I was wondering a couple things. First, what is your spirit animal? Second, which historical warrior do you imagine yourself as when you are attempting a PR? (I assume everyone does this, right?)
I thought this was a solid question for my first offering for 2011, as I dig animals, and the thought of channeling an inner animal makes total sense. I always remember the story of Creation; God created all the animals first, giving them all the best gifts like strength, speed, fur, claws and instincts. When it came to man, he realized he had given all the best gifts away and left nothing for Man…so to even it out, he made man in his image with the gifts of reason, compassion and intelligence…we got the short end of the stick.
Can you select your animal spirit? No.
If it was as simple as selecting your own animal spirit, we would be inundated with people who believed they were wolves, bears or lions. But that is not the case. Have you seen our society? Have you seen the masses? Most are more heavily influenced by the spirit of Krispy Kreme than wild animals.
The spirit animal selects the person. But how you do you know? How do you know what animal is protecting you? I think if you have to ask, you are not paying attention to the world around you. Our environment is an exciting and interesting, if you pay attention you will realize things happen for a reason. You just have to open you mind and close your mouth long enough to take advantage.
I was fortunate to learn my spirit animal at a young age, but I must admit I never envision an animal when playing or training. I also never envision a historical warrior when lifting weights or going for a personal best. But I do owe my approach to sport and I credit much of my success to one of the most dominant warriors of all time…the Samurai.
As a kid growing up in the 80’s I was a fan of Kung Fu and Bruce Lee movies and took martial arts. I was fascinated by the samurai from a young age. At the time, everyone was about the ninjas, throwing stars and black hoods, but I always dug the samurai. In my 3rd year at Berkeley, I was given the Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, the world’s most famous samurai. And this is when things got interesting.
In his book he wrote about The Way of the Warrior, also known as Bushido; the Samurai Code of Conduct. Musashi’s singular focus was martial warfare, and he wrote extensively about the mastery of the sword. He wrote about the Ichi Ryu Ni To or One School, Two Swords. The Samurai carried two swords tucked in their belts on the left side of their bodies, this was the mark of the warrior and the school of Ichi taught the practitioner to wield both swords in combat.
“If you practice day and night in the above Ichi school strategy, your spirit will naturally broaden. Thus are large-scale strategy and the strategy of hand-to-hand combat propagated in the world. This is recorded for the first time in the five books of Ground, Water, Fire, Tradition (Wind), and Void. This is the Way for men who want to learn my strategy: Do not think dishonestly. The Way is in training. Become acquainted with every art. Know the Ways of all professions. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters. Develop intuitive judgment and understanding for everything. Perceive those things, which cannot be seen. Pay attention even to trifles. Do nothing, which is of no use.”
For over one thousand years, the Samurai’s singular focus the perfection of killing. They dedicated their lives to training, physical exercise, study, mediation and perfection in whatever they did. I decided that if I could take a cue from the samurai and a page from the Book of Five Rings and apply it to football, I would be successful. My singular focus became training, eating and execution of my skills. The training became the path and the competition of practice and the game became the battle and test.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago…I traveled to Japan to visit with one of the oldest sword makers in Japan. For 750 years, spanning 26 continuous generations, this family has been making weapons in a tradition started when the samurai ruled over Japan. I was enlightened and humbled to take part in the forging of weapons that have been revered worldwide for thousands of years. It sparked a ton of reflection in my way and training and brought me full circle.
What is my spirit animal? Fire Dragon.
The dragon teaches us about transformation. His power is that of shedding its skin and emerging as a new, transformed being. Dragon uses magic from within to transform life. The Fire Dragon is both a creator and destroyer, he can move from calm and collected to explosive. He is their own worst enemy; does not always employ the best decision-making measures, and sometimes jump to the wrong conclusion. He also suffer from recklessness and quick tempers. Yet, when they do keep their temper, emotions, and rivaling spirit under control, they emanate a commanding influence on other people.
What is historical warrior has influenced me? The Samurai.
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I also became enthralled with the Japanese fighting arts at a young age.
The rules that Musashi wrote about really had an impact on me as well.
So much that a few years ago my wife made a poster with them and framed it for me. I read it twice a day, after getting up and before going to bed.
I also named my personal blog “The Way is in Training”
Thanks for all the awesome posts in 2010 John, I can’t wait to read what you have in store for 2011.
Rich – A good friend used to tell the adventure is on the road. The way…the road…the path are inter-changeable.
That was a great post. I have always been fascinated with Japanese culture, especially samurai. I like how you mentioned that you cannot select your animal spirit.
If I had to make a guess at my animal spirit I would honestly have to say it is a monkey. Why? The are strong and athletic. However it has more to do with the personality, I think monkeys are a bunch of jokers always looking for a laugh and a good time. Hell why else do they fling poo. I like to train and stay fit but more than anything I like to have a good laugh with my friends.
Great website keep the posts coming!!
The way of the Samurai is amazing and incredible. The discipline and courage… The gracefulness and attention to detail. The pride and belief in more than oneself and power. It is a true way of life.
The spirit of the Dragon. Awesome my brother. Live it.
Great post. I have a dragon (fire) tattoo because in the Zen tradition it is a symbol for an enlightened being (in addition to transformation). However, I didn’t know about these other attributes you talk about in this post, and they really resonate with me, so thanks for sharing this.
Also, if you you are interested in the Way, folks may want to check out the ten Ox herding pictures…
Love the blog, but this is by far my favorite. about a year and a half ago had some life change things happen to me. I started reading about Samurai’s one day (don’t really remember now why) and came across Bushido and the 7 virtues; Rectitude, courage, benvolence, respect, honesty,honor, and loyalty. Then came across the Koi and learned of what i meant in Japanese mytholgy. They say the koi would swim up water falls, and if it climbed the falls at a point called “Dragons Gate” then it would be transformed into a dragon. it is also said that if caught it would lie on the cutter board and never flinch, much like the Samurai facing the sword.
