Letters to Lynn Redgrave:
Dispelling Ghosts and Deceptions

Property Of Jeri Massi. Do not photocopy, distribute, or reproduce this material. It is copyright protected.


These are the edited letters that I sent to Lynn Redgrave, during her long and painful divorce from her then husband, John Clark. I began the correspondence in May of 1999, about seven months after her ordeal had started. With her consent, I emailed her an essay every Monday morning, givng her instruction on the Art of War. I used primarily two classics of strategy: Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings, and Sun Tzu's Art of War . I cannot publish the letters that she wrote back to me, as they may actually be owned by her estate. When she did reply, her emails were concise and always kind. The letters below are edited sightly to remove direct references to John Clark.

Our correspondence began after I read of her husband's attempts to harass her in public, I wrote to her, and asked her permission to send her an essay a week until I had exhausted the topics covered. She gave me her permission, and I began a close, intense examination of the martial arts mindset. She told me later that she found the essays so helpful that she would study them before each encounter with her husband. They assisted her in seeing beyond his "mask" of self assurance and strength to the uncertain, frightened person inside. Definitely, the most successful essay that I sent her was #14, the essay on blending. We never became friends; we were always formal and polite with each other. For me, the lesson learned was that no matter how influential, wealthy, famous a person is, if you can help them, they will probably stop and listen to you: a good lesson for all aspiring writers. Try to say the necessary truth as concisely as possible, allowing for humor to sweeten the lessons when necessary. But write to the reader's needs.

Behind the savage mask of every bully,there is frightened, intimidated person who is desperately trying to maintain control of a situation because he/she is terrified of being only a mortal human being. The wise warrior strips that mask away from an attacker, for it is the only real weapon of a bully. Successful fighting is primarily psychological and moral. I hope that other people will find these essays helpful.

#1 Men and women fight differently; Men must see destruction
#2 Your own inner courage
#3 The primary weapon; the great swordsman
#4 Defeating expectations & upsetting rhythm; the "stopping mind"; waiting
#5 Envy was his motive; how to fight back effectively.
#6 Goodness; fighting envy; the better you; the opponent's patience
#7 Kamae; detachment
#8 The samurai & death; the training hall experience
#9 Defeat is an Illusion (Part 1 of 2)
#10 Defeat is an Illusion (Part 2 of 2)
#11 Victory is an Illusion; breathing; end of the first ring
#12 Combat methods; tatemae and honne; ken and kan
#13 Be fluid; the mind rules the body; depth of spirit
#14 From Aikido: Blending
#15 "No Design, No Thought" ('Munen Muso')
#16 The inner sword; accepting; emptiness
#17 Sticking; trapping
#18 Kyudo; releasing the arrow
#19 Injure the corners; mountain-sea change: breaking noses
#20 Tread down the enemy; know collapse; fight to the end
#21 Become the enemy; letting go the hilt; the way is to win
#22 Transfer a spirit; Upset the balance; cause hardship
#23 False premises 1: long sword, short sword, brute strength, intricate techniques
#24 False premises 2: stances, gaze at the heart, speed, secret teachings
#25 The Book of Ku; three examples
#26 "Bushi no Nasaki"
#27 The Fighter's Short List
#28 The two questions for bushido training

#1 Men and women fight differently; Men must see destruction

Dear Miss Redgrave,

I have earned my third degree black belt in tae kwon do, and I am a woman. Because I have studied martial arts for 20 years now, I have worked with many women who have encountered physical conflicts, attempts at being manipulated, humiliated, and frightened.

The first thing I want to tell you is that men and women fight differently. An aggressive man likes to "create havoc" and see it. Seeing the pain or humiliation he causes encourages him to continue causing pain and humiliation and even gives him a sense of justification and empowerment. An aggressive or exploitive woman, on the other hand, seeks to "know" rather than see. This is why women murderers have tended to be poisoners while male murders attack with a weapon in hand. The men have to see the victim die to be satisfied in the dreadful act of murder, and the women tend to find satisfaction simply in knowing.

