The Ability to Fight

“A Jedi’s saber is his most precious possession.
He must keep it with him at all times.
This weapon is your life!”
~Obi-Wan Kenobi to Anakin Skywalker – Star Wars: Attack of the clones

“This weapon is your life, but it is also your responsibility. Don’t let it out of your sight.”
~Ashoka Tanno to Younglings – Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2 Episode 11 “Lightsaber Lost”

“Protect others, how does a Jedi, hmm?”
~Yoda about Lightsabers – Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 5 Episode 6 “The Gathering”

Any time we see any sort of Master/Padawan relationship within the fiction, inevitably there is a lesson at some point about the lightsabers.  Indeed, every single Jedi in fiction carries a lightsaber, they are even shown to by synonymous with them.

Anakin: You’re a Jedi Knight, aren’t you?
Qui-Gon Jinn: What makes you think that?
Anakin: I saw your laser sword. Only Jedi carry that kind of weapon.
~Anakin Skywalker and Qui-Gon Jinn – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Not only does every single Jedi in the fiction carry a lightsaber, but every single Jedi in the fiction is trained to USE their lightsaber.  Sure, they may never see combat for the rest of their lives, but they are trained to fight, and to defend themselves and others.

Imagine meeting a Jedi of the fiction.  While in their company, someone is attacked.  They scream for help, and the Jedi does nothing.  You ask the Jedi why they did not help, they tell you that they do not learn how to fight.

Or, an alternate scenario, the Jedi tries to defend the victim, but are obviously inept at doing so and is quickly and easily defeated.  You ask the Jedi why this happened, and they say they never learned how to fight.

The Jedi Path is very much a spiritual and intellectual path, but it is not ONLY such.  Being a Jedi, means combining that spirituality and intelligence with physical fitness and prowess.  This does not mean a Jedi should jump at every opportunity to fight, no, quite the opposite.  That is where the spiritual and intellectual sides kick in.  But a Jedi should be able to fight and defend themselves and others when it is necessary.  You can use all the diplomacy you want, but some times it just does not work.

Pacifism has its own virtues, and there is nothing inherently wrong with taking that stance.  However, when it boils down to it, pacifism is not the Jedi way.

You want to be a healer?  Great.  What happens when someone walks in on you when you are with a patient with intent to harm them, and there is no security around to stop them?

You want to be a diplomat?  Great.  What happens when you are off on a “mercy mission” and there is an attack?  Hell, look at Leia.  She came from a planet known for being peaceful and having no weapons, but she knew the importance of defending herself when necessary and was as capable as Han when it came to wielding a blaster (yes, I know, not a Jedi, but still a good example).

You want to be a librarian or historian?

ahsoka_vs_jocasta_nu

Defend those records!  None of that Library of Alexandria business on your watch!  (Yes, I am aware that was not actually Jocasta in that scene, but she still carried a lightsaber…you better bet she had learned how to use it).

Make any argument you want, if you really examine it though, every argument I have ever heard boils down to “I don’t like to fight.  I don’t want to learn how to fight.  So I do not consider fighting important to Jedi.”  The fiction and lore does not support this.

If you want to be a pacifist, if you want a path that focuses entirely on the spiritual and intellectual with no need to learn fighting, those paths exist and you are no better or worse for choosing those paths over Jedi, but learning to fight is part of the Jedi Path, proven again and again through pretty much every single piece of fiction we have been given on them.  Find the path that suits you, do not change the path to suit you.  Once you change it…it is no longer the same path.

******

Addendum: There is of course the issue of people with physical limitations and whether this means they can be a Jedi or not.  I would say this is to be taken on a case by case basis, and more important than a persons ability to fight in these scenarios, is a persons willingness to fight.  A person in a wheelchair with full use of their arms can still learn striking techniques.  A person missing a limb can still make use of their remaining limbs.  Jedi make due with what IS available to them, and what is possible, rather than focusing on what is not possible.  Someone with a physical disability has an automatic upper hand, in that they are not expected to be able to defend themselves.  Prove people wrong.

Mock Gathering: Fiji

Oh, Fiji!  You could not make this easy on my, could you?

