This week’s DW post is going to be a little different. Normally I do some research on Sunday and get my post out by Monday night or Tuesday morning. This leaves plenty of time for people to vote on who they think would win before the show airs on Tuesday night. This week the executive powers that be decided to run the last episode of the season on Sunday night. That being the case, I watched the episode on Monday and will do some post analysis here. Voting will still be open though as what I’m really interested in is people’s opinions.
This is the kind of matchup where you have to consciously put aside your personal feelings for the two groups. As Americans, it is really easy to vote against the Taliban just because of the current wartime climate. As a Brit it’s just as easy to vote against the IRA. So, the obvious issues aside, let’s look at the groups and weapons.
Who are the IRA?
I’m going to let wikipedia do some talking for me because whoever wrote the wiki entries knows a lot more about this than I do:
“The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation descended from the Irish Volunteers, established 25 November 1913 and who in April 1916 staged the Easter Rising. The Irish Volunteers were recognised in 1919 by Dáil Éireann (its elected assembly) as the legitimate army of the unilaterally declared Irish Republic, the Irish state proclaimed at Easter in 1916 and reaffirmed by the Dáil in January 1919. Thereafter, the IRA waged a guerrilla campaign against British rule in Ireland in the Irish War of Independence from 1919–1921.” – Wikipedia
The IRA was known for extreme urban guerrilla warfare. They used simple yet effective technology to do damage on a large scale. Their cells, usually 4-5 people in size, would strike quickly and unpredictably but with a large amount of planning and tactical know-how.
Who are the Taliban?
“The Taliban, also Taleban, is a pro-Wahhabi Sunni Islamist, predominately Pashtun fundamentalist religious and political movement that governed Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when its leaders were removed from power by Northern Alliance and NATO forces. It has regrouped and since 2004 revived as a strong insurgency movement fighting a guerrilla war against the current government of Afghanistan, Pakistan, allied NATO forces participating in Operation Enduring Freedom, and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). It operates in Afghanistan and the Frontier Tribal Areas of Pakistan.” – Wikipedia
The Taliban cells utilize fear as their greatest weapon, causing disorganization and panic in both their enemies and the local civilians. They use rugged yet powerful technology that properly fits the terrain of Afghanistan.
What are the Weapons?
The IRA utilized the LPO-50 flamethrower, the nail bomb, the slingshot, and the AR-15 Armalite.
The Taliban relied on the RPG-7 rocket launcher, PMN land mine, the bayonet knife, and the AK-47.
Both the flamethrower and the rocket launcher performed really well. Apparently the flamethrower heats up the inside of your bones to the point where it continues to burn you even after the flames have gone away. The rocket launcher was clearly devastating, as I think everyone could have predicted.
The interesting matchup was between the AR-15 Armalite and the AK-47. The Armalite was clearly more accurate, but when put through mud and water conditions, the AK-47 held up much better. This was a case of great value between both guns, and intelligent selection by both warriors.
The Armalite’s accuracy would be extremely useful in an urban setting where mud, water, and grime is less of a factor. The AK-47’s durability is definitely valuable in the caves and desserts of Afghanistan.
A Result and a Vote:
In case you didn’t see who won, I’m going to give you a chance to vote first. Who do you think was deadliest? (careful not to scroll down to far)
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In the end, the IRA took the victory. The accuracy of the Armalite and the deadliness of the nail bomb really helped their stats. The results were close though as the AK-47 and the rocket launcher did their fair share of damage.
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We often hear about breath control in the martial arts and how important it can be. Proper regulation of exhalation and inhalation can help a practitioner strengthen their technique, defend their body from attack, and center their mind on the objective at hand. Truly breath control is critical to becoming a skilled practitioner.
Less talked about is spirit control. It’s unfortunate that in an equal arc of body-mind-spirit, one component can be overlooked so readily.
What is Meant By Spirit Respiration?
Spirit, in the martial context, refers to a strength of character and personal “being”. Will, confidence, determination, and fortitude are all pieces of this larger concept. Spirit respiration is the cyclical rising and falling of spirit throughout our day to day lives. For instance:
There are certain times when we need great strength of will to persevere. Examples can be as monumental as childbirth or as menial as a grinding day at work.
Other times we feel as if we are gaining strength and resolve. Some catalysts for this could be a good night’s sleep, a promotion, or even an unexpected compliment.
It is this constant flux that creates spirit respiration – in and out, in and out, autonomously without our conscious control.
The Dangers of Bad “Breathing”
Consider breath again for a moment: if you exhale too much, you become weak. The body cannot sustain itself for long after the initial push. If you inhale too much, the body becomes weak. The oxygen begins to deplete and the body needs to expel the toxins brought in with the oxygen. It is only through the repetitious inhale and exhale that breath powers the body.
Much in the same way, the spirit cannot be pushed too far one way or the other.