Because a male aggressor likes to "create havoc" and see it, a woman defender's best psychological strategy in fighting or resisting him is to show the effects of the havoc as little as possible. To show contempt or pity for him is more effective than to show anger. The more impervious the woman is to the worst things that he does, the less satisfaction he finds.

The second thing I would like to point out is that a woman must be wary of an aggressive man who has nothing left to lose. This is true in any type of conflict, not just physical fighting. A man who has destroyed everything that he has and made a colossal fool of himself will justify himself by blaming or humiliating others. His gut level reasoning is that if he can make the person he has wronged behave badly: (that is, scream at him, or cry uncontrollably, or fall apart in some other way), then he can tell himself (and others) that she somehow deserved the wrong that he did to her.

He will seek to humiliate you, and may openly reveal private things or do other cruel acts. His goal is to bring you down and make you behave badly, and he will probably seek to have that done in public. Men who are good at exploiting a woman's sense of guilt, her need for privacy, her self esteem, can do some very humiliating things. Again, the woman's best defense is calmness, even openness. She must not react on the first very strong impulse of emotion that he creates in her, but she must remain calm, remember her goals, and not provide him with the "havoc" that he wants to see.

There is a lot more to the psychology of war, but this is probably more than you were ever interested in reading. And yet, few women can maintain poise and a calm mind before a truly aggressive male. But I think you can. You are a person of tremendous inner strength. I hope that you don't mind if I send you one more e-mail on handling some of the "illusions" that an aggressor can create in a person's mind. Understanding the mental game against illusions and false "either-or" situations has been of great benefit to me. I plan to write it up and send it to you within a few days.

Thank you for your patience with me.

Jeri Massi

#2 Your own inner courage

Dear Miss Redgrave,
As I mentioned previously, men and women attack and defend based on different premises. A man's sense of self is highly compartmentalized: his amount of control; his power; his achievement; the satisfaction of his physical needs. A woman's sense of self comes from a more complex system of her interaction with her world: her loved ones, her achievements, her various roles (from house cleaner to business executive), her handiwork, everything that she does and cares about.

First, because a woman finds importance in her interaction with others, she has a more sensitive sense of guilt than a man. A smart aggressor will exploit this.

Her more complex interactions between her sense of self and her environment mean that she has a heightened need for privacy at times and "personal quiet" in which she can reorganize her thoughts and resolve inner conflicts and concerns. She's always making adjustments between her sense of self and her shifting world, balancing things out.

Her self esteem, which is interwoven throughout her more complex personal universe, has more surface area that is vulnerable to attack. In other words, because a woman's world actually becomes a part of her sense of self, she always has a lot more at risk. In a lot of ways, this makes women tremendously brave. Throughout history, women have sacrificed themselves for their beliefs and for the people they have loved.

But a woman's more complex sense of self can be turned against her. No matter how brave or strong she is, a woman is subject to attack through the gates of her many interactions to her world. She is more susceptible to guilt; she will suffer cruelly if her children are threatened. She can be harried and run to earth, emotionally exhausted by her tormentor and unable to find rest and privacy; and she can be made to believe that she has been cut off from the universe she has created for herself (her "nest").

One illusion that the aggressor creates is that the woman is isolated or has "lost the nest", or that the nest is destroyed. He makes her feel deserted and alone. Usually, he'll rely on humiliating her to do this, perhaps blaming her; although some men also use threats to create a sense of danger in her. He may even do really wretched things like destroying or stealing her personal effects (a statement that her past has been destroyed). Seeing through this illusion is vital: You are not isolated. The "nest" is still there, and any current damage it has suffered can be repaired.

A second tactic of emotional aggression is a false "either-or" choice forced onto a woman. The claim is, "If you don't do this my way, then such-and-such will happen (disaster)." It's really just another way of threatening her or making her feel isolated and helpless. Her best defense is never to choose either alternative. She can always default to "wait" and then examine the situation objectively and privately.

All human beings house two burning coals in their hearts: Fear and Guilt. They are useful when they burn slowly. They make us cautious about not hurting ourselves and not hurting others. But if they are fanned into flames within our hearts, they will burn us alive from the inside. The proper use of fear is to avoid danger; not to avoid courage. And the proper use of guilt is to seek forgiveness, not to justify ourselves.

