The Warrior’s Guide to True Manliness

by Brett on March 4, 2008 · 45 comments

in A Man's Life, On Manhood


Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Evan and Spencer Burton. They author the blog Living Indubiously.

It was not long ago that men were born to be warriors and had no other obligations than to uphold the warrior code and to pass it on to their offspring. It was only during the past 500 years that man forgot this way of life and replaced it with a complacency seemingly suited for a new world of convenience. The time that has passed since we have forgotten our warrior days has been a mere fraction of the entire existence of humans, meaning that this warrior instinct is still entirely intact and awaiting to be awoken in the lives of all men.

A Warrior’s life was driven by his own survival instinct and his fear of death. It was this fear that drove him to persevere and constantly improve himself. After all, survival of the fittest was in full effect at this point. Without this fundamental understanding about life’s impermanence and an obligation to achieve greatness, we become complacent and unmotivated in life. If it is true that nothing defines manliness more than a motivated and inspired individual who lives with a quiet confidence and a zest for life, then the lessons we have to learn from warriors of the past will get us far on the path to Manhood.

It is only until after a life changing event that most of us have this warrior instinct woken within us. For many it is the call to overcome adversity through a circumstance in their lives that requires a warrior spirit. For Teddy Roosevelt it was his childhood illness that gave him his first mountain to conquer, as well as his first taste of success. For Lance Armstrong it was his battle with cancer that gave him the strength to achieve his unprecedented success. For Martin Luther King Jr. it was the racist, segregated world that he was born into that lead him to become a force for change in the civil rights movement.

It is through the understanding and application of the following ideas that you too can achieve true warrior status and get on the never-ending road to greatness.

Master Your Body. Although most people associate being a warrior with fighting and hunting, these are the most basic principles through which a warrior’s strength is expressed. It is the mastering of your intention and strength to find discipline and power in every aspect of your life that distinguishes the warrior from the common man. The first conquest for any man should be the mastering of his body. For a warrior this was a necessity for survival due to the extreme physical demands placed upon him. Today’s man should always strive for this goal for a number of reasons. The cause and effect of hard work and muscle gains is a microcosm of the bigger picture in life in which hard work is the only catalyst to success. Another important reason to push your body to be its strongest is the long list of physical benefits such as hormonal regulation, mental clarity, and the general feeling of well-being that will all combine to improve your life physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Use Death as your Guide. We all could die at any moment. It could be today, tomorrow, or next week. You could go and visit your dying friend in the hospital and then get hit by a bus the next day. Whether or not you have an existing condition is of no importance in your actual mortality. If this was the common outlook of today’s man, do you think we would sit around watching cable TV and spending our time worrying about how to afford the next big thing in consumer electronics? Hell no! We would go out today and start doing the exact thing that we have always wanted to do (our purpose) while not wasting any of our time on the petty, pointless things. After all, there is no better a teacher in time management than having death knocking at your door.

Choose the Path with Heart. All paths are the same. They lead absolutely nowhere. At the end of your life you will be in the exact same position except you will be able to look back with either regret or satisfaction on the choices you made. It is the path that is important, not the destination. It is better to have a followed a path in your life that brought you happiness in the moment, than to have followed a path that promised happiness at your destination. Using death as your guide will promote a distinct change in your level of presence and naturally lead you to living in the moment and choosing the correct path. The warrior who chooses his highest calling is also the one to achieve the greatest success, further strengthening the chance of the survival of his bloodline.

Fight Every Battle as if it was Your Last. If you are using death as your guide and living in the present moment then you will naturally fight every battle in your life as if it was a defining moment to make or break everything you have worked for. When you have this mentality you are naturally doing your best at everything and your chances for success are greatly improved. This is the type of performance that we have come to expect from our great leaders and role models so why should we sell ourselves short of realizing such greatness? It is through this concept that you will truly be living to your full potential and increasing your likelihood of being the man that others look to for inspiration.

Through the practical application of these ideas into your everyday life, you will begin to see a change in the outcomes of your goals and experiences. You will also take on leadership qualities as you start to embody the very essence of what every man secretly strives to become. You will switch from being a victim of circumstance, into being a master of intention. Living indubiously and confidently, you will begin to manifest the conditions that will transform yourself from weak to warrior.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hayden Tompkins March 4, 2008 at 10:06 am

Using death as your guide reminds me of the commencement speech that Steve Jobs gave –

He said that when he wakes up in the morning he asks himself that if he were going to die that day, would he still do what he is about to do?

