would call the “warrior ethos” – was born from a deep love of their people.”-Danny Clark “Move With A Purpose: Resurrecting the Warrior Ethos”
I certainly believe Danny is on to something with observations such as the one above. He goes on to juxtapose this “warrior” posture with the more normative athletic/exercise practices which have little to no usefulness in everyday life, and are almost entirely centered around feeding the needs of a consumer rather than a civic servant.
It is worth pointing out here that while Danny is quick to note that he himself is not trying to pass “judgement” on those who’s physical care is self-centered, it is likely safe to assume that Leonidus, Crazy Horse, and William Wallace all infact would pass judgement on such citizens. And this has much to do with the fact that in our post-truth, pluralistic culture today, we are frequently unwilling to “pass judgement” with the same negative confidence as our forbearers. It is further interesting to note that although today many would argue the virtue of such ethical reluctance with claims as to the illusive nature of knowing and the need to be humble, the same such people are often less hesitant to pass positive affirmations about a person/practice/etc. But I digress…
How did movement become such a selfish pursuit in our culture? Is it distinctly more selfishly pursued than our mental activities? There is a notable rise in people interested in activities that allegedly have practical applications which might serve their fellow man. Is this a sort of natural backlash from having become so narcissistic for so long, or are there other things at work here?
One thing is for certain: if we attempt to employ our physical lives in activities of service, but we shy away of ethical discussions which are inherently judgemental, we will simply breed a new cultural disease state. Without being willing to see things as good or bad, we cannot be intentional about being good. If Danny Clark wants to recover the “warrior ethos“, we’re going to have to start having uncomfortable conversations about ethics.