Ronin Philosophy

Ronin:  Samurai warriors with no lord or master.  They often spent their lives wandering the land seeking knowledge, testing their skills in individual combat, or becoming mercenaries — joining together with samurai clans to fight in larger territorial battles.

He studied all the traditional philosophies, but then he began to form his own philosophy, and he came to the realization that you just can’t borrow another person’s philosophy.  You have to learn about yourself and create your own philosophy, your own way of life. — Linda Lee (on Bruce Lee).

The essence of jeet kune do:  1.  Research your own experience.  2.  Absorb what is useful.  3.  Reject what is useless.  4.  Add what is specifically your own.  — Bruce Lee.

Remember that man created method and not that method created man, and do not strain yourself in twisting into someone’s preconceived pattern, which unquestionably would be appropriate for him, but not necessarily for you…The individual is more important than the system. — Bruce Lee.

I’ve always considered myself to be somewhat like a ronin warrior — kind of a drifter, a wanderer, sometimes feeling lost in the real world (outside of athletics), trying to find a purpose or path.  I’m not good at following orders or trying to conform to what popular opinion deems is the “right” Way.  I never really got caught up in trying to follow society’s conventions or a traditional path — with pretty much anything.

I’m not saying that to sound cool or revolutionary or counter-culture, it’s just my natural, authentic disposition.  We can’t fight who we are in spirit if we have any chance of being happy.  And in fact, the times when I was the unhappiest and most anxious in my life was when I was trying to be something that I’m not.

I’ve always tried to follow my gut, and that has led me down many different roads in this life based on my interests at the time (although the one consistency has always been my love of the gym).  It’s probably not the greatest approach to achieve what most would equate with traditional success, but at least I have a few good stories to tell.

This journey has caused me to adopt a ronin-style approach to life in general — serving no single master.  I don’t get caught up in dogmas or religiously adhering to specific “systems”.  I try to pull from various resources, picking out the best parts, and then proceeding with what I feel is the most effective and efficient approach.

This has influenced our approach to the fitness game — we feel in a positive way — both for us AND for you.

This is true in our approach to training.  We have trained solely for cosmetic reasons at times (Nate – bodybuilding/fitness modeling, Kalai — bikini/fitness modeling), as well as for sport performance at others (Nate — football, track & field, martial artists, gymnastics, professional wrestling/stunts, Kalai — volleyball, marathon running, cycling).  Trust us, there is no single right way for everyone, everywhere.  There is merit and validity in numerous approaches.  The training program simply must match the athlete’s goals at the time to optimize results.  Of course those can evolve or change over time, thus the program may need to change.

This is true in our approach to nutrition.  We have pulled from anthropological studies, research studies, scientific journals, anecdotal evidence, interviews and “coffee talks” (Ok, sometimes maybe “booze talks”) with fellow athletes, coaches, trainers, and friends, Paleo Nutrition, Sports Nutrition, Bodybuilding & Fitness Nutrition, the traditional Japanese Diet, and so on.  Activity levels, body type, individual metabolic & hormonal factors, physique goals, performance goals, and lifestyle factors all must be considered when designing an optimum diet for each individual.  No single diet fits all.

This is true with our approach to philosophy, sports psychology, behavioral psychology, motivational strategies, “thinking”, or whatever else you prefer to call it.  Kalai has her formal education as a Master’s in Psychology, as well as practical experience as an athlete and coach in the NCAA.  I have in the trenches, real-world psychology experience from over ten years working with individuals, groups, and teams in my private training business.  And I also have real world experience with kind of being crazy (yes Kalai is being honest, I do literally think I’m a samurai).

And our conclusion?  Different strategies, different teaching methods, and different coaching methods work for different people.

For the Iron Warrior Principles that are the core of this site, you’ll see in the “legends” section that we’ve learned from many great warriors of the past.  And with the nutrition and psychology articles, we’ve been influenced by many great athletes, coaches, and educators of the present.  We want you to do the same, and hope we can become just one of many valuable resources in your fitness journey.

Now I’m not saying you should have training and nutrition ADD or jump from program to program without giving something a chance to work.  Results take time.  And I’m not saying you shouldn’t believe in something.  After all, if you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing.  As you see, I certainly have my opinions on what are the most effective and efficient ways to achieve results.  But I’m smart enough, and humble enough to know that there can be more than ONE WAY to skin a cat, or I guess more appropriately, to peel off body fat).

As Bruce Lee used to say, “I have the absolute confidence not to be number two, but then I have enough sense also to realize that there can be no number one.”  In other words, I believe in our methods (which are actually a combination and hybrid of several different methods), but I also concede there are other, equally effective and valid approaches.  We are not disregarding or demeaning other professional’s opinions, we are simply presenting our own.

The bottom line, and our sincere, honest message to you is this:  you gotta find your own way man, or girl.  You have to take some personal accountability, do some self-experimentation, and find what resonates with and works best for you.  Yes, you are going to need guidance.  Yes, you are going to need coaching.  And since we have a lot more experience than you probably do, you should expect that we can, at the very least, point you in the right direction.  We’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, we’ve learned the mistakes of our clients, and we think we can help you avoid making the same ones.  But honestly, we can only give you our best guess as to what we think might be the most efficient path for your physique transformation process.  Why?

As much as we know about the human body (and by we I mean as a collective group:  scientists, researchers, physicians, coaches, etc.) — physiology, metabolism, endocrinology, etc. — it’s still only a tiny fraction of a true understanding of how this complex organism works.  I mean, how much do you think we REALLY know — 10%?  I’d say that’s being very generous.  Anyone who thinks they know more is giving themselves too much credit.  Why do I get aroused watching Rachel Ray prep a spring salad?  Explain that one to me from a scientific perspective.  You can’t, it just doesn’t make sense, but it happens nonetheless…

That’s why you can’t just rely on science, or theory, or marketing hype, or one-size-fits-all systems.  Results should be the ultimate guide.  Getting you real world results, sometimes through a trial and error process that lies outside of any one system, is what matters most.  If our advice helps you get to where you want to go.  Great.  If we feel pointing you to another coach or professional’s advice would be more beneficial, we’re just as happy to do so.

Learn, apply, experiment, take what is useful, discard what is useless, lather, rinse, and repeat until you get to where you want to be.  This is a lifelong process.  We hope we can become one of the many resources that help you through it.  The content on this site is presented as A WAY, not THE (only) WAY.