Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Way of the Warrior, A Call to Arms

By Ollie Whaley

More on what it means to be a Warrior!

Every culture that survives has a warrior society of some sort that accepts the charge to protect and provide for their wives and children. Native American tribes almost universally had warrior societies along with many other societies world wide. Such as the Vikings, Samurai, Celts, Saxons, Gaels, Spartans, Huns,…..etc.(more than this humble PE major can remember) These were men (and sometimes women) who dedicated themselves to being prepared to defend their homes against outside threats and to go forth and conquer their enemies. They developed and practiced the skills necessary to do so. Warrior skills were primarily physical as many types of weapons and fighting methods evolved.

It is not hard to see the influence of this warrior culture in many of our modern day athletic activities. What we here in the U.S.A. call “Track and Field” (Athletics to most of you), consists of events that prepared citizens for battle. Running, jumping, clearing barriers, and of course, throwing dangerous object (my favorite) all were warrior skills. It seems that athletics, in many ways, is the modern day warrior training which leads the way in preserving the physical health and strength of our respective societies.

I have spent my entire career of nearly 30 yrs. on the Navajo reservation in Northeastern Arizona. (U.S.A.) The Navajos have survived here in this harsh high country desert for nearly 1,200 years. They not only survived the rugged environment, but also attacks from neighboring tribes, Spanish soldiers, and the U. S. Calvary. It is estimated that there are more Navajos living today than at any other time in history. Adversity did not decimate them, it strengthened them. However today they are facing a new enemy that is at least as deadly as the enemies of the past. This new enemy is relative prosperity and a sedentary lifestyle. Of course the Navajos are not alone in facing this enemy. There seems to be a worldwide attack on real manhood and physical strength.

Recent data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Navajo Tribe indicate a sharp rise in childhood obesity and the accompanying problems which include diabetes, low self-esteem, and heart disease. Here in the United States, the advent of No Child Left Behind and it’s reliance on standardized testing has increased the seat time for most school children and thereby decreased the activity or movement time, contributing to the obesity problem.

Despite recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, the United States Surgeon General’s office, and other public health organizations that children should have 60 minutes of physical activity daily, many schools are cutting back or eliminating physical education programs and recess.(Center for Disease Control and Prevention) This cutback in physical education programs along with the decreased opportunity for physical activity during the school day is spawning a nationwide increase in childhood obesity with all its attendant problems. Obesity and diabetes are reaching epidemic proportions.

Our children are growing up in a world where almost everything happens instantly. You pull up to a fast food drive-in and get your order right now. Need information? Get on the internet and you can access whatever you need instantly. Need to purchase something? Go online, press a few keys and it’ll be at your door in hours. “Welcome to the 21st century”, we say. It really is an exciting time to be alive.
Well, guess what; our bodies still function and thrive on the types of activity that our ancestors performed since the beginning of time. In spite of all of our technological advances, there is no short cut to physical fitness and strength. Our bodies still crave strenuous physical activity and in spite of the constant stream of infomercials and multi media advertising selling us the contrary, we still cannot get fit in “A few easy minutes a day” or from a bottle or jar of some secret formula.

True fitness and strength can only be won through consistent hard work over an extended period of time. It has always been that way and it always will be. As warriors we understand that. We are the last stronghold to preserve and promote this knowledge and attitude to future generations. When we train hard we are preparing in the same way that our ancestors did in order to pass their genes on to us. Wherever we are (this site has readers from around the world); we are here because our ancestors were strong enough to survive. What will we pass on to our posterity? As always, it is the warriors who defend and perpetuate their culture.

No child should be left on their behind.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity for everyone: Guidelines children Retrieved from http://www/cdc/gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/children.html

Chesworth, Elaine (1982) The role of the school in physical activity and sport for children, Children and Exercise: Cumberland College, N.S.W, Aus. pp.91-97

Diabetes in American Indians and Alaska Natives: The diabetes epidemic. Retrieved from: www.niddk.nih.gov

Kirkendell, Don R. (1985) Effects of physical activity on intellectual development and academic performance: Effects of Physical Activity on Children; American Academy fo Physical Education Papers No. 19: Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL pp.49-58

NEA Today, March/April 2009, All Work, No Play pp. 15

NHANES data on the Prevalence of Overweight Among Children and Adolescents: United States 2003-2006. CDC National Center for Health Statistics. Health E-Stat.

Rowland, Thomas W. (1990) Exercise and Children’s Health, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL pp.129

Sage, George H. (1984) Motor Learning and Control, A Neuropsychological Approach, Wm. C. Brown Publishers, USA pp.250

Wolfe, Patricia (2001) Brain Matters, Translating Research into Classroom Practice, ASCD, Alexandria, Virginia pp.3-50


  1. instead of spending trillions of dollars to cure diseases and only about a million behavior change...it should be switched around. There are so many diseases that could be cured if we could just get people to change their behaviors and live halthy lifestyles

  2. Ei laa (Navajo for Right On Brother!)
    From this mornings news: