Engineering the Warrior Monk

I’m joined on the BTAM podcast by self-improvement author and former professional boxer, Ed Latimore. He’s someone I look to as a living embodiment of the “warrior monk” archetype.

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What is a Warrior Monk?

Have you ever played role-playing games (RPGs,) on table-top or video?

Games like Diablo, Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and others allow you to create and customize characters that improve as you play through the story.

The characters have different archetypes and abilities. There are warriors, mages, rogues, archers, etc.

One of those archetypes is the ‘warrior monk’ or ‘fighting monk,’ loosely based on Shaolin monks.

His character backstory is one of asceticism, stoicism, constant improvement, deep study, internal and external harmony.

He fights unarmored with his bare hands and starts off weaker than other characters.

As the game progresses and he gains experience, his unarmed strikes can kill enemies in one strike, he becomes so agile that nothing can hit him and so resilient that he is immune to magical and elemental attacks.

How would you re-create the warrior monk in real life? It’s a question I’ve been dwelling on ever since I became a father.

  • What personality traits will you instill in them?
  • What academic subjects should they learn?
  • What martial arts would they study?

My guest today is uniquely qualified to speak on these issues.

Ed Latimore in the gym with black gloves and white trunks

Meet Ed Latimore

  • Author of 6 books
  • Former professional boxer (13-1)
  • Served in the army
  • Chess enthusiast
  • Got a degree in Physics at ~30 yrs old

He writes about martial arts, self-improvement, and effective learning at edlatimore.com

Ed’s latest books:

  • Engagement is the New Cocaine: the Art and Science of Writing Addictive Tweets
  • Sober Letters to My Drunken Self
  • Not Caring What Anyone Thinks is a Superpower: Insights from a Heavyweight Boxer

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Time-Stamped Show Notes

1:47 – The inspiration for this episode.

3:00 – Ed Latimore introduces himself and we talk about his background.

11:10 – Nobody ‘plays’ boxing.

12:00 – Ed talks about his last fight, his first professional loss.

17:30 – What is a warrior monk? My description resonates with Ed.

19:00 – Ed explains why the warrior monk is such a powerful archetype.

21:00 – The warrior monk makes the World a reflection of himself, instead of him becoming a reflection of his environment.

24:00 – I note how Ed’s own approach to self-improvement, reflected in his writings, are a reflection of the warrior monk ethos.

30:58 – Islam’s approach to fixing the problems in society – fix yourself first, then your families, then your community, and so on.

32:10 – The duality of the universe. Ideas about detachment from the material world in Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.

34:37 – If we want to engineer a warrior monk, where do we start? Start them young and teach them delayed gratification, global consciousness, self-accountability, and self-sufficiency.

35:15 – You can get a lot of things wrong in life if you get the big things right.

40:25 – A 4-step mental check-in to evaluate your actions.

42:10 – God does not change the condition of a people until they change that which is within themselves. [Quran 13:11]

43:00 – Self-improvement movements in different communities e.g. Hotep vs. Black Lives Matter (BLM.)

43:35 – BLM’s heart is in the right place, but their mind and intent are not.

48:30 – BLM hates black people from the ‘hood who have Ed’s opinions because they can’t dismiss them based on identity.

50:05 – Shout out to “Uncle Hotep” Demond Handy. Ed and I are both fans.

53:40 – BLM is trying to bring back Jim Crow. “Your daddy marched to get rid of that s***.”

54:30 – Training the warrior monk how to learn effectively. Ed says the key is to remove distractions and learning to enjoy the process of solving difficult problems (as opposed to getting discouraged.)

01:01:30 – Liberal arts and postmodernism destroy your ability to learn and grow because there is no right answer (or, every answer is right,) so it can never get difficult and you can never experience rigor.

01:03:00 – How important is physical training to engineering the warrior monk? There are only advantages, no disadvantages, to a physically fit lifestyle.

01:09:57 – Why did Ed choose to focus on boxing? It’s something he always wanted to do but the practicality and structure of boxing appealed to him over MMA and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

01:13:50 – Ed approaches boxing from a holistic standpoint in relation to his life and personal development, not just as a martial artist.

01:18:02 – We talk about Ed’s books.

01:19:05 – The story behind “How to Catch and Kill a Crackhead.”

01:20:42 – Ed’s books are priced too cheap.

01:22:26 – Ed is working on his 5th book, Selective Sobriety, which will talk about his experiences as a teetotaler.

01:23:10 – Reading between the lines – sexual assault and alcohol consumption, the discussion that’s not being had.

01:26:00 – Ed’s must-read book “The Four Confidences” (available for free on his website if you subscribe to his mailing list) and similarities with the Islamic Sacred Tradition.

01:33:38 – I read excerpts from Ed’s book “Twitter Poems and Insights.”

01:34:40 – Where did Ed get the idea for this book?

01:36:30 – I ask Ed to explain one of his poems:

The hardest part for the newly woke
Is letting sleeping dogs lie
The hardest part for the red pill taker
Is not to give up and cry

01:40:16 – The self-improvement space, The Red Pill, and cultural reactions to Feminism.

01:46:10 – One side (women) broke their end of the social contract while expecting the other to continue to uphold their end. What we are seeing now is a reaction to unfairness and oppression.

01:49:30 – We end the conversation having come full circle. Focus on improving yourself and the people in your circle of influence. If everyone just focused on those two things, we’d all be successful.

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