When I was studying taekwondo we would occasionally visit the art’s tenets. Included in that list is indomitable spirit, which is a refusal to be beaten, no matter how tough your opponent may be. This past Friday I was channel surfing and happened upon a Gangland rerun. This particular episode featured the Texas Syndicate.
The Texas Syndicate (or Syndicato Tejano) is a mostly Texas-based prison gang that includes Hispanic and at one time, White (non-Hispanic) members.
About halfway through the episode they tell of 40-year-old Antonio Riojas. It seems that Mr. Riojas got fed up with the gang and decided to quit. From a transcript of the episode:
In darrington prison, 40-year-old antonio riojas had done the unthinkable.
After 15 years as a member, he had quit the texas syndicate, one of the most violent tejano gangs in the state.
He was fed up with its new generation of members who showed no respect for the gang’s codes.
Members, who asked to have their identities concealed, were on riojas’ unit when he left the GANG knew what was coming.
There’s no getting out, period, at all.
They’ll kill you.
That’s the bottom line.
So according to the narrator you have Riojas who is an old-school Texas Syndicate member. He’s fed up with how the young members are acting, and, as a protest, quits. The Syndicate responds by sending 10 gang members after him. The gang members jump him in the prison yard and stab him 52 times with shanks.
Now here’s the amazing part: After having been stabbed 52 times Riojas refused to fall!
Riojas was still standing but barely.
I had a shank stuck in the back of my neck sticking up.
I guess the handle came off, and it just stayed right there.
My left arm was paralyzed.
narrator: MARYANNE DENNER Was the first guard to reach riojas.
He says to me, he says, “miss denner, I gotta walk out of this rec yard.
So with the help of a correctional officer, Riojas walks off the yard and then collapses. Now I am certainly not trying to glorify prison or gang life. However, that, my friend, is a textbook example of indomitable spirit.
After watching this I first thought of the above scene from Clint Eastwood’s movie, “The Outlaw Josey Whales.” Then I thought about something I either read on Rory’s blog or in one of his books. Paraphrased (poorly) from memory: Miller talks about how children play cops and robbers. Here there’s this notion that the bad guy keeps coming when shot, whereas the good guy automatically falls. I believe he’s also seen this phenomenon when teaching in his training seminars, and it’s something he tries to deprogram out of the good guys. Basically there’s this perception amongst the good guys that the bad guys have this bad guy indomitable spirit.
I do know that some old-school forms of tae kwon do and karate once trained for this level of indomitable spirit. I also know that certain elite military units still train for this level.
(Note: I’m not showing this video as a statement about the effectiveness of the demonstrated martial art. I show it because it starts to scratch at the level of “mental programing” required to foster indomitable spirit.)
There’s a lot to digest from this one stabbing example. In fact, I’m not even sure how to close this post! This much I know: Most of us white and blue-collar martial artists will never achieve this level of indomitable spirit.
I’m not sure that I even want to.