Letter Re: Becoming A Warrior At Gunsite Academy, by J.H.


There is no way a civilian can develop the proper mindset, skills, and base of knowledge required to be considered a “warrior” by attending a class for a weekend or even a week. Please do not misunderstand what I am trying to say. Classes like this can be beneficial to an individual as long as they do not leave the false impression that a warrior has been created. This false belief can lead someone to get hurt if they respond with inflated confidence during an actual life-threatening situation. There is no way to become a warrior, unless you make it your profession. The amount of training required for an action to become “muscle memory” is immense. J.H. did mention situational awareness (SA). The best high threat engagement a civilian can have is the one he or she avoids. Proper SA can save someone from having to draw a gun while unfamiliar adrenaline courses through their arteries and the targets are shooting back. If an encounter is unavoidable, then SA can place an individual in the best possible tactical position to win the engagement. The difference is that warriors have signed up to go into harm’s way for other people’s benefit, not their own. We did not accidentally bump into a bad man one night; we purposely pursue him in the darkness. We do bad things to bad people.

The military knows how to train their warriors, though funding may get in the way of bringing that know-how to the average line unit Joe. Mastering a skill takes constant repetition, reviewing the basics, and training these skills in an arena that can induce adrenaline. I have seen soldiers, who can smoothly draw a pistol and shoot paper accurately all day on the flat range, lose their minds while conducting force on force Simunitions(TM) training that promises to hurt and leave bruises, if not break the skin. I have seen competent soldiers lose their bearing in combat because none of their training prepared them for the real deal. True warriors are born with a mindset that is refined through training. It is misleading to sell someone the notion they are a warrior by attending a class. Being a warrior is a lifestyle.

HJL Responds: I believe that the definitions that we are using may not be the same. What you define as a “Warrior”, I would have defined as a “High Speed Operator”. I would have defined a “Warrior” as simply someone who is willing to escalate a conflict to violence, if necessary, to ensure that the object of their affection is afforded protection. Because we live in a culture defined by movies, we often believe that we have this capability. The reality is that few people do. J.H. was willing to take the first steps to begin to train his body and mind to accept what is necessary to become that warrior. Whether it is unarmed martial arts, weapons handling, computer hacking, or offensive/defensive driving, you have to start somewhere. Every person that I know who has taken that first class has come away with a drastically different outlook on the escalation of violence.

With deadly martial arts, the initial contact is the most dangerous to an individual. The more violent contact you survive, the higher the likelihood of your continued survival, simply because you learn to adapt, respond, and anticipate. The whole point of classes like Gunsite or any other martial art is to create an environment where that initial violent contact can be made under controlled conditions and your survival can be guaranteed, while you learn to adapt. While a man willing to protect his home and village is not necessarily a high speed operator (mostly because he has not had the thousands of hours of training required to attain that skill level), he is still a warrior just because of his willingness to place others above himself and escalate the situation to the level of violence required to guarantee the outcome. He is a mighty man of valor.

“And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abi-ezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” Judges 6:11-12 (KJV)