This article first appeared in Esquire magazine in July 1986 and has been reproduced with the kind permission of the author.
America has discovered a new hero, the latest in a lineage that goes back to Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, to the Lone Ranger and the western marshal with the fast draw. This new hero, like his predecessors, is always on the side of Right, but not necessarily on the side of the Establishment. Unlike the World War II team player, he is a lone fighter, a common man who through strenuous self-discipline and rigorous training has developed extraordinary skills, which he puts to use with devastating results. He is an elite-forces man with the muscles of a Western body builder and the mind-set of an Eastern martial artist. He is Chuck Norris in Missing in Action and The Delta Force, Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando, and Fred Ward in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. Above all, he is Sylvester Stallone in Rambo: First Blood Part II.
This is the new American warrior, a man who, lacking the gritty camaraderie of a John Wayne or the true urbane wit of a James Bond, slaughters commies and other enemies of the state by the score, cutting through bureaucratic inertia with a stream of machine gun bullets. This is the warrior as an American revenge fantasy, a vivid dream image of a single-minded, unrestrained action that would somehow erase the frustrations of Vietnam, Iran and Lebanon, and set things right in one miraculous catharsis of blood and gore.
The picture of Rambo running bare-chested through the Vietnamese jungle wielding a huge knife and shooting explosive arrows is a lurid exaggeration, an example of the Freudian notion that whatever is repressed (as we repressed all sympathy for the fighting man during the Vietnam era) is likely to return to consciousness, perhaps in a grotesque form. But it is more than that. For it challenges us with a fundamental question, one that is particularly difficult in a free and democratic society:
If not Rambo, who?
It is a question that tends to paralyze our mental processes. For many of us who are dedicated to peace, the very idea of the "good" warrior seems a contradiction. We are haunted by images of armed soldiers in a city square, of innocent people kidnapped, tortured, or made to "disappear". The word "military" can conjure up the word "dictatorship." The word "police" joins all too easily with "state."
Still, in this violent and dangerous world, only the most fevered idealist would dispense with soldiers and policemen. So the question remains: If not Rambo, who? If we're going to have people whom we give the job of risking their own lives and, if necessary, taking the lives of others, how are we to deal with them? How are we to think about them? And, beyond that, is there some way that the warrior spirit at its best and highest can contribute to a lasting peace and to the quality of our individual lives during the time of peace?
I approach these questions not as a distant, dispassionate observer, but as one who served as a combat pilot in the south-west pacific in World War II and as an air-intelligence officer during the Korean War. More recently, I've spent fifteen years studying a martial art called aikido, one dedicated to harmony, but a marital art nonetheless, with roots that go back to the medieval Japanese samurai. Through my association with this art, I've developed training programs and simulation games designed to produce the warrior spirit in men and women who never plan to go to war.
Among the people drawn to these programs, one in particular stands out as having dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the warrior's path. He is Jack Cirie, a highly decorated Marine veteran with two tours of duty in Vietnam. Cirie is a thoughtful man who has spent twenty-two years studying the way of the warrior. He is now in charge of an experimental training program for Army Special Forces troops. He is devoted to world peace. Cirie and I have spent countless hours exploring the mysterious paradoxes that keep cropping up around the subject of warriorship: the remorseless interplay of creation and destruction, the ageless relationship between violent action and noble character.
Jack Cirie went to Yale in the early 1960s. He was an All-Ivy League football defensive back and Yale's Most Valuable Player in his junior year. He majored in Latin-American studies, and considered joining the Peace Corps. Most of his friends were going to law school or going into their fathers' businesses. Cirie was interviewed by Colgate-Palmolive, and that was the end of his job interviews. "I decided that what I wanted was a military experience, and for me that meant going to war. I wanted to be in a position where everything was at risk, where you get a chance to see inside yourself."
Cirie got what he asked for. Early in 1965, after six months of Marine officers school, he arrived at a place called Phu Bai, near Hue. It was just one day after the first contingent of U.S. Marines landed. "I got off the airplane, got in a jeep, and drove over to where the battalion was setting up their base. I was met by my company executive officer, who greeted me as a newly arrived platoon commander. He handed me a map, some gear for my pack, and pointed out towards the horizon. 'Your platoon's out there,' he said, 'and you've got an hour to get there before it gets dark.'"