If you must constantly exert yourself, the power of spirit breaks down with no chance to regain itself. This is often seen when soldiers come back from difficult wartime. They’ve spent so much energy and concentration on survival and completing their missions that long term (even permanent) damage can be done.
On the contrary, some people who spend their lives getting their ego inflated with compliments, easy success, and luxury soon become poisoned by it. They turn to destructive behavior and habits to try and expend that energy.
Without the flux of good energy coming in and the healthy release of effort and will, people cannot sustain themselves to their maximum capacity.
The Dojo and Spirit Respiration
Regular breathing and spirit “breathing” occur all the time, but it is in the dojo that we can learn to understand and maximize the potential of the two. Some people wonder why ‘crazy’ martial artists put themselves through rigorous training week after week. And when the martial artist tries to explain it, they are often at a loss. After all, there are thousands of easier and more quickly rewarded hobbies out there.
What many martial artists feel but can’t put into words is the satisfaction of effort. In a civilized society, there are few quests to be undertaken. There is no way to travel from town to town, testing your skill and proving your mettle. There is an inherent part of the human condition that wants to test limits, to see how far we can push ourselves. The martial arts are one of the last proving grounds of that human spirit.
Unfortunately, all too often people get caught up in their own enthusiasm and don’t realize that they are “exhaling” too much. The martial arts can be a rush and it is easy to overtrain. When this happens, burnout quietly sneaks up and takes ahold of an otherwise great practitioner. Someone who was training 5 nights a week for 2 years will suddenly realize that their will to continue is gone, and they will be gone.
That’s why it’s critical to find ways to “inhale”. Many traditional dojo would have tough workouts, but they would also have times of meditation. They would quietly sit and listen to stories from the Sensei about years past and martial arts theory. They would take serene walks through undisturbed nature.
Unfortunately, with everybody having less and less time to inhale and more time required to exhale, there is an off-balancing occurring. This is true both in day-to-day life as jobs are demanding more hours, and in dojo life as classes are being squeezed in with just enough time to practice techniques and then run off to the next task.
However you decide to do it, find time to inhale. Find what it is that fills you, and use the dojo to its fullest potential.
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You gotta hand it to the guys at DW, they keep changing things up. This week, instead of general warriors, they have selected two specific individuals – William Wallace vs Shaka Zulu.
Let’s take a quick peek into both of these warrior’s histories, and then discuss if a one-on-one of this nature is a smart idea.
It turns out that William Wallace is more than just Mel Gibson’s character in Braveheart. He was an actual dude – and a pretty impressive one at that. He started out as a landowner but became a resistance leader during the Wars of Scottish Independence.
Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, the right to the Scottish throne went up for grabs around 1300 a.d. Kind Edward of England capitalized on the ensuing confusion and bickering provinces by trying to force his hand and become ruler himself. Although many of the Scottish lords acquiesced to Edward’s pressure, a resistance grew (led by William Wallace).
As far as can be determined, Wallace used traditional Scottish weaponry. Most famous was the claymore or great sword, wielded by Mel in Braveheart. I’m not a period expert, but this is generally what they looked like:
In addition were broadswords with basket hilts and smaller dirks. The Scots were also known to utilize rounded shields, bows and arrows, and battle axes. So look for those weapons to make an appearance.
Much like Wallace, Shaka Zulu became a military leader and was a brilliant tactition. However, it would be a stretch to consider these two men parallels. Zulu was a slaughterer of the weak and a uniter by force.
Starting out as a warrior underneath the chieftain Dingiswayo, Zulu distinguished himself as a fighter of great courage and valor. After many years learning combat, Zulu (with the aid of Dingiswayo) became a chieftain in his own right. Through great political maneuvering and military acumen, Zulu grew his sphere of influence. Upon the death of Dingiswayo (by way of assassination), Zulu swore revenge on his killers and begun his accelerated growth into expansion and conquering.
Ultimately, Zulu united the Nguni people and took over a great amount of territory in Southern Africa. In doing so he created great social, military, and technological change.
A weaponry traditionalist, Zulu will likely bring old-style weapons to DW. Definitely expect to see the shield and spear combination.
Zulu (as a people) were also known to use clubs, throwing javelins, and knives.
Is the Individual Concept Smart?
The big question for this matchup: is it smart to use individuals over general warrior styles? On one hand, you can talk more accurately about what weapons they both used historically and how they behaved in battle. You also have some general idea of their physical prowess and intelligence.
On the other hand, how can you really test two individuals without letting them literally fight it out? With the general warrior model, you could test weapons and broad physical characteristics and make assumptions. With specific people, you don’t have that wiggle room.
In general, I have to say that I prefer the general warrior method. It allows the imagination to enjoy the possibilities of different warriors, whereas using specific people is going to get me hung up on the logical flaws of the tests.
That being said – I’m going to pick William Wallace as the winner due to better weapon technology and the advancements in metalurgy.
What do you think?
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