Remember The Gurkhas: The Warrior Mindset
When I enter a new classroom full of high school students, as I am about to teach them HFM for self-protection, I initiate by asking them who they think the most dangerous person in the room is. They inevitably answer that I am, since I am the guy here to show them how to “kick ass” as they would term it. I respond with, “Wrong. You are.”
I explain that the most important facet to protecting yourself and to overcoming violence is the warrior mindset. This mindset is that YOU are the most dangerous person you know. That no matter who you are facing, and no matter the variables present, and no matter how impossible the situation is, that YOU are going to succeed in accomplishing your will. Your will to survive; your will to escape; your will to win. The warrior mindset is 100% unquestionable self-belief, in the moment. Whether it’s one unarmed assailant, or fifteen juggernauts with machetes – you are going to win.
From the outside looking in, you may seem delusional – but that is the mindset that is necessary to accomplish your task. That is the mindset that trumps fear during your call to action.
After reading that, or after hearing it, you may still think – as some of the students do – that it sounds nice, but is unrealistic. In response I tell you this: nothing great was ever accomplished by being realistic.
Look at the Ghurkhas. The Ghurkhas are Nepalese (from Nepal) soldiers that have fought alongside the British Army for years. There are countless tales of their bravery and acts of heroism. Simply do a quick internet search of “Ghurkha exploits” and you will be taken on a magic carpet ride into the land of make-believe. These soldiers’ exploits are the stuff that legends are made of.
For example, check out this account of ONE MAN!
A Gurkha soldier who single-handedly fought off an attack on his base by up to 30 Taliban insurgents has been awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.
Acting Sergeant Dipprasad Pun, 31, exhausted all his ammunition and at one point had to use the tripod of his machine gun to beat away a militant climbing the walls of the compound.
The soldier fired more than 400 rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine to thwart the Taliban assault on his checkpoint near Babaji in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.
Acting Sgt Pun was on sentry duty on the evening of September 17, 2010 when he heard a clinking noise outside the small base.
At first he thought it might be a donkey or a cow, but when he went to investigate he found two insurgents digging a trench to lay an improvised explosive device (IED) at the checkpoint’s front gate.
He realized that he was completely surrounded and that the Taliban were about to launch a well-planned attempt to overrun the compound.
The enemy opened fire from all sides, destroying the sentry position where Acting Sgt Pun had been on duty minutes before.
Defending the base from the roof, the Gurkha remained under continuous attack from rocket-propelled grenades and AK47s for over quarter of an hour.
Most of the militants were about 50ft away from him, but at one point he turned around to see a ‘huge’ Taliban fighter looming over him.
Acting Sgt Pun picked up his machine gun and fired a long burst at the man until he fell off the roof.
When another insurgent tried to climb up to his position, the Gurkha attempted to shoot him with his SA80 rifle.
But it did not work, either because it had jammed or because the magazine was empty.
Acting Sgt Pun first grabbed a sandbag but it had not been tied up and the contents fell to the floor.
Then he seized the metal tripod of his machine gun and threw it at the approaching Taliban militant, shouting in Nepali ‘Marchu talai’ (‘I will kill you’) and knocking him down.
Two insurgents were still attacking by the time the heroic Gurkha had used up all his ammunition, but he set off a Claymore mine to repel them.
At this point his company commander, Major Shaun Chandler, arrived at the checkpoint, slapped him on the back and asked if he was OK.
Acting Sgt Pun admitted that he was confused at first about whether the officer was another member of the Taliban.
Asked if he might have accidentally fired on his commander, the Gurkha smiled as he said: ‘I didn’t have any more ammunition.’
Acting Sgt Pun believed at the time that there were more than 30 attackers, although local villagers later told him the figure was more likely to be 12 to 15.
He said he thought the assault would never end and ‘nearly collapsed’ when it was over.
As soon as it was confirmed (they were) Taliban, I was really scared,’ he recalled.
