Last time we discussed the first 5 strategies of the FLITE stratagems. You might remember that over the last couple of weeks we have looked at how martial artists need to understand strategy at a deeper level than is often taught in class.
My goal in my schools is to not only use strategy but to understand it as deeply as possibly; like the number of repetitions of technique it takes to begin to understand a technique the practice and application of strategy will over time reveal more subtle levels of comprehension and understanding. My contention is that martial arts is not about winning, but about getting the results we want. What do I mean by that seemingly contradictory statement? Well, let me explain:
It’s easy to set a goal for something in life whether it is something material like a bigger house, emotional like the partner of our dreams or physical like the body of an Adonis. At the beginning we attempt to achieve our goals and the goal itself gives us direction but it is the journey that reveals the most to us. In our quest and pursuit of the goal we learn about its achievement through the strategies we use to achieve it but along the way we are acquiring valuable skills that we can use in the pursuit of other life goals too.
So even if we don’t achieve the exact goal or if we do it doesn’t matter as much as the knowledge we acquire on the way. Just as when we first enter the dojo because we want to do ‘a bit’ of martial arts or to get fit or to learn to defend ourselves, the initial goal gives us a direction but for some of us we realise that what we came for is not the real goal but the journey of discovery of ourselves using the martial arts as our tool. Winning trophies in competition might be another goal and you might win many or lose them all. The winning or losing though in the long run doesn’t matter as when you are older and perhaps wiser you look back on your tournament career and see that the acquisition of trophies matters little as no one really cares about your past, but the important things is what you have gained along the way: friends, skills, practice, conditioning and experience that will serve you for the rest of your life.
Martial arts study is like polishing diamonds, when the rock is lift from the ground it is shapeless, grubby and dirty like any rock but when the polisher begins his work on polishing and shaping the rock, beneath all that dust emerges what it really is; a lustrous, beautiful diamond.
The martial arts; through sustained and dedicated study, reveals the diamond that is us; at our core it reveals our true values and shapes our futures. So the consideration or mind-set of the ‘win’ becomes irrelevant when compared with what we have become, all the so called wins and losses fade away when compared with what we have gained on both sides of that coin and ultimately we have gotten what we really wanted – knowledge or ourselves and our purpose in life.
So it is with the martial arts that we can think beyond the simple win or lose scenario and in so doing consider how to get what we want quicker, easier and with less pain. Without strategy we can be like the poor bulls that face the bull fighters of Spain; simply charging forward with huge power and strength, all of which is simply controlled and manipulated by a tiny human with a fraction of that strength but who knows how to use strategy to get what he wants. Sadly with bull fighting the humiliation of a bull seems to me to be at best a waste of good strategy and at worst a torture of a proud animal. So my goal in these articles is to encourage you to consider the various tools that are available to us in the form of strategy so you are not simply charging forward like the bull who utilises the same strategy over and over again only to be easily controlled and shortly killed.
Last time we discussed the first 5 stratagems which are the focus strategies using the fake, feint, foil, draw and doubt. These work very well in combative opposition and are most easily understood. Over the next few blogs I want to cover the next five stratagems which are the 5 Leverage strategies.
All strategy uses leverage at some level to get what we want but the 5 leverage strategies are more heavily focused on understanding and utilising our available leverage. The combat law of Leverage states ‘achieve more with less’ and refers to how we can find in every situation an easier way to achieve our preferred outcome.
I look forward to discussing this with you in more detail.
National Martial Arts Colleges - UK