I am passionate about the Iron Game. I’m also passionate about the Way of the Warrior, and warrior cultures in general. I want to share with you some of the philosophies I’ve learned from these cultures, and how they can be translated and applied to various aspects of the Iron Game. I believe certain warrior principles are powerful psychological tools that can help us succeed during our Iron Journey.
Here are some of the various resources that I have been exposed to throughout my personal studies, and from which the warrior principles have been compiled:
1. Miyamoto Musashi
Miyamoto Musashi is widely recognized as the greatest samurai warrior of all-time, and his legend is unparalleled in Japanese culture. He was a ronin — a masterless samurai — that wandered the land learning martial arts, sword skills, and philosophical insights from some of the greatest teachers of his time. He incorporated that which was useful into his own approach, and discarded that which was of no use.
Throughout his travels he would test his skills by challenging the best warriors of each province, school, and town to individual battles. Musashi never lost a duel throughout his life, defeating many great samurai masters. When all was said and done, he had accomplished his life’s mission of becoming the greatest swordsman of all time. And when he laid down his swords for the final time, he was undefeated in over 60 individual duels, not to mention the other full scale regional wars and battles in which he was a participant.
Before his death Musashi summarized his fighting style, personal philosophies, and principles of superior technique in The Book of the Five Rings and Go Rin Sho. His philosophy has stood the test of time and remains highly influential in Japanese culture. His principles can effectively be applied to martial arts, competitive sports, business, and most importantly for us, the Iron Game.
2. Bruce Lee
Most people recognize Bruce Lee as the greatest and most influential martial artist of all-time. They also remember him as a successful Hong Kong and Hollywood actor. What many people don’t know is that Bruce Lee was an equally gifted philosopher.
Bruce Lee borrowed from many different disciplines to create his unique, superior form of martial art — jeet kune do. He also borrowed from many different philosophers and cultures, East and West, ancient and contemporary, to create his own personal lifestyle philosophy. Lee used these principles to achieve high levels of success in every endeavor he pursued.
One of his students and friends, John Little, encapsulated Lee’s philosophies in his books The Warrior Within and Striking Thoughts. Lee’s influence on the martial arts community and the American public in general remains strong decades after his death, and his lessons can certainly help us during our own battles in the Iron Game.
3. Hagakure (The Book of the Samurai) & Bushido (The Way of the Warrior)
These books explore the instruction, philosophy, and code of behavior that foster the true thoughts and spirit of the traditional samurai warrior. I found that without exception, each story, anecdote, or lesson could directly be applied to the Iron Game, and to life in general.
Beyond these I have pulled from additional resources including:
And even fictional characters like Conan The Barbarian (and if you have not seen this movie at least a dozen times you are not welcome on this site. Just kidding, but not really).
Keeping with the themes of the Ronin and “the individual is more important than the system,” these principles are not rules, nor any kind of formalized system. They are only guidelines. Take from them only that which resonates with, or benefits you, personally. And add your own individual experiences and life lessons on top of it. Every man or woman must find his or her own way.
If you’d like to share with your Iron Brethren some of your own personal lessons that you think would help us out — warrior principles, pre-game speeches, in-gym psych-ups, anything — we’d love to hear about them. Contact me directly with your story.