How to be a man (10 Klingon lessons!)

“If a warrior does not fight, he does not breathe.” – Klingon proverb

This is a guide on how to be a man: lessons from the Klingon’s. The Klingon’s are some of the toughest warriors in the galaxy. They have qualities that many men desire such as bravery, honor, and a warrior spirit.

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Their lessons don’t just apply to the battle field though. They’re lessons which can make us all stronger men in life.

How to be a man Vs. how to be a good man

Some Klingon principles in this guide are about how to be a good man. Some are about being good at being a man. It’s a distinction which is not often made. Being a good man is about moral or ethical standards, not manliness.

Where as being good at being a man is about masculine qualities. Any man can be more masculine, or better at being a man, whether he’s morally good or not. Of course we all want to be good men, but I’ll save that topic for another post.

 “[Masculinity] is about men trying to prove that they belong on the team.” – Jack Donovan

The Klingon’s are great at being men but sometimes aren’t good men. They do have their own morale lessons though (even if they don’t always follow them). This guide is a mix of the two.
Tweet: “In a band-level society or “gang,” these are the virtues that men would look for and value in other men, because men who are strong, courageous, competent and loyal make better cooperative hunters, fighters and protectors.” – Jack Donovan

Without further ado, grab your blood wine and strap yourself into the captains chair. It’s time to learn some lessons about being a man from the Klingon’s.

1. Be tough, but smart

Brute strength is not the most important asset in a fight.”  Klingon proverb

Toughness and grit are cherished traits in Klingon culture, but so is intelligence. Sometimes we must fight but there are times when a strategic withdrawal will bring victory.

Men throughout history have had to make strategic withdrawals in order to fight another day. In doing so, they’ve preserved their honor, their lives, and increased the odds of victory.

One Klingon lesson which highlights this comes from the wisdom of Kahless. Kahless united the Klingon empire manlinessbecause of his ability to fight fearlessly but also because he made intelligent choices:

“Long ago, a storm was heading for the city of Quin’lat. Everyone took protection within the walls except one man who remained outside. Kahless went to him and asked what he was doing. “I am not afraid,” the man said.

“I will not hide my face behind stone and mortar. I will stand before the wind and make it respect me.” Kahless honored his choice and went back inside. The next day, the storm came, and the man was killed, as the wind does not respect a fool.” – Kahless

Tweet: “The wind does not respect a fool.”@conquertowin

2. Strength

“Real power is in the heart.” – Klingon Proverb

The ability to persevere, deal with hardships, and assert your will all fall under the umbrella of inner strength. Just as physical strength will allow you to lift more, inner or mental strength will allow you to handle the weight of the world.

Tweet: “Real power is in the heart” @conquertowin

When your galaxy is falling apart, the strength of your heart is your greatest ally. Luckily, we can all build this inner strength to become stronger men and warriors. Not giving up in the face of adversity, even small ones, will improve your resilience.

To develop inner strength:

  • Meditation – This will strengthen your mind and release stress.
  • Visualization – Often a form of meditation. Visualization will sharpen your focus and can be used to rehearse for different scenarios.
  • Breathing techniques – A great way to become present, eliminate distractions, and calm a racing heart.
  • Yoga or Tai Chi – A combination of breathing techniques, meditation and exercise. For many it’s also a spiritual practice similar to the Klingon Mok’bara

“A warrior’s blood boils before the fire is hot”

(tujpa’ qul pub SuvwI’ ‘Iw) – Klingon proverb

Physical strength is also coveted in the Klingon empire. Test of strength include the B’aht Qul challenge, which is similar to arm wrestling. This test a man’s strength in competition with other men.

Improving strength prevents injuries and makes us more valuable to ourselves and others. Hit the gym or learn a sport to become a master of this domain. Also avoid taking the lazy route, literally. Take the stairs not the escalator. Look at physical labor as a chance to improve your strength, not a burden. Lift, and lift often.

Tweet: Tweet: A warriors blood boils before the fire is hot

3. Humor between men

Q: Why did the Klingon cross the road? A: To conquer the other side. 

