The Tao of Vladimir Putin

Since power equals force times speed… Thus, a smaller man who can swing faster may hit as hard or as far as the heavier man who swings slowly.
— Bruce Lee, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do

Vladimir Putin has won one of the amazing strategic military victories in history.

The Ukrainians had an army of over 300,000, led by 50,000 to 100,000 fascist fanatics, with hi-tech weapons provided by NATO and with training by the best American, British and Canadian military advisors. They were confident that they could blitz what was left of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and finish their campaign of ethnic cleansing.

But the lightning attack they planned for this Spring was not to happen.

The Russians struck first — fielding a must smaller force, perhaps just 100,000 strong, punching through Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) defenses and cutting them off from support — kettling them in Eastern Ukraine where they were vulnerable to artillery and airstrikes. Bruce Lee would have been proud.

Fencing Without A Sword

Lee described Jeet Kune Do as “fencing without a sword”, hence his characteristic stance and use of distance, quite unlike the Wing Chun he learned from Yip Man. Feint, thrust, riposte — these are basics — which in Jeet are done almost simultaneously.

These are also what Putin did — feint, thrust, and riposte. Like Lee, he is a learner.

By contrast, Americans rely on brute force, usually in gangs — umm… “alliances”.

The tactics of the NATO gang inevitably involves “shock and awe”, indiscriminate bombing with B52s, the use of uranium munitions, — with the attempt to preserve the lives of one’s own soldiers at expense of women and children in the communities under attack. For every combatant killed about 9 or 10 women and children die.

Indiscriminate bombing with B52s flatten infrastructure and deprive people of the necessities of life. The use of uranium munitions poisons the environment leading to massive increases in cancer later. The result is both social and environmental disaster. “Shock and awe” is “scorched earth” rebranded Hollywood style. Check out the video game.

But shock and awe is usually preceded by or accompanies by economic warfare that end up condemning millions to death through starvation and disease. Think: Iraq. Think: Afghanistan.

Putin’s Psychology

Way back when, before Joe Biden and his corrupt son Hunter, had probably ever heard of Kiev, Putin had planned to retire in favor of Medvedev. He never really wanted to be a politician. Then Medvedev showed his colors as an Atlanticist, by not opposing the Libya War of 2011. Putin changed his mind. He was, according to all reports, genuinely shocked at the manner of Gaddafi’s death , sodomized with a bayonet. He had done a lot for Russia but if he left the country in the hands of the Atlanticists, it was as doomed as Libya.

The Internet is full of psychologizing about Putin. He is supposedly a narcissist, a psychopath, and various other things, totally lacking in empathy due to early childhood adversity, living in a single apartment with two other families. What is not mentioned is that those two other families — both Jewish — and his Jewish mother gave him a lot of love, and people throughout his life stepped in to mentor and help him. Putin has a lot to give back, or “pay forward”.

He took us to a very famous museum in St. Petersburg,” Rourke said of meeting Putin. “And then later he took me to a children’s cancer hospital. And we went in there and visited the really, really sick, little, tiny, tiny kids. I looked over at him and I saw him and, nobody’s going to want to hear this, but I saw a man with empathy and who was really moved by what these children are going through.

Contrast that with Hillary Clinton cackling like the Wicked Witch which she is about Gaddafi’s death — or Obama boasting about how good he was at killing by drone — 90% women and children of course.

OK but CNN will tell you that Putin is a psychopath. Madeline Albright, who didn’t blink an eye at murdering half a million children describes him as “reptilian”.

If this is a psychpath, we need more like him.

The Tao of Russian Strategy

In Jeet Kune Do, unlike Wing Chun, distance and positioning are very important. This is because Jeet is both offensive and defensive, whereas Wing chun emphasizes close-in defense in confined quarters.

As with Musashi Miyamoto, Bruce Lee always emphasized pre-knowledge of what an opponent may do, to attack pre-emptively — which, of course, what Putin did.

In 2014, however, the situation was murky to say the least.

“When you know yourself and your opponent, you will win every time. When you know yourself but not your opponent, you will win one and lose one.”
— Sun Tzu, “III. Attack by Stratagem” in The Art of War

Putin knew that he did not know.

He who knows not, knows not, he knows not, he is a fool shun him.
He who knows not and he knows not, he is simple teach him.
He who knows and knows not that he knows, he is asleep, awaken him.
He who knows and knows that he knows, he is wise, follow him.
? Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune

I would add this: He who knows he knows not, knows to know.

Russia had to learn. I had to know.

Certainly, Russia was not strong enough in 2014 to take on the Ukraine AND NATO — not without using tactical nukes. But what were the West’s real intentions? Could they be persuaded to adopt a different path? Putin couldn’t know.

But he soon found out.

Failure to implement the Minsk accords, the MH117 and Skripal false flags, CIA sponsored chemical false flag attacks in Syria and the like — and especially sanctions on both Russia and China — showed him that this new version of “the Great Game” was no game at all. More like the Hunger Games.

If you grow up on the streets, as Putin did, you learn to avoid gangs and fights — except when there is no choice — but to be vigilant and plan countermeasures in advance. So Putin continued to develop military technologies, notably hypersonic missiles, the kalibr missile and supersonic torpedoes that gave Russia the edge.