From a price standpoint, there were some EXTREMELY affordable options in Fiji (six under $200 that I recorded), ranging from $6/night to $184/night.  Amenities however, were slightly trickier.  Some places had no wi-fi…fine, a weekend without the internet wont kill anyone, and it might be good for some.  Some places had not Air Conditioning, again, could be a good experience for those who have always had the luxury.  Some did not provide essentials…though I am still not 100% sure what falls into “essentials” as I have seen places say they do not offer essentials, but then later list that they do offer, what I would consider, essentials.

In the end, I found my favorite place to be Bougain’ville Suites.  The rate would be about $215/night plus food.  They have AC, they have wi-fi, they have essentials and a kitchen.  There are six bedrooms, 14 beds, and could sleep up to 22.  Oh, and it is the only one on my list that has a pool.  Of course, this is actually in Samoa, not Fiji.

The next best option would probably be what was titled “Home away from home, friendly.”  This one is actually in Tonga, but the rate is more affordable at $55/night plus food.  It has all the same amenities, except one…AC.   A trade off, to be sure.

The activities in this area mostly center around the aquatic, some lodgings offering arrangements for Whale Watching/Swimming, Cave Diving, and Snorkeling, but also Hiking and other land activities.  Fiji has a couple of temples, there are volcanoes and blowholes throughout the Island, and a lot of different cultural sites and activities.

Top Things to Do in Fiji
21 Things to Do in Samoa
Things to Do in Tonga

 

The “Old Guard”

One term that was completely new to me when I returned to the Jedi Community last year was the “Old Guard.”  Evidently it had become a term to describe those who were around “back-in-the-day,” though I have never really seen a defining line of what constitutes “Old Guard.”

Of all of the Jedi still active today, I only know of one who has been around longer than I have, and that is Opie (and just barely).  There are a couple who I have seen say they were around from about the same time as us, but none I could confirm.  They were Jedi who stuck to one board or another generally, a lot from Jedi Academy or Force Academy, and I did not tend to be overly active at either of them, so like I said, I cannot confirm (though I am not saying they are lying).  The rest of the Jedi out there pretty much came from 2004 and forward, which is still a decent length of time, though again, most of these I never interacted with.

One of the attendees of the 2016 Stronghold Gathering approached me on Saturday night and said something along the lines of “I know you are, like, Old-OLD Guard.”  If my eyebrows were capable of rising individually, one would have climbed new heights at this.  Yeah, I was around since practically the inception of the Jedi community, so “Old Guard” was not?  What about these people claiming join dates of the same time as myself?  People who still seem to be in the same place that they were back then.

What is the “Old Guard?”

 

Well, nothing really.  Yeah, it is pretty neat for some of us to be able to say we were there at the beginning, but while that is cool, and COULD mean something…it does not necessarily mean anything.  We witnessed a lot…if we got out of a singular bubble community, yes, but that is not to say we have all grown from what we have seen.  You can respect a person for being around a long time, but at the same time, you should look at who they are.  Is this someone who seems to have learned from all their time?  Or is this someone who is still rehashing the same struggles and not learning at all?

Just like you cannot put a time stamp on when in the future you will be a knight, you cannot look at how long a person has been on a path already and know anything from it.  Judge by actions, not by time.

Travel Workout

The best laid plans of fitness are often completely derailed by travel plans.  You have your routine at home, whether it is a trip to the gym after work every evening, a run every morning, or time set aside each day in your home gym; when you travel, you are not following your daily routine of work, play, or work-out.  Often times this is due to equipment.  Someone used to going to the gym or using at home equipment are not sure what to do without their machines and weights.  Sometimes you stay at a hotel with a good fitness center.  Sometimes you stay at a hotel with a very bare bones fitness center.  Sometimes you stay at a hotel with absolutely no fitness center, or you are staying with friends/family.  Whatever the situation, there are a few solutions.

First, survey the area.  If you have a fitness center at the hotel, great, check it out, it may suit your needs.

If you are interested in cardio, they may have a treadmill, or you can look up possible routes near where you are staying.  I have a friend who goes to Sci-Fi conventions and sure enough, every morning as I am just rolling out of bed and onto the con floor, he is walking in in his shorts from his morning run (I prefer to workout at night).

Another option is to see if their are gyms nearby where you are staying (that is within commutable distance, whether that is walking, public transportation, or if you have a car) that offer free trials.  Even if you only get a day or two during a week long trip, it is better than nothing at all.

