Over Christmas 2022, I read scholar, writer, and BJJ and Muay Thai practitioner Tom Billinge’s masterful work, WarYoga.
This book crystalized many avenues of research and interest that I have pursued over the last 7 years, and wove these divergent strands into a coherent, holistic whole.
I have long been interested in fitness and fighting as the path to further understanding and living the Confrontational Hero ideal, that ideal so masterfully portrayed in the genre of Pulp Fiction.
Furthermore, I have long been interested in maintaining a rock solid Philosophical foundation for this ideal, so that it is unassailable by naysayers and sophists. They denigrate it as childish, and we believe it…only because we do not know our ideal’s depth.
Tom Billinge addresses these things and more by examining the Vedic expression of the Indo-European Confrontational Warrior Culture.
He examines the Vedic specifically because the Spiritual and the Physical aspects of this Warrior Culture are still united and practiced today in India by the Wrestlers there, just as it was practiced in the days of old.
In it, he provides a complete, and holistic framework for a fitness system for the fighting man, tested and unbroken by the fires of historical combat for centuries. And furthermore, he provides the ethical ideal to go with it.
“A MAN’S GOTTA HAVE A CODE, A CREED TO LIVE BY”
My area of specialty is not in the Vedic Branch of the Indo-European Diaspora. Instead, I know about the Ancient Greco-Roman, the Ancient Germanic, the Ancient Hebraic, the Medieval, and the 19th and 20th Century Anglo-American branches of the Diaspora.
And in both fitness/fitness and ethics, I see the same thing time and time again.
So in preparing to read Tom Billinge’s study on the Vedic branch of the Indo-European family tree, I wondered if the continuity would continue.
I would not be disappointed!
The code of the Indian Wrestlers of today is the same as the Code of the Cowboys, embodied by heroes like the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autrey. It’s the Medieval Code as lived by King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It’s the Ancient Code of Achilles that inspired Alexander’s triumphant march through Asia.
And it is a welcome antidote to the Neitzschian “Will to Power” type of Predatory attitude taken by the combat sports athletes of today.
“A Man’s gotta have a code,” said John Wayne. “A creed to live by.”
WarYoga fits the bill!
And what this ethical ideal does for the Spirit, the fitness found in WarYoga does the same for the Flesh. But the reality is, the two are not as separated as we think!
WarYoga’s primary revelation in the fitness field is the Vedic branch’s historical roots and various expressions of knees-over-toes and rotational type training for the fighting man.
For too long in the West, we have focused on Powerlifting-esque, hip hinge dominant, “posterior chain” movements for all types of athletes. They demand a straight vertical shin, no hamstrings covering calves, no knees over the toes, and all the weight on the heels.
For reasons that should be obvious, this is the exact opposite of what any combat athlete, much less any athlete, should focus on. All fighting and sports happen on the toes and the balls of the feet. The most athletic positions involve the knees going over the toes, and oftentimes through full range of motion, the hamstring covering the calves.
And until the mid 20th Century, knees over toes type training was the norm in the West.
I should know: My area of research focused on 19th and first half of the 20th Century fitness systems in the military and civilian spheres. Specifically, my research focused on the Swedish Ling System, which was as ubiquitous for a century-and-half in America and Europe as Crossfit is today.
Ultimately, this research led me to work for Ben Patrick, “The Knees Over Toes Guy”, of ATG for a time as a Form Coach, a unique learning experience on how knees over toes type training is conducted in the 21st Century.
And in WarYoga, Tom Billinge takes these practices to the next level.
He does it by bringing the Ancient Indian Wrestlers’ physical fitness practices out of the dusty recesses of history and into the hearts and minds of the Western World today…and in doing so, he is helped immensely by the present-day Indian Wrestlers keeping these practices alive!
GET IT TODAY!
In the end, Tom Billinge facilitates an Indo-European Family Reunion with his masterful book, WarYoga.
And don’t forget to check out his awesome website…with even more articles on the Indo-European Warrior Experience!
For further study, a number of Indian Wrestlers and Combat Athletes also regularly post videos of themselves training in the methods that Tom Billinge so masterfully describes.
In my experience, I have found these living video records to be an invaluable aid in learning and implementing WarYoga training in my own life and practice.
The best video resources are below:
- @baluapradh on Instagram, the official account of an Indian Wrestling Champion
- “Knee Strengthening Workout” on Youtube, by a Traditional Indian Martial Artist
- @KarateTVtraditional, which is the Youtube account from which the above video is derived
Check out all these resources, and incorporate them into your Spiritual and Physical Fighting practices today!
I know I will…because the exercises and principles in WarYoga will be foundational in my long-awaited Pulp Fiction Fitness for Fighting System…a decade in the making and to be released later this year!
Written at 3:33 PM at an Applebee’s in Fredericksburg, VA