His first major test as a leader came just before the summer monsoon season. It was cloudy and cooler than usual, and very, very dark. They got to the Vietnamese graveyard at midnight, exactly as planned. The graveyard overlooked a road that the Vietcong used when getting rice from a nearby village. It was a perfect spot for an ambush, and as Cirie positioned the twenty-four men he had brought on the mission so that they were in a line parallel to the road, he said to himself that everything was going like clockwork; nothing could go wrong.
Now his men were sitting or squatting, their weapons trained on the killing zone along the road. Cirie started working his way from one end of the line to the other, moving as quietly as he could in the pitch darkness, putting his hand on each Marine's shoulder in turn, making sure that weapons were pointed in the right direction, whispering words of encouragement. He was just three feet from the last man in the line, a machine gunner, just making out the man's dark outline, just reaching out to touch his shoulder, when the inexplicable happened. The machine gunner jumped to his feet in terror, and, almost at the same instant, Cirie found himself looking straight into the bright-orange muzzle flashes of AK-47 automatic rifles, less than six feet away.
They figured it all out later and realized the odds for its happening that way were about a million to one. A group of Vietcong had picked the same spot for an ambush, and had moved in only minutes after the Marines. The first VC, in fact, had probably bumped into the machine gunner in the darkness, then had raised his gun and fired. At that instant, without thought, Cirie dropped to the ground and started firing his pistol in the direction of the muzzle flashes. His men also began firing, but most of them, not knowing what had happened, were aiming at the road, not the Vietcong. The machine gunner lay dying a few feet away. Bullets were flying everywhere.
For Cirie, it was a moment outside of time. Lying there on the ground firing at the VC in a void of darkness lit only by muzzle flashes, he was briefly tempted to do nothing more, to indulge in the luxury of incomprehension. But he rose to his feet, amazed at how calm he felt. His overriding sensation was one of relief; at last he was getting a chance to do what he as a leader was supposed to do. He began moving among his men, telling them to stop firing, to watch the flanks, to stay calm. He ordered flares shot up to light the scene. And all the time he was doing this, he was strangely, marvelously detached, almost as if he were out of his body. The Marines stayed there until it started getting light, then returned to their base camp. The Vietcong had withdrawn, leaving a trail of blood, but none of their dead or wounded.
The episode in the graveyard - one more variation in an age-old story - sealed Cirie's unspoken compact with his men. What they had learned to expect from a leader was fulfilled.
Four years later, Cirie returned to Vietnam as a captain, a U.S. advisor to a South Vietnamese battalion. And there were more of those moments outside ordinary time, more days of tedium and hours of terror, more than enough opportunities to look inside yourself in the presence of death. And, for what it was worth, there was a validation that comes with decorations and words about valor above and beyond the call of duty.
Is this, then, what it is to be a warrior - to test yourself under fire and pass the test? For Jack Cirie, that was only the beginning. "After my second tour," he said, "I realized it was not in the cards for me to die a quick and glorious death. I was going to live. So what was I going to do about that? How was I going to face and deal with living? That was stage two in the warrior game. I was going to live and I wanted to live as a warrior. So I figured I'd better start planning to live a good life."]
"BEING A WARRIOR WITHOUT A WAR HAS ITS problems," said Colonel Bull Meechum in The Great Santini. "A man with outward courage dares to die, a man with inward courage dares to live," wrote the Chinese sage Lao-tzu. But where in today's world do you find guidance for living a good life, much less living it as a warrior? Sometimes in unexpected places. Just at the time - the late 1960s and early 1970s - when America's privileged young people were disparaging the warriors who fought in Vietnam, those same people were avidly reading the books of Carlos Castaneda. And if there is any one theme that runs through these books, it is that life is best lived, every instant of it, as a warrior.
In 1963, Castaneda, an anthropology student, became the apprentice of a Yaqui Indian shaman named Don Juan Matus, who lived in the northern Mexican desert. His books, which include The Teachings of Don Juan, A Separate Reality, and, Tales of Power, describe the adventures and ordeals of his apprenticeship.
To become a "man of knowledge," Don Juan tells Castaneda, it is necessary to be a warrior. A warrior is not one who goes to war and kills people, but rather one who exhibits integrity in his actions and control over his life. The warrior's courage is unassailable, but even more important are his will and patience. He lives every moment in full awareness of his own death, and, in light of this awareness, all complaints, regrets, and moods of sadness or melancholy are seen as foolish indulgences.