But as soon as I opened fire that was gone – before they kill me I have to kill some.
I thought they were going to kill me after a couple of minutes, definitely.
He spoke of his pride at receiving the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, which is only one level down from the Victoria Cross.
‘I think I am a very lucky guy, a survivor. Now I am getting this award it is very great and I am very happy,’ he said.
In total, Acting Sgt Pun fired off 250 general purpose machine gun rounds, 180 SA80 rounds, six phosphorous grenades, six normal grenades, five underslung grenade launcher rounds and one Claymore mine.
The only weapon he did not use was the traditional Kukri knife carried by Gurkhas because he did not have his with him at the time.
The married soldier, whose father and grandfather were also both Gurkhas, is originally from the village of Bima in western Nepal but now lives in Ashford, Kent.
His medal citation said he saved the lives of three comrades also at the checkpoint at that time and prevented the position from being overrun.
It read: ‘Pun could never know how many enemies were attempting to overcome his position, but he sought them out from all angles despite the danger, consistently moving towards them to reach the best position of attack.’
Or this other Ghurkha, who had been retired from his military service:
A retired Indian Gorkha soldier recently revisited those glory days when he thwarted 40 robbers, killing three of them and injuring eight others, with his khukuri during a train journey. He is in line to receive three gallantry awards from the Indian government.
Slave girl Morgiana in the Arabian Nights used her cunning to finish off Ali Baba´s 40 thieves, but Bishnu Shrestha of Baidam, Pokhara-6 did not have time to plot against the 40 train robbers. He, however, made good use of his khukuri to save the chastity of a girl and hundreds of thousands in loot.
Shrestha, who was in the Maurya Express to Gorakhpur from Ranchi on September 2 while returning home following voluntary retirement from the Indian army–saved the girl who was going to be raped by the robbers in front of her hapless parents, and in doing so won plaudits from everybody.
The Indian government is to decorate Shrestha with its Sourya Chakra, Bravery Award and Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Medal and the 35-year-old is leaving for India Saturday to receive the first of the awards on the occasion of India´s Republic Day on January 26.
“The formal announcement of the awards will be made on Republic Day and on Independence Day on August 15,” said Shrestha, whose father Gopal Babu also retired from the same 7/8 Platoon of the Gorkha Regiment around 29 years ago.
His regiment has already given him a cash award of Indian rupees 50,000, and decided to terminate his voluntary retirement. He will get the customary promotion after receiving the medals. The Indian government will also announce a cash bounty for him and special discounts on international air tickets and domestic train tickets.
The band of about 40 robbers, some of whom were travelling as passengers, stopped the train in the Chittaranjan jungles in West Bengal around midnight. Shrestha– who had boarded the train at Ranchi in Jharkhand, the place of his posting–was in seat no. 47 in coach AC3.
“They started snatching jewelry, cell phones, cash, laptops and other belongings from the passengers,” Shrestha recalled. The soldier had somehow remained a silent spectator amidst the melee, but not for long. He had had enough when the robbers stripped an 18-year-old girl sitting next to him and tried to rape her right in front of her parents. He then took out his khukuri and took on the robbers.
“The girl cried for help, saying ´You are a soldier, please save a sister´,” Shrestha recalled. “I prevented her from being raped, thinking of her as my own sister,” he added. He took one of the robbers under control and then started to attack the others. He said the rest of the robbers fled after he killed three of them with his khukuri and injured eight others.
During the scuffle he received serious blade injury to his left hand while the girl also had a minor cut on her neck. “They had carried out their robbery with swords, blades and pistols. The pistols may have been fake as they didn´t open fire,” he surmised.
The train resumed its journey after some 20 minutes and a horde of media persons and police were present when it reached Chittaranja station. Police arrested the eight injured dacoits and recovered around 400,000 Indian rupees in cash, 40 gold necklaces, 200 cell phones, 40 laptops and other items that the fleeing robbers dropped in the train.
