The Men that have shaped Damocles.

It might be an understatement, but Daniel Craig has shaped what it means to be a man in my eyes.

James Bond. Gabriel Allon. Dirk Pitt. Peter Parker. Jason Bourne. Bernie Gunther. Don Draper. Matthew Hawkwood. Steve Rogers. Jack Reacher. Sherlock Holmes. Rocky Balboa. Haruki Murakami.

Growing up, I had a loving, but slightly absent father. He was supportive when he needed to be, but much of his time was spent away, serving a community that “needed” him.

I suppose unlike a lot of other children, I didn’t think too much of it. After all, he wasn’t an abusive man or a terrible father figure, in fact there is a lot to admire about him, it was just that work was all too consuming for him to pay me any real attention.

I wasn’t bothered by it, nor do I hold it against him. Sometimes, certain people are just built with the concept of “duty” in them and they have to serve that through, no matter the cost.

So I did what I always did. I buried myself in books. Hundreds of books.

And out of those books, came a certain image of manhood that I created to suit my own personality.

Because out of the absence of a father figure, came a vision for manhood.

I’ve clung onto this vision for a long time now. It’s actually something I wrote down when I was fresh out of high school, identifying all the positive traits of my heroes. It was aptly titled …

The Kind of Man I Want to Be.

So let’s start with the biggest influence of them all.

An Art Restorer Assassin: Gabriel Allon.

Gabriel Allon is personally responsible for a lot of my false aliases. He is, without doubt, my favourite literary creation. Reading one of Daniel Silva’s books, is like listening to classical music. It is dramatic, but never inelegant. The best way to describe Silva’s prose is that you are reading something consummately classy.

The way how Silva uses words and breaks them, is always a tiny bit melancholy, but with a showman’s flair that makes for compelling reading. You are instantly immersed, because he captures an essence of what Europe should be … attractive, dangerous and indescribably rich with history and culture.

The character himself, is an incredibly unique creation. Born from the fires of the Munich Olympic 1972 massacre, Gabriel was recruited out of art school to avenge his country and be the tip of the spear that would showcase the true capabilities of an vengeful Israeli government.

Upon completion of the Operation Wrath of God, Gabriel found himself unable to paint anymore, his sense of self shattered by the violence he wreaked across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

So he plunged himself into art restoration, fixing Old Master paintings as a way to atone and seek peace within himself.

The character of Allon is moody, compelling, charismatic and melancholy.

Amusingly, there was no better way to describe Damocles at the time when he first grew obsessed with the books too.

It is thanks to Gabriel, that I learned a lot more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Holocaust and the tragic modern history of the state of Israel.

I also started to listen to more opera, just like the character. Whilst, I may not adore La Boheme as much as Gabriel does, I am a mega fan of Puccini’s Turandot.

Europe soon became this fascinating place of mystery and intrigue, and my desire to learn different languages increased after reading most of the book series.

I also took a lot of writing directives from the books, trying to recreate the easy, elegant prose that dominated so much of my reading hours.

I wanted to be an artist like Gabriel as well. It was around this time, that I actually tried to pick up a pencil and sketch more, something that I’ve recently fallen out of favour with, which is a shame. My sketches weren’t any good, but the fact that the character made me do something uncharacteristic like that is an indication of how alive he was in my mind.

Perhaps my favourite parts of the books are the way how Gabriel and his iconic team operate during a mission. Even now, I can clearly visualise what they are doing, how they are behaving and what each team member would do. It is a testimony to Silva’s talent as a writer that all the side characters jump out with a distinct personality, even amidst the chaos of a terrorist attack on the Continent.

Most importantly though, I wished I had Silva’s talent to write such beautiful scenes of violence and sex. His depiction of violence is always so haunting and lingering, a bit like hearing the sound of a beautiful melody fade in the background. Reading a love scene in the Allon series is a lot like watching a painter loving stroke his brush across canvas … the image may be one of a nude woman, but it’s never distasteful or vulgar.

For a very long time, Gabriel Allon dominated a lot of my personality. I was moodier, prone to melancholy, always paranoid and suspicious (even now, I’m constantly looking over my shoulder) and I desperately sought the arms of any woman that would have me. I found solace in my opera, my long walks and learned to really revel in loneliness.

Just like Gabriel, there is a part of me that still longs for a quiet home on the stormy cliffs of Cornwall, left alone to my devices and near suicidal walks during the worst weather.