Don Juan's warrior pursues power and acts strategically in order to achieve self-mastery. "The sprit of a warrior is not geared to indulging and complaining, nor is it geared to winning or losing. The spirit of a warrior is geared only to struggle.... Thus the outcome matters very little to him." The warrior aims to follow his heart, to choose consciously the items that make up his world, to be exquisitely aware of everything around him, to attain total control, then act with total abandon. He seeks, in short, to live an impeccable life.
Casteneda's notion of the warrior resonates with ancient echoes. Almost every culture has had its own version of an ideal warrior's code. It exists in its purist form, unwritten, among peoples we call primitive - American Indians, African tribesman. It has often been honored in the breach, especially in the nation-states of the epoch we call civilization. Still, it remains an ideal to be realized, a guide to living that might prove useful in today's complex and vexing world.
The warrior's code achieved a particularly vivid realization in Japan between 1603 and 1867. It was then, during the largely peaceful Tokugawa shogunate, that bushido, "the way of the warrior," came into full flower. Under bushido, the Japanese samurai spent long hours in the mastery of his martial skills, but also was expected to practice such things as tea ceremony, sumi painting, and the composition of poetry; lifelong training and self-development was a central element, as it is in other warrior codes. In matters of loyalty, honor, veracity, and justice or rectitude, the code was demanding and undeviating. Courage for the samurai meant an integration of physical and moral bravery, based on serenity in moments of danger. Martial ferocity was tempered by an exquisite sense of courtesy, which led to harmony of mind and body, and benevolence, which was seen as a composite of magnanimity, affection, love, and compassion.
In bushido, as in Don Juan's teachings, the warrior's life was shaped by his awareness of death. "The idea most vital and essential to the warrior," wrote Daido-ji Yusan in the seventeenth-century Primer of Bushido, "is that of death, which he ought to have before his mind day and night, night and day, from the dawn of the first day of the year to the last minute of the last day of it.... Think of what a frail thing life is, especially that of a warrior. This being so, you will come to consider every day of your life your last and dedicate it to the fulfillment of your obligations."
HE MIGHT NOT STRIKE YOU AT FIRST AS A warrior. He is a man of medium height, frame, and age. He wears glasses and has a moustache, and the graciously tweedy look about him might make you guess that he is a university professor. Donald Levine is, in fact, a professor of sociology and dean of the College at the University of Chicago. He is also a dedicated martial artist. I had wanted to meet him ever since reading a short version of his article "The Liberal Arts and the Martial Arts" in The New York Times, and the complete article in the journal Liberal Education.
Levine's article, I thought, went a long way toward clarifying the role of the warrior in a free society. In it, he defines the liberal arts as including all education that is undertaken for self-development, all learning that exists essentially for its own sake rather than for some utilitarian purpose. Liberal education, according to Levine, first emerged in two unique cultures, those of classical Greece and China. In both of those cultures, such education was considered the highest human activity. And, though it might seem strange in light of today's academic climate, it included the cultivation of combat skills as well as intellectual skills. In both the East and West, in other words, the martial arts and the liberal arts arose together, and were equally revered.
In the centuries that followed, this ideal was often lost. Both the art of combat and the education of the intellect were at times corrupted and put to narrow and exploitative uses. But during certain creative moments in history - for example, when the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma introduced Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism and the forerunner of Shaolin temple boxing to China in the sixth century A.D. - the liberal education of both body and mind has flourished.
After reading his article, I arranged a meeting with Levine. We talked for an hour or so at my house, then drove to the dojo (martial arts school) and changed into our training uniforms. As I stepped on the mat, I felt free from the web of words that so often entangles people in pretense and misunderstanding. It is not that the mat is less rigorous than the world of verbal discourse, but rather that it is absolutely rigorous. The mat is the world under a magnifying glass, where every action creates its unarguable consequence, and pretense is simply out of the question.
Levine and I took turns attacking and throwing, and in a matter of minutes knew more about each other, at a deeper level, than we had known in an hour of talk. For my part, I was struck by Levine's powerful determination, by an unbendable will that was not readily apparent in conversation. After class, still flushed from an hour and a half of rigorous training, we went to dinner and continued our discussion of his ideas, but with an ease and camaraderie that hadn't been there before.