Subduing the whale

It is clear that in 2022, the Ukrainians thought they could rely on the support of NATO, if not NATO intervention, as they had after the CIA coup in 2014. As fascists, they saw Russia’s consistent efforts to resolve the issues diplomatically as weakness.

War was coming one way or the other. And, as both Bruce Lee and Musashi Miyamoto would advise, it is best to attack first in such a case.

The Russians had done what it could to resolve the crisis diplomatically despite the Ukrainian fascists occupying more than half of Eastern Ukraine and killing about 15,000 people, mostly civilians. But now it was going to full-on ethnic cleansing, with maximum loss of life— aka genocide.

Russian intelligence gave prior warning of the Ukraine’s nuclear intentions as well as the existence of biolabs possibly developing pathogens tuned to specific DNA sets, which could, in theory, result in bioweapons targeting certain ethnic groups. The punitive sanctions against both Russia and China amounting to economic war and increasing bellicosity signified that the US wanted to takeover where Hitler and Japan had left off, the domination of Eurasia, even without slave camps and mass murder.

By this time, Putin had reformed and developed the Russian military, explored new tactics and weapons in Syria, and re-imagined the FSB as something that KGB people in his day could only dream about and that the CIA might aspire to, if it could move beyond bias confirmation.

American Advantages as Disadvantages

Ah…, but what about the US’s huge array of hi-tech weapons?

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
— Bruce Lee, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do

Putin focused Russia’s efforts on developing just a few, really effective kicks (as it were). The Kalibr missile system, hypersonic weapons, the S500 and advanced S200 systems. UAVs. The old SU27 family became the advanced SU30 and SU34 systems. Most of these weapons were tested in Syria. The focus was on practicality.

“Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.”
— Miyamoto Musashi, precept of the Dokkodo

While in Russia, weapons companies serve the State, in the US the State serves the weapons companies — so enormous amounts of money go to developing ever more expensive and technologically complex weapons systems such as the F35, the most expensive fighter program in history that is in most respects is already obsolete. Aircraft carriers cost billions of dollars and are, like Japan’s Yamamoto battleship, just large, vulnerable, and now indefensible targets.

Musashi subduing the whale

Yes, the US is the whale. And Putin therefore is Musashi.

And how much of American weapons tech works?

The Americans have recently claimed that Russia suffers a 60% misfire rate. But where do they get these numbers — the Russians obviously don’t say!

Those statistics come from the Ukrainians who use obsolete Soviet missiles, which indeed frequently blow up, and from the American Tomahawk missiles, not to mention from the US’s many failed attempts at hypersonic weapons.

With sanctions, Russia doesn’t have the money to waste and it puts the needs of its people first.

The US puts the needs of the Military Industrial Complex first — by beggaring healthcare, education and infrastructure.

Feint, Thrust, Riposte

Putin was able to leverage good intelligence of his enemies’ intentions with highly trained mobile forces that could be literally everywhere from Donbass in the south to Chernobyl in the north.

Aware that the genocidal lunatic fringe running the Ukraine cared nothing about the country’s people, only their own ethnic kin — having already made the Ukraine one of the world’s greatest economic disasters and prompting an huge exodus of economic refugees — Putin immediately secured nuclear facilities and biolabs to prevent the “neo-Nazi” lunatic fanatic fringe running from creating dirty bombs or releasing pathogens.

The war was really won in the first week.

Of course, Russia lost men and about 200 tanks that first week but saved lives in subsequent weeks. Since that devastating first punch, Russia has lost very few tanks, moving more slowly, using laser detectors, UAVS, satellite imagery and human intelligence to prevent sneak attacks. The UAF has not been able to mount a single successful counterattack and the government will likely soon abandon Kiev.

The Russians are not afraid to take casualties — they are fighting an existential war and every Russian has a relative who died in the Great Patriotic War. Putin, therefore, has enormous support, except among the Atlanticists, the elitist carpetbaggers left over from the Yeltsin kleptocracy.

Americans haven’t fought an existential war — since the Civil War. They don’t like casualties, even the paltry 55,000 or so that ended the Vietnam War. For them, war is a video game.

Let us remember that the US has not won a war against a more or less equal opponent since the Pacific War. In fact, it has lost almost every war since against less capable opponents — notably Vietnam and Afghanistan.

They will lose this one too.


For the record, I have studied judo, jiu jitsu, karate, shorinji (Japanese Shaolin), and aikido, with some knowledge of ninjutsu. Not that I am good at any of them — but I know something of the zen and tao principles that apply. Putin studied combat Sambo when he was young to deal with bullies. Combat Sambo (as distinct from Sport Sambo) is similar to jiu jutsu — from which judo evolved, and it is, in some respects, similar to Lee’s Jeet. Putin went on to study judo, which is not really useful for combat but whose training inculcates oriental world views. More recently, Putin became interested in Kung Fu and took an exhausting trip to the Shaolin Monastery, with which he has maintained ties ever since, with both his daughters trained in Shaolin. Shaolin is also a “way”, as all Chinese martial arts are and reflects the teachings of Taoist masters.

Julian Macfarlane is a Canadian Tokyo-based media professional with 40 years of experience, who was worked for some of the world’s largest companies and also every major Japanese governmental ministry. He has written more than a hundred articles on media issues including propaganda and international affairs. Read more of his work on and Substack. News Forensics | Julian Macfarlane | Substack. Contact him through comments on Substack. Read other articles by Julian.