Exploiters who fan these two coals to flame somehow cause normally responsible and brave women to get trapped in an endless cycle of misery, self justification, self reproach, and matters that are never resolved.

To sum it up, a woman is a creature of internal processes and internal powers. To fight well, to react well, and to endure, she must focus on her inner being: resolving issues on all fronts, focusing on her goals, maintaining her ideals and values, finding times of privacy and rest. She must also focus on her many connections to her world and keep building and strengthening those connections. She must continue to give altruistically to those that she loves. This also strengthens her. She is endangered by being engulfed by her tormentor, by having that person cut her off from her own inner world and all its many connections to her outer world. If the struggle against him becomes everything in her life, then in a way he is still winning, for she is just as robbed of the richness of her life as if he burned everything down.

And finally, let me speak as a self defense teacher. You are dealing with a person who has destroyed and lost everything. I'm not trying to predict violence or make you afraid. But changing locks and investing in a good home security system are a small price to pay for peace and safety. And if you should decide to follow that strategy, it's best to do it quietly, in an offhand way.

Thank you again for your patience with these e-mails. I've hit all the major points. You have always demonstrated great strength and dignity and intelligence. I believe that you can rely on your inner strength in this difficult time. And you can continue to cultivate it. You have a very rich and imaginative "inner self" from which to give: first, to those that you love, and second, to those who so respect your dramatic skills.

The wrong done to you is staggering, and it was downright cruel. But remember, there are actions that destroy the person who does them. This is one reason that I write: to urge you to preserve yourself, and not let him drag you down with him.

I hope that these e-mails have helped you. If I can encourage you further or help you in any way, I will.

Jeri Massi

#3 The primary weapon; the great swordsman

Dear Miss Redgrave,

I wrote to you a week or two ago, seeking to encourage you to rely on your inner strength. I hope to encourage you again, this time with an overview of your most powerful weapon and a quick look at a great classic book, written by a samurai warrior.

There is only one weapon that you truly possess, and that is your self. It is the seat of your will, strength, and courage. It is the starting point of every victory you have ever won and every victory you will win.

Perhaps, in the course of the last year, you felt that all that you had possessed and built was destroyed or taken from you. Even so, you started again with your one weapon, to build a new life, probably to engage in new battles (and maybe some old ones). And though you probably felt weak, perhaps more weak than you've ever felt in your life, the spark within you still tended towards regaining courage and strength. That spark always tends towards survival. It can flicker and waver. And you can feel disassociated from it. But it is there. This is true of everybody until they die, but for some people it always flickers. But your entire life history has shown any martial artist that you have a good and ready spirit, a strong spark that doesn't like to flicker. That spark, your primary weapon of inner self, is a solid weapon, far better than what most people have in possession. And you can train that weapon further.

Your inner self is also the true target of any opponent. No matter what wealth you have that an adversary wants, he first has to conquer your inner person (your self) and put your selfhood in a condition in which it won't animate your body and mind to resist. And when you defend to prevent his assault, no matter how dangerous your armaments, they are useless if your self is not strong, brave, and filled with the knowledge of how to use them. The great samurai, Miyamoto Musashi, probably the greatest swordsman who ever lived, urged his students to build a stronger inner person before attending to sword technique. Battles, he asserted, are won first by means of "martial enlightenment" ("heiho") than by the sword itself.

I ask that you will allow me to present this perspective to you. I know it is foreign to Westerners, especially women. And I don't expect you to agree with it. But it may at least give you insights that will help you as you start your new life and combat adversaries, grief, perhaps self doubt, etc.

Care for the primary weapon is crucial to survive catastrophe and to struggle through to victory. What happens to the body affects the spirit, and what happens to the spirit affects the body. Both body and spirit need patient care: adequate rest, quiet refreshment, the study of things that uplift courage and dignity and right behavior. Caring for the inner self is as individual as the way people speak or write. But providing a structure of care for the physical body can stabilize emotions, create a sense of security, and improve health. Food, rest, and exercise are the basis for this care.

