The Mastery of Swordsmanship.

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The Mastery of Swordsmanship.

Post  simontwosheds on Fri May 23, 2008 7:02 pm

Lee,

I read with interest your article relating Musashis` Book of five rings to modern fighting. I wondered what your opinion would be on this extract from D.T. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture (ISBN0804815607) about a 16c Japanese Zen swordsman Ichiun.

"Perhaps the most momentous advice Ichuin gives us, as the first step in the training of a swordsman, is that he is to start the contest with the idea of ai-uchi, a "mutual striking down."
This advice has important psychological significance. Ai-uchi, in other words, means paying no attention whatever to the outcome of the contest, being concerned not at all with the question of coming out of it safely or not. When a man faces a deadly situation in this frame of mind, he is the most resolute, the most desperate, the most daring person, before whom no enemy can stand unless he himself has come to the same resolution[...]
The idea of an Ai-uchi, one must remember, is what we start with as a preliminary step in the mastery of swordsmanship and not the step with which it should finish."

I realise that what`s being dealt with here is quite extreme circumstances (knife fight?).
Could it be likened to Richard Grannons `Violent Intent` perogative?

BTW the book is reconed to be the definative article on Zen Arts, with more good stuff on swordsmanship, i`d recommend it, if you`re interested.
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Re: The Mastery of Swordsmanship.

Post  Lee Morrison on Sat May 24, 2008 2:04 am

Hello Simon
what's interesting here is the commonality to the combative mind throughout the Centuries. Ichiun's quote is completely in line with the logical thinking of the clinical fighting mind. Hans Talhoffer the German swordsmaster wrote in his famous ''Fechtbuch'' or fencing manual Circa 1467

''think only of cleaving the enemy in two with the sword!''
''if his sword is on route to you, then smash it clear on route to cleaving the enemy!''

The Italian swordsmaster Fiore Di Liberi spoke of similar thoughts in his treatise[i] ''Flos Duelltorum''
or the flower of Battle Circa 1410

Fast forward to 1962 for the quote of the late, great Bruce Lee who said;

''When a fight starts, there is no time to think about the outcome of the same, you must be like a rag doll (No Mind) lay your life before him.

This is in line with the Japanese concept of Mushin or no mind. Such disregard for the consequences of injury or death is absolutely vital in the midst of violence with NO alternative.

Research and you will find the same mentallity in Filipino, Thai, Indonesian, Russian, British and European texts and indeed from cultures from all over the globe, it is the warring mind.

If you could take the time out to study anyone competent and capable within the realms of physical violence, I mean really model them then immerse yourself in the conclusions you come to; and you will see a common thread;

Such a person will have a complete handle on any negative emotion, to a significant enough degree that will allow them to access the necessary physical and mental attributes needed to prevail in combat.

In short they will NOT be thinking about what you're gonna do, only what I'm gonna do and how I will feel when I've done it!

Thanks for the excellent question and recommendation for the book I will certainly seek it out.
Peace....

Lee Morrison

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Re: The Mastery of Swordsmanship.

Post  simontwosheds on Sat May 24, 2008 4:24 pm

Lee,

Thanks for the response.

I must say i felt as though this old masters approach may be somewhat out-dated or romantasized or over-simplified.
Would you consider this mindset to be an effective tool for pre-fight fear managment, in a modern context. I mean actually stepping up to the mark expecting to be defeated, yet determined to take them with you?
Is this method likely to be as effective as the latest NLP?
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Re: The Mastery of Swordsmanship.

Post  Lee Morrison on Sun May 25, 2008 3:38 am

Hi mate,
the worse possible pre-fight strategy, that I think anyone could possibly employ, is one that has you expecting defeat as you step to the scratch as it were. The similarity to what we've been talking about in terms of the old timers as compared to more recent learning technoligies such as NLP; is the belief system.

People have very strong beliefs, which inturn create very real results and such a strategy has been around for ever, NLP can't take credit for that.
Some people find it from religion, the old school Filipino knife fighters would often settle dispute with a knife fight to the death, they entered battle believing that the outcome had already been pre-decided by God.

Therefore their minds were free of clutter so they could operate to their very best. They would often carry ammulets (forgive my spelling) or a Talisman with a written prayer that they BELIEVED would keep them safe.

The Thai's would employ a similar strategy in the form of a prayer tattooed onto their bodies by a Buddhist Priest as the Priest prayed over the fighter. This gave the fighter courage and kept his mind free of fear and clutter, so now all that remains is to go out there and DO.

What we can take from NLP in terms of commonality here is the fact that; whether such a strategy is true or not, is not important because if you really BELIEVE it, for the duration of the event then it IS, as they say OPERATIONAL.

Just look at the extremists who took part in the atrocities of 9/11 they believed allah would take them to a brighter place after death, regardless of what anyone thinks or believes about that, is irrelivant, fact is they believed it and it allowed them to do what they did without hesitation. Such is the power of belief.

Without dwelling on such power in such a NEGATIVE sense, as shown in the above example, just imagine how the power of self-belief could help any of us prevail in a violent confrontation.

If you walk into any situation expecting defeat then thats exactly what you'll get, regardless if you take the other side with you or not, the best second best you've ever seen is still second best and finishing last.

