“On the Warrior’s Path” – Martial Arts book review


Hello, friends! Today I would like to talk to you about this book: “On the Warrior’s Path: Philosophy, Fighting, and Martial Arts Mythology” by Daniele Bolelli. Over a decade ago, I crossed this book in a bookstore and I recognised the author’s name as one of my professors from university. I had really liked him and his class (the class had nothing to do with martial arts) So I immediately picked it up and I fell in love with the book This is the book that inspired me to become involved in Filipino Martial Arts so I figured it is relevant to the channel and I would talk about it! I always struggle with how to describe the book to people… Calling it a “martial arts philosophy” book is probably the most accurate but that probably only sounds appealing to a very tiny demographic of people (although hopefully larger on this channel) It is a philosophy book but it’s not the kind of airy, mental masturbation that the genre can lend itself to (no offense, philosophy geeks – I have a degree in philosophy myself) The philosophy in it can be extrapolated to so much more than just martials arts. I feel like this book is for everyone. It should be. I suppose one could even call it a “self help” book, but that description makes me want to stick my head in a blender. it’s smart, but it’s never condescending… it’s funny, and full of eclectic references from everything from Nietzsche to sports to Star Wars it’s accessible, but not at the sacrifice of intelligence… it’s a very opinionated book, and it’s full of curse words so it might not appeal to everybody, but it appealed to me it’s probably impossible to summarise everything that it encompasses but this video is my best shot! At it’s core, the book is about the warrior archetype. Not just about the ubiquitous warriors from tribal cultures and feudal societies but also those metaphorical warriors who exhibit the same fiery spirit and fearless attitude. Bolelli argues that this isn’t just some abstract mythos to muse over or read about in books. The samurai you see fighting in the movies more than thrilling entertainment he’s a hyperbolic manifestation of something that is absolutely critical to human experience. The book is not saying we should be picking up swords and fighting each other (although if you do that, that’s great too) the mythology of the warrior has something to offer us something valuable that transcends culture and time and class and career and gender. There is a reason those martial arts movies speak to us and it isn’t because we find the plot engaging (sometimes they don’t even have a plot) it’s because there is something about that archetypal figure that speaks to our souls. Bolelli looks to martial arts as one potential avenue to cultivate a personal warrior spirit (and it’s the one he’s chosen) Although it may not always manifest that way in reality, martial arts has for centuries encouraged the essential harmony of body and mind, physical and mental. There is a river of philosophical introspection and shaping one’s character at the foundation of martial arts. But just as an academic who spends too much time buried in books (oops!) abstract philosophy by itself isn’t enough. Shaping the mind is nothing if you ignore the body. Martial arts has the ability to take that deep insight and ground it in something physical and therein lies its uniqueness. The book doesn’t argue martial arts is the only way to do this, but as a martial artist himself, Bolelli is writing from his own experience. If the first half of the book is extrapolating the warrior mythology into our lives… the second half — save for one personal chapter — is more about injecting it into martial arts. I suppose that sounds weird, since you might think that it’s already there, but it’s often not. A lot of martial arts is too driven by ego and other bullshit, and people too busy aligning themselves into specific categories… Bolelli discusses the different warrior archetypes we find in mythology and media From the honourbound Samurai to the lawless mercenary, and the strengths they represent and the flaws they must fight The book is critical of the status of martial arts today and the rigidity of many classical schools of fighting He evaluates the paradigm shift brought on by things like UFC, MMA, and Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kun Do which started a revoluation to allow martial arts to grow and become more dynamic and apply that philosophy of “take what works, leave what doesn’t.” This second half is a little more structured, objective, with more concrete information compared to the earlier half of the book. It’s also a little bit disjointed I think it was originally written in Italian and was translated and worked into this book for English readers. Although the content is still appropriate and a relevant and Bolelli is able to tie it into the overall theme the writing style is very different from the first half. It’s less relaxed, it’s filled with citations that you didn’t previously see much of… you can definitely feel the transition between halves. If you’re scared of academic style writing, you might not like the second half of this book I’m a person who is very comfortable enveloped in delicious citations and footnotes, and I enjoyed this section as much as the first. The heart of the book is a lesson about the way we approach and live our lives. The book is Zen Buddhist and very Taoist, but not in a preachy way (I’m not really sure a Taoist can be preachy…) It emphasises the importance of balance. It’s about forging our paths bravely, being in charge of our destiny without being totally in control It’s about loving peace but charging fearlessly into battle when required of us It’s about living fully: don’t be an athlete that can’t read a book, and don’t be a scholar that simply thinks of their body as transportation for their brain. A housewife can be a warrior, a soldier can set aside his rifle and cradle a baby, a fighter can write poetry. Our lives are what we make of them, and we owe it to ourselves to instill power and meaning into the experience. So, that’s my review of this book! I hope you enjoyed the review and Ireally hope you check out the book I’ll put a link to it down in the description Like I said, this book inspired me in a lot of ways It definitely inspired my path into the Filipino Martial Arts, so it means a lot to me And hopefully you can find meaning in it as well. Thank you for watching, guys!

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