Additionally, times of quiet and privacy are also needed to care for the self. Reading, prayer, and/or reflection keep a person centered. They offset stress and balance out the inner self. They also re-instill a person's values into the mind. Sometimes in a time of grief or great personal stress, it is hard to reflect on things because so many thoughts are painful. And not everybody believes in prayer. But quiet time and reflection can include escape into great things that have nothing to do with current difficulties. I read C.S. Lewis for comfort. Other favorites include Louie L'Amour, Charles Dickens, A. Conan Doyle, and Dr. Who fiction.

This is the value of caring for the primary weapon of your inner self: If everything is snatched away from you, you have your weapon still within you. If you know what your weapon can do, you can use it to win again, to drive off danger, to protect what you choose to protect.

Miyamoto Musashi wrote an excellent book on strength of will, strategy, and the power to win at any endeavor. It is called THE BOOK OF FIVE RINGS. Off and on during my career in the martial arts, I have studied it. I have taken it from the shelf again. It takes me a great deal of time to think through what he says, but the book is a power house. If you will permit me to, I would like to synopsize parts of it for you and send them to you, in increments not longer than this e-mail, and not more often than one a week. You may not find everything he says meaningful for you, but his insights may be helpful.

Thank you for your patience in reading this. I write to you out of my admiration for you and my respect for the difficulties you have encountered. The way of the warrior is to seize catastrophe and from it to tear a victory that others did not expect. I think you can do just that.

Jeri Massi

#4 Defeating expectations & upsetting rhythm; the "stopping mind"; waiting

Dear Miss Redgrave,

All battles, in whatever form they take, rest upon using or falling victim to two things: mental expectations and the rhythm of the battle. Musashi discusses these two elements throughout the BOOK OF FIVE RINGS. In fact, they are the two most important components of battle theory. Foil the expectations that the other side has about you, your strengths, your reactions. Within yourself, harbor no expectations about the opponent. Know the rhythm of attack and defense, and upset the rhythm of the other side. That's how you win. These ideas will become more clear with more exposure to Musashi's ideas.

Proficiency with weapons/tools is a fundamental of warfare. In your new life, what tools will you need? Pick the ones newest to you or those in which you do not feel confident. Is it detachment? concentration? the ability to rest? Every soldier uses small battles and small encounters to prepare for the real battles.

The swordsman knows he has a new weapon learned when he uses it successfully, without thinking, in combat. In tae kwon do, the new student rushes straight in to punch me. Without preliminary thought, I thrust in a side kick from the hip as he comes in. It drives him back. That is proficiency. It is the action done by default, without thought.

When the negotiator can default to silence rather than an immediate reaction; to taking a deep breath and lifting the eyebrows rather than tightening the throat and clenching the jaw, then that person has proficiency in patience, calmness, and detachment. Musashi urges you to consciously choose your tools and learn them by diligent practice.

In a duel, a samurai warrior usually held the sword in both hands, the hilt at about the level of his navel, the sword pointed forward. The two combatants advanced with small paces towards each other, swords out and still, until they were about one stride out of striking distance of each other. They then gazed at each other, most often with the swords pointed at each other's windpipes. An onlooker would have thought them a tableaux, perhaps statues dressed in warrior clothing. But the sword of a samurai could cut a man in half. Most duels were fatal to one participant. The end would be decided in a split second. And so the two men concentrated on each other: still and calm, waiting for a sign of weakness.

At last, unable to bear the suspense of the blade in front of him, the weaker man usually struck first. The other did not defend, but counter attacked so swiftly and skillfully that he landed the counter strike first. To do this, he might use a slapping or sliding parry that knocked the attacking sword aside but allowed him to continue his own forward motion in a smooth strike. Or he stepped aside from the blow and struck from an angle as he moved.

The lesson of the samurai is that a strong person has the fortitude to calmly wait, even when faced with a sword pointed at his throat. This is a crucial lesson in martial enlightenment.

Aside from causing a premature attack, fear, anxiety, or regret can also cause a contender to break his own concentration as he waits, or make him hesitate in a counter attack. The mind whose intensity can be interrupted from within is called a "stopping mind." It upsets the rhythm of the discussion, negotiation, or battle. It allows the watchful opponent to seize the advantage.

