“In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not good.”
In this passage it is clear to see that Sun Tzu is saying to have restraint in your attack. For his purposes he is saying that if you totally destroy the enemy and their encampment or city you will cause yourself a few problems. One is that it was very common for the armies of this time to plunder the resources, such as weapons or food, of the enemies that they defeated. So destroying everything by burning a city to the ground, for example, would also needlessly destroy anything of value that enemy might have. Also if they were the victor they would now essentially be responsible for the people that lived in the area that they conquered. If they destroyed bridges or water supplies they would have to rebuild these things once these people became their subjects, that would be costly. Lastly it was not uncommon for an army to take in the lower level solders of the defeated enemy into their ranks and increase their numbers. So if you killed everyone then this would not be possible.
From our perspective of a self-defense situation it brings a different meaning. In any state or even country where you are allowed to defend yourself there is a common rule. In general you are only allowed to use the same amount of force that is used against you. So what this means in simple terms is that if someone comes up and pushes you in bar you cannot pull out a gun and shoot them dead. Your response has to be measured and equal to the force of the attack used against you. Well when it is something obvious like the example I gave it is pretty simple and straight forward. Where these kind of laws actually fall apart is when the situation is a bit more complex. If someone comes up to you and says give me all your money or grabs you but does not display a weapon then this gets very difficult. The problem in this type of situation is that the attacker may have a knife or gun that is concealed. If you wait to react you may find yourself getting shot or stabbed!
This is why I always stress that you should find out the self-defense laws where you are at. It does no good to find them out just where you live. If you travel to another state or country the laws where you live do not travel with you. The difference can be staggering and mind boggling. When I was in England there was a very well know Tournament fighter from Manchester. Anytime word gets out that you have some kind of fighting skills there will be those who want to challenge your abilities. One night he was leaving a local pub and four guys jumped him. Surprisingly and to his credit he beat all four of them up. The only problem was that one of them, after the tournament fighter side kicked him in the gut, fell and while doing so slammed his head on the pavement and soon after died.
Well I am sure most of you would think “Oh slam dunk, he was just minding his own business and was attacked by four people, how could they charge him with anything”? WRONG! The police arrested the tournament fighter and charged him with manslaughter. So you see the world of self-defense laws is a twisted place! Well if we cannot afford to wait to see if an attacker has a weapon and if we over step the self-defense laws what should we do?
Well you should use sort of the Castle approach. A castle has many layers. You have the moat outside the castle walls that an attacker must breach before they even get to the outer walls. The out walls have towers with which you can have archers to shoot down or people can throw nasty things like rocks or hot oils on the attacker’s heads. If they breach that wall there will be a fortified house or houses that they must get past another wall before entering the locked houses.
Our first line of defense is knowing the self-defense laws and how they pertain to us. The second wall if you will is the Situational Awareness that we talked about in the previous blog. The third layer is:
“The preparation of mantlets, movable shelters, and various implements of war will take up three months; and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take three months more.”
In our case your weapons are your hands, feet and your ability to use them effectively. Learning how to fight is not an overnight affair. That is why these one off two hour self-defense courses offered to women are kind of dangerous in my opinion. Yes women that take one of these courses may learn something that might save their life. The problem is more often than not these classes rely on teaching techniques that are too difficult to use in a self-defense situation after only two hours of instruction. The other problem is a little knowledge of technique without a whole lot of knowledge of the philosophy of how and when to use them can some times release the inner Van Damme in people. What I mean by this is that they, after learning a few techniques, have an over inflated view of their abilities to defend themselves and therefore may ignore some of the Situational Awareness that we mentioned earlier.
If you want to really learn to defend yourself for any reason find a good self-defense class and start today. Do not wait until tomorrow because tomorrow may be when you are attacked and need the knowledge and technique that you can gain from these classes over time. As we have talked about a lot already it takes time to be capable and to have the knowledge and understanding that you need to go along with it. So give yourself a reasonable time to develop these things. I know everyone has a busy life but dedicating a minimum of a couple nights a week to your practice could very well save your or someone you loves life one day.
“The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of siege.”
Have you ever seen the build up to an MMA fight where both fighters really do not like each other? Each time they meet they hurl insults at each other in a very disrespectful way. You can usually see if one of the fighters is taking this to heart as they start to appear agitated and begin to lose their control. This is a ploy that is as old as the hills. Muhammad Ali use to do this all the time. It is a strategy in its own right. It is a well-known fact that uncontrolled anger in a fight is the sure way to defeat. When anger enters the fighters mind his thoughts become chaotic. His adrenaline rises and he loses his sense of self-preservation. This leads to poor timing, technique, and defenses. Once enraged they will as Sun Tzu says “swarm like ants” and rush in without any regard for the dangers that it creates.
This is one of the main reasons that the Martial Artist of old incorporated Zen Buddhism into their practice. One of the goals of Zen Buddhism is to tame the mind and have it be tranquil in during any situation. If your mind can be tranquil in the midst of chaos how much better will your responses be then the agitated mind filled with anger. While meditating can help you greatly with this you need to practice in as realistic situations as possible to be able to maintain this state of mind during a fight. This takes time! It is not something that you can obtain overnight.