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Secrets of a Warrior Scholar

“The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.” — Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War (ca 410 BCE)

When it comes to martial arts training, so many people that I have spoken with tend to focus on the physical aspect of the training. They will swap and share tips on flexibility, strength and endurance training, footwork, or how to put together effective combinations and techniques.

In a few cases there will be a discussion the spiritual element of martial arts training. They will share meditation regimens or have deep philosophical discussions on the nature of combat training in life. Or how to build and direct the Ki/chi in the body for deep healing or combative applications.

I have even had a couple of discussions on how training has enhanced the emotional world of practitioners. Helping individuals work through anger issues, control anxiety, and even reduce the symptoms of depression.

But I almost never get into any discussion about the mental aspect of training. It is as if the concept of a Warrior-Scholar seems to have vanished over the years. I actually find myself shocked at the number of people that have stated that they have not read a book (on any subject, let alone the martial arts). I find myself quite saddened by this.

In order for our training to be the most effective that it can be, we must address all four elements of our being: The Physical; The Mental; The Emotional; The Spiritual

But it seems the mental aspect of our training is the most neglected.

I came across an interesting statistic the other day. It stated that 97% of individuals that performed at the elite levels of their endeavors in life had an extensive private library in their home.

What does that tell you?

It tells me that leaders are readers! It tells me that the most successful of martial artists never stop reading and they never stop learning. And as a result they never stop growing.

I would challenge you to place yourself in the elite.

The Golden Hour

I understand that time to read can be an issue in this day and age.

The following is a reading program that I had developed many years ago when I was in college with my first sales job. I called it my “Golden Hour.”

I consider all of my time precious but I placed added value on my reading time because this hour every day can add immeasurable value to your life.

I can hear the protests already. “Where am I going to find an hour every day to read?”

Seriously!?! You probably waste more time than that tinkering on Facebook or Instagram. I actually came across a statistic the other day that stated that the average person spends 53 minutes a day on Instagram.

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with going online, watching TV or occasionally taking a nap in the afternoon, but don’t tell me that you can’t carve out some time to enhance your martial arts practice and improve your life.

Besides I’m going to show you how to make this very easy to manage. And once you establish this habit into your daily routine, you will grow to treasure this Golden Hour in your life.

Here is how it works. You will be reading 3 books at a time. Yes, I said 3! And, yes, you will have time for all three. You are not going to read for a solid hour every day. You will break your reading into three 20 minute sessions.

But keep in mind that reading alone is not the only thing the will lead to quality personal growth. What you read is just as important of a factor. Your reading selections must each have a purpose.

Let’s explore these three reading assignments and the purpose to which we will assign them.

Your Morning Wake Up

Let’s get your day started right! In the morning, when you first wake up, you should spend 20 min reading something motivational and inspirational. This can be a devotional, a religious text, an uplifting story…etc. The purpose is to start your day on the right tone.

What you feed your mind right after you get out of bed can set you up for a fantastic day. This morning habit alone has the power to change your life in 30 days. If you doubt me, give it a try. I guarantee that you will have less stress, more happiness and you will even find yourself thinking faster when approaching problems.

Here are some of my favorite choice books to start the day off with:

Your Afternoon Education

In the afternoon (typically after work), you will take another 20 min and read something educational. This is where you get to expand your skill set. This can be about the history of your art, sparring strategy, self defense applications, physical conditioning, anatomy, diet… anything your heart desires to pursue and your brain desires to learn.

Always be learning something. Always be willing to be a beginner in your craft.

Beware of a little trick that our minds play on us that crush our ability to learn.

We tell ourselves, “Oh I know that!”

The minute that your belief that phrase, you have stopped learning what is right in front of you. Be willing to learn something again and you may be surprised to learn something new.

Here are some recommendations to advance your academic learning in your martial arts training:

Your Evening Escape

Finally, at the end of the day, before you retire for the evening, spend 20 min unwinding to some good fiction. You have free reign in this endeavor. Read that thrilling western, or the exciting spy story, or the trashy romance novel.

This is your chance to let your imagination loose and visit other world and have amazing adventures. When you regularly let your mind delve into the impossible you gain the ability to think bigger about other things.

Make this reading part of your ritual for getting ready for bed and you will find that this leads to a more restful sleep. For example My routine is as follows:

20 min Reading

15 min Stretching

20 min Meditation

5 min Personal Hygiene

Feel free to borrow and modify this little ritual to work for you but don’t skip this reading. It is just as important as the other two.

Here are some recommendations of my favorites:

Dukkha: Hungry Ghosts by Loren W. Christensen

Start Now

The sooner you begin this program, the sooner you will see results. Your journey in the martial arts cannot be superficial. To truly travel this path, your training needs the depth of academic studies. This regular program of feeding your mind will take your training to a whole new level. Not only that but the effects will spill into other areas of your life in the most unusual ways.

Give yourself a full 90 days utilizing this program in earnest and your life will never be the same.

Take that hour out of your day and make it golden!

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