To do battle well, whether in negotiation or in conflict resolution or in physical combat, you must concentrate with mental composure and stay in the present. Calmly regard your opponent and wait for his action. Think of nothing else, and remain ready and calm. (This type of readiness is called "kamae," and I plan to define it more in the next letter.)

Fear and regret have their place in the human heart. Those who suffer guilt must get forgiveness to be made whole. Those who suffer fear must confront their fears to be made strong. But the arena of conflict is not the place for either of these things.

If you choose to use the principles of martial enlightenment, then know what you want to win, and banish fear and guilt when you are in the arena. If your opponent attempts to distract you with attacks based on fear or guilt, force the session back to the matter at hand and promise to look into the rest later. In this way, you don't "push back" (refusing what he has said and thus actually inviting a struggle as he tries to push it back onto you again), nor do you suffer the thrust (being "stabbed" and weakened by what he said). You have simply deflected the attack and shown a strength he did not expect. Acquiescence in itself is a form of strength. It defeats the expectations of the opponent.

If the opponent will not stop bringing in side issues, terminate the session graciously but pointedly (again, defeating his expectations with your calmness). If he yields, and the session continues along the proper lines, concentrate on your opponent with calmness, detached from yourself. Every warrior practices detachment again and again. (I also plan to explain this further in my next letter.)

As illustrated by the samurai duel, the ability to wait is sometimes enough to completely undo the other side, because it completely upsets their expectations of you. If you have to negotiate something or get a conflict resolved, use waiting to your advantage. Enter the office. Ask for tea. Drink the tea. Let the clock tick. Be silent and calm, as though waiting. Let the minutes go by. The other side will become impatient and speak first, especially if it's a man. When he opens the discussion, he is reacting to his need to get down to business and appear in control, and his rhythm and expectations are upset. You now have the upper hand.

When you speak, choose your words carefully as you go, but let your yes be yes, and your no be no. Direct, accurate, soft spoken speech shows a steady spirit. An experienced negotiator never uses sarcasm, as it shows inner fear and haste.

Japanese negotiators repeatedly thrashed American negotiators in business in the 60's because the Japanese negotiators could sit calmly and wait, drinking tea. They wanted to view their opponents, and the Americans, impatient and anxious, (and working on an assumption that American businessmen were superior) played right into their hands and revealed their minds too quickly.

Such discipline takes practice, composure, and self assurance. Again, I explain these principles to you because I really do believe that you are a person of exceptional inner strength.

Jeri Massi

#5 Envy was his motive; how to fight back effectively.

Dear Miss Redgrave,

This was supposed to be about kamae and detachment. But I'm changing topics to something more emergent.

Every opponent moves by habit and timing. He drives you one way or another with his blows or his words and seeks to control you, to keep you doing what he expects, with a strategy that he is used to. If you break that rhythm, he will be at a loss, at least for an instant. And you can gain control. Your opponent will likely strike you with a pattern he has used before.

I didn't know anything about your situation until I learned of your husband's emotionally abusive and controlling behavior towards you in public. I've thought a lot about the incidents that were described.

A strategist looks at what happens, apart from what is said. It's the relationships between events that matter: how they are similar. When you first replied to one of my letters, you said you thought your husband would soon be persuaded by the matters and processing of your divorce from him to leave you alone. I didn't think that was likely, and now I know why I didn't think it was likely.

Please forgive me if what I'm going to tell you is too personal, but I want to tell you what I think your husband is going to do, based on his pattern, or rhythm.

First, adultery is not just about passion. It's a weapon to destroy a spouse. His affair was an attack on you. Yes, it was about control, but it was about control over you, not the other woman. He deliberately built and fueled an explosive and destructive situation and did everything he could to keep it explosive and destructive. He knew that if he were caught that you would be the one destroyed, not him.

Second, doing what he has done in public, embarrassing you and harassing you while pretending to be acting in sincerity and earnestness, was a ploy. Striking with his revelations when you were in front of others and were completely not suspecting catastrophe was his last stand within the marriage to destroy you. All of that was on purpose, too: the most painful and catastrophic way for you to be confronted with his bad behavior.