What did Gabriel enrich Damocles with?

An appreciation for finer things, despite the ugliness of the world you inhabit.

The World’s most famous Detective: Sherlock Holmes

Another classic literary creation, it wasn’t until I married the iconic series and Maria Konnikova’s Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes that I truly became a more enlightened and formidable man.

Sherlock Holmes, represents to me, the ultimate in situational awareness and data processing.

It is through the character that I truly learnt to appreciate the nuances of bias, logic and unfiltered observation.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that I would not be half the man I am today, without Konnikova’s dissection of Sherlock Holmes.

That dissertation, is what gave way to a year long process of retraining my mind and habits to a much more heightened reality. I was obsessed with the idea of truly looking out at the world and understanding just how much information is missed because our conscious mind chooses to ignore it.

One of the examples that have always stuck out to me, is the staircase scenario.

Imagine you are Watson and every day, you climb these flights of stairs to enter Holmes’ office at 221B Baker St. You take these steps automatically, sometimes cursing them for the height they ascend but it is a worthy trade off for a conversation with the world’s most foremost detective.

The question is … how many steps are there on this flight of stairs? You take them every day, but you don’t know how many steps … You think you know, so you hazard a guess of “15?”. Holmes corrects you and say there are 17.

This scenario has always stuck with me, because it brings into question whether you are truly observing life, or whether you can access your subconscious mind accurately.

Watson’s guess of 15 is actually based on his subconscious natural processing of data. It is not like his eyes and legs aren’t aware of many steps they’ve taken up the flight of stairs, they know, it is just his consciousness that is unaware of the exact number.

I learnt to separate both and can access the subconscious data at a whim, with a higher degree of accuracy than most. To feed this subconscious data, which is constantly on, I have made a more conscious effort to take note of peculiarities in life.

The placement of a wet floor sign, the way how a woman walks with heels, the style in which a child might approach me, or even the type of music being played in the background.

Couple these observations with a more military context; continual scans for exit signs, where good cover can be found, what to use as a rag in the case of a fire, the nearest extinguisher or even who has a lighter on them, I like to think that I am a lot more aware of my surroundings than the average person.

But from a more practical interpersonal standpoint, Holmes’ deductive abilities have actually made me a much more empathetic person. I am able to more accurately read people’s moods and body language, and avoid certain pitfalls that others would fall into.

It took me years to really train this mindset and walk into situations with as little bias as possible, but it was worth the trade-off. I always try to come to conclusions after examining the facts, instead of forming a hypothesis and twisting the facts to suit it.

Sherlock Holmes also taught me the idea of the English Renaissance man, a person who is skilled at being a criminal and a detective, a boxer and an artist, a violinist who will dabble in illicit substances to get further clarification on things.

I’ve always strived to be as interesting and complete a man like Sherlock Holmes. I’m not quite on his level, but I am proud to say that I feel like I am closer to the idea of him, than many others.

What did Sherlock give to Damocles?

The power of sight.

The ultimate swashbuckler: Dirk Pitt.

I was late to the Dirk Pitt party.

A fact that I rue to this day.

Because his series is one of the most ridiculous, hilarious and adventurous yarns I’ve ever read.

I was so besotted by the character of Dirk Pitt, that I actually convinced myself that I belonged on the ocean, studying marine biology.

I was never proven more wrong, when I came to the marine biology laboratory and studied plankton for 4 days straight.

Still, that did not detract my love for the character one bit.

Dirk Pitt is the epitome of an old-school adventurer. He is a womaniser, a hard drinker, a man with a taste for the finer things in life, a person who belongs out in the water, searching for the next challenge and treasure. He’s a brilliant and loyal friend to those close to him, but a terrifying, ruthless force of nature to his enemies.

Pitt also has the best quips ever put to page. See the example below.

Context: Pitt and Giordino are flying in a helicopter, on their way to a Neo-Nazi base to rescue a marine biologist and her daughter.

“How much father?” asked Giordino without looking up from the pages of his novel.

“A little less than fifty miles and another fifteen minutes should put us in the hills above the Wolf shipyard.”

“Just enough time to knock out another chapter.”

“What’s so interesting that you can’t tear yourself away from the book?”

“I’m just to the part where the hero is about to rescue the gorgeous heroine who is within seconds of being ravished by the evil terrorists.”

“I’ve read that plot before,” Pitt said wearily.

Context: They continue to fly …

“Our objective is in sight,” he said evenly, without emotion.

