Predicting the result

Meeting a superior in grade
the only way to go is completely to forget
that the superior grade is bound to win.

This is a poem from the School of the Spear from the 14th or 15th century. The School of the Spear specially developed the psychological side because the technique of the spear is very simple. There is very litde technical excellence – it’s mainly instantaneous response and anticipation, so that there is no gap between the opponent’s move and the response.

Then, as today, they used to be arranged in grades, which were regarded as important. If you were, say, a third Dan, and you were going to meet a fourth Dan, the expectancy was that you would lose.

The immediate reaction is, ‘How can you forget that?’ But it can be forgotten. The opponent may be a higher grade but that’s all in the past and there’s a lot of luck attached to attaining grades and a lot of luck attached to skills. The man may be having an off day.

The thing is completely to forget all that and to think ‘Now!’

You have to think of the present moment, with no grades and no other circumstances of any kind.

Similarly, if the higher grade thinks, ‘I’m bound to win’, that is the way he’ll lose, because he’s not fully alert.

It is much easier for an expert to go on with somebody who has done judo for a year than it is with somebody who has never done it at all. If you go on against somebody who has done it for a year you’ll know what he’ll do; he’ll do the ‘right’ things but he won’t be good enough at them.

But with somebody who’s never done it at all you’ve no idea what he’ll do. Most of it will be absolutely useless, of course, but it will be unexpected.

There’s a story in the East about the merchant who gets drunk and walks on top of a high wall. He falls off the wall, about thirty foot to the ground and he happens to fall on another merchant and, by extraordinary chance, kills him though he himself is unharmed.

So the magistrate says, ‘Well, it was a kind of an accident but you did get drunk, so you have got to pay compensation to the sons.’ So the merchant says, ‘Yes, yes, of course.’

But the sons disagree strongly. They say, ‘The law stipulates, a life for a life. In addition to the compensation this man should give his life; he’s killed our father and his life should be forfeit.’

The magistrate explains that this age-old law is meant for cases of murder. But the sons insist, ‘No! A life for a life. Justice!’

The magistrate says, ‘Don’t you think mercy might be better?’ ‘No,’ they reply. ‘Justice. We are asking for justice.’

The magistrate retorts, ‘Well then, you’ll have exact justice. My officers will put a rope around the merchant and stand him in the same spot where your father died. The two of you go to the top of the wall. First of all, the elder of you can jump, and if he misses, the younger can jump.’

In the same way, when you are up against an absolute beginner he’ll do things so risky and crazy that you can find your hands full. He’s jumping on you from the top of a wall. So he’s much harder to handle than somebody who knows the rules and the ropes but isn’t too good at them. He is much easier.

So, it is best to forget the circumstances of grade and ‘Oh, he’s bound to win/ he’s bound to lose.’

These are the things which fix the result already which need not be fixed at all.

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