What about now? I asked him. Do the martial arts have anything significant to offer late-twentieth-century America?
"Yes, I can see this as a time when the body and mind are being reunified, a time when the liberal arts can learn a great deal from the martial arts. This is true, of course, only when the martial arts are practiced primarily for mastery of their intrinsically beautiful forms and for self-development rather than primarily for self-defense or for the brutal sensationalism you see in the movies. And arts like aikido, which tie ethical vision right into daily practice, are just what this country needs. Remember what the founder said: the point of aikido training is to create persons who evince 'a spirit of loving protection for all beings, who bind the world together in peace and unity.'"
The heart of this way of life is practice itself, the regular, systematic, unremitting practice of the dedicated martial artist. And then there is a progression of learning common to the martial arts that leads to the transcendence of mere technique." One begins by self-consciously practicing a certain technique," Levine had written in his article. "One proceeds slowly, deliberately, reflectively; but one keeps on practicing, until the technique becomes internalized and one is no longer self-conscious when executing it. After a set of techniques has been thoroughly internalized, one begins to grasp the principles behind them. And finally, when one has understood and internalized the basic principles, one no longer responds mechanically to a given attack, but begins to use the art creatively and in a manner whereby one's individual style and insights can find expression." A fine way of learning for the scholar - and for the warrior.
"Do you consider yourself a warrior?" I asked.
He paused. It was a tough question. "More and more, " Levine said. "More and more. It means being ready to die on a moment's notice. And not worry about encumbrances, such as academic honors or worldly ambitions. I couldn't have survived, let alone done as well as I have in this job, without my martial-arts practice. It's the kind of job that can grind you to a pulp. My predecessors had a hard time finishing their terms. It's a man-killing job. Two months after I became dean, I had to go to the hospital suffering from stress. At that point, I said to myself, 'Look, you're not going to let this happen to you.' So I took control of my life. I was a chain pipe smoker. I threw all my pipes away. I began practicing more regularly. I began treating my job in an aikido way. I realized that my whole life was randori [under attack simultaneously by several people], so I handled it like randori. I stayed centered and calm under pressure. I kept my integrity. I remembered that, for both Plato and Aristotle, the list of most important virtues starts with courage and ends with philosophic wisdom, with prudence and justice in between. I guess you could say that, as best I could, I've lived as a warrior. And it has worked for me."
TO GO FROM RAMBO TO THE DEAN OF A prestigious college in search of the warrior ideal might seem to be stretching things. But late last year, I had the opportunity to spend two days with twenty-four real-life Rambos, and discovered that the stretch was not as great as might be imagined.
They were Green Berets, members of the U.S. Army Special Forces, who had volunteered for an experimental six-month course in advanced mind-body training run by a Seattle-based organization called SportsMind. Most of them had gone through Army Ranger training. All were skilled in hand-to-hand combat and the use of various weapons, parachuting, scuba diving, rock climbing, skiing, escape and evasion, and other specialized military skills, some of them classified. The experimental training program, designed to add a psychophysical component to an already rigorous schedule of military training, included daily aikido training aimed at integrating the physical and the mental.
Jack Cirie, who had recently retired from the Marines as a lieutenant colonel, led the training. Richard Heckler, who is a Ph.D. in psychology as well as a gifted aikidoist, was engaged for both his psychology and martial-arts skills. I was one of several consultants called in during the six months of the program; my job was to serve as a guest aikido instructor, and to lecture on challenge and change as expressed in two of my books, which were on the trainees' reading list.
I met the Special Forces men at a small, unused base theater that had been converted to a dojo. They were dressed in martial-arts uniforms; the only concession to military dress was the presence of olive-drab name patches sewn to the uniforms above the left breast. The men ranged in age form twenty-two to forty-one, and in rank from buck sergeant to captain. But age and rank held little significance as they kneeled at the edge of the mat. As is customary in aikido training, I knelt in front of them, facing a photograph of the master who founded the art. I bowed, straightened up, and then clapped twice sharply, a traditional gesture signaling readiness. My new students clapped along with me, and I could sense their power and decisiveness.
I started with warm-up exercises, followed by some gentle stretching, then demonstrated the first martial-arts technique. As the men paired off and took turns attacking each other, I moved from one to the other, making suggestions, providing individual demonstrations.
