In the book The Warrior Mind: Ancient Wisdom from the Martial Arts for Living a More Powerful Life, author Jim Pritchard attempts to break down the mindset of a warrior into six distinct areas of focus that can be utilized by anyone in the modern world.
Pritchard himself has been trained by masters in the martial arts of ninjitsu and takijutsu. In stark contrast to the typical view of ninjas as masters of deception and assassination, Pritchard promotes ninjitsu as an ideal method of conflict resolution and harmony.
Using elements from these martial arts, the author explores the mindset of a warrior from six distinct energies, each of which can be utilized to approach the different types of challenges that life throws at us.
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The Six Ninja Energies
- Attentive Curiosity
Attentive curiosity is the state of observing things objectively, and not allowing emotion to cloud your judgment of a particular situation. It can be compared to the kind of detachment practiced by samurai: removing yourself from a situation can often help you better understand it.
By living in the moment, taking things as they come and seeing them for what they really are, we can better appreciate them. This helps us harness the courage to see things more optimistically, and find the best solution for the problems we face.
Undulation is the act of gently swaying from side to side in order to build strength. This can mean physically, but also mentally: by gently changing our perspective and looking at things from a different light, we can discover new possibilities that previously eluded us.
If looking at things objectively doesn’t lead to a direct solution, shifting your perspective can help invoke your creative side to come up with some alternative approaches.
- Clear Intent
Clear intent means knowing when to act – and when not to act. It results from the previous two energies, after objectively observing a situation, approaching it from different angles, and coming to a decision for how to proceed.
Once a decision has been made, action should be taken decisively and with determination, leading to a clear goal.
Grappling implies wrestling with the situation: attacking, withdrawing, engaging the problem, seeing what impact your course of action has and how it responds to you.
Claude Debussy once said that “music is the gap between the notes.” Bruce Lee Way promoted a method of stopping and starting to approach confrontation. Grappling involves taking an action and then observing what effect that action has on the situation.
- Rolling Waves
Rolling waves invokes images of a constantly-moving ocean that cannot be stopped: it’s sheer persistence, wave after wave of powerful deeds and thoughts.
Like the sea slowly erodes rock, our persistence attacks the problems we face. Calmly but strongly, our actions lead to the desired outcome, utilizing information carefully gained from the previous energies.
- The Whirlwind
The whirlwind is the culmination of all previous energies, a final burst that decisively pushes us towards our goal, an all-out, nonstop onslaught that overcomes any inner negatively or doubts and anxieties.
Utilized only as a last resort when absolutely necessary, the whirlwind summons all of our remaining energy, turning the gently rolling waves into a devastating storm that quickly washes away opposing forces.
By using one or all of the six ninja energies described in The Warrior Mind, we can come up with the right solutions to our problems and decisively see them through.
Like mushin meditation, the six ninja energies can help eliminate “chimpanzee mind,” giving a clear decision-making process and system to our sometimes-chaotic thoughts.