MKP Response to Houston Press Article Continued

MKP’s Response to the Houston Press Article, Continued

An Open Letter from Carl Griesser, Former MKP Executive Director


And now, for those last outrageous accusations:

  • On the New Warrior Training Adventure we use dangerous and coercive mind-control tactics,

In traditional cultures surprise was an important element in the process of initiation, and many of us in the U.S. recall the miniseries Roots in which boys were snatched by the men of the village and bags were tossed over their heads. The men who choose to come to our trainings obviously are not snatched from their homes – they come of their own volition. Still, we believe it is important to create a clear separation from “normal” life. For this reason, the initial processes on our trainingare designed to wake men out of the slumber of their daily lives. They are not “stripped” of their possessions, but they are expected to relinquish possessions which will distract them from being fully present for the training, and their possessions and persons are searched to make sure they have not brought illegal drugs or weapons. Most of us are not used to this type of treatment, and some men find the process uncomfortable. However, it is never meant to be bullying, shaming, or coercive.

We believe that most men grow through challenge, and that without challenge most of us are quite content to remain complacent. The second process on our training is designed to challenge the participants to take a close look at how they hold integrity, accountability, and personal responsibility in their lives. The process provides a concrete way for them to experience the impact of their choices on others and to consider what their lack of integrity costs them and those they care about.

Some men who have attended the training have complained that we use sleep and food deprivation to break them down psychologically. We provide less and simpler food than most men are used to eating, but the amounts are certainly nutritionally adequate. Many men report that eating lightly on the training gave them a surprising level of mental clarity, which is our intention. (We do carefully follow men with diabetes and provide additional food if needed.) We require that participants have at least four hours of sleep each night, which again, is less than what men are used to, but something that most of us have done voluntarily at some point in our lives without ill effect.

  • …and bizarre processes, some of which involve nudity.

Read a Specific Response to recent articles about our use of a wooden phallus and Nudity.

Most of the processes described in the article which may seem bizarre also involve nudity. The most significant of these take place on Sunday morning after a significant level of trust has developed. Most men in our culture feel insecurity and shame about their bodies and their sexuality. Most never speak about this with anyone. One of our processes provides men the opportunity to speak openly and respectfully with one another about their sexuality. This isn’t about sexual exploits or conquests – it’s about telling the truth about how it feels to be a man in a man’s body. We use a carved wooden phallus for this process as a way of taking our anatomy out of shadow, as a way of saying, “This is what we look like. This is how we are made, and it’s OK to be this way.” We believe that nudity is particularly important for this process because for most men being nude intensifies our feelings about our bodies. Nudity is always optional, and some men choose not to disrobe fully.

On some trainings nudity is also an optional part of a process modeled after the sweat lodges of many indigenous people. This process is not based on any specific religion or belief, but is conducted with a sense of deep reverence. Vogel’s assertion that someone once asked men to touch the genitals of others is extremely unlikely, and certainly not part of the ceremony. I’ve investigated this tale further, and have found no evidence that it took place. (I would also point out that neither “Mary’s” husband nor her son was interviewed for the article.)

When I went through the training twelve years ago I initially found the nudity embarrassing, but the overall experience enabled me to feel more comfortable in my body. There are certainly men for whom being nude is difficult. This seems particularly true for some younger men in the US who have not had the locker room experiences which were typical for my generation. We’re also aware that for men from some cultures, such as Islam, nudity with other men is a taboo and have taken steps to make it clearer that it is acceptable to participate without disrobing.

Finally, the hammering of chickens refers to a process near the end of the training in which we intentionally poke fun at ourselves for the rituals we use during the training. Our intention is to invoke the jester as a way of remembering not to take ourselves too seriously. While most of our processes are carefully planned, this one is left to the imagination of a few staff men who create it. I’ve never seen chickens being hammered, but it could happen. For the record, these would be well-cooked, tasty chickens, and, yes, this does sound completely bizarre when described out of context. In context, it’s usually simply very funny.

* * *

I hope that the information and perspective I’ve provided here have been helpful. If you desire additional information, contact one of the men on our Communities Page.

And one last point: One quote from Vogel’s article is definitely accurate:

They discovered that dozens upon dozens of priests, ministers, therapists, heads of companies, doctors, lawyers and people involved with addiction rehabilitation all had at one point attended The New Warrior Training Adventure.

Vogel suggested that there’s something nefarious about so many successful men participating in our training. I see this, instead, as a measure of how valuable the work of the ManKind Project has been for men in all walks of life. Many of us are far better men for having participated in the New Warrior Training Adventure.


Carl Griesser

Former Executive Director

The ManKind Project

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