In Search of the Warrior Spirit: Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Green Berets Paperback – 2 Sep 2002
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This book was loaned to me by a friend at my dojo who knew that I was in the military and was preparing to head overseas. The book touches on aspects of everything I have ever done. The mental training needed to be a good runner, the discipline required to be a soldier and the compassion necessary for Aikido. I read this book and immediatly felt that I was Richard Heckler, or that he was me. It is a thought provoking book that shows the better face of the modern warrior. Not a "Kill-bot", but a human being.
It is important to note what is implied here, which is that we must see with better eyes. To understand someone, to know why they do what they do. This is to see with their eyes. This book is simply a chronology of events that took place, but between the lines it is a revelation about being a warrior for everyone involved....even the reader.
To the person who said the work was too self absorbed - I have no idea what you are thinking. The book is this mans journal - of course it is very personal. It is supposed to give us insight into his own inner conflicts. Personally I do not trust people for whom everything is so simple that they have no inner conflicts. That is fundamentalism and a distorted and shallow way to view the complexity of experience.
Second to the right wing nut who went off calling this guy a fruitloop for his work with the Marines etc. I have no idea what you are all about - or if you even read this book.
I will say that this book confirms for me the difference between a soldier and a warrior. A warrior is a pioneer of thought and last to pick up the sword. A soldier is essentially an automoton trained to take orders without question or thought. Both are necessary cogs in the US Military, despite their contradictory nature.
Green Berets in particular have missions that go beyond mindlessly fulfilling orders. As with many special operators they are required to think creatively, communicate with lead and inspire natives, and overcome obstacles. It's not just about what you see in Rambo movies.
This book is important for soldiers, and martial artists of all types. It gives us the sense that peace and conflict are like yin and yang- and cannot ever be totally separated. For hundreds of years the samurai (Japan's professional warriors) were expected to participate in writing poetry and flower arranging.
I read the Amazon reviews before starting this book so I was watching for examples of some of their critical points--which are nonexistant. I wanted to write a rave review of this book right away, but felt as a matter of integrity I should read the whole thing first, and having done so to the very end, I am even more puzzled by the erroneous statements some "reviewers" made (which have been addressed by other customer comments). It's too bad that "reviews" by a couple of deadbeats with an obvious chip on their shoulder has brought down the customer average for this book, which rightfully should be AT LEAST in the four-and-a-half star range.
Anyone who actually reads this book knows that the Trojan Warrior Project (the subject of this book) was a complete success on all accounts. The author is honest all along about his own fears and doubts--and failures--giving the book an inspiring authenticity and making the successes all the more impressive. Strozzi-Heckler is quite forthright near the end of the book in stating (from the after-project report and evaluations) that one-third of the participants did not find the program valuable. Anecdotal evidence over the next several years seems to counterbalance this partial "failure" with many of the participants later appreciating the long-term benefits of the program to all aspects of their lives. And of course the fact that a version of this program has now (as of 2000) been incorporated into an ONGOING aspect of Marine training is the ultimate proof of its success.
I could quible about some of the little things that keep this book from being a perfect masterpiece (epics always seem to be judged more harshly by film critics than little movies). The author's character descriptions are sometimes corny in reaching for either colorful metaphor or character by analogy to movie cliches. The epilogue section goes on too long: Although the follow-up information is certainly valuable and fascinating, Strozzi-Heckler could have used a more assertive editor (for both editions). The lengthy afterword section wanders a bit and keeps the book from closing on a tight note. The biggest problem from a literary POV is that it's hard to keep all the characters straight, which makes it difficult to get a cumulative sense of the different participants (i.e., on the Special Forces teams), so it was hard for me as a reader to share the author's developing relationships with these men. But these are quibbles.
"In Search of the Warrior Spirit" is one of the most thought-provoking and enjoyable books I have ever read. Strozzi-Heckler's skill as a writer lets him get away with writing in a daily journal style that could easily have come off as contrived. Here, the reader is engaged with both the events and the idealogical information and struggles that are presented. About half way through reading this book I got on-line, looked up the nearest Aikido center in my town, and started taking lessons the next day. And still am.
I've subsequently ordered about fifteen other books on Aikido and on warrior virtues. Like the nature of Aikido moves, this book has propelled my life in a direction it was already going, more than I realized. I'm charged. And grateful.
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