He will do anything humiliating and destructive to himself in order to shame you. But all of his arranged confrontations are also a desperate attempt to show you that he's NOT envious.

A man who fights at such high cost in public is not going to back off from you, even if it looks like he's backing off. He'll just switch back to a long term plan.

This man knows you, and at this moment, he knows that he's got you into a lull right now, so that you'll think everything is going your way and will end soon. And then he's going to slam you again with catastrophe. Just like he did the first time. The man's cruelty has been too deeply laid. He won't quit now, in my opinion. I apologize if I have overstepped the boundaries, and I won't continue to do so. I'll stick with Musashi. But if you think I may be right, don't be afraid of him. You still are smarter and inwardly stronger than he is.

Though he has great patience in laying schemes, he is deeply flawed, and your responses so far have showed great strength because you have reacted with dignity and self control. But like all women, you have certain predictable weaknesses, and one of them is the need to rebuild your nest and to declare that all is well again. He'll attack that need and upset the nest again and again to cause you pain. But there are always counter strategies. His flaws are envy and anger.

Think about the role in which he himself has cast you. Some part of him views you as stronger and better than he is. He hates you for that, but it works for you. Treat him with pity.

Your divorce is none of my business. I just hope I haven't offended you. But I have not forgotten the references I read to your suffering, your tears, your genuine unhappiness at his cruelty. I know that you possess great courage, but nobody has yet showed you how to use your courage effectively. I really want you to win out.

Again, I apologize if I have overstepped any boundaries. You just discard what you don't like, and if there's anything you do like, please use it.

Jeri Massi

#6 Goodness; fighting envy; the better you; the opponent's patience

Dear Miss Redgrave,

You wouldn't be a human being if you didn't suffer self doubt from what that man did. I'm sure that even your own thoughts have often been a source of pain for you in the last few months. Let me talk to you as a strategist.

Like any human being, you are capable of doing great harm. But more than many human beings, you have done great good. But the single most important good work in your life is the *next* good that you will do. Be continually prepared to do good, great or small, and you will more quickly recover those best parts of yourself that he has tried to destroy. The habit of goodness does not stave off the outward attacks of evil, but it does prevent evil from springing up from within us. As you'll see from this e-mail, there is such a thing as the deliberate practice of evil, and it destroys the person who practices it. And there is such a thing as deliberate good, and it's a preserver. And now, back to envy and combat.

Envy and jealousy are not the same thing. A jealous person wants what you have. An envious person wants you NOT to have what you have, even though he doesn't want it, either.

A jealous person wants to be elevated to your level. An envious person wants you to be brought down to a level lower than his.

For affirmation, Jealousy seeks elevation of the self or the gaining of goods.

Envy seeks the destruction of another person, and that destruction is the affirmation of the envious person.

Know your enemy as you try to reach a divorce settlement with him. Being envious, he seeks your misery, not wealth. He might find pleasure in taking away your possessions, but there's nothing material you can give him or concede to him that will placate him for more than a brief time. As soon as you are happy again, he is miserable.

Envy is quite out of fashion to discuss these days, just like gluttony. And they are probably the two most prevalent vices around. Envy is not an emotion, and it's not a feeling, and it's not transitory. It's like an addiction. It's there to stay, and it demands to be fed, and it gets worse.

Believe it or not, one root of envy is a sense of helplessness. An envious person assumes that his destiny is not in his own hands. He views life as the cards having been dealt, and he got a hand he didn't deserve; and you got a better hand, or you got the hand that he did deserve. But remember the key. The envious person essentially views himself as helpless, as weak, as ineffective. He views himself as impotent to alter his destiny or lot in life.

The worldview of the envious person is that since the rules of fair play were not kept in dealing him his hand, there are no rules on how he *plays* his hand. Be prepared for him to hurt anybody in order to hurt you, and to justify himself (and blame you when he can). He has a tremendous sense of being wronged and of having a right to do what he's done. If you look for remorse in him on any count, you'll frustrate yourself. Envy thinks nothing of using others to attain its ends.

Envy has a specific, identifiable target (in this case, you). It is satisfied only in the destruction or misery of the target (though it will make others suffer if