Monday, July 9, 2007

The Men Who Stare At Goats

Pat over at Mokuren Dojo posted This Review of Richard Strozzi-Heckler's book "In Search Of The Warrior Spirit", a book I had reccomended because Aikido is part of the theme. As Pats review suggests, the book touches on the difficulty of an Aikido instructor's experiance teaching a group of Green Berets in a special military program. This program used sensitivity and bio-feedback in an attempt to create a super-soldier. Heckler obviously did not realize how deep the entire program went, which is detailed in Jon Ronson's "The Men Who Stare At Goats". Ronson gives the entire (unclassified) background of "The First Earth Battalion", which used Psychic Spies and other unorthodox warfare with mixed results. For instance, assassin training included developing photographic memories, to walk into a room and know at an instant where every pencil, chair, ashtray or other potential weapon lay, down to minute details. The title refers to a special lab, "The Goat Lab", where a large group of goats were kept. The subject would concentrate his psychic energy on one goat, and kill it while sitting in a room nearby. It is not exactly clear how well this worked, but Ronson's sources said at times it was performed successfully. You can see the obvious implications of this. Ronson travels across the country, interviewing people who were involved in the secret program, including martial artists that train assassins.
Now, most of us don't go for this Woo-Woo side of the martial arts, which borders on the occult. None-the-less, the military (and not just ours) is involved in this stuff. Here is a post from last January I did on "No Touch Knockouts" Which I have witnessed, performed by various Masters, with mixed results. There is a guy on YouTube who is offering thousands of dollars to anyone who can do one of these "no touch knockouts" to him, and I don't think he has had any takers.
The bottom line is, the U.S. military thinks this stuff may work, and has been involved in these types of training programs. I have read accounts of the Russians, who have been ahead of the Americans in all things Psychic, training their elite killers in this also.
Ronson's book opens a view into a dark world of Psuedo-science and the military-occult industrial complex. It takes up where Heckler's "In Search Of The Warrior's Spirit leaves off. "The Men Who Stare At Goats" is a quick read and is suprisingly humorous, considering the subject. It's also chock-full of martial artists that he interviews along the way.


JoseFreitas said...

Oh My God! You're opening up a can of worms here, and I'll bet money it's going to be the same guys who were threatening you on account of good Ol' Count Dante who are going to be baying at your door.

Seriously, though, I once met a student of Savelli. I was quite impressed by his moves and technique, although he must have been one of the greater weirdos I have ever met (and deeply dysfunctional on some level). He was also amazing at healing.

This book has to be one of the most interesting books I've ever read in my entire life. Clearly, someone thought this stuff was real and budgeted (big) amounts of money to research it. I'm left with the strange feeling that, although this is mostly bullshit, some of the stories at least may be real, or as real as anything of this kind can be. Since most of us who've been in the martial arts for more than 10 years are bound to have seen, at least once, some sort of weird shit, unless we've become totally anal retentive and lost all sense of wonder we can at least have fun with this book by knowing there's something strange going on.

Patrick Parker said...

Now that I want to read. I'm gonna have to find a copy of that one...

Patrick Parker said...

You keep mentioning Josey Wales in our warrior discussion so I watched it (for the first time) yesterday. Did you know that you can instant-download it from Netflix for free?

I liked it. Good action flick. I think I liked some of this others, like Unforgiven, better, but this was a very good one. I see what you and Strozzi-Heckler are talking about in the scene with Ten Bears with all the talk about the iron in Wales' words of life and words of death.

I also think they get at the warrior spirit better just before that scene when Josey's indian buddy is explaining to the girl that Wales is going to kill Ten Bears and he is not coming back because he knows that he can better serve them by going forth rather than staying with them. He is going to spend himself serving them.

You know, the word samurai comes from a root meaning 'servant'

Anyway, thanks for the recommendation. I enjoyed the movie.

Dojo Rat said...

Pat. I am so glad you watched it, and I think the Ten Bears encounter fits well.
The Goat book is a little wierd also,
Jose;I am the guy that opens cans of worms. I really like your comments, I tip a beer to you my friend!

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