“Damn!” muttered Giordino. “Just when I was coming to the exciting climax.”

“Relax. You have another ten minutes to finish it. Besides, I already know how it comes out.”

Giordino looked over at him. “You do?”

Pitt nodded seriously. “The butler did it.”

Dirk also has the best taste in cars, I’ve ever seen from a fictional character.

This ridiculously over the top, romanticised version of a man is exactly what I wanted out of an adventure novel.

To think it all started with a random book I found on my parent’s library, called Atlantis Found.

The moment I finished the book, I knew I wanted more and have subsequently read and completed the entire Dirk Pitt series.

It’s hard to describe how much affection I have for the character, but to put it simply, reading a Dirk Pitt novel is a lot like watching an Indiana Jones movie. The bad guys are cartoonishly evil, the women are more of less damsels but with a hint of toughness that makes them a bit more compelling and Dirk and Al are the perfect buddy cop partners that will ingeniously scrape through despite insurmountable odds.

Dirk Pitt is unrealistic as hell, but he’s entertaining and even if I don’t have his green eyes, muscular physique and smouldering intensity, at least I still have his quips.

What has Dirk Pitt gifted Damocles?

A sense of humour is always needed, even in the darkest moments. That and a love for classic cars.

The ultimate pretender: Don Draper

I’ve always said that if I could pick a face to claim as my own, it would be Jon Hamm’s.

His portrayal of the immensely flawed, but magnetic Don Draper is easily one of my favourite realisations of the broken promise offered by the American Dream.

Don Draper reminds me constantly of how important it is possess and own my personal code on the journey to be a self-made man.

He represents to me, everything wrong with the modern man.

For you see, Don is the perfect analogy for the deep dissatisfaction life can give you, despite being on top of the world.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects about modern life is how shallow it can be, how deeply unsatisfying life can be despite being married to the drop dead gorgeous January Jones, having ownership of a perfect home, and being paid generously for being one of the top marketing men in Manhattan.

Don’s character shows that just because you’ve reached the top, doesn’t mean you will find any deeper purpose or meaning in life.

It’s why he slowly unravels, becoming more of an alcoholic, a cynic and a womaniser. He doesn’t possess any moral or personal codes that will give him meaning. Life is dull, only spiced momentarily by fleeting moments with an unfamiliar woman or poignant, harsh self reflection.

Even though, by all standards, Don Draper is not a man to look up to, I will say … the man taught me on how to mime a cigarette and flirt. He also taught me the value of never lying to yourself and be true to you, in whatever it is you do.

And for that, I’m forever grateful.

What has Don Draper taught Damocles?

What not to do on your journey as a man and how to flirt with women. Also, an appreciation for Christina Hendricks and cocktails.

Captain America: Steve Rogers

A good man.

Whenever I have an attack of conscience, I don’t follow my Christian upbringing and mention some deity.

Instead I think back to Dr. Abraham Erskine, stabbing a finger in the chest of newly transformed Steve Rogers, reminding him of his promise to the dying doctor.

And it gets me every time.

It may not be the best Marvel film in the canon, but I liked the old-fashioned story and characters, the classic good vs evil. What also made me really enjoy the character, is that Steve remains the good man he originally was, right from the beginning of his story in the First Avenger, all the way to Endgame.

There’s a steadfastness to his personality, an uncompromising element that anchors him to the ground, whilst others might get ahead of themselves. I strive to achieve that steadiness, that moral compass that always knows what to do, while others might get confused.

As much as I curse my conscience, something that regularly causes me both pride and consternation in equal measure, I have to respect it. A lot of that I attribute to a desire to be like the Greatest Generation of Americans, people who put aside their petty squabbles and troubles for the greater good.

It is that enduring spirit that I love about Steve Rogers, who represents to me that unique generation that fought the Great Depression and World War II.

A recent example of this ridiculous boy scout spirit came to the fore when I was driving home after my daily run and came across a traffic junction that was no longer operating.

For half a second, I considered just ignoring it, before reminding myself … this is why you follow EDC principles.

So I pulled over to the nearest side road, called the police, reported the situation, before grabbing my hi-vis vest in the trunk of my car and my torch.

I ended up directing traffic for a solid half hour, before the police arrived to correct the issue.

Throughout the entire thing, I kept checking my watch, thinking about the dinner that was getting cold, when the police were coming, the slight pain in my leg from earlier cramps and how I wished I bought the other torch that had a Red/Green/White setting.