It was quickly apparent that these elite troopers were expert learners. This should have come as no surprise. The peacetime military is primarily a gigantic educational institution, and most military men today spend most of their time learning new skills and honing those they already know. I could spot a certain amount of kidding around, and anything that wasn't fully understood was quickly challenged. But these were students any teacher would love to teach. They were fiercely attentive. They worked hard. They were willing to try anything. They were exceptionally eager to master each technique.
At the same time, these soldiers exhibited a sense of courtesy and respect in their relationship with me that seemed neither forced nor pro forma. And, though I knew they were superb fighting men, I saw in them none of the gratuitous brutality that marks the cinematic version of the Special Forces trooper. At one point during my lecture, I asked how many of them felt that Rambo accurately represented the Special Forces soldier. Only one man - the group jokester-raised his hand. Then I asked how many had enjoyed the movie. Most raised their hands. They had liked the action. But one man told Jack Cirie that unless Rambo started carrying his "ruck,' he wasn't going to see any more of his movies. The ruck, or rucksack, is the symbolic and literal mark of the real Green Beret. Unless you've paid your dues by humping a hundred or so kilometers with eighty or ninety pounds in your ruck, you're just a Hollywood warrior.
How did they define the ideal warrior? It was a subject I kept bringing up during informal talks, a subject that also had been discussed in previous classroom sessions. It appeared that these men's definition was not far removed from that of the perennial warrior's code. They cited loyalty, patience, intensity, calmness, compassion, and will. They agreed that the true warrior knows himself, knows his limitations. "It's not that you don't have holes," Cirie said, "it's that you're aware of the holes."
Self-mastery, according to the Special Forces men, is a warrior's central motivation. He is always practicing, always seeking to hone his skills, so as to become the best possible instrument for accomplishing his mission. The warrior takes calculated risks and tests himself repeatedly. He works well within a group but also is a self-starter. He believes in something greater than himself: a religion, a cause. He does not worship violence but is at home with it. He is human, not a robot. He may snivel (their word for complain), but he is not a victim. One top sergeant, who had been in Vietnam, said, "We're all acolyte warriors until we've been tested in combat." But others felt that the warrior could exist even outside of the military.
What most struck me was the importance these elite soldiers placed on service and protection. Again and again this subject came up in our conversations, not only as a warrior ideal, but also as a compelling justification for their way of life itself. "These guys," Heckler said to me in a crowded restaurant, "genuinely feel they're protecting everybody in this room."
A stocky redhead told me of leaving the service after his first tour, and getting a job in St. Louis. "I was driving to work one morning on the expressway and I heard on my car radio about the Marines getting killed in Beirut. I can clearly remember seeing the rising sun, real red in my rear-view mirror. When I got to my exit, I just kept driving, and I went and signed up for another tour. I was making $30,000 as an electrician, and I could have made more. But I didn't want money. I wanted to serve." At the time of the Mexican earthquake, when volunteers were needed for rescue work, this man was among the first to suggest going. "Why don't they just send us down there?" he kept saying. "We could do the job."
Do these men love war? No question they want to be where the action is. But that's not the whole story. On one occasion, members of the training group were waiting at a ski lift. Dressed in combat camouflage, they attracted considerable attention from the civilians also waiting there. A small group of curious ten- to twelve-year-olds struck up a conversation.
"I bet you've got a doll that looks just like us," a trooper said. One of the boys smiled and nodded. "Do you like war?" another boy asked. "Do you like cancer?" the trooper responded.
There was subdued applause among the civilian onlookers.
IT WOULD BE JUST AS MUCH A MISTAKE TO glorify and to denigrate the serviceman, or the warrior ideal. But in a culture where million-dollar lottery winners are accorded headline glory, where putting together an essentially destructive stock deal is considered a heroic act, where the Good Life is tied in with getting a corner office and driving a certain make of German car, and where "the one who dies with the most toys wins" is offered as gospel truth rather than as a sick joke, I found it refreshing to have met people who hold alternative views and live by different precepts.
If not Rambo, who?