After that i decided i could sit back and complain about the crap, or I could train, learn and contuine the journey. Thanks for your post, its just the reminder I needed to start the year.
Great post, and kudos for including the Horiyoshi III artwork. A true humble master of his craft, 100 Demons and 108 Heroes of the Suikoden are required books for anyone interested in Japanese art or Japanese tattooing. I am working on a bodysuit that incorporates his sketches, it would be a dream to have been tattooed by him.
I have about 80 hours of work surrounding two samurais fighting a fire and water dragon. The warriors and dragons are from Horiyoshi III’s work. A body suit done by Horiyoshi would be epic. He is in Yokohama, now you just have to get an appt.
To be honest I never thought you would post my question,
but this is truly awesome. I’ve never really thought about my own
spirit animal before this, but I doubt it’s as intense as a fire
dragon. Perhaps a giant squid because they like to keep pretty low
key and alone, but they still can kick some ass. More importantly
though, I see squids as pretty intellegent creatures and I’m really
more of an intellectual than an athelete, but that doesn’t mean I
can’t be powerful at the same time. Alternatively, I tend to thing
of wolves when I workout because my wrestling coach would always
say, “the legs feed the wolf”, meaning powerful legs are the most
important part of a warrior. As for my warrior, I like to think of
gladiators fighting for their lives and families. I used this when
about to go into a wrestling match as well and it really got my
focused. Sorry about the length of this post, but you really got me
thinking. Thanks for this.
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Hey, I’m a fire dragon in the Chinese zodiac, and I live in Yokohama 🙂
Awesome post John, please visit us at CrossFit Yokohama next time you come to make a sword or get inked (and that goes for all CFFB adepts)!
I really dig this post. Growing up I was big into Bruce Lee, read a lot of eastern philosophy, but my favorite thing was American Military history, and bad ass war movies. Being a Military brat growing up at Ft. Bragg, NC for my entire life, I was destined to become a Soldier. I new the words to “The Ballad of the Green Beret” before I knew the all the words to “Ring Around the Rosie”
Although fictitious, the warrior that gets me motivated. Good ‘ol COL Kurtz from Apocalypse Now.
“I’ve seen horrors… horrors that you’ve seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that… but you have no right to judge me. It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror… Horror has a face… and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies! I remember when I was with Special Forces… seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn’t see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember… I… I… I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out; I didn’t know what I wanted to do! And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it… I never want to forget. And then I realized… like I was shot… like I was shot with a diamond… a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, my God… the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men… trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love… but they had the strength… the strength… to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral… and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling… without passion… without judgment… without judgment! Because it’s judgment that defeats us. ”
Sorry for the long post.
There should be an asshole Danger WOD in honor of COL Kurtz.
John, awesome reply to a good question.
Just wondering how you found out what your spirit animal was? Would like to think mine was something badass like a fire-dragon, but i think that is doubtful…
Keep up the great work with CFFB and TTMJ in 2011!
I took a trip to the spirit world, there I met a fire dragon named Dafed, he told he would look out for me. I told you would know your spirit animal.
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Obviously Fenrir, my power animal, the Norse Wolf God and son of Loki – destined to kill Odin at Ragnarok! =)
GOOD shiz, Johnnie, this post made up for your lack of posts through the last few months, ha ha
Japan trip sounds f**in awesome
I have a gift to send you, unlike anything you have seen before, you will love it, e mail your address bruddah
Oh wow I cant believe I only just read this. As a 2nd degree black belt in Haidong Gumdo (korean Sword art though it more closely resembles the freestyle samurai art) and a 16 year veteran Karate-ka this spoke to me.
I’ve always felt intouch with the asian arts more then anything else. Other then the fact that they were one of the few races that taught their women how to fight (the wives of samurai had to defend their houses when their husbands were away and were often as skilled as their husbands with sword and bo – hell, Wushu was created by a woman), something about the way they saw the world, and how they interacted with people. Their bushido Code and their training. It all fit so perfectly in with how I was.
I’ve never been sure of my spirit animal precisely – I think competition and politics got in the way of my ability to get in touch with that side. I know its a big cat, I am just not sure what one. My Master’s have all said the same thing. I wish it were a dragon. lol.
How does it help my training now? Well, I am anal about technique, and I find my quiet self when I train. I have this vast ability to switch off my head in the middle of it all and go with it. I also practice skills, over and over and over again. Because as Bruce Lee says: I do not fear the man who has practiced a thousand kicks once, but rather the man who has practiced one kick a thousand times. It may has slowed me down in the WOD’s half the time but I know that eventually all that practice, the resetting, the being strict with myself will pay off at the end of the day.
Awesome stuff!!! Great art pieces! Awesome Samurai info! Japan trip sounds epic, hope I can do stuff like that someday. I would like to find out what my spirit animal is. I feel like it would be a raging hawk or some sort of lightning bird. As for inspirational warriors, what I usually think of is the non-traditional “warrior”, like a 9 year old blind kid fully functioning, riding bikes and all the normal stuff. Or a woman battling cancer, raising 3 kids on her own.I actually can’t think of any specific case at the moment, but stories of that nature. As for the traditional warrior, I really like the native american warriors from back in the day. My knowledge on the subject is very limited (“common knowledge”) but the last people in our country who really knew how to live off of, yet in harmony with our land fought for it with bows and arrows, hatchets, traps and all kinda cool stuff. Not to mention the great outfittings, like all kinda animal hide fitted with the horns, bones, skulls, what have you still attached. Awesome!!!
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