But it was fun. I received just … a lot of gratitude. Flashing lights, thumbs ups, car horns … smiles … it was nice to serve the community in an instance like this, despite the potential for getting run over.

After all, this is what EDC is all about. It’s not just for personal self-defence, or an apocalyptic scenario. EDC is about helping others in a genuine emergency or potential emergency. I didn’t want to see people crash into each other, especially because at this T-junction, the corners were quite blind.

Of all the things I expected to do on a Monday night, traffic management was not one of them.

So yeah, I blame Steve for this inner boy scout.

In what way has Captain America inspired Damocles?

Be a good man.

Berlin’s Private Investigator: Bernie Gunther

I’ve always loved reading noir crime thrillers. Before I watched iconic film noires like The Maltese Falcon or Double Indemnity, I actually read the Raymond Chandler books.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I ran out of his books to read. They were so hard-boiled, gritty and remarkably adept at immersing me into the seedy underworld of 1940s Los Angeles, that I craved more.

But none was forthcoming until I discovered an anthology of books called Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr.

Again, Bernie Gunther was an absolute stroke of genius, of literary character and setting meshing together in an perfect symphony of noire story telling.

Bernie is your classic, cynical but slightly romantic private investigator, down on his luck and living in Hitler’s Germany in 1936.

I’ll just let that simmer with you for a second.

A noire crime thriller set in Nazi Berlin.

Nothing could be better. Berlin, at the time, was a cultural icon of Europe, growing ever stronger with the Nazi’s rise to power. There was a real sense of growth and optimism, but this was marred by the strong anti-Semitic sentiment that was being paraded around and the corruption that was being encouraged in the higher echelons of the Nazi party.

Bernie is the perfect hero for the story, a nobody who doesn’t care for the Nazis, a reluctant supporter because he needs to earn money to eat. He gives the audience a view into a world that is normally not discussed and is charismatic, charming and incorrigible in all the right ways.

He’s the perfect gumshoe detective; smart, tenacious and a royal pain in the arse to anyone who had the misfortune of starting a conversation with Bernie.

What Bernie has given me, is a deeper love for historical fiction writing. I love revisionist fictional history, where you can picture this character believably existing in the past, and interacting with key historical figures.

Whilst I dislike the more Assassin’s Creed approach, where the false character influences history directly, I adore the smaller stories that have these personalities inject themselves as “historical footnotes.” For example, it might say in a history book that Reinhard Heydrich had a meeting with someone in Berlin, 1939.

A brilliant author like Kerr would then turn this small footnote into his advantage and schedule his fictional detective into that meeting where they would discuss the current crime case.

Bernie Gunther was a portal to a world that I always wondered about … life in Nazi Germany, but seen through the lens of a noire thriller.

Bernie Gunther gave Damocles what exactly?

A portal into another world and how to say cynical things in a darkly amusing way.

The Napoleonic Runner: Matthew Hawkwood.

Speaking of historical fiction, allow me to indulge in my favourite period of human history: the Napoleonic Era.

Another twist on the “crime thriller set in the past”, the Matthew Hawkwood series by James McGee has delighted me ever since I saw the book cover.

It was the book Resurrectionist that really put the series on the map. Showcasing Regency London at the height of its lawlessness, grime, and uncaring brutality, the Hawkwood series follows Matthew Hawkwood, a “Bow Street Runner”, a specialised officer with more leniency to tackle crime than your average plod.

Dark, mysterious, lethal and attractive, Hawkwood was one of those archetypes that at first, seem like an edgy cliche, but his intelligence and very human reaction to danger, make him much more realistic. I loved that he held an army rank, and was skilled with both pistols and sword. In perhaps a nod to the famous Richard Sharpe series, Hawkwood was also a member of the famous Rifle Brigade that used more precise Baker rifles, and was distinguished for his marksmanship.

Reading the series, I was enamoured with the concept of a Renaissance man again, a person who had acquired many different skills and lessons over a long, active life of servitude to the King. In every book, Hawkwood showcased new sides to himself, from rudimentary Chinese self-defence techniques that he learned from a monk whilst on a voyage from America to England, to employing his criminal networks to catch a fugitive fleeing to France.

This multi-faceted element to the character was what struck me early on. He was purposefully mysterious and vague in the first book, before becoming much more intriguing in the latter part of the series.

Inspired by this example, I’ve mostly tried to keep my talents hidden. I don’t brag about them too much, nor do I go out of my way to prove I can do things better than others.

It is always more organic to reveal skills in the moment than having to prove them due to an arrogant boast.

In addition to hiding some of my talents, I’ve also adopted a lot of Hawkwood mannerisms in my writing, especially for my characters. The frequent use of “the character cursed as he rolled to dodge a sword swing at his head” or something to that effect, is directly taken from many re-read passages from the Hawkwood series.

How did Hawkwood affect Damocles?

I’ve tried my best to cultivate an air of mystery, especially around strangers and my action sequences on pen and paper are better because of this character.

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man: Peter Parker

Growing up, I wasn’t too keen on comic books. But one character that always stuck out to me was Spider-Man.

I learnt his entire story, when I begged my mother to buy the Ultimate Guide to Spider-Man.

It was through this book, I learnt every single villain, every key moment of Spider-Man’s life and all the tragedies he’s endured over his crime-fighting career.

It was a brilliant book and inspired in me a love for the character ever since.

I was so passionate about the character, that for my first skateboard, I actually bought some spray cans and made the iconic red spider logo as seen in The Amazing Spider-Man film.

I religiously re-watched the Raimi series, enjoyed parts but not all of the Garfield portrayal and am definitely fond of Holland as the titular character.

But it was really the game, Spider-Man 2 on my Nintendo Gamecube that showed me just how tough Peter has it. Delivering pizzas, rescuing balloons, stopping random crime and being late to dates with Mary Jane … I mean, I’m amazed Peter even has any time to fix the Spider suit or even socialise.

Which is sort of the point. The character of Spider-Man has always been a tragic loner, a more local hero to the population than the other Avengers. His sacrifices are always quiet and slightly soul-crushing, never really acknowledged for all the good he does, because of the horrible PR job by JJJ.

Despite the personal cost, Peter still dons the suit and goes out there to do his duty.

That perseverance and quiet sacrifice is what inspires me. If Captain America reminds me of the right thing to do, Spider-Man gives me the encouragement to keep going. He’s the continual under-dog, the guy always being stepped on and yet regardless of the world of hurt he is in, he’ll get back up and keep going.

Spider-Man reminds me that you can be a great person, have super-powers and be dating a gorgeous girl, but people can still hate you for you.

Peter Parker taught me to shrug it off and just keep doing what you’re doing.

Spider-Man’s teachings to Damocles:

With great power, comes great responsibility. Still the best line.

The CIA’s rogue assassin: Jason Bourne.

Jason Bourne is one of the few characters where I thought the films were a lot more compelling than the books.

The trilogy had such a massive impact on me that I actually lived an entire year of my high school days, going out in public and constantly checking my six.

My dedication to field craft was so compelling, that I actually developed a short-hand form of communication with my younger brother, whilst looking for our parents in giant shopping centres.

I could track people through crowds, navigate the quickest route from point A to B and even break line of sight.

My obsession with Bourne was total.

Whilst it may have been silly games as a young teen, those skills I taught myself have actually become incredibly useful abilities to have in event work, as well as de-escalating potentially nasty situations.

I know how to make myself invisible, and truly blend with society despite my appearance.

Idolising Jason Bourne was literally all about mimicking his skills. I even went out of my way to buy a monocular similar to the one he used in the second and third film.

Thanks to Bourne, I learnt how to think like an operator. How to really case an urban environment and use it to my advantage, how to really track targets and and become invisible.

Perhaps the most important skill though was how to navigate.

Early on, I realised that street names are fundamentally useless. There are too many of them, with who knows how many, repeated names to memorise and they’re also incredibly imprecise.

So I started using landmarks as reference. As long as I could “see” this particularly building, I would never be lost, because I just had to walk in that direction to get there.

The sequence that inspired this skill, was the fearsome Morocco chase in Bourne Ultimatum, where Bourne has to navigate his way through the city of Morocco to save Nikki from the Asset.

By picking a “compass” heading in his mind, Bourne is able to carve the straightest path there and get there in time to stop her assassination.

I’ve lost count how many times this exact skill has allowed to navigate cities with ease. No matter where I am, Osaka, Nagoya, Sydney, Brisbane or Tokyo, I have never felt lost in my entire life.

I sometimes wonder how clueless my life would be, if I didn’t invest all that time pretending someone was following me.

What does Jason Bourne and Damocles have in common?

Nothing. Just a habit of checking over our shoulder and never getting losing our sense of direction.