If the answer is ‘no’ for too many days in a row, then something needs to change.

2 Seven Samurai March 4, 2008 at 10:19 am

By and large, this is a crock. Most men in most places have been farmers, not warriors; warriors have in general been a parasitic class on the farmers. The choice of a (fake) Spartan for your image is a case in point — the citizens of Sparta were all non-productive warriors; the productive work that fed them was done by helots (serfs). See this fascinating article.

A real man fights when he has to — against warrior parasites.

3 vanderleun March 4, 2008 at 10:51 am

It is not just that this is a crock. The premise of the article is not. What’s happening here is an article made with cookie cutters and a heaping serving of bromide, cliche, and blather.

Get better writers that do more than fill out a check list of self-help and lard the prose with “You’s”

4 Bronson March 4, 2008 at 11:56 am

I’d take issue with the point about fighting as well. Fighting every single moment of your life like a maniac is a sure way to wear yourself out and end up frustrated and bitter. The best fighter knows when it is time to dig deep, and when it’s time to avoid an empty or Pyrrhic victory.

5 Chris March 4, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Yeah i don’t think this article really has the same idea of manliness in mind as the rest of this website. This article seems to believe in a more stereotypical brute man as the epitome of manliness while the rest of the website is based more around the virtuous, sharp dressed gentleman.

6 Bob G. March 4, 2008 at 1:55 pm

I disagree with equating virtuous manliness and cultivating a warrior “instinct.” Since the writers mention Theodore Roosevelt, here is a quote: “War is a dreadful thing… Every honorable effort should always be made to avoid war, just as every honorable effort should always be made by the individual in private life to keep out of a brawl, to keep out of trouble; but no self-respecting individual, no self-respecting nation, can or ought to submit to wrong.” That is, avoid a fight, but in the face of injustice, fight to win.

7 wayne March 4, 2008 at 2:05 pm

As a Cherokee decendant, I take mild offense to the notion that warriors are parasites. A true warrior stands up for, not to. They protect. Otherwise they are just a bully, or worse. Perhaps that is what the Spartans were, IDK. And he didn’t say fight every minute of your life, he said every battle. He said this to help you guarantee victory. If it’s a battle that you don’t ‘have’ to win, then maybe it’s more of a diversion than an actual battle. I grew up in the projects, and I won many battles by running faster than the 5 guys chasing me. It was like my life depended on it, but not theirs.

8 Brett March 4, 2008 at 2:25 pm

I’m thinking a lot of you are missing the point of their post. The article doesn’t mention once about physically fighting or engaging in violence. It’s about taking an attitude of a warrior (courageous, vigorous, ect.) and applying it to your life. It’s about not taking on a victim mentality, but rather taking full responsibility of your life.

9 Kate March 4, 2008 at 2:34 pm

As Brett said, this post is not about literally being a warrior and spoiling for a literal fight-it is about having a warrior MINDSET. That is it say, to become men who are brave, persevering, tenacious, and tough as nails.

The brothers who wrote this post both live with cystic fibrosis. Yet they have decided that instead of wallowing in their disease and its possible limitations, they are going to attack life straight on like warriors.

@Seven Samurai-Actually throughout history battles were fought largely by citizen-soldiers. They were farmers AND warriors. Which is why wars were often conducted during the off seasons for planting and harvesting. Yes, Sparta was an exception as you pointed out. But everyone would do well to stand their ground in life the way the Spartans stood in that pass at Thermopylae. There was nothing parasitic about it. It was selfless duty.

Also, as Wayne points out, warriors were highly honored in ancient societies. Not because they went out looking for a fight, but because they were protectors. Yes, some societies had slaves, but many worked the land themselves and it was the warriors who protected the fruits of that labor. They were indispensable.

10 Cameron Schaefer March 4, 2008 at 4:12 pm

I think one of the best description’s of the warrior ethos is found in Black Hawk Down when “Hoot” (Eric Bana) describes why he does it:

“When I go home people’ll ask me, ‘Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda warv junkie?’ You know what I’ll say? I won’t say a damn word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.”

Being a warrior isn’t about a thirst for blood or a desire to kill, its about the guys next to you and the fact that you’re willing to give your life for them and know they’re willing to do the same for you.

I think a lot of you are missing the point of this whole post. Keep it coming Brett!


11 Aidan Rogers March 4, 2008 at 6:37 pm


Trying to download your free e book but keep getting a 404 error. Tried to let you know via your contact form but that appears to be broken also?


