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Cutting Through the Confusion of Life

“Half-hearted training will never do;

Half-baked philosophy is of no value;

Be sincere and creative in all you attempt;

Establish yourself physically and spiritually.”

~Awa Kenzo (d. 1939) Zen Archery Master

These words of great wisdom don’t come from an armchair philosopher. They are the fruit of sweat and blood – that’s why they have deep meaning. Their author was a true warrior. Not a soldier; a warrior seeking to perfect his own life.

What does it mean, “Half-hearted training will never do”? What do you do half-heartedly? Learning the skills you need, your workout at the gym, your spiritual life, your family relationships…?

In the mind of the man who wrote these words, every moment of your life is training… because your every thought and act conditions you to get certain results. If you give more to everything you do, you WILL get more back – more energy, better results and more satisfaction. Your cannot advance your own life or the lives of those you love by doing the minimum. And when you start to train whole heartedly, always stay focused, seeking to know yourself, to build harmony and balance into your life.

The man who wrote these words is Awa Kenzo (d. 1939), the Zen Archery master who taught professor Eugen Herrigel (author of the very popular “Zen in the Art of Archery”). You may remember Herrigel and his master from my best-seller, The 5 Pillars of Life. Kenzo was a typical warrior – he never did anything half way. Find someone who’s really happy and successful at anything, and you’ll notice the same trait. Might there be a lesson here…..?

Now let’s have a look at the rest of the passage…


You may be thinking, “Philosophy is for geeks. What’s this got to do with me or my life?”

What if “philosophy” here is a metaphor for your entire belief system, for that invisible “software” you use to run your life? Do you suppose if that software were wrong, your life could go off the rails?

The fact is, your results in life are largely governed by your beliefs, and most people’s belief systems are a conglomeration of unproven assumptions they’ve uncritically absorbed from their parents, teachers, the media and their society in general. What kind of a basis for personal success or happiness is that????

These hidden assumptions are all around you. They apply to politics, religion, health, money, moral values, what it means to be human and to the very nature of reality itself. My parent’s generation believed that all the food at the grocery store was either good for you, or at least not dangerous. Millions of them paid with their lives for that false assumption. Many a soldier has paid the same price for assuming his political and military leadership is both intelligent and honest. I’ve seen many a martial artist put on his ass because he assumed his martial art gave him an accurate paradigm about how real combat works.

Real life has a way of trashing our assumptions. And if we survive the fallout, we owe it to ourselves to ask some hard questions. When we teach people the ancient art and science of Warriorship, we show them they have a choice. They can build their life on a web of a thousand unexamined assumptions about life (most of which are plain wrong), or they can DECIDE what “software” or “philosophy” will run their life. Since the state of your health, the quality of your relationships, the size or your bank balance and your overall happiness are hemmed in by your belief system, do you suppose you should reexamine yours from time to time? How many unexamined assumptions about every area of life can you spot today? In yourself? In the media? From people around you?

Master Kenzo had no room in his life for unexamined assumptions. What about you?


We live in an age of unprecedented confusion. Some would say it’s a spiritual confusion. Really, it’s a confusion about who the human person is and how he/she is put together.

Kenzo wasn’t confused. Nor were other ancient traditions. They knew that training the mind begins with the body. Do you want to make meaningful changes to your mindset? Then train your body. Get in shape. Look after your health. Your most direct access to your mind and consciousness is through your magnificent physical form. What? It doesn’t seem so magnificent when you look in the mirror? That’s largely within your power to change.

And establish yourself spiritually. That, too, is within your power. Know the principles you stand for. Make sure they are noble, time-tested, spiritual principles that go beyond you and beyond your earthly life. Refuse to beat yourself up for your failings, but at the same time be definite and decisive with everything in your life. Be strict with yourself and indulgent toward others. Train your body and mind rigorously if you want to know inner peace and real happiness.

Do this, and you will understand the essence of Warriorship, the fastest route to personal RESILIENCE and astonishing results ever discovered.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 🙂