One of the most heart-wrenching things that can happen to a man is losing his young wife to death. Becoming a widower but also being left alone to father a baby compounds the heartache. It’s something that happened to Theodore Roosevelt and also to my guest today on the show. His name is Daniele Bolelli, he’s a professor of history, host of the podcasts History on Fire and The Drunken Taoist, an amateur mixed martial artist, and the author of several books, including Not Afraid and On the Warrior’s Path.
Today on the show, Daniele and I discuss why a bookworm like himself started fighting, how combat sport fighting grounds us in reality, and the forgotten philosophy of Bruce Lee. We then talk about his experience losing his wife to an aggressive brain tumor, what it was like raising a child by himself, and how martial arts and Theodore Roosevelt provided him strength and inspiration during a harrowing time in his life.
- Daniele’s background — how he, as a professor, ended up engaging in the martial arts
- The false dichotomy of strength vs intellect
- How combat fighting has helped Daniele become a better man
- The importance of being physically connected to reality, and how martial arts help you do that
- Embracing the benefits of modern life while combining them with old traditions
- How frustration and challenge can actually make you happier
- Combining the warrior and the princess within us
- How martial arts helps develop those two different energies
- The philosophers who have had the biggest impact on Daniele
- Nurturing heroic qualities
- Bruce Lee’s forgotten philosophy
- Daniele’s experience losing his wife and caring for his young daughter
- How Daniele helped his daughter get through the loss of her mom
- How Daniele’s martial arts training helped him get through the tragedy
- The mistakes Daniele made in grieving his wife’s loss
- How people can get started in the martial arts
- The similarities between Daniele and AoM favorite Teddy Roosevelt
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- My podcast about why men fight with Jonathan Gottschall
- My podcast with Matthew Crawford about The World Beyond Your Head
- Every Man Should Be Strong
- 25 Men Who Cultivated Both Mind and Body
- AoM video series on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- AoM articles series on Krav Maga
- How to Be Assertive
- On Taking a Punch
- You May Be Strong, But Are You Tough?
- Building Your Resiliency AoM ebook
- My podcast with Ryan Holiday about The Obstacle Is the Way
- You’ve Got to Be a Man Before You Can Be a Gentleman
- Conan the Barbarian
- Bruce Lee’s philosophy
- A Primer on Nietzsche
- How the Hero’s Journey Can Make You a Better Man
- Every Man Needs a Challenge
- History on Fire TR series
If you enjoyed our article “A Call for a New Strenuous Age,” you’ll definitely enjoy Daniele’s book On the Warrior’s Path. Many of the ideas he lays out in that book dovetail nicely with what we wrote about there. And Not Afraid is a book that will make you laugh and cry, but more importantly, leave you uplifted and inspired when you finish it.
Connect With Daniele Bolelli
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
And thanks to Creative Audio Lab in Tulsa, OK for editing our podcast!
Recorded on ClearCast.io.
Read the Transcript
Last updated: November 16, 2017