12 D.G. March 4, 2008 at 7:27 pm

I cant download the e-book either, the link is broken 404′d.

Also, the contact page just goes blank when i submit

13 Spencer Burton March 4, 2008 at 8:59 pm

Greetings everyone. Im Spencer, one of the authors of this article, and co-author of

Let me clarify and say that this post is not about spartans, or fighting, or a warrior history lesson. Its about realizing your true potential as a human, and facing every “battle” (a metaphor for events in your life) as your life depended on it. It is very much an inherent part of manhood to be responsible, to persevere with confidence, and to consciously attain the conditions you desire in your life with unwavering intention.

We aimed to illustrate that men are only as good as they believe themselves to be, in every aspect of their lives. That through a quiet confidence in ones abilities, and through a humbled gratitude and respect for the mortality of one’s life, he can build a “warriors mentality” ( a attitude of supreme self confidence, NOT an angry spartan).

14 vanderleun March 4, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Well, Spencer, that just confirms my earlier sense that the whole thing is sloshed with lame.

I think you’d better check your six on being a stand-up guy. This is just fluff. The same old “realize your potential” mantra with a little salt on the side. Not impressed.

15 Nicole March 5, 2008 at 12:03 am

Well, Vanderleun, that just confirms my earlier sense that you’re a complete d-bag who goes around trying to pee on people’s dreams who are out there writing interesting, inspirational articles in order to feel better about yourself.

I would have felt differently if I went to your website and read anything insightful or original, but it was a bunch of very poorly written political BS.

16 hank chinaski March 5, 2008 at 6:19 am


All of this is plagiarized from Carlos Casteneda’s book “Journey To Ixtlan.”

Read it. It’s a good book.

And it’s not stolen.

17 Kurt Russell March 5, 2008 at 6:21 am

Yeah vanderleun, it’s totally lame to realize your potential and treat life as if it actually means something to you, bitching about motivation and being a douche on the internet is much more important, right?

18 Zooey Glass March 5, 2008 at 4:29 pm

i second “hank chinaski”.

digg bait alert.

give credit where it’s due, ya lit thieves.

19 Dan March 5, 2008 at 5:00 pm

I really liked the article

20 Evan March 5, 2008 at 7:10 pm

I would like for you to find one sentence that is plagiarized in this article.

This is a completely original article written by me and my brother.

And the Carlos Castaneda book that talks about the way of the warrior is not Journey to Ixtlan, its Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. Good try though.

-Evan from

21 Shopping Cart Software March 5, 2008 at 11:13 pm

Nice blog :) and that picture is hilarious <3 the movie 300 lol.

22 Will March 6, 2008 at 11:39 am

I hear the part about spurring yourself on to the things you wished you’d do by facing the impermanence and fragility of life.

Although, I heartily agree with the comments that you Have to pick your battles. If you fight every single thing like it’s your last day, you end up frothing at the mouth.

A good dose of Sun Tzu (yes, I have actually read the book) would help balance this post a bit more.

23 Chuck March 11, 2008 at 11:45 am

I take issue with this article on two levels.

First is the point they make about fighting every battle as if it is your last. While this is true it doesn’t mention anything about the choice of battles one should make. Choosing to squabble over something meaningless is not the warrior attitude. After a true life or death experience one learns to let the little things slide. Everyone has experienced the jerk in the restaurant who has unreal or ridiculous expectations that can’t be met. DON’T BE THAT GUY. You will only look like an ass, not a warrior.

The second problem that I have with this article is that it focuses on a sort of “live for the moment” attitude, particularly when dealing with death. This is not the warrior mindset at all. The writer contradicts himself when mentioning that a warrior has complete control over his body, but then telling everyone to live this day as it were your last. I don’t know about you but if this were my last day on earth, gaining mastery of my body would seem redundant. A warrior is always planing ahead for what the enemy is going to throw at him next, including death.
Some of the greatest warriors of all time have also been some of the most religious or spiritual. They have fully prepared their spirit for the after life.

A warrior is made up of three parts, the physical, mental and spiritual. This article only addresses 2 of those three but seems to leave out the spiritual aspect. When you actually face death, the afterlife becomes much more important.

The defining characteristic of a warrior is his willingness to close with the enemy.

24 Dan March 13, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Sounds like every Israeli I ever met.

25 EnchantedApril March 15, 2008 at 8:09 pm

Hence SPORTS. In my mind, Hockey is one of the last bastions of where it is still societally acceptable for me to express testosterone aggression and pummel each other in a MANLY fashion. The position of where there is a player who is The Enforcer I totally respect. Then again, after being basically a good provider, I look for men who are SUPERB PROTECTORS. My late husband taught me to shoot. Do you know how, too? Mazel tov!