Finally, the no-fail option, is to have a travel routine that requires no equipment, or only equipment that you can easily fit into carry-on luggage.  This can work as your entire workout routine for the trip, or as a supplement to whatever else you are able to find.  Here is a list of some of my favorites (with links for more information):

  • Lunges – Works Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings – No equipment necessary
  • Squats – Works Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings – No equipment necessary
  • Calf Raises – Works Calves – No equipment necessary (also try toes turned out, toes turned in, and single leg)
  • Standing Hip/Leg Abductions – Works Upper Glutes, Outer Thighs – No equipment necessary
  • Resistance Band Bicep Curls – Works Biceps – Resistance Bands
  • Resistance Band Upright Row – Works Delts, Biceps, Traps – Resistance Bands
  • Hand Grip – Works Hands – Hand Grip
  • Plank – Works Core (seriously) – No equipment necessary
  • Donkey Kicks – Works Glutes, Hip Flexors, Lower Back, – No equipment necessary
  • Laying Leg Abductions and Other Laying Leg Exercises – Works – No equipment necessary
  • Laying Resistance Press with Butt Lift – Works Pectoral, Triceps, Glutes – Resistance Bands (I cannot find this with the butt lift, but it is an added bonus that adds  the glute element.  Just plant your feet so you are in a standard sit-up position, press down on them so that your butt lifts in the air, with all the weight on your feet and shoulders.  Hold that while doing the exercises, or press up and down with each rep.)

There are many more, including your standard jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, ecc.; and a simple search for “travel workout” can lend numerous results for you to tailor your own routine.  It may not be as intense as your regular workout, but it will help maintain your fitness and schedule in the interim.

Pride

“Of course, he had seen deep commitment at the Temple among the Jedi students.  But with some students, there often seemed to be pride mixed in.  They were the elite, picked out of millions to be trained.

“Whenever Yoda saw pride in a Jedi student, he found ways to expose it and put the student on the right path.  Pride was often based in arrogance, and had no place in a Jedi.  Part of the Jedi training was to eliminate pride and substitute sureness and humility.  The Force only flourished in those who knew they were connected to all life-forms.”

~Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice – The Defenders of the Dead by Jude Watson; p63-4

Those who follow the path of the Jedi in this world do so of their own choosing, not because they were selected due to an innate connection with the Force.  Because of this, there is a higher level of pride displayed in the community.  Individuals strive for titles and power within the community without really dedicating them to the path, they see themselves as above certain things, or an exception for whatever reason.

If you are someone who already holds a position of influence.  Make sure to check yourself and your piers for pride, and then make sure to pass down the lesson of “sureness and humility.”

If you are someone newer to the path, still learning, still looking for guidance, look for that guidance in those who do not display an abundance of pride.  Unfortunately, there are MANY in the community who boast the title of knight and master who negate their claims with almost every word and action, but they will only continue to grow more prideful if given the respect due to one who has truly earned their title.  Don’t try to tear them down, it is not worth the energy, just ignore them and go somewhere else.

The purpose of this path is not for praise and recognition, but to serve, even if all your efforts go unnoticed.

“As a Jedi, he left behind justice and honor.  It didn’t matter if his footsteps would disappear, or if years from now no one on Gala remembered that two Jedi had helped to ensure a peaceful transition for their planet.  They would remember peace, and that was enough.”
~Thoughts of Qui-Gon Jinn – Jedi Apprentice: The Mark of the Crown; p.128

Mock Gathering: Venice

This time of year brings many large celebrations, the most commonly known being Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana Fat Tuesday is February 28th); also Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (February 24-March 1), but my personal favorite is Carnevale in Venice, Italy (February 11th-28th).  When I was abroad, despite having an invitation to join my Italian friends on a trip to Germany during Carnevale, I made it a point to visit Venice.  The town is overflowing with costumes, artists, and live performances.  When I was there, I even stumbled upon, what appeared to be, an impromptu Capoeira Jogo (I recorded the whole thing, I really wanted to join).  One day I want to go back to actually dress up and experience some of the more involved aspects of Carnevale (masquerades and what-not), but that year is not now.  However, in honor of this time of year, this months Mock Gathering is for Venice.

I was very tempted to look for rates during Carnevale for this, but they would be higher, and most Jedi would not be able to attend due to work and school schedules (not many holidays going on around this time of year), so I stuck to typical summer dates.

Accommodations
I am going to put up two locations for this one.  The first is Rialto Palace in Venezia.  There are 12 beds, so it could technically sleep up to 24 (though some of those “beds” are in the common area), but the price for 16 would be $174/person.  Being in Venezia, there is no free parking, but neither are their roads… Italy has excellent public transportation however, so getting there is no problem.

