The Warrior Mentality
by Ernest R. Emerson [an extract]
Developing the Warrior's Spirit
"Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit."
Since time immemorial, warriors have always held a revered,
honored and respected place in society. In spite of all political
meanderings and the ebb and flow of societal values, this has
never changed and it never will.
In terms of exposure to a spontaneous dangerous threat, it has
been my observation that in general, society breaks down into two
groups. Those who run to danger and those who run from it. This
is not a matter of courage or cowardice and I place no judgment
upon it. I believe in the idea so eloquently explained by my
friend and colleague Lieutenant Colonel David Grossman that,
"there is the flock and there are the protectors of the flock,
the Sheepdogs," as he puts it.
Now, if you are reading this article because it is of interest to
you then chances are you are a protector, a warrior. Otherwise
this would be of no interest to you.
Mind you, a warrior is not necessarily the 220 pound football
quarterback or the professional wrestler. In fact the physical
aspect of strength or size, or sex has little if anything to do
with the bearing of a warrior. Many times in hostage situations
it has been the petite middle age woman who has stepped forward,
into the fray.
Do you know who is the toughest son-of-a-bitch to walk the face
of this earth? Any guesses?
Well, I'll tell you who it is. It is a 120 pound Marine just out
of Boot Camp. How can this be?
Does he think he is tough? No, he does not. He knows he is tough.
He knows he is the toughest son-of-a-bitch to ever walk the face
of the earth. There is not one shred of doubt in his mind. He has
the resolve of invincibility. If any of you who are reading this
are former Marines then you know what I am talking about.
Every time I teach a hand-to-hand combat class the ever anxious
students expect to grab weapons and start training in knife
fighting tactics right out of the gate. They expect that to
happen but, that never happens. Why not? Because after two or
three days of training what I've got is 30-40 weak fighters with
knives in their hands.
My goal, my methodology, is that I must train them to be fighters
first, before we ever put any weapon into their hands. Once I
have turned them into fighters – hard-core, fight to the
death warriors – then I can put any weapon I want into
their hands – be it a rock, club or knife – and they
will prevail. Because now, even without weapons, they are
Warriors, not just athletes. Now, at the end of a training
evolution I've got 30-40 warriors willing to fight to the death
if necessary, to stop the bad guy. And it doesn't matter whether
they have a weapon or not. They're going to win.
Once upon a time I was working with members of the British
Special Air Service. In the middle of an edged weapons training
block we were practicing how to punch as hard as humanly
possible. I asked one of the instructors why we were training in
punching when we were dealing with edged weapons. In a thick
Scottish Brogue he answered bluntly, "If I can hit you so hard,
that I'll knock you into next Sunday then, if I have a knife in
my hand, I'll drive it through your chest and right out of your
back. The only reason I'm in this fight is because the bad guy's
try in' to kill me. I'm not about to let that happen." What is
the key point in his reply?
The one you should lock onto? ... "I'm not about to let that
happen." That is the Warrior speaking. Not the punching. Not the
drills. Not the Special Air Service. It is the man who is a
warrior. In simple terms it embodies everything I'm trying to
describe. It is the attitude. The resolve. The Mentality of the
"Get Tough or Get Beat"
Special Air Service maxim
In 1876 the citizens of Northfield Minnesota rallied together to
rout a daring bank robbery by the James Younger Gang. Cole
Younger was shot thirteen times. While recovering in the hospital
a newspaper reporter asked him how he could survive being shot
thirteen times. His answer was simple and direct. "We're tough
men used to tough ways."
The warrior's spirit is conceived by need, driven by a cause and
fueled by inspiration. It is learned and earned and is not
something anyone is born with. As it is with a leader, the
Warrior is not born into the role. It is made by hard effort,
determination, resolve, selflessness and a dedication to a moral
and ethical ideal, a sense of justice and a willingness to defend
A warrior is one who takes a stand and will give 100% of himself,
even unto death, to protect those who depend on his shepherding.
"Until the end of time, as the last sun sets upon this earth, in
that blackest night, somewhere a warrior still stands his lonely
Ernest R. Emerson
For inspiration I submit to you the following, taken from The
Order of the Black Shamrock:
"The Medieval Knight and the Royal Orders represented the
ultimate warrior class of western civilization mirrored only in
the East by the Samurai of Feudal Japan. The Knight represented
the ultimate culmination of skills and the epitome of human
development. Fearless in battle, heedless of death, driven by a
cause and held to a strict set of moral standards. To the common
man, they represented the ultimate in human achievement. And they
represented the protector, their bulwark against evil.
"These knights also represented the idea that someone possessed
of such deadly skills and destructive force could at the same
time be held accountable by an adherence to a code of strict
moral, ethical, and honorable standards. Standards held higher
for them than any others. Such was the definition of chivalry.
"And this definition stands true today. We are warriors. We are
warriors in the fight for justice, for truth, for freedom. We are
warriors against tyranny, against oppression, against evil in all
its forms. We are warriors for what is right and good. We are
warriors who protect those helpless, from harm. We are warriors
who fight to protect our way of life. We are warriors who carry
on the legacy of those who have gone before us, those who have
given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and the safety of
our families. We carry on the legacy of the warrior class, those
who have always stepped to the frontline to place themselves as
the last wall of defense between the evil that would destroy it
and the precious things that we hold so dear.
"This legacy has been borne true since the time of the noble
knights and it is now held forth by those who heed to its calling
to this day. Those who stand watch over our neighborhoods and
city streets. From the dirt swept planes of Afghanistan to the
front doors of our very homes where our families sleep at night,
a warrior stands at the ready. Whether you are a Soldier, Police
Officer, Fireman, or a guardian, we are the brotherhood of
warriors, the protectors, those who will not run from danger, but
run to it, to seek its source and with shield and sword, strike
it dead to stop its terrible spread. We are the noble knights who
will, without hesitation, and against fear, enjoin the battle to
protect and guard the safety of those who lay their trust in us.
"Not every man is a warrior, but for those that are, know that
you are the steel that runs through the foundation of society and
civilization and that without you there would be no liberty, no
freedom and no justice for all.
"The warrior is held to a higher standard. The highest standard.
The greatest heroes in the history of the world have been
warriors. You are counted among those heroes, those times, those
events that have shaped human history, that have built the
greatest civilizations on this planet. Count yourself among the
ranks of those brothers and know that you stand shoulder to
shoulder with those who have shaped the destiny of the world with
steel, blood, fists, and glory.
"You know who you are. Carry the pride and bearing that befits
the status that you have earned and that you hold. Be proud that
you have chosen to walk the path taken by few and revered by
"And know also, that as warriors, we will never perish from the
face of the Earth."
The responsibility of a warrior does not merely necessitate the
taking up of arms against an enemy. It is more, much more and it
is such that you become an example, a role model of ethical and
moral behavior to all others who may look to you for guidance or
protection. If this is the path in life that you have chosen to
walk then know that it is a path well worn by the footsteps of
those who have walked here before you. Others, who have willingly
said: I will endure the hardship, the pain, the sacrifice and
the risk of death so that those who sleep soundly in their beds
can do so in the warm embrace of safety and peace.
If this is your choice then know that your road will be fraught
with adversity and you will be assailed by many, but in those
times, remember that you are in the company of the noble souls
who have also faced such adversity and prevailed. And know also
that your legacy shall be that until the end of time, as the last
sun sets upon this earth, in that blackest night, somewhere a
warrior still stands his lonely watch.