"We have four boxes with which to defend our freedom: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box." - Congressman Larry McDonald M.D.
(1 April, 1935 - 1 Sept., 1983)


God Save The Republic

25 July 2010

The Warrior Spirit . . . Part III

Most of us have heard those immortal words of wisdom, "If you want to win, you have to think like a winner." But even those who think like a winner can, and do, lose from time to time. On the other hand, those who go through life with a defeatist attitude will always be defeated. In survival, there are only winners and corpses. The winners will be the ones with a warrior's spirit.

Make no mistake about what a warrior spirit is. It does encompass far more than being capable of a decision to take the life of another. Any sociopath can make that decision. A warrior will make a decision of conscience to kill another only in self-defense, in defense of others and when defending his stronghold. Otherwise, a warrior will make every effort to avoid a possible "to the death" confrontation, even if it means staying low in the tall grass. In order to survive, you have to live, in order to live a longer life, you don't tempt fate by jumping out in front of those who could damn well have a tad stronger winning attitude than yours.

A warrior spirit is also a lifestyle. Most people conduct the majority of their lives in condition white; a state of being wherein they are not concerned enough to be, and / or remain, aware of all of the things going on around them. These folks make the best victims, almost to the point of being looked at as "professional victims," by those who make their profession from the victimization of others. When suddenly thrust into a situation of condition red, (the state where the fight or flight instinct kicks in) people in condition white will become so overcome by surprise that they will do neither, fight or flight, but rather end up raped, robbed, beaten or dead.

A warrior remains in various levels of condition orange at all times, even when at home in front of the television... or the computer. (What??? You've never heard of home invasions?) Condition orange is a very conscience state of heightened awareness. (but not to be confused with paranoia, which is a heightened state of mental illness) And condition orange expands beyond a heightened level of awareness regarding only physical confrontations with others. You are wide aware while driving because so many others are not. Or, you are aware of the very subtle changes that occur within nature, prior to a weather change. In my neighborhood, one has to be very aware just putzing about in the garden, least one might learn condition red first hand, when one discovers a Copperhead attached to that hand.

Being in a constant state of condition orange gives the warrior certain advantages. The most important advantage being, the time to access a situation before it has a chance to turn to shit, to mentally prepare a defense if fight, of a retreat if flight. However, it goes a step further by preparing the warrior for those event when things do go wrong. In the garden / ill tempered Copperhead scenario, condition orange would give you an advantage even if you slip up some and are bitten. A warrior would take control of and access the situation, remain calm, apply a tourniquet to slow the travel of the venom and not suck the venom from the bite, and into the mouth. Panic will cause the heart to pump harder and push the venom farther into the system. Shock will bring severely diminished motor skills and confusion. Lose that control and you're done.

During my time as a field training officer, I could usually drive the point home on both FNGs and "seasoned officers."

Thirty one years ago, I had gotten lazy and way too comfortable with keeping up that condition orange stuff. I mean NO ONE would be dumb enough to try to take on 6 feet 4 inches, 250 pounds of me, especially since I had my uniform, badge and 1911 to comfort me. It was about 0330 in the AM and I was all by my lonesome, when I allowed a guy to slip into my personal zone, because I wasn't paying attention to my situational awareness. Of course, I became very much aware when I took, what I thought, was a punch to the side of my face, through the open car window. And the guy stood there for a second or two before he took off running.

It took that second or two for me to fully comprehend that someone actually suffered from such an advanced form of retardation. As I exited the vehicle and moved into the illumination of a streetlight, I became aware of something wet and shinny on the front of my uniform shirt. It only took another second for me to come to the brilliant conclusion that somebody was bleeding like, as the saying goes, a stuck pig. Considering I was the only one standing there...

I reached up and felt around my face and discovered I was bleeding from the area of my left eye. There's an old saying among professional fighters, "he who bleeds first, loses." And I'm here to tell ya that's a true statement. Blood tends to spark panic and panic will take the wind out of your sails and the central dangling extremities right out of your basic machismo, post haste. Even though my assailant was now more that have a block away, and moving faster with each step, visions of my bleeding to death in the middle of E. 18th street danced in my head, and it scared the hell out of me. I drew my weapon and dropped the safety. At that moment in time, a man, woman, child or, a moth from the streetlight would have entered my personal zone and come under fire.

I was literally on the verge of going into condition "yellow." That's yellow as in the color I was about to turn my tighty-whities. Except for the fact they were already red... with blood; as was both outside and in of my vest, the underside of my gun belt and even just into the tops of my boots. I was gushing more blood than the Deepwater Horizon and I wasn't into a full thirty seconds of this little episode, yet. I started shaking so bad that, had my weapon discharged, I probably would have triple tapped myself. I couldn't think straight. In short, I was pushing myself into a mental / physical melt down.

I think it was the recurring thought of bleeding to death, alone, in that street that caused some semi dormant braincells to start firing. I realized I had to overcome the panic and regain all control of the situation. I had been taught, and was well aware, that panic can induce shock. And shock usually means the skinny dirt bedroom. As I fought to bring myself under control, I realized I had to become "un-dangerous" first and foremost. I returned my weapon to safe and holstered it. I then conducted a more detailed physical examination of my injury, knowing that face / head wounds tend to bleed far more freely than wounds to most other areas. When I concluded that my left eye was collapsed and the source of the majority of blood, I forced myself to remain focused. I did what I could at my disposal to control the bleeding. Fortunately, I was only a few blocks from a hospital.

As it turned out, I hadn't been punched. My attacker had pushed a broken bottle into my eye. Had I known the criminal seriousness involved at the time, I might not have questioned my having any justification and shot the son of a bitch. But, then again, maybe having known I had been stabbed in such a manner would have contributed to a non recoverable state of shock, via a higher sense of panic, and I might well have died there in the street. Better late than never, it was the warrior spirit that kept me from curling up into a fetal position on the pavement and accepting a f**k-it mindset.

A far better example of using the warrior spirit under some real adverse conditions would be the 66 year old man whose leg became trapped under a tree he was felling, and was forced to amputate his own leg with a pocket knife in order to free himself. Or the 36 year old who was forced to amputate his own arm with a pocket knife and then twist and fall to the ground to break the bone, to free himself from his farm machinery. THAT, in my book, is the absolute epitome of having a warrior spirit.

If you are critically injured, you stand a far better chance of survival by willing it to happen than not; by telling yourself YOU WILL survive, that you will not allow yourself to succumb to a panic and shock induced death, that you will do whatever it takes to cheat the angel of death out of your life.

To be continued



  1. Scary story, Mike, but a good series.

    A broken bottle in the eye? Do you still have use of the eye?

  2. GB,

    Thank you.

    With the exception of a small (two stitch) cut on the side of my nose, all of the damage was to the eye, lower tear duct and both lids.

    No. The damage was too extensive and the eye had to be removed.

    It does have it's advantage, though. When saying good bye, I can tell someone I'll keep an eye out for them, next time, and mean it... literally.


  3. Wow.

    I'm curious - did you ever find the bastard who did it?

    Great series.