How to control your enemy

One of the keys to a successful self-defense situation is controlling the enemy. Here are more principles from the brilliant mind of Sun Tzu.

21. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

22. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him.  Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

23. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.

24. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

25. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

If the enemy is powerful and ready, he will soon attack. If he is obviously better than you are, get away. These are ways to control the enemy by knowing their next move. Bait them with smack talk if the enemy looks easy to make angry. As stated in the last post, fake being weak and injured to make your enemy feel superior. That will often make them choose to attack with fewer defenses up — committing more to the attack than necessary or safe.

Also, if the enemy it knocked off balance or tired, continue a relentless assault to finish him off. Likewise, a group of enemies must be attacked one at time. We use the rule of two, hit each opponent twice and then move on to the next one. Attempt to devastate the opponent as visually amazing as possible. Make it gory, thematic, and audible — scream a lot. You can also divide up the enemies by closing doors or blocking others out while you finish off an isolated opponent.

Another rule of martial arts is you can’t defend all areas at the same time effectively. Therefore, there is always a weak spot in their defense. The trick is to find that area and attack it. Attack in a way that they are not expecting.

What ever you think of or implement, do yourself a favor and don’t tell anyone. The best military advantages are secret, so keep yours secret too.

Deception in self-defense

The goal of any self-defense situation is to survive the assault. We prepare for it physically through our martial arts training but there is a mental component to it also. There is an old saying in the arts, 99% of combat is mental and only 1% is physical. Sun Tzu explains why this is true in the next section.

18. All warfare is based on deception.

19. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy.  Feign disorder, and crush him.

Part of the role of humility is to not be seen as a threat. Aggressive people seek out threats to eliminate them before they in turn can be threatened. This is one of the main reasons martial artists are told not to boast about how they know Karate or Kempo. It tells would-be-enemies of your abilities. They can then take measures to defend against your skills. It is better to be thought of as weak and unable to defend yourself than give up your secret weapon.

Feign injury when you are able to attack. Hold your arm or limp so the enemy thinks you are at a disadvantage. Sneak in on the enemy from a blind side so you can surprise him by your appearance. In self-defense training, we talk about throwing things at the attacker so it can ricochet off the wall. Then the enemy thinks there is someone behind them. Of course you don’t throw it while he’s looking directly at you. You must be sly and deceptive.

Feigning confusion and panic is a great way to get your enemy to over commit with their next attack. Likewise, you must know when to show irrational behavior and rage. This tricks the enemy into thinking you are losing your rational, tactical mind. It can also be used to scare the enemy into routing the field.

We’ll talk more about this next article. Meanwhile, have you ever used some of these principles in your own self-defense situation?

Following Sun Tzu’s advice

The next section recommends that the good general or in our case, martial artist, listen and implement what he suggests.

15. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat: let such a one be dismissed!

16. While heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules.

17. According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.

Even while using his recommendations and theories to guide your defense, his also recommends using any helpful circumstances that occur. If the circumstances are covered by the rules he supplies, Sun Tzu recommends making use of it anyway if it will help your situation.

Therefore, in a self-defense situation, when something helpful happens integrate it into your counter strike. For instance, the confrontation or fight takes you to a spot where you can duck into a room and lock the door to escape. Take the fortuitous opportunity. If your opponent slips on a greasy spot on the floor and stumbles, take advantage of it right away. The list is endless to a creative mind. The trick then is to spot them when they occur naturally and then make use of it.

Use the environment to supplement your skills and situation. Leave comments below if you have ever used some of these principles in your own self-defense situation.

Who wins a self-defense situation?

Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:
(1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law?
(2) Which of the two generals has most ability?
(3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?
(4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?
(5) Which army is stronger?
(6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained?
(7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?

14. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat.

Let me paraphrase this list into modern parlance and in self-defense jargon.
(1) Which combatant is willing to defend themselves regardless of the danger and has the stern resolve to do it?
(2) Which combatant has strategies in place for confrontations?
(3) Who uses their environment and available tools to defend themselves?
(4) Who is trained to be more disciplined?
(5) Who is mentally, physically and spiritually stronger?
(6) Which combatant is the most trained in martial skills?
(7) Who has trained most consistently for confrontations?