The quintessential loner: Jack Reacher

I am an avid Jack Reacher fanatic. Much like the Allon series, Lee Childs follow a yearly publication model, and so it is always with great anticipation I await the release of the next book in the series.

Unlike so many other characters on this list, Reacher has no flaws.

He is a giant of a man, with enough muscle to punch his way out of trouble and enough intelligence to solve any more complex matters for the people that need his help.

Reacher is unfailingly logical, almost mathematical in his violence and logic processing, an addict to coffee (I tried my first ever coffee thanks to him and couldn’t finish it) and he has a great sense of humour and the most masculine taste in music: blues.

Reacher is also in possession of the most enviable lifestyle in the world.

His life, is one of complete freedom.

I don’t think I’ve ever romanticised a person’s lifestyle more than Reacher.

It is perfect.

But what I wanted to delve into is his psyche.

Unlike a lot of other people, Reacher has no real brakes.

The best way to describe this attitude is if you look at the selector switch on your typical military AR-15.

Most rifles have different firing modes, to suit different scenarios. SAFE. SEMI. AUTO.

SAFE indicates that the trigger is unable to be pulled, SEMI means that for every trigger press, a single round is fired and AUTO means holding down the trigger will unleash a torrent of steel.

Military doctrine states that you always used SEMI. You can control the amount of bullets you fire, be more accurate and really evaluate what is going on, with each deliberate trigger press. You never go AUTO unless it’s an emergency.

Reacher’s mind is perpetually on AUTO.

He doesn’t know any other way to live. His fights are savagely quick and brutal, designed for maximum devastation in a short time-span. His mind is always seeking new thrills, indulging in whims.

Reacher just doesn’t care what other people thinks.

What I learned from the 26 plus books, is that my dirty fighting techniques have never rung more true and that if I am ever going to get into a scrap, I’m going to be FULL AUTO the whole way.

What learning can you possibly take away from Reacher, Damocles?

Strike first, strike hard and make sure you hospitalise the bastard.

The Surrealist Author: Haruki Murakami.

Amongst all my books, there exist the one that I would save if a fire ravaged the house.

My first copy of Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.

Recommended to me by a friend, Kafka on the Shore alongside Nujabes’ nu-jazz work, has changed my life.

It is without any exaggeration that if I did not read Kafka on the Shore, I would have turned out a lot unhealthier, mentally.

It is through my journey of unpacking and understanding the surrealist dream that is Kafka on the Shore, I understood more about myself than any other book I’ve read up to that point.

I can still recall the strange fugue state my mind was in, as I learned to absorb the story and words without judgement or confusion, just accepting things for what they were.

It was this strange mental state that allowed me to really accept me for who I was, flaws, strengths, desires and needs and see what needed to be improved without any hang ups.

Murakami’s unique style affected me so much, that I started a private blog and created an imaginary friend who is as real to me as my actual friends.

In a lot of ways, Murakami taught me the power of surrealism and how its’ creativity can be used to heal and seek answers to questions that are un-answerable in reality.

Kafka taught me how to harness the power of dreams whilst awake.

And it’s a gift that hasn’t stopped giving since.

Where gift did Murakami bequeath to Damocles?

The power of dreams and how to self-heal.

The Italian Stallion: Rocky Balboa

Rocky Balboa … my fitness inspiration.

I’m no boxer. But I believe in the universal power of getting fit and improving yourself.

Which is exactly what the character of Rocky represents to me. Evidence that you can come from nothing, but through hard work and iron will, you can defeat champions.

I’ve lost count how many times the Rocky soundtrack has inspired me but it is indelibly linked to my fitness goals and progress thus far. I wouldn’t have progressed this far, if it weren’t for the power that Rocky wielded over my mentality.

I also love his character, a thoughtful man with a heart of gold, despite his background and rough appearance. He’s soft in all the right ways, around all the right people, but a hard-charger in the ring.

In addition, his protege, Adonis Creed, has inspired me through various montages, to exercise whenever, wherever, regardless of how I feel or what I’ve done the day before.

There is always a new standard, a new grind, a new benchmark to move beyond the goalpost it was yesterday.

Rocky and Creed taught me the power to believe in myself to go further, to pace myself accordingly and to not give up when the going gets tough.

Without these two boxers, I would not have a single shred of fighter’s spirit in me. I credit them entirely for helping me on my journey to lose weight, to exercise and to train every day.

