I work in Film. I live in Martial Arts. I thrive in Imagination.


Putting Pen to Paper Keeps the Mind Sharp


Why Writing?

All that chatter in one's brain?! Cured for me by writing down my thoughts and forcing my brain to clarify and order them. To pick the words for precision. The order of the words to clarify thinking. Perhaps this effort is a constant Socratic forum for my brain to achieve more and more.

blog image

Creating the Scholar Warrior Identity: Engage RAS

October 30, 20236 min read


You are a Scholar Warrior.  At this very moment, the Warrior in you is hunting for your target.   Now, five thousand years ago, your hunt could be focused on food or an enemy. Today, in the modern era, you are hunting your goal. 

But the amazing Human System (more about systems soon enough!) focuses us on the hunt through extraordinary Focus.  

In the real world, the Law of the Street applies.  In a conflict, fight or altercation, you have one question that your life may depend upon:  Am I the Prey?  Or the Predator?   In answering this rather grim question, you don't have time for the niceties of politically correct culture.  You are going to live.  Or you are going to die.  Or your children.  Or other loved ones.

Reality check.  

If you are a mother defending her young, then 'Ferocity' is the order of the day. 

In this system, your brain, eyes and entire system will have a response: "Fight, Flight or Freeze".  But your brain focuses intensely through your eyes on this "Target" i.e.  the attacker.   Your brain processes a version of this automatically when confronted.  The heightened process is described in several books, notably Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman's book "On Combat".


In another upcoming article, we discussed Bricklayers who were laying bricks, building a wall or building a Cathedral.  If you have to build a wall at your house, you are suddenly noticing everything around you about bricks, wall and mre. Now, did you keep that in mind and see your brain start to find bricklayers, bricks and brickwork. 

This very useful system in the human mind works with threats...and goal setting. 

While the brain responds to a threat in such a focused manner, our every day run-of-the-mill Focusing System can help us out with our new Identity and our Goals.  Watch this TED Talk video. 

I thought that the speaker Blaine Oelkers had a very and useful explanation and technique for using the Reticular Activating System for goals and forward-thinking.   Now, you - or actually your brain - uses this system every day to sort out the unnecessary brain activity and focus on our goal. Think of it this way...

"Ever decide to buy a type of car like a Jeep...and then start seeing them everywhere?"

"Or say, 'Gosh, I want to learn to play tennis'...and then start spotting tennis shops, courts and other tennis options when driving through your neighborhood?  

The vehicles and tennis shops did not suddenly appear.  Nope.  

Your brain spotted them because you focused your brain.  


This conscious effort to focus on a particular subject e.g. new vehicle, tennis, etc., awakens our mind to provide the data we are seeking. That's the Reticular Articulating System.   This system is about two inches long and the width of a pencil and starts above your spinal cord.  It is the central hub for all your sense, except smell. The brain does this automatically.

So why not program your brain to do it consciously for your focused goals?

For example, your goal is "To become a great public speaker".  

Your new Identity:  "Great Public Speaker"  hen ask yourself a well-constructed question for your mind.  "Where can I be a great Public Speaker?"   

Notice the construction of this question:

"Where" - eyes and brain searching for opportunity i.e. hunting for your prey

"...can I be..." - present tense and focused.

"...a great Public Speaker..."  - Identity asserted and embraced.

When you are driving around your neighborhood, your mind will focus your brain on opportunities for public speaking such as:

  • Churches

  • Civic Organizations  - Kiwanis club, Lions Club, 

  • YMCA

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America

  • Chamber of Commerce

Your Reticular Articulating System will give you answers toward your goals.  This does not mean that you don't have to work hard as a great Public Speaker in prepping, rehearsing and writing.  But you are looking for Opportunity.  


I was explaining the RAS System to a relative.  I used the above example - which also applies to anything else that YOU focus your mind on at the moment.  Could be Tennis lessons, the new red Jeep that you want to buy, finding Japanese markets to try new food, martial arts, whatever.

But it's about the questions we asked ourselves.  Questions - verbal and mental - create a Focus.  What is that over there? Focus.  How do I build this bench?  Focus.  How do I finish this school project?  Focus.

We are asking ourselves questions - and we will get answers.  Reflect on how technical progress has been made through the centuries of humanity.  And I'm not talking cell phones 5G.  I'm talking the wheel.  The lever.  

The Clepsydra.  This was the ancient Greek Water Clock (read about it here - fascinating story!)  In ancient Greece, people used sundials - which only worked when the sun was shining.  Hence, a person asked a question - and invented the water clock.  The technology of the water clock affected civilizations for centuries. 

Your RAS is a critical part of your Navigation System toward Focus.  Now, the systems depends on your questions, doesn't it?  The RAS works with the mind.  

If you ask "Why am I such a failure?"   Your Brain will come up with answers...

If you ask "How can I change my Life positively?"   Your Brain will come up with answers...

Why do you think people write down their critical questions - and ask their brain these questions in the morning and at night?  Or throughout the day? 

These questions activate the RAS which will find answers in Opportunity, Resources, People, Places and more.   I relate the RAS system to the martial arts Kenpo Eight Considerations (more on this later) as a "Consideration Filter" for my strategies and tactics relating to my questions.  

Just Ask the Best Questions!

EXERCISE:  Write Down Questions of "HOW" to attain your Goal

You may not be able to attain your Goal in one Big Leap.  People almost never do.  If so, then they are in many cases overwhelmed by the experience and cannot manage themselves at this new human experiential level.  When young people win awards - perhaps an Academy Award, etc., - at a young age, then their newfound celebrity and acclaim are not 'in sync' with their own sense of skill, talent, etc.,  That component in their lives is still developing.  Many young recipients drop out or take time out or shift the course of their careers from the uncomfortable spotlight to a more predictable and familiar place.  I am not saying 'level' because they can determine their own sense of placement in life.  

Make this Realization:  Your Mission or Dream or Main Goal or Why can be broken down into Steps, Sections, Pieces, Processes, Cycles, whatever so that you are tackling one piece at a time.  You don't need to get your Dream or Goal all at once but a piece of the dream that adds up.  After all, you may want to acquire enough skills and mental stamina bit by bit. 

These questions should be integral for you to achieve this Goal.  They could also be questions relating to Step One of your goal.  You decide how many steps to achieve your goal.  

•Write down three very critical questions asking "How can I________ ?" The questions must relate to your Goal or one of the Steps in your goal. 

self-improvementpersonal developmentidentity
blog author image

Michael Mandaville

Michael is a writer, filmmaker and dedicated World War II historian who studies martial arts, action films and is learning more about VFX every single darn day. Oh and a Scholar Warrior

Back to Blog