To quote one of my peers Den Martin; it's like the mentality of survial as opposed to winning; If my mindset is to survive as the ultimate objective and I fail that objective, what is left after that?

The answer is nothing, if I don't survive then I'm dead! If I wake up with a drip in my arm and my own mum don't recognise me....but I survive, well that's an unexceptable cop out, for me any way.

But if I am prepared to do anything and everything to WIN, well then chances are I will and if I don't win, well I should atleast prevail enough to survive with a good showing. Therefore my perspective before such an event must clearly reflect that.

What you can take as a given from NLP is this; how you speak and think (internal dialogue) reflects your perspective and feelings which in turn effects your actions along with the results you get. Belief starts with the way you talk and think.

My own belief system in any confrontational situation is based on one of SELF IMPORTANCE; I don't mean that in an egotistical way, rather I am too important, I must prevail, too many people (children, wife, family etc) need me here! There is too much to lose if I lose, I MUST win. The next layer of this strategy allows me to deal with fear, this is one of focusing my indignation,

''how f##king DARE you threaten all I love, step up and I'll tear you to f##ing pieces!''

It is a given fact that no two states of mind can co-exist in the same time frame; how can I feel scared if I've harnessed a state of anger and aggression. (the key of course comes from access and control of such state) the final element is my CONFIDENCE, confidence in my ability to DO IT!

This comes from a variety of factors, namely experience of doing, prevailing through adversity in life, supplemented with years of training, acid testing, visualisation etc. The final vehicle that will drive this strategy is the physical attack, this will be immediate, direct and explosive.

The manifestation of this explosive aggression will be contained within the simple gross-motor skillset, everything before and after will be calm and caculated; this to my mind is, access and management of fight state.

So the conclusion is clear, the mind is either free of all thought but focused on the event, commonality to Musashi and the like;

Or completely single tracked on what I'm going to do to this f##king MEAT PUPPET, NOT what he's gonna do, f##k him! (slightly more modern thinking?) who knows.

Commonality to both is the Combative mindset!
Peace....

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Re: The Mastery of Swordsmanship.

Post  simontwosheds on Sun May 25, 2008 10:18 am

Lee,

Thanks very much. Very clear and highly educational. I`ll be re-reading that one in the future.

Simon.
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Re: The Mastery of Swordsmanship.

Post  Ian S on Wed May 28, 2008 5:06 pm

Hi Lee,

I agree that there are strong similarities of intent between the Japanese sword experts (Musashi et al) and the Western ones (Talhoffer, Fiore, etc.), though I think there is a more than subtle difference between the two mindsets, as well. Most of Japanese swordsmanship seems to make a far more complete commitment to the "as long as your enemy is dead, that's all that matters" approach. Every Western fechtbuch I've looked at emphasises what you mention in passing about Talhoffer -- that as you attack your enemy, you also neutralise or avoid or set aside his own attack. So, yes, in Talhoffer et al, there is an overarching intent to destroy the enemy... so long as it can be done without dying oneself. In Musashi, dying oneself is fine, so long as it's in service to one's lord & so long as one's task is performed (i.e. killing the enemy).

The difference is very apparent in sparring between Western-trained and Japanese-trained sword practitioners. The latter rarely bother with defence, instead relying on speed & placement of the attack to strike first. The former won't attack till they see a way to do so that also neutralises the opponent's attack.

One friend I've sparred with occasionally over a lot of years was quite blown away when I showed him some Talhoffer & Liechtenauer techniques... during one sequence of bouts, I finally got the better of him, despite his Kendo expertise, largely I think because the Western approach offers a better balance between attack & defence. Of course, by the time I sparred with him next, he'd absorbed all the Western stuff as well, and was readily beating me again.
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Re: The Mastery of Swordsmanship.

Post  Lee Morrison on Thu May 29, 2008 1:40 am

Hi mate
interesting stuff I see the difference your talking about, however within the context of mindset, during the heat of battle, what was trained to go on the disc is what would have come off the disc. I'm sure that was so for both sides. The Japanese thinking of it being an honour to die for their Emporer, gave them no fear of death and therefore no clutter of mind.

I'm sure when shit and fan met for a Western knight, the last thing he was thinking about, was ''well I'll wait for him to do this, then I'll do that'' Battle is battle and during such an event there would not have been much in the way of thinking and decision making going on for either party.

The tactics and technical aspects trained, whether completely offensive with disregard for what the enemy will do, or defensively offensive would have been the physical delivery system that drove the mindset i.e. the need to WIN! Accompanied by the BELIEF that they can!

As fun as it is to research the Historical stuff and to re-enacte what methods they used and it is fun, I have trained with such groups from an Historical interest point of view with great interest. It is and always will be far removed from any such Warrior endured event.

Sparring is an excercise, that comes with consent and equal initiative, that often becomes a reciprecal exchange of talent. That is not the point of this post. The point here is a comparision of the pyschological aspects relating to combat from Western and Eastern culture and the commonality for that is clear....''Do the opposition FIRST!''

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Re: The Mastery of Swordsmanship.

Post  Ian S on Thu May 29, 2008 1:53 am

Yes, agreed! The historical stuff is predominantly an enjoyable diversion -- and in either case, mindset is king.
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