Notes & Quotes: The Way is in Training by Matthew Little

 The following are my favorite quotes from Matthew Little's The Way is in Training.

  1. Technical skill and physical preparedness are both useless without a commensurate development of the mind. And not just an academic or scholarly one. The warrior's mind must ride the edge of a razor like a samurai's zen or a praetorian's stoicism. In the moment, unflustered, and resolute. No attachment to consequence or reward, only process and standards. It is vital that you devote yourself to the development of this, or all of your other training will prove fruitless. 
  2. Find your standards. Find your purpose. Something worth the commitment to excellence and integrity. And then you will find the best of yourself.
  3. Zen scholars attribute emotional suffering for attachment. A desire for the world to be what you want it to be rather than what it is. The stoics talked at length about the only variable truly in our control was how we react to reality, and that reacting with negative emotions to events we cannot change does us nothing but harm. This simple truth is one of the keys in my opinion to living an authentic and rich life.
  4. Overconfidence and arrogance breeds complacency. And that sin causes carelessness in combat is a potentially fatal error indeed.
  5. In life there is no stasis. There is no steady state. You are either growing and learning or you are diminishing. Challenge is the key to personal growth, the stimulus required to stave off entropy.
  6. Look for work. It's a mindset that is valuable in every aspect of life. What needs to be done right now? What work should I be doing in this moment?
  7. Survivor's guilt doesn't honor the dead. It's at its heart self-pitying and counterproductive. I've learned to honor our dead by living the life they should have had. The way to honor those lost is by accepting the loss and attacking life. Pay the cost, accept the loss, and learn to truly live.
  8. When I plan my training I build everything around the strength work. Notice I said training, not "working out." In my opinion that is an important distinction. Athletes train. Every exercise is designed to elicit a performance response. Aesthetics follow function, not the opposite.
  9. If I don't have both a deep study of and practical experience in a given topic, I won't teach it. Without personal mastery of a skill, instruction of it becomes purely academic.
  10. Another hallmark of the professional is their maintenance of their tools. For your kit and weapons to perform for you they have to be properly cleaned and maintained. Take pride in your equipment. Treat its care as if your life depends on it, because it could.
  11. Col. Jeff Cooper made many contributions to the tactics, training, and culture of combative firearms use in America. Of all his legacies, perhaps the most well known is his four rules of firearms safety. In the original form, they read like this: I. All guns are always loaded. II. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. III. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target. IV. Be sure of your target.
  12. At contact distance, footwork often trumps other elements of skill, so do not neglect it in your training.
  13. There are performance driving schools out there offering to the public. Seek this training out. It is likely to save your life, especially as a civilian, than your shooting, tactics, or combatives.
  14. The fight will be what it will be regardless of your plan, and the enemy gets a vote in how that unfolds.
  15. Fights and contests are won by the individual who makes the fewest mistakes.
  16. Every battle is won or lost before it is even fought. Battles are won in training. Make sure that when you train, every aspect of it has purpose. Every single thing you do in training should be focused and deliberate. Every rep in training, every bullet fired in practice, should be a lesson learned. Take the effort to learn how to train, and you will improve as rapidly and efficiently as possible. Proper training truly does shortcut the learning curve.
  17. What does practice look like?
    1. Practice needs to be frequent.
    2. Practice needs to be deliberate.
    3. Practice needs to be consistent.
    4. Practice needs to be playful.
  18. Train for the fight, instead of training like you fight.
  19. The categories I think of when planning training are conditioning, experimentation drills, isolation drills, combination drills, validation drills and testing, and the application of skill.
  20. Mastery is achievable. It takes not just effort, but effort intelligently applied.
  21. You have to cultivate the awareness to diagnose where your technique is breaking down and work on improving that weakness.
  22. Identify your weaknesses, focus on them in isolation, strengthen them in combination, then retest and repeat.
  23. I'll add a caveat or two to your needs analysis and selecting your performance metrics. You need to build in a buffer of performance above your real-world needs into your metrics for practice. You'll always be able to execute at a higher level when you're comfortable and warmed up than you will when you are executing a cold on-demand performance.
  24. There's a flip side to your needs analysis that has to be accounted for when you pick the metrics to use as your goals. That's your level of commitment. How much of your resources, money and time, are you willing to commit to your skill development? If your level of commitment isn't commensurate to your goals, then they won't be attainable. You can't create world class levels of skill on weekend hobbyist levels of practice.
  25. At least a passing level of familiarity with edged and impact weapons is essential for wellrounded combative skill. Spend enough training time and effort on this, and if the need arises you'll be sufficiently prepared.
  26. Above all, a good instructor:
    1. is a diligent and dedicated student.
    2. is a high performer.
    3. has a high degree of relevant experience.
  27. Conflict is chaotic, and the opponent gets a vote about how it unfolds. If you confuse the medium of the drills with the message they contain, you will be rigid and dogmatic instead of fluid and adaptable. Your techniques and tactics flow from your training and experience, they aren't constrained by them.
  28. Initiative. This is the single most important factor in ensuring victory in any arena. Gaining and maintaining initiative is key. It keeps your opponents reacting to you, fighting your fight instead of their own.
  29. Conflict is as much mental as it is physical. We need to understand that and use it to stack the odds in our favor, much like Musashi did in his duel against Kojiro. This doesn't just apply to violent conflict. The same principle holds true in office politics or a courtroom, anywhere you find yourself at odds with another. Master this, and it will serve you well.
  30. Once violence is inevitable, the time for negotiation and de-escalation is done. Your physical response should be legally defensible and proportionate to the threat, but is should also be physically and psychologically overwhelming to your opponent. Break their will to fight. Make them recoil from you in panic and fear. Take their back and keep it until the fight is done, and they are no longer a threat.
  31. Once you truly understand how easy it is to be killed or seriously injured, regardless of your skill level, you reserve violence for when it is truly needed. Only the na├»ve or arrogant long for violence.
  32. Smother the opponent. Once you gain the initiative and dominant position, exploit that advantage. Overwhelm them physically and psychologically until you've won. Give them no space to move, no room to think, no opportunity to regroup.
  33. Selection is a never-ending process. This applies academically, professionally, and athletically. It applies to warriors and police officers alike. It applies to artists and politicians, to accountants and bartenders. It applies in relationships and rivalries. It is a universal truth.
  34. What matters, what really matters, is what can I do when it counts. Not intent, not past successes, just successful action now. What can I do today to earn my place at the table?
  35. Leadership isn't privilege. Leadership is responsibility. Responsibility to the mission, and responsibility to those you lead. Mission success or failure is on you and you alone. The welfare of your subordinates, their professional development, their training and preparation, all those things become your responsibility.
  36. What is means to be a Quiet Professional is simply this--that you present what you should, remain quiet about the things that you shouldn't share openly, and above all that your public communication is professional and dignified.
  37. Never be afraid to change your point of view in order to align it with the way things actually are. Do this and your training will be better, your tactics will be sounder, and it will be harder to manipulate you.
  38. I should have the right to live as I please, but only if I don't impair anyone else's ability to do so. This also doesn't abrogate the individual of a responsibility to the greater good.