They’ve made me the fittest version I’ve ever been, and continue inspire me to keep going.

What did Rocky give to Damocles?

A score, a drive and a will.

The English Secret Agent: James Bond … 007

Finally we come to the greatest influence of them all, the biggest factor that has made me the man I am today.

James Bond. 007

I don’t want to portray myself as some hardcore fanatic, dressed constantly in a tuxedo and buying the exact same clothes, drinks and cars as Bond because that would be silly.

Instead, he serves as my principal inspiration for life. I wish to emulate the character but not become a carbon copy.

I’ve always established that about myself from the beginning. I can take inspiration regarding styling and colours, but I will never wear a carbon copy outfit of character unless I’m into cosplay.

Which I’m not. Yet.

I mean, I don’t even like wearing suits that much …. nor do I have any dreams to own an Aston Martin as my first supercar (I’m a Ferrari man). I definitely do not drink alcohol, have never tasted a Vesper martini and certainly don’t sleep around with random women.

I haven’t even travelled the world that much. My only credit is Japan thus far, after 28 years on this Earth.

So why Bond? Why is he my ideal male role model when I am the antithesis of him?

Because he represents everything I want to be.

Whereas all the other characters, I can relate to on some level, Bond is the purest male fantasy character on my list.

I’ve idolised the character ever since I saw him on screen for the first time. He was everything I wanted to be; ruthless, sexy, dark and mysterious. Handsome but with an edge.

Having grown up on Pierce Brosnan, he was my favourite Bond for a while, until Daniel Craig came along and completely upended the formula with Casino Royale, which is still, to date, my favourite film of all time.

Daniel Craig became the embodiment of manhood in my eyes.

His physique was one of functional muscularity, his handsome features were etched with just the right amount of cruelty and his overall demeanour was a man who was could blend with the rich, but was slightly ill at ease doing so.

All of which I have emulated, to some degree over the years. Especially the blending with the rich whilst being armed to the teeth with my EDC gear.

For there is nothing more cool to me than a man who is well dressed whilst also prepared for war. It’s why men like Thomas Shelby, Steve McQueen and even Napoleon Solo remain such style icons for me. They perfectly blend sartorial sensibilities with combat demands.

But the man who really sold it first, was James Bond.

I also loved how Craig’s Bond could be harsh and gentle around his women. His greatest loves have pushed him to the edge, but also saved him from said edge. For some reason, his last female connection, in his final film, was hauntingly similar to how I talked to my own partner, from the soft OKs to the warm jokes.

It affected me greatly, because I know that I put on such a tough front, but the right woman will always bring out the softer side of me, without rhyme or reason. Much like how Bond himself, a man comfortable with being alone, will still need the warm touch of a woman to ease the loneliness, to soothe the hurts and calm a mind left alone for too long.

In so many ways, I’ve critically analysed the character of Bond, and taken from him the best aspects I admire.

His stoic nature, his powerful masculinity that is naturally softened by the right woman, at the right time, the way how he wear his clothes, his walk, his smooth athleticism, his coolness under fire, the way how Bond grits himself during battle … hell even locations he visit … these are all things I love about the character and have incorporated in some way into my identity.

It still blows my mind, just how excited and passionate I am for the Bond franchise, after all these years.

He is still my favourite on-screen male icon, the man that I want to be, wish to be and am trying to be.

I’ll leave aside the sexist elements, cool out with the violence and most definitely cut out the alcohol, but in a lot of ways, Bond represent the old-school ideals of a man.

To be a man like Bond, is still an inspiring motivation for someone like me, lacking that strong image of manhood.

It’s dramatic, it’s arrogance, it’s even vaguely too old-fashioned, but there will always be a need for this type of man.

A man that embraces everything there is to being male. The good and the bad.

It’s why I still idolise him so much. Because through Bond, I’m reminded of what I am, what I should be and even the steps on how I can get there.

There is a scene that will stick with me forever.

It’s the scene of Bond coming in on a yacht, the Bond theme blasting in the background, and walking off his Goldeneye residence’s dock with a spear-gun and a fish in hand. His clothes are tattered but no less stylish, with a contented smile on his face.

It was that moment, I knew I wanted more than anything to live like Bond. James Bond.

What did Bond give to you?

The ideal male role model.

And that is it …

Every single important male figure that have contributed greatly to the formation of Damocles.

There are others, but none as influential, and none as life-changing as these men.

~ Damocles.

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