Taking jabs at your buddies helps strengthen bonds. When another man questions your manliness you can rise to the occasion, fire back, and join in the laughter. Humor is a great way to challenge the wit of your peers while having fun.

“If Klingon food is too strong for you, perhaps we could get one of the females to breast feed you!”

The Klingon’s know how important humor is for bonding among the boys. Just like humans though, they’ll try to “one up” each other in the presence of women.

“Males tend to use humor to compete with other men…Studies show that men more often use humor to jockey for position with other males when they are in the company of women. – Psychology Today 

It’s a (hopefully) friendly way to show social stature or an attempt to take it. As a boy, one of my friends made me the butt of all of his jokes when girls where around. He did it so often that I didn’t want to hang out with him anymore if there was any female company.

I was an easy target because I was shy around girls and didn’t fight back. I know, it’s extremely un-Klingon of me. I’ve since regained my honor and I didn’t even have to use a bat’leth (sword of honor).

Besides social stature, humor is also a time tested method for attracting women.

“When you have little else to go on, a witty person who uses humor in a clever, original way is signaling quite a lot of information, including intelligence, creativity, and even aspects of their personality such as playfulness and openness to experience.” – Scott Barry Kaufman, New York University

Both Klingon’s and men can communicate their intelligence and creativity by making jokes. One of the most sought after traits by women is a good sense of humor. Apparently, “GSOH” (good sense of humor) is an acronym on many dating sites, further demonstrating how valuable this quality is.

4. Klingon Dating & Relationship Advice

“Capture all opportunities.” – Klingon proverb

Beating around the bush and pretending to be disinterested is not the Klingon way. Just like with most things in war and life, Klingon men get to the point. Fearlessly court the women you desire and you’re love life will prosper.

“Don’t stare!” “Why not” “Because she’ll see…” “Good, you must let her see the fire in your eyes.” “But what would I say” “Words will come later…” – Worf’s dating advice

Too many guys spend time scheming and pondering how to ask out women they like. The Klingon answer is simple, do it. Hovering around not only turns off Klingon women, it turns off human women too.

I receive letters all of the time from guys who’ve been friend zoned. “She wants a guy like me but not me!” (actual email I received). When a woman says something like that it means you’re too passive. A true Klingon would never try to befriend his bangwI’ (love) and neither should you.

So how do you attract strong willed women? It’s the same as for any woman, except with more balls. Don’t be a pushover, lead, and be assertive. Never retreat and act like a bIHnuch (coward) because you want to be liked. True courage in love means being vulnerable and showing our true intentions.

A strong man asserts his will and is loved because of it. tlhIngan maH! (We are Klingons!)

Tweet: “Capture all opportunities”

5. Age of Ascension or rite of passage

“A Klingon youth was considered a man on the day he could first hold a blade.” – Klingon proverb

Western society no longer has official rites of passage that demonstrate manhood. Many societies around the world continue this tradition though, and it’s also going strong across the galaxy.

The value of a ritual to mark manhood or warrior-hood can’t be underestimated. It bonds the people involved and helps create a sense of belonging and brotherhood. It also separates the fakes by creating a barrier to entry.

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When I used to box in my mid twenties, new guys were always tested. We’d put them in the ring to spar and not pull our punches.

Everybody claimed to want to fight but we discovered their true character usually wasn’t so tough. Words are cheap.

The few guys who ended up sticking around we’re respected. Sparring would take on an instructive tone instead of a head hunt after their initial trial.

It’s easy to talk but not so easy to walk the walk. Rituals of passage help distinguish the weak from the brave. Could the Klingon’s be so revered as warriors without such rituals?

