Musashi: Sanjugokako-12 – Kim Taylor Jan 30, 2015

Added with permission from Kim Taylor Nanadan (CKF) Iaido, Rokudan (CKF) Jodo and Niten Ichi Ryu Shidoin, January 2023

Striking and hitting
Striking (“Utsu”) and hitting (“Ataru”) are different. Striking means, whatever path the sword may take, you must have a definite target in your mind and, as with test cutting, strike the target with all your strength and spirit. Hitting on the other hand means, if you are not able to strike properly, to hit with the sword any part of the opponent. However strong this hit may be, it is not the strike itself. Whether you hit the body of the opponent, or his sword, or even if you miss a target, hitting is not pointless. In short, hitting is a preceding attempt in order to carry out a real strike. This must be carefully practiced.======”I meant to do that”. How many times have we heard that one, you manage some sort of wonderful trick by accident and then try to take credit for it. There is a difference between succeding by intent or by accident. Musashi said that he won over 30 duels but at the end he wasn’t sure if it was due to his own skill or luck or the poor skills of his opponents. Did he simply crow about his wins? No, he worked for the rest of his life to try and “make his own luck”. He wanted to strike instead of to hit. Are you a rich person? Did you win a lottery? Is there merit in that? Did you inherit your money from your parents? Is there merit in that? Insider trading? Get a management job from your old school chum? Because you “hit the jackpot” does that mean that those who were not similarly lucky are of lesser worth than you? That they are lazy or stupid? Perhaps best to be quiet. In Kendo you won’t be awarded a point for accidentally smacking your opponent in the face with your shinai while you are wrestling in tai atari. That’s just hitting. Of course in real life with a shinken and no armour that might end the fight right there, but it’s not a point. Musashi doesn’t deny the effect of a hit, it can have a big effect, it can win you the fight, it can perhaps lose it for you as well. Think of the use of overwhelming and remote firepower on terrorism. Does the policy of blowing the dickens out of small villages from miles away really defeat terrorist movements? Or does the collateral damage simply create more of a problem than it solves? Musashi would favour the more surgical method, or a different method altogether, like changing the conditions that give rise to the problem perhaps? Musashi does say that hitting can set up striking, but it has to be done the right way. World War I showed the uselessness of massive artillary barrage on entrenched lines if not followed up immediately. The idea of the rolling barrage had to be developed, massive firepower to hit the enemy and get them away from their defences, followed by striking with infantry right behind the barrage before the defences could be re-manned. But in the modern case that would mean boots on the ground and then a plan to either colonize the conquered country or some plan to establish a stable government…Well if it was easy it would be done right? Bombing alone is easier. Or how about the massive collection of our data by our own spy agencies. Just recently in Canada we have heard of the millions upon millions of datum that have been collected by our spooks in order to find a couple hundred messages thought worthy of following up. Seriously? Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. I have no doubt that some time in the future the boys might stumble across some nugget of information that helps the “war against whatever we’re warring against at the moment” but is that accidental hit worth destroying the trust of the population in the government? Would it not be better, as seems to be proven by any sort of analysis of what works and what doesn’t, to try and strike instead, to be intentional, to get out of the office and onto the ground and talk to informants? If the population feels it can trust the government it will tell that government things. If the population is told it’s dangerous and must be watched by the “big ear” as it was named way back when, it might just shut up. I have no doubt I’ll trigger some sort of alert with this, please read it guys, don’t just flag my “metadata” in the system as an enemy of the state.You “get a hit” and you “make a strike”. One is accidental, passive, the other purposeful. One might have some use, one starts and ends useful. Efficiency counts.

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