Philosophy and combat sports

My friend The Mountain Stoic on the relationship between philosophy and the practice of warriors.

Mountain Stoic

“The art of life is more like the wrestler’s art than the dancer’s,in respect of this, that it should stand ready and firm to meet onsets which are sudden and unexpected.”

— Marcus, Meditations, Book VII


This weekend I am headed to Philadelphia to compete in the US Amateur Nationals Competition in Japanese Sumo Wrestling. I have been training in Sumo for a short six months, and competed in two regional competitions so far. Sumo is a bit more complicated than the American stereotype: there are 82 different winning moves, and more than a handful of moves which cause you to immediately lose. It is the successor to a Shintō ritual, a cosmological archetype of law vs chaos. The Way of Salt, is quite a thing to become familiar with.

Many ancient philosophers participated in or used as reference combat sports. Plato was a boxer, the Cynics and Antisthenes literally…

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