“This ritual, also known as the Klingon Rite of Passage, marks the attainment of a new level of spirituality for a Klingon warrior. First the ascendee proclaims “DaHjaj SuvwI’e’ jiH. tIgwIj Sa’angNIS. Iw bIQtIq jIjaH.” – Today I am a Warrior. I must show you my heart. I travel the river of blood. Then the ascendee walks between two rows of warriors who subject him or her to painsticks. The ascendee is expected to express his or her most profound feelings while under this extreme duress. The ceremony can be repeated as the warrior grows in maturity. Worf repeated the ceremony as a celebration of the ten year anniversary of his Age of Ascension.” – Klingon.org

“Many rites of passage boil down to simple tests or indications of a person’s courage, fortitude, and/or aptitude. Going out by yourself and a spear and coming back with a lion’s pelt doesn’t just mean you’ve been ushered into the world of men. It also means that you are a capable hunter, a valuable addition to the group who can likely handle what the world will throw at you.” – Marks Daily Apple

Tweet: “Many rites of passage boil down to simple tests or indications of a person’s courageTweet: “Many rites of passage boil down to simple tests or indications of a person’s courage”

6. Courage

“Only fools have no fear.” – Worf

Test of courage are all around us. It’s no secret in the galaxy that Klingon’s show courageousness in battle, but that courage carries over to daily life too.

Tweet: Tweet: “Only fools have no fear”

We have two choices when confronted by fear:

  1. Face our fear
  2. Avoid our fear and flee

Unfortunately too many men choose the later. Avoiding our fears can become a habit. Once we create the habit of avoidance, it will creep into every area of our lives. This weakens our character and our ability to succeed.

“The Klingon tea ceremony was a test of courage. The participants ingested tea brewed from a poisonous plant and recited poetry to each other.”

Fear can become a self imposed prison which takes the joy out of life. Take on test of courage proactively. Seek them out to make yourself stronger.

You can try:

  • Military service (The empire is always hiring!) – Learn the art of war
  • Hand to hand combat – Train at a Ju Jitsu or boxing club and volunteer for a fight
  • Public speaking – Deal with your nerves on stage
  • Ask out a woman “out of your league” – Do it face to face, not behind a computer screen
  • Do stand up comedy – Make people laugh while challenging your inner demons
  • Face your weakness – Have a phobia? Deal with it directly. Do rock climbing to challenge the fear of heights etc.

There are many other possible test of courage. Even being assertive and asking for what you really want instead of scaling back will help. The more often you do it, the more courageous you’ll be. It’s about the way you train yourself daily.

When the time comes and you need to rise to the occasion, you’ll be ready, but only if you’ve trained yourself. As has been said:

“Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training”

That’s why many dogs never have their day. Our big day, luck, or opportunity will only show itself to us when we’re prepared.

 7. Honor among men

“A warrior does not let a friend face danger alone.” – Klingon Proverb

Honor in practical terms means standing up for others, keeping our word, and following through. The Klingon’s understand honor well, and would rather die in battle with honor than live as cowards.

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Honor creates trust because honorable men would never betray that trust. We can depend on them as friends, family, business partners, and warriors. Only cowards dishonor their tribe by stabbing them in the back.

“No Klingon ever breaks his word.”

(notlay’Ha’ tlhnIngan) – Klingon proverb

Honorable men make hard choices based on their blueprint for good living. It shows the character of men and Klingon’s to be worthy of the tribe. When things get rough, honorable men stick to their values. Dishonorable men make choices based on short term gains or fear, not values.

“When a warrior goes to a battle, he does not abandon his friends.” 

(may’DaqjaHDI’ SuvwI’ juppu’Dajlonbe’) – Klingon proverb

We can emulate honorable warrior traditions by doing some of the following:

  • Always follow through and do what you said you’d do – This shows reliability “He always gets the job done!”. If your word is worth more than gold, your reputation will follow.
  • Never make excuses – Excuses come hand in hand with unreliability. When you fail, own it.
  • Do the right thing, not the easy thing – This demonstrates moral character and mental toughness.
  • Stand by your friends when things get rough – Your friends will always remember, and will do the same for you. A friend lent me money one time when I didn’t have rent. If he ever needed help I’d be there for him without a second thought. Deeds not words show true allegiances, and create strong bonds.
  • Don’t gossip or speak badly of others – Gossip erodes social bonds and trust. It’s poison for the tribe and shows a bad character to bad mouth others.
  • Do quality work – Never do sloppy work. Our work says a lot about our character. It shows if we care, our attention to detail, and our competence.