The other location is Villa Linda in Noale.  This is much cheaper, a total of $60/person (for 16, but could probably sleep more), a little bit less sleeping space as there are only 10 beds, but there is a backyard.  Biggest drawback is that it is not IN Venice itself, but again, public transportation is good, and it is about halfway between Venice and Padua, another good city to visit.  You could easily schedule one day in Venice, and one day in Padua.

Activities
Seriously, it is Italy.  Venice (and Padua), like most other towns in Italy is rife with architecture and museums.  You could literally spend an entire day doing a walking tour of  the city and still not see everything.  Examples:

  • Basilica di San Marco
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Ponte di Rialto
  • Glassblowers in Murano
  • Piazza San Marco

Plus Padua:

  • Capella degli Scrovegni
  • Palazzo Zuckerman
  • St. Anthony’s Basilica
  • Prato della Valle
  • Botanical Gardens

You can even take a trip over to one of the other Islands, Torcello Island, for a hike to get a little activity in (other than the fact that you will be walking everywhere).

This is definitely a more laid back destination, but I think it is important for the Jedi to remember the knowledge aspect of the code, and sometimes it is worth it to go out into different cultures and just observe and learn.

 

What I do, not what I say…

At the inception of the Jedi Community, we had forums.  That was it.  Maybe you would exchange instant messenger handles or e-mails, or meet various people in a chat rooms at random, but our interaction was entirely limited to words on screen.  Even voice chats were rare, and the technology was poor, and you might exchange phone numbers, but we did not all have our own personal cell phones to give out numbers to.  Hell, I think we even still paid long distance at that point.  Today, we have voice chats, we have video chats, we have multiple social media platforms, and offline meetings are rather commonplace (they were pretty much non-existent for the first three years I was around, aside from small individual level meetings, but even those were very rare).

Point is, we have all this exposure to each other and that makes it much easier to hold each other accountable.  You can see if a person practices what they preach, or do they spend hours on end ranting about not talking about other Jedi behind their backs and being honest and truthful, and then turn around and talk about others? Do they preach about being healthy and then chain smoke, pour sugary drinks down there throat, and eat takeout for every meal?  Do they profess themselves a leader, but display a thirst for the power itself, and then when presented with issues, prove themselves unable to properly address those issues?

It is easy to create a public face for yourself that appears to be ideal, but when you really peal back the layers, what you find can be disappointing.  Much as I asked several months ago to ask yourself “Do I Really Want to Be a Jedi?” you should also ask if you really want to emulate a particular person.  Not to say you cannot gain valuable information from even the most unlikely sources, but you need to be cautious not to also gain the damaging habits.

Now, I am not claiming to be perfect, and I am not saying that everyone is or should be.  We all make mistakes, and we all have moments where we have lapses in judgement.  The issue arises when you have a continuous pattern of lapses in judgement.

Even as students, you have a right to question those who are tossing their lessons around.  Do so respectfully, but if you see someone doing or saying something questionable, ask questions.

100 Days – Mental Health with Josh Sundquist

I really enjoyed this video in the series.  If you have not followed along, John hates meditation, so this video brings in Josh Sundquist, a Paralympian, who discusses his practice with fitness, and focuses a lot on the M in his fitness acronym (JERM).  It is also just inspiring to see how this person rose above his physical limitations, even at such a young age.  It makes me feel lazy…I need to go workout…crap…I am at work.

 

JERM
Journaling
Exercise
Reading
Meditation

I never assigned myself an acronym, but this is really the core of my daily practice.  I do not always write everyday, but I rely on it heavily when my mind is feeling full and jumbled (I should really do it everyday).  I exercise daily.  I have a reading schedule and try to read a little bit every day, even if it is just 20 pages or so.  And I meditation daily, generally twice a day.

I think I am going to check out Josh Sundquist’s channel as well.

Facebook

I have created a facebook page for this blog, mainly to make it easier for updates and following. I already cross-post to my twitter and tumblr, so I felt it needed the facebook presence as well (and none of my existing pages really fit with the theme).

I am not entirely sure what I am going to do with the page yet, other than cross posting blog posts of course, so if there are any requests or suggestions, let me know.  Otherwise, I will be experimenting some I suppose. 😉