26 Loki's Playground April 3, 2008 at 10:14 pm

Well so many responders have proved their lack of worth and understanding. What are you looking for? Spoon feeding? Silver platter?

Look at what is being said beyond the black words.


To those who saw past the black words… much of what was said by you needs no further clarification. The authors have doen a great job.

But I challenge you to look at one thing. Rather than the concept of a fear of death. Awareness of it and understanding of it. It is not a fear of it but an acceptance of it.

27 Justus April 4, 2008 at 2:52 pm

Lol Was my comment deleted? I did get rather off topic. I sure hope it wasn’t deleted because I was opposed to the article because, quite to the contrary, I completely agree with the article. And I agree with Loki as well. Sometimes things like this aren’t meant to be literal.

“By and large, this is a crock. Most men in most places have been farmers, not warriors; warriors have in general been a parasitic class on the farmers. The choice of a (fake) Spartan for your image is a case in point — the citizens of Sparta were all non-productive warriors; the productive work that fed them was done by helots (serfs). See this fascinating article.”

And to the writer of that comment…Would you rather be the Helot? Or the Spartan? Think about that.

28 Brett McKay April 4, 2008 at 7:20 pm


I don’t remember deleting your comment…are you sure it went through? The last comment I got from you was on the Wartime Sacrifice post.

29 Jared January 8, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Kudos to the author. I’ve been rereading this article to get inspired over the last few days. It has become my “manvotional.” I’m making some very big and tough decisions, and this is helping me in that a lot.

I sincerely disagree with all dissenters and found their logic to be poor and/or greatly flawed.

30 S.Smith February 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

I like Castaneda too. 3 Rules bind the universe.

31 harigast May 4, 2009 at 7:04 pm

i like how many of you turds got this totally wrong. from the comments made by said turds, i can tell you have no drive for real life unless it involves getting to the next level of world of warcraft. maybe you friendless virgins should move out of your mom’s attic/basement and get some sun.

32 John Walker June 1, 2009 at 7:34 am

Opinions are like arse holes (everyone’s got one).

33 Le dauphin June 1, 2009 at 9:37 am


Death over a (man’s) shoulder was, in fact, discussed (at length) in Castaneda’s Journey to Ixtlan- A book which opened my mind widely, and from which I grew a fair amount. Thanks for the refresher & incitement : )

Y’all might also like Leadership Lessons of the Navy SEALs, The 48 Laws of Power, & Good to Great. They’re also insightful, rousing & generally yang.



34 Johnny Deadline July 20, 2009 at 2:07 am

As a professional magazine editor it’s obvious to me that the the concepts, structure and even the order in which the ideas are presented were lifted directly from three books by Carlos Castaneda. Primarily from “The Teachings of Don Juan,” but also from “A Separate Reality” and “Journey to Ixtlan.” This is known as plagiarism. Valid material to be sure, but quite dishonorable of Brett not to cite Castaneda.

35 Brett July 20, 2009 at 10:26 am


Quite dishonorable of you, sir, to call me out by name without bothering to read the very first line of this post which says that I did not write this article. A strange oversight for a magazine editor.

36 Paul Hughes September 2, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Some of this has been said by others, but this post was not good.
First, as at least one comment noted, most men were not warriors — not in Sparta, and not 500 years ago. Not ever.
Second, even those who were warriors were often driving by something other than fear, of death or anything, or the survival instinct. Motivations were good and ill, and some of the good ones, which presumably is what we’re interested in here, were defense of home or country, love of God, and so on.
Third, there are the factual errors — Lance Armstrong won most of his Tour de France crowns before being diagnosed, and he was PLENTY driven WAY before that; in fact it could be argued he has become a bit arrogant with the hubris-like pride stuff since that diagnosis. Martin Luther King Jr. was LED by racism to do his inestimable work? I’d suggest he was not reactive in that way, nor would we want to say the racism led to the good work (props to racism on that one, eh?). Rather his strength clearly came from God, as also his ability to continue the struggle. He believed the U.S. could be what it had promised to be, so that motivated him as well. It wasn’t the racism.
Next we have the unfortunate contradiction that these rules will put you on, “the never-ending road to greatness” … but the journey is better than the destination. So is it the never-ending road (no destination) or not?
Speaking of which, “All paths are the same” ??? I trow not. A fundamental assumption of this entire enterprise is that there are good ways of become more manly, right? That would be the basis for saying “do this, don’t do this,” which every post does every day.
(And anyway, how can “choosing the correct path” matter, as the authors suggest, if all paths are not only the same — but “lead absolutely nowhere”?)
Finally, Mr. McKay, even if you didn’t write the piece, which is clear (as you say) from the very first line … this is your website. Maybe the comments section cannot be held against you (many web logs note just that) but surely we can expect you to read / edit (or reject) guest posts that are unworthy of your otherwise exemplary work? I’d guess the magazine editor wanted something along those lines, since he is one.