8. Personal responsibility

“Have the courage to admit your mistakes.” – Klingon proverb

Too many men wait for others to do the things they should do themselves. Klingon’s know that a man’s work is never done because a man always takes on new responsibilities.

That’s not to say that we can’t get help from others. The bigger the task, the more help we’ll need. Just don’t wait for somebody else to take on a task when you can do it yourself.

Tweet: “Have the courage to admit your mistakes.” @conquertowin https://ctt.ec/P5ivB+“Have the courage to admit your mistakes.”

Waiting for someone else to do something is often the cowards way. People have died in the street because everyone there deferred responsibility, so no one stepped in.

Personal responsibility is also the corner stone of success. By blaming others we can’t improve our own lives. It’s effectively giving our power away. By saying, “This is my responsibility” we’re also saying that we can do something about it.

Even when an event isn’t our fault, taking responsibility for what happens afterwards means we can move on and grow.

9. Failure is OK

“There is nothing shameful in falling before a superior enemy.” – Klingon proverb

As hard as we try we may still fail. In fact, if we’re trying our hardest it’s guaranteed we’ll fail. The most successful men fail the most. Every new venture is a learning process, and while we’re learning we’re making mistakes. When you get back up it demonstrates character, and that makes you stronger.

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Although we’ll have to battle outside enemies, our biggest enemy comes from within. He’s the most powerful of any challenger we’ll ever face. He can get the better of us when we east expect it.

When he does, get back on your feet. There’s no shame in defeat at battle. There’s only shame when we don’t pick up our D’ktahg (warrior’s knife) and continue to fight.

That inner voice which makes us feel weak at times is our conditioning, bad habits, and past experiences. It’s only trying to protect us but it can get in the way of our potential.

If we don’t fight, we can’t get hurt, right?

“If I don’t start that business I can’t fail.”

“If I don’t ask her out I won’t get rejected.”

“If I don’t go to the gym I won’t have to look weak trying to lift light weights.”

Challenge this inner duality and you’ll be victorious. Our inner warrior gives us strength, so when we get knocked down we always get back up.

10. Learn to endure pain

“A warrior does not complain about physical discomfort.” – Klingon Proverb

Anyone who spends their life trying to avoid pain is going to suffer needlessly. Just like avoiding our fears makes us weaker, avoiding pain only makes us more susceptible to pain.

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Klingon warriors know the value of pain and have even ritualized it.

That doesn’t mean we should grab a hot stove and intentionally cause harm. Instead, take on training which helps you conquer physical and emotional pain. It’s all about raising your pain threshold.

It can be as simple as running a marathon where your lungs are burning and your mind is begging you to stop. Lifting weights has a similar effect. When your muscles are burning and that little voice tells you to give up, do you stop or get one more rep in?

These are real physical and mental challenges which teach us to deal with pain.

“To understand life, endure pain.” 

(yInDayajmeH ‘oy’ yISIQ) – Klingon Proverb

What we’re left with is an acceptance of pain, even to the point where it becomes enjoyable. Muscle soreness is like a badge of honor because we know we put the work in.

This conditioning builds mental and physical tolerance to pain. Another term for it is toughness or strength.

Those who avoid pain end up suffering more. They suffer more because avoidance creates weakness. A warrior conditions himself, and when life throws a curve ball he has a higher tolerance.

Pain can also be the experience of defeat. Without defeat, we cannot know victory. Learning to walk requires falling, and so does any new challenge.

“If you cannot fail, you cannot succeed.” 

(bIlujlaHbe’chughbIQaplaHbe’) – Klingon proverb

No one would tell an infant not to try walking because he may fall. So why do we tell ourselves not to do the things we want because we may fail? It’s just another way to avoid pain. By avoiding the pain of defeat, you’ll never know the pleasure of victory.

Embrace pain in all of it’s forms for a much more enjoyable and victorious life. Qapla’! (success!)

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