Ninjutsu has been called, "The Art of Winning" by its Soke, Hatsumi Sensei. He
has also commented that in order to win every fight you are in, only fight the
fights you know you can win. Many people take this statement as a funny quip,
or maybe translate it as some kind of "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold
'em"-style folk wisdom.
I used to think that way about it too. But I had a realization; if you are
going to say that you practice the art of winning, shouldn't every fight be
winnable? Aren't we studying the art of invincibility? How do we reconcile
these two seemingly contradictory views?
Way back in August of '09 I wrote another piece for the Art Of Winning Blog
that was all about the difference between strategy and tactics, and how to
apply a knowledge of the difference in every day life. If you have't read it,
it's a bit wordy but check it out here:
The concept of winning every fight by fighting the ones you can win is tightly
integrated with the "Nin" concept of "patience" or "perseverance", and so is
linked with understanding your individual role in this moment of tactics
amongst a larger life strategy. At every instant there is some battle we can
win; one "fight" that we can choose to engage with because we know that we can
and will win it. And as soon as we are done, the situation is new. Pick a new
fight. Win. Repeat.
This is the way to effective effort. Do the thing you can do right now, and
before you know it now will be different and there will be a different thing
you can do. The key to always winning is tightly linked with the perseverance
to continue on; they are the same thing. To always win you must be patient. To
gain patience you must never stop winning.
I have been involved in a new workout routine that is high intensity interval
training; basically you burn yourself out with small gaps in between workouts
before doing it again. It makes you more tired and sore than you ever thought
you could be, and then you keep going, six days a week. The only way through
(for me) is to pick a goal I know I can hit. I can make it through this set. I
can finish out this minute. I can hold this stretch for 10 more seconds. Once I
hit that goal (and I always do -- fight the fights you know you can win!) I
pick a new goal. If I collapse, then my goal is to recover quickly and get back
into it. Before I know it the hour is up. Not long after that I'm a month in,
feeling great and getting better all the time.
Think of one thing you can do right this moment that will feel like a win. Do
it. Go back to the beginning of this paragraph. Just keep winning!
By Thomas Luce, Owner and Instructor of Willamette Valley Quest Club in Portland, OR