We've learned that military and police forces possess great power to oppress as well as protect, and it's clear that for a free society to survive, they must be thoroughly depoliticized and placed firmly under civilian authority and review. It's also clear that armed forces can become so overarmed and eager for action that they can provoke conflict rather than promote peace. To beat swords into plowshares, especially in a nuclear age, remains one of the highest human endeavors. Meanwhile, it seems obvious that as long as wars of any sort exist, it's better to have good soldiers than bad ones. Rambo won't do. He's too sullen, headstrong, self-centered, delinquent, and -face it-unreal; he doesn't carry his ruck. Nor do we need the generally two-dimensional, brutish, bullet-spraying locoes of other action films, or the real-life fantasists who buy exotic weapons and try to cover their inadequacies with camouflage cloth. We need military men and women who are effective, who are professional, who live by a spoken or unspoken warrior's code, and who are dedicated to keeping the peace. Such men and women do exist. They don't deserve to be represented as distorted superheroes. They do deserve to be acknowledged and appreciated for what they are.
And what about war itself? In his seminal book The Warriors, philosopher J. Glenn Gray, a World War II combat veteran, writes, "No human power could atone for the injustice, suffering, and degradation of spirit of a single day of warfare." At the same time, he reminds us of war's terrible and enduring appeal: the opportunity to yield to destructive impulses, to sacrifice for others, to live vividly in the moment. The appeal of war is not a popular subject, but until we deal with it openly and undogmatically we may never find a warrior's path toward peace.
One friend of mine - a peace-loving man who served as a medic with General George S. Patton's forces as they fought their way across Germany - has told me that the early-morning smell of a cup of coffee in a snow-covered German forest is more real, even now, forty years later, than anything in his present surroundings. And the unbelieving, strangely amused look on the pilot's face in the plane next to me as his windscreen was shattered by ground fire just north of Manila remains as marvelously crystal-clear today as it was then. "We do not know," Gray writes, "whether a peaceful society can be made attractive enough to wean men away from the appeals of battle. Today we are seeking to make war so horrible that men will be frightened away from it. But this is hardly likely to be more fruitful in the future than it has been in the past. More productive will certainly be our efforts to eliminate the social, economic, and political injustices that are always the immediate occasion of hostilities. Even then, we shall be confronted with the spiritual emptiness and inner hunger that impel many men toward combat. Our society has not begun to wrestle with this problem of how to provide fulfillment to human life, to which war is so often an illusory path."
I've come to believe that Gray is right. The problem is not that war is so often vivid, but that peace is so often drab. Looking at this same problem back in 1910, the psychologist William James argued that we need "a moral equivalent of war," a way of living that would provide the challenges of combat without its horrors. James's argument, it seems to me, becomes more compelling with the development of each new weapons system. In this light, peace advocates are indeed doing important work in opposing war through public statements, petitions, and demonstrations. But the end of war - can we imagine it? - might require something more fundamental: the creation of a peace that is not only just, but also vivid.
The work of creating a more vivid peace must address the problem of our spiritual emptiness and inner hunger. It might well require that we relinquish some of our currently fashionable cynicism and give more energy, as Gray suggests, to values that could be called moral and spiritual. But there's something else: We need passion. We need challenge and risk. We need to be pushed to our limits. And I believe this is just what happens when we accept a warrior's code, when we try to live each moment as a warrior, whether in education, job, marriage, child rearing, or recreation. The truth is that we don't have to go to combat to go to war. Life is fired at us like a bullet, and there is no escaping it short of death. All escape attempts - drugs, aimless travel, the distractions of the media, empty material pursuits - are sure to fail in the long run, as more and more of us are beginning to learn.
Could it be that the current popularity of Rambo and the other warrior films goes beyond neopatriotism and revenge fantasies? Let's at least consider the possibility that the warrior rage also signifies something we haven't yet put into words: that there are many potential warriors among us, that each of us, at some level, wants to meet life head-on, to risk everything for what he believes in, to develop himself to the fullest, and to serve others.
When the samurai Kikushi was ordained a bodhisattva (one devoted to lifelong service), his master told him, "You must concentrate upon and consecrate yourself wholly to each day, as though a fire were raging in your hair." On those frequent occasions when statements like this sound hopelessly overblown and quite impossible to achieve in real life, I recall something Jack Cirie said during one of our conversations: "Believing you can be perfect is the fatal imperfection. Believing you're invulnerable is the ultimate vulnerability. Being a warrior doesn't mean winning or even succeeding. But it does mean putting your life on the line. It means risking and failing and risking again, as long as you live."