Watch and learn. But be warned: it’s not pretty (and I’m not talking about the fighting part).
Earlier this week, I did a post about the way a good fighter doesn’t just use mindless tactics but, instead, uses tactics that draw the enemy onto his own territory. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that you want a fight to be to your strengths, not to your enemy’s strengths. I illustrated that point with a Gracie Jiu jitsu video showing that a good ground fighter is going to win against other martial artists.
Since then, a friend who knows much more than I do on the subject of warfare pointed something out to me that both highlights a thinking mistake I made and perfectly illustrates my point. The Gracies’ tactics work well in a controlled environment: a smooth, possibly padded floor, and one opponent. Under those circumstances, if you can get your opponent to the ground, then you’ve got him in your territory.
In the real world, though (outside of a fight in the Romper Room Bar, complete with thick carpets on the floor and padded walls), fights take place in less hospitable surroundings. The ground beneath you may be strewn with broken glass, rocks, and other dangerous and/or unsavory items, and your opponent may have friends. Under those circumstances, if you hit the ground, you may be hurt, and you’ve limited your mobility. But why listen to me? Here’s a real fighter explaining:
Bottom line: I made the same mistake I was complaining about vis a vis our military: namely, thinking too linearly about my strengths, without considering the other party’s advantages and the ways in which I can counter those advantages. But while my facts were wrong, I think my logic is correct. You can’t just fight to your strength; you have to fight to your opponent’s weakness, or at least disable his advantages.
Incidentally, I have heard from reliable sources that our military has the ability to engage the enemy in an optimally constructive fashion, but that external limitations (politics, I assume, although I haven’t been told) prevent our forces from doing what needs to be done.
At the dojo today, we did a bit of sparring. Afterwards, the teacher told us about “The Book of Five Rings,” a fighting treatise that the great Samurai warrior, Miyamoto Musashi wrote in about 1645. Musashi was an extraordinary duelist, winning in part because of his skill, and in part because of his utterly fearless approach: he was willing to take fairly significant risks in any duel to the death. In his book, he identified all sorts of fighting attitudes, but the bottom line attitude was fight to win.
I’ve decided that my sparring attitude is “Ginger Rogers”: dance away backwards at great speed, with beautiful footwork. I justify this attitude on the ground that I’m at least a foot shorter, 40 pounds lighter, and 10 years older than all my opponents. I’m not cowardly, I’m sensible. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
If you’d like to read a well-written and extremely funny essay about fighting that would have made Musashi proud, check this out.