As you can see from my new list, the winner of a self-defense confrontation is someone who has trained consistently in an effective art such as Golden Leopard Kempo-justu. It doesn’t really matter which art you prefer or study. All the arts provide benefit of discipline and martial techniques. Some are more applicable to actual street level self-defense situations.

What is most important is the preparation for the situation. Hoping it won’t happen doesn’t aid you when the time comes. Take charge of your life by learning how to defend yourself. This eliminates the effects of fear allowing you to focus and assess the situation.

While speaking of self-defense, preparation also includes things outside of carrying a small weapon or making your hands lethal weapons. It includes disaster preparedness — do you have survival kits, food and water, tents, cash. Do you know first aid techniques, CPR and AED? Situations are infinitely diverse. The more you learn and prepare the wider your range of effectiveness. It also provides you with a broader scope of skills that can be modified for other situations.

5 Constant Factors in Self-Defense

This is the next installment of my commentary on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War for personal self-defense. What are the five constant factors necessary for successful defense?

The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.

The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger. [Tu Yu quotes Wang Tzu as saying:   “Without constant practice, the officers will be nervous and undecided when mustering for battle; without constant practice, the general will be wavering and irresolute when the crisis is at hand.”]

Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.

Here Sun Tzu is mentioning time and weather. These play a factor in your self-defense strategy. In the cold part of the year, baggy jackets can hide pocket sticks and other self-defense weapons. During warmer times, you need to have another place to store your weapon.

Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.

Know the layout of the land, the room or alley. This is part of your situational awareness.

The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness. [The five cardinal virtues of the Chinese are (1) humanity or benevolence; (2) uprightness of mind; (3) self-respect, self- control, or “proper feeling;” (4) wisdom; (5) sincerity or good faith.  Here “wisdom” and “sincerity” are put before “humanity or benevolence,” and the two military virtues of  “courage”  and “strictness”  substituted for “uprightness of mind”  and  “self- respect, self-control, or ‘proper feeling.’”]

By method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.

Total self-defense entails knowing where your supplies are and having them ready. This survivalist point of view may scare the general population but it is essential. Sun Tzu mentions that part of warfare is the maintenance of roads for your supplies. On a personal level, you need to have food, water, radio, fire starters and blankets for disasters. We all know that nature strikes on her own whim. We can not plan for a particular date of an earthquake or hurricane but we can plan for its randomness.

Therefore, I suggest that a modern warrior knows where his or her weapons are, has a survival pack, and is trained to defend himself or herself.

It is important to know and prepare for self-defense

I. LAYING PLANS

The first chapter is called laying plans. It stresses building a foundation from which to rest all your skills and assets. I equate this with learning how to stand, punch, kick and move properly. There is no sense if rushing the process so you can be effective earlier. Rather it is better to build slowly and surely to get the most value and flexibility out of the process of learning.

Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin.  Hence it is a subject of inquiry, which can on no account be neglected.

What Sun Tzu is explaining is the importance of knowing. In our case, one must not neglect training in self-defense hoping that it won’t be needed. As he states, it is a matter of life and death. Putting off the training is the road to ruin while investing in the training is the road to safety.

Not everyone is interested in a comprehensive self-defense course, the whole martial arts way of life. Some are content with a quick four-session course. That is fine but won’t serve you in all situations. Remember that life-long study of martial arts, such as Kempo-jutsu, prepares the body, mind and spirit for combat in all its forms. You never know when you’ll need it or how it will appear. Continuous study provides the renewal of physical and mental skills on a regular basis.

Remember that self-defense is a skill-based activity that requires constant maintenance to remain effective. That’s one thing self-defense experts often forget to mention. You spend a few hours honing some simple motor skills but in six months, you’ll loose the speed and skill. Although it make take a little longer to develop equal self-defense skills in a martial arts school, you put the material deep in the tissue so to speak. You really internalize the material allowing you to adapt and react even when you’re a out of practice.

In scouting, they have a motto of “be prepared”, that is true with your defense too. Take the time to learn a little. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to perform effectively.