Yours kindly,

paul hughes

37 rolloverbethoven December 27, 2009 at 3:46 pm

To any and all of the individuals who don’t like the premise of this article….it is quite simple……….you people are not , and were never meant to be ….warriors. I say that not as a put down….but as an observation that society needs farmers….and nurturing types…..these two groups of people needs individuals to stand up and fight when the circumstance calls for it……they need protection so as to continue farming, nurturing and whatever their temperament calls for. So feed your warriors, take care of them when they are battle weary…..most importantly……..step back and get out of their way when your survival is at stake and your well being is threatened.

38 Steve H April 12, 2010 at 11:32 am

I agree with living in the moment, but to say the destination is unimportant is a fallacy. Most people seem to have some belief in an afterlife. That being the case, the destination becomes quite important. For example, I don’t think my creator would be pleased if I scammed people out of their life savings to improve my quality of life along the way. The article doesn’t seem to address righteousness in the quest. Rather it seems to suggest someone should pillage and plunder anyone who dares step in the way. The article states; “It is better to have a followed a path in your life that brought you happiness in the moment, than to have followed a path that promised happiness at your destination.” That’s not a fact, but an assumption. If the author is correct, then I guess most of the people on this planet are suckers. To me anyway, that’s a very dangerous assumption, and one that has eternal consequences. I’m not trying to proselytize, I’m just sayin’.

39 MichaelJ May 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm

I, for one, enjoyed and appreciated the article. The follow-up comments are even more interesting. I didn’t realize the concept of a warrior was such a lightning rod for dissent. Perhaps this is yet another indicator of the our culture’s decline in manly values that this website works to reverse.

40 Robbie May 25, 2010 at 5:26 am


41 Robbie May 25, 2010 at 5:33 am

I dont understand what is wrong with all of the people on this post arguing and criticizing this post. All the author is doing is using a warrior analogy to illustrate very valid and constructive points about living as a well rounded man. You people contradicting the points in this article either have an inflated sense of self-importance, or you just love to criticize anything. So what if it was lifted or inspired by other writings? Led Zeppelin borrowed much of their influences material and made it into the most enduring and popular rock and roll music of all time, as did the Beatles, as did the Stones…and THEY in turn are heavily derived from by modern music today (White Stripes from Zeppelin, off the top of my head). The same principle applies. Who are you to get all pissy about the citing of the article? Are you an English teachers or something? Get over yourselves. This post has many valid and useful points, and to the authors…well written and thanks for the inspiration.

42 Robbie May 25, 2010 at 5:36 am

english teacher*

…yes, i do see the irony. It was a lack of editing on my part.

43 Edwin September 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Evan , Spencer,

Thank you!
I really enjoyed your article.
If I could sum up this article:
A remarkable way to view life in a different perspective – one worthwhile.

44 qajaqr March 5, 2014 at 12:22 pm

I’ll just toss this in here, and I think it needs little, if any, introduction..

Col. Jessep: Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

45 SUNinU April 15, 2014 at 1:24 am

Its a great speech. Very strong, especially in the hands of Mr. Nicholson (apologies if name spelled incorrectly)
However, what must be remembered is that he broke one of the ethics of any true warrior and that is protection and understanding of those who are weaker.
Great blog, and great comments.
Good to have true warrior debates.
However, perhaps the warrior spirit is acceptance of other views.
My picture is that a warrior carries a sword. Its in its sheath. As a last resort, when all other possibilities are exhausted, a warrior will draw his sword, and in that moment, with regret, he/she is prepared to kill.

Living in the moment/Its the journey not the destination.

e.g. a basketball player.
Play every moment as though your life depended on it, but be detached from the final score.

just my own thoughts. Please feel free to comment, with respect please.

I too am learning. I have some things to offer in terms of wisdom of a warrior, but aren’t we all just learning the way by trying and failing and learning.
Surely that is part of the way of a warrior.


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