This week I will start by sharing some of the wisdom from the Fire Scroll, part of the Book of Five Rings by Myamoto Musashi. I like the Fire Scroll- it has a lot of suggestions about the mental aspects of martial arts, as related to individual combat and military science, as well as to life in general. I am going to try to apply some of these principles to my everyday life (as Musashi commands) as well as to my martial art practice. Here I will share a few samples of the Fire Scroll, and will return to it at a later date, as a lot of information is contained within.
“In the military science of the individual Two Sword school, combat is thought of as fire. Matters pertaining to victory and defeat in combat are thought of as a scroll of fire and so are written down herein…”
“The Physical Situation”
Physically, Musashi advises you to keep the light source, be it sun, lights inside, or fires outside, to your back, or your right if your back is not possible. You should also strive to be physically above the opponent, even if it is not by much. Then, in battle, “the idea is to chase opponents to your left; it is essential to make sure that obstacles are to the rear of your opponents, then chase them into an obstacle any way you can.” Obstacles may include “doorsills, head jambs, doors, screens, verandas, pillars,” etc. “Use whatever qualities of the setting you can, concentrating on taking advantage of the situation. This is something that calls for careful and thorough reflection and practice.”
“Stomping a Sword”
“Stomping a sword is a move used only in martial arts. First of all, in large scale military science, even with bows and guns, when opponents attack you with whatever they have, after they have shot their first volley and are renewing their barrage, it is hard for you to make your attack if you are cocking a bow or loading a gun. The idea is to attack quickly while the enemy is in the process of shooting… When an opponent lashes out with his sword, you overpower his assault by stomping the sword down with your foot, seeing to it that he cannot strike a second blow. Stomping is not only done with the feet. You should also learn to “stomp” with your body, “stomp” with your mind, and of course “stomp” with a sword, in such a way as to prevent opponents from making a second move. This means getting the jump on everything. It does not mean randomly hitting an opponent with the idea of settling the contest all at once. It means instantaneous and unyielding follow- up. This should be investigated thoroughly.”
“There is infection in everything. Even sleepiness can be infectious, and yawning can be infectious. There is even the infection of a time. In large- scale military science, when adversaries are excited and evidently in a hurry to act, you behave as though you are completely unfazed, giving the appearance of being thoroughly relaxed and at ease. Do this, and adversaries themselves are influenced by this mood, becoming less enthusiastic. When you think opponents have caught that mood, you empty your own mind and act quickly and firmly, thus to gain the winning advantage. In individual martial arts as well, it is essential to be relaxed in body and mind, notice the moment an opponent slackens, and quickly take the initiative to win. There is something called “entrancing” that is similar to infection. One entrancing mood is boredom. Another is restlessness. Another is faintheartedness. This should be worked out thoroughly.”
In other Ms. Doll martial art related news, I did a short demonstration for my workplace’s annual talent show. I did a few forms (Mountain, Koryo, Water- 5 Elements, and the Staff form), then I had my kids do a self defense demo. It was fun and a good learning experience. I’m glad my kids were interested and able to participate. We got a lot of positive feedback, even winning one of the contests’ 3 second place prizes.