The Imperfections Of ‘The Warrior Pyramid’

As the brain behind the Warrior Pyramid, I’m also going to be the first to poke some holes in it. Yes, it’s been up for a couple of weeks, but I’ve known these flaws for quite a while.

You see, like many other things, the pyramid is an oversimplification. Each layer delineates particular aspects that are important for personal defense, but it presents them as isolated chunks that are important to the whole, but still separate.

In reality, things aren’t that separate. Allow me to explain.

In my life, I’ve taken numerous martial arts classes. Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, just to name them. No, not a lot of classes in any of them due to a reason I’ll discuss another time, but enough to see some commonalities.

First, part of the training includes, at a minimum, cardiovascular training. Getting gassed in a fight is a bad thing, and so most schools appear to include some of that in their warm-up routine. When I did a story on a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class once upon a time, I thought I was going to die during that warmup, so it was probably some fairly decent cardio.

Additionally, many classes also include at least some strength training. Push-ups appear to be pretty common, as are some other calisthenic exercises. These do create an increase in strength, at least to a point.

In other words, a typical martial arts class includes cardio and perhaps strength training, which means you can jump into a martial arts class and get a great start on the first three layers of the Warrior Pyramid (strength, cardio, and hand-to-hand), layers that are presented as distinct elements but can be covered, at least in part, over the same period of time.

That said, I do think it behooves everyone to increase their physical strength and cardiovascular endurance well beyond what is needed for a martial arts class. After all, no one gets in trouble for being too strong or having too much endurance.

However, I still believe everyone would benefit from building a physical base of strength and endurance before setting foot in a martial arts class.

Remember me telling you about the story I did on a BJJ school? After the warmup, I was so completely gassed that learning techniques were challenging, to say the least. I was still trying to catch my breath, slow my heart, etc. My brain wasn’t really up for retaining information.

While it’s unlikely that you’ll breeze through a warmup like that your first time in no matter how conditioned you are–unless, of course, you have conditioned in just the right way for that particular warmup–you’ll still have a leg up and have a much easier time recovering from that warmup. Then you can retain information much better, in my opinion.

When it comes to the top of the pyramid, firearms training, there’s not much out there that combines the physical aspects of fighting with weapons training.

Gun classes are routinely a weekend or week-long thing that costs a few hundred dollars (at least) and then everyone goes about their merry way. Some will warn you to be in shape when you get there, but there’s not enough time to get too much into the physical stuff when you get there…

…and that’s kind of a shame.

However, there’s more that’s lacking. In fact, the biggest potential problem is the pyramid’s focus on purely the physical. Take a look for a moment.

The Warrior Pyramid. (copyright 2017. Tom Knighton)

Note what’s lacking? There’s nothing about ethics. This roadmap can also be used to build someone who is a horrible human being but is strong enough to get away with it. This could create a bully or worse.

There’s literally nothing in there that will create a virtuous warrior. Yes, depending on how one trains hand-to-hand, you might get some of that. Traditional martial arts are very, very good about that sort of thing, but someone who picks things up via experience can be a powerful hand-to-hand fighter, and they won’t get that sort of thing.

And yet, I don’t want to add a fifth layer in there. After all, where does it go? Do I include it between cardio and hand-to-hand? Does it go above hand-to-hand but below guns?

Instead, it makes more sense to understand that the Warrior Pyramid isn’t an all-encompassing, all-perfect roadmap. It needs to be part of a complete program that also includes the discussion of ethical concerns regarding the application of violence in the real world. I will have those discussions.

However, it’s also worth noting that the Pyramid doesn’t always produce bad people. After all, take a look at how the military trains warriors. While the armed forces often instill a sense of honor and professionalism in the modern warrior, there’s very little detailed ethical training. Yet, they build with a basis of strength, add in cardio at the same time, teach hand-to-hand via their combatives program, and finally proficiency with firearms.

From what I can see, it looks an awful lot like what the Warrior Pyramid is.

So yes, I do believe in the Pyramid, but I’ll be the first to point out where it is less than perfect.


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