Police escorted Shrestha to the Railways Hospital after the rescued girl told them about his heroic deed. Mainstream Indian media carried the story. The parents of the girl, who was going for her MBBS studies, also announced a cash award of Indian rupees 300,000 for him but he has not met them since.
“Even the veins and arteries in my left hand were slit but the injury has now healed after two months of neurological treatment at the Command Hospital in Kolkata,” he said showing the scar. “Fighting the enemy in battle is my duty as a soldier; taking on the dacoits in the train was my duty as a human being,” said the Indian army nayak, who has been given two guards during his month-long holidays in Nepal.
“I am proud to be able to prove that a Gorkha soldier with a khukuri is really a handful. I would have been a meek spectator had I not carried that khukuri,” he said.
He still finds it hard to believe that he took on 40 armed robbers alone. “They may have feared that more of my army friends were traveling with me and fled after fighting me for around 20 minutes,” he explained.
These are just two of many examples of Ghurkha legendry. They have become almost mythical in status.
The first well-documented (written) accounts of the knife and of the Ghurka tribes come from the British who had taken control of India in the 1800’s. The British had been advancing Northward, but suddenly encountered fierce resistance as they advanced into what is modern day Nepal. The Ghurkas not only resisted the British troops, they drove them back. This is something that the British were not at all used to. They called in reinforcements, and then again moved forward. The accounts of what happened are gruesome. The Ghurkas seemed to materialize out of the jungle itself for long enough to cleanly lop a head or limb, and would then disappear before the guns came to bear. The British would set camp for the night, and though they posted sentries, men would die during the night. They were found in the morning with their heads cleanly removed, yet the sentries would not see or hear any intruders. At times the British encountered the Ghurkas in groups. The British soldiers had fine rifles and were the renowned marksmen of the day. The Ghurka were armed only with Khukris, yet were not cowed. Instead they mounted charges, dodging and weaving through the thickets until they were right on top of the British troops. The British went to bayonets, but one account describes the Ghurka tactics as follows:
“When they come near, they suddenly crouch to the ground, drive under the bayonets and strike upward at the men with their knives, ripping them open in a single blow.”
The British wisely withdrew from these areas, and then they did something very uncharacteristic. They sent emissaries to make peace with the Ghurka. Treaties were made that had far-reaching consequences. Since that day, the Ghurka have fought alongside British troops in every major engagement, including two world wars, and hundreds of minor skirmishes. In trench warfare against the German forces, the Ghurka performed astounding feats that were legendary for their stealth and courage. They were said to have regularly slipped through German lines, past the sentries, and into the trenches and foxholes. The German forces slept two troops per foxhole. The Ghurka were known to have cut the throat of one man from each foxhole without waking the second man. This was done so that the remaining Germans, upon waking, would find their dead right next to them. Those that were left alive quickly spread the story amongst the rest and, as you can imagine, this type of psychological operation had devastating consequences to the morale of frontline German troops as a whole.
There is nothing genetically special about being Nepalese that would give these soldiers any more or less bravery and wherewithal in a battle stacked against them. They are the same as you and I. They bleed, breathe, laugh, celebrate, and mourn – just like the rest of us. The key that makes these warriors so fierce and devastating is their guts. Or in more modern terms, their mindset. It doesn’t mean you are not scared, rather that you are not subservient to that fear. You rule it.
The Ghurkha motto is as follows:
कांथर हुनु भन्दा मर्नु राम्रो
“Kaatar Hunnu Bhanda Marnu Ramro” (Nepali) / “Better to die than to be a coward”
It is this motto that they keep close to their heart, and that leads to their resolve when the time comes.
Whether or not you support war or agree with the reasons behind soldiers going into battle – what you can learn from here is that one person can do remarkable things when they have an unshakable focus and determination.
When you add efficient and intelligent training methods to build an array of physical self-protection skills, then you can be unstoppable.