Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Why the Spartan Beat the Ninja...

So there I was last night flipping channels (a bad habit) when I got "trapped" by this fascinating show on Spike TV about who's the "deadliest warrior", the Spartan or the Ninja.

They were out to establish with ruthless scientific rigor who would have won in a 1-on-1 battle to the death between a single Ninja and a single Spartan soldier.

And scientific it was: they had living practitioners of both fighting systems, all the authentic weapons and equipment, 2 kinds of test dummies, equipment for measuring weapon speed and penetration, and two medical experts to assess the effects of individual blows.

Artificial, Of Course...

Yeah, the premise was a bit artificial in that the Spartan of c. 500 BC and the Ninja of c. 1500 AD were obviously never going to run into each other. Still, each in his own time had the reputation as the most feared adversary alive.

The other part of the artificiality was they would never likely face off anyway, since the Spartan was a soldier who fought conventional battles in large formations, whereas the Ninja was much more akin to a modern Special Forces guy who operates alone or in small groups. And tossing your Special Forces folks onto a conventional battlefield is a giant no-no ;-)

The Tests

These guys tested all manner of weapons and protective equipment from both sides for over 3 long days! They concluded the Ninja's sword - the "ninjato" (basically a straight version of the Samurai's "katana", itself the most lethal sword every devised) was FAR superior to the Spartan's shorter, bronze age sword.

The Ninja's weaponry was generally more robust and inventive. It included a lethal and accurate poison blow gun, the deadly "shuriken" throwing stars, and even the ability to attack the opponent's eyes with crushed glass or primitive pepper spray. He also wielded a ball and chain device that could deliver a killing blow right through the Spartan's bronze helmet.

So you'd think after all that the Ninja would win, right?

Guess again. After all the data was in, they fed it into a computer and then ran the 1-on-1 combat simulation 1000 times. And the Spartan won 65% of the time!


Simple, really: he was better protected than the Ninja. Yes, the Ninja had great weapons, but his bladed weapons couldn't penetrate the Spartan's bronze body armor and he could never get to the soft, unarmored spots because of the Spartan's expertise with his massive 4-foot diameter shield.

In other words, the reason the Spartan won comes down to one single principle; the same principle I've been trying to get you to pay attention to for a long time now...


So despite all the sophisticated weapons and strategies employed by both sides (and especially the Ninja), it all came down to resilience. And that principle says, "if your opponent can't hurt you, but you can hurt him, you win."

If you're saying, "that's all very nice, but I can't remember the last time I was attacked on the street by a Ninja," then consider the following:

Whatever goal you wish to achieve and, by extension, whatever fate you wish to avoid, there are typically only 1-3 key skills that you need to master in order to do so.

That means that if you want to get in great shape, you have to consider only 3 things - strength, flexibility and endurance. And you can get in better shape than 95% of the population by concentrating on only 3 exercises.

If you want to avoid cancer, then you need to boost your immune system to its optimal state. And you can do this by mastering 3 skills - diet, superfoods and undoing the 7 deadly spirals of disease (which is what Rock Solid Health Qi Gong does).

If you want to achieve wealth in your business, then there is only one skill you need to master. That's marketing. Everything else in business is just a postscript to that.

So now here's my challenge to you personally... Think about any one goal you want to achieve and figure out scientifically what are the 1-3 skills you must master to get there.

And that's the lesson from the Spartan warrior. Keep it simple and focus your energy on the essentials.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger


  1. This is a great reminder of how humans always complicate things. My Chi Gong mentor, Master Paul Dong, always told me that Chi Gong is not hard or complicated. It does require discipline and actually doing it. Good lesson. Focus on the basics.

  2. Hi Dr. Rodger!

    I think you'ld also like the first episode of that series which used the same methods to compare the Apache warrior against the Roman Gladiator. YOu can find it on or you can look for it on At either location you'll need a torrent downloader to get the episode and a viewer to watch it on your computer.

    I've been a fan of yours since I got my copy of your 'Five Pillars..." book.

    Thank you,

    Dale Patton