System General Category Time to Use Self-Defense Skill Skill Retention
Self-Defense Self-Defense Short High Low
Kempo-jutsu Self-Defense Long High High
Olympic Style Sport Long Low High

What my overly generalized chart depicts is my view on the strengths and weaknesses of corporate self-defense, a self-defense-oriented martial art (like Golden Leopard’s Hawaiian Shaolin Kempo-jutsu) and a more sport-like martial art. They all their focus. If you like to compete in tournaments and look absolutely amazing when performing katas and weapon routines, seek out an olympic style art. If you hate spending more than a few hours on any task, join a corporate-level self-defense workshop. If you want long-term survivability, you need to seek out a solid, self-defense-focused martial art.

When you read, “Learn what your sensei didn’t teach you.” Remember there are things these self-defense experts are also leaving out. As Sun Tzu suggests, the subject of inquiry can not be neglected. Educate yourself and be your own expert.

Don’t agree? Tell me why in the comments.

The story of Sun Tzu

The oldest military treatise in the world, Sun Tzu on the Art of War is one of the finest treatments on warfare and combat ever written. His understanding of war is superb. Over the next few months, I’ll provide quotes from the book and add commentary on how it relates to personal self-defense.

I’m using the public domain version provided by Project Gutenberg

Title: The Art of War
Author: Sun Tzu
Translator: Lionel Giles
Release Date: December 28, 2005  [eBook #17405]

I remember hearing this story from several sources and I believe it illustrates Sun Tzu’s comprehension of warfare training and application of his theories. It exemplifies the execution of strict discipline among one’s troops. Ssu-ma Ch`ien gives the following biography of Sun Tzu:

Sun Tzu Wu was a native of the Ch`i State. His ART OF WAR brought him to the notice of Ho Lu, King of Wu. Ho Lu said to him: “I have carefully perused your 13 chapters. May I submit your theory of managing soldiers to a slight test?”

Sun Tzu replied: “You may.”

Ho Lu asked: “May the test be applied to women?”

The answer was again in the affirmative, so arrangements were made to bring 180 ladies out of the Palace. Sun Tzu divided them into two companies, and placed one of the King’s favorite concubines at the head of each. He then bade them all take spears in their hands, and addressed them thus: “I presume you know the difference between front and back, right hand and left hand?”

The girls replied: Yes.

Sun Tzu went on: “When I say ‘Eyes front,’ you must look straight ahead. When I say ‘Left turn,’ you must face towards your left hand. When I say ‘Right turn,’ you must face towards your right hand. When I say ‘About turn,’ you must face right round towards your back.”

Again the girls assented. The words of command having been thus explained, he set up the halberds and battle-axes in order to begin the drill. Then, to the sound of drums, he gave the order “Right turn.” But the girls only burst out laughing. Sun Tzu said: “If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, then the general is to blame.”

So he started drilling them again, and this time gave the order “Left turn,” whereupon the girls once more burst into fits of laughter. Sun Tzu: “If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders ARE clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.”

So saying, he ordered the leaders of the two companies to be beheaded. Now the king of Wu was watching the scene from the top of a raised pavilion; and when he saw that his favorite concubines were about to be executed, he was greatly alarmed and hurriedly sent down the following message. “We are now quite satisfied as to our general’s ability to handle troops. If We are bereft of these two concubines, our meat and drink will lose their savor. It is our wish that they shall not be beheaded.”

Sun Tzu replied: “Having once received His Majesty’s commission to be the general of his forces, there are certain commands of His Majesty which, acting in that capacity, I am unable to accept.”

Accordingly, he had the two leaders beheaded, and straightway installed the pair next in order as leaders in their place. When this had been done, the drum was sounded for the drill once more; and the girls went through all the evolutions, turning to the right or to the left, marching ahead or wheeling back, kneeling or standing, with perfect accuracy and precision, not venturing to utter a sound. Then Sun Tzu sent a messenger to the King saying: “Your soldiers, Sire, are now properly drilled and disciplined, and ready for your majesty’s inspection. They can be put to any use that their sovereign may desire; bid them go through fire and water, and they will not disobey.”

But the King replied: “Let our general cease drilling and return to camp. As for us, We have no wish to come down and inspect the troops.”

Thereupon Sun Tzu said: “The King is only fond of words, and cannot translate them into deeds.”

After that, Ho Lu saw that Sun Tzu was one who knew how to handle an army, and finally appointed him general. In the west, he defeated the Ch`u State and forced his way into Ying, the capital; to the north he put fear into the States of Ch`i and Chin, and spread his fame abroad amongst the feudal princes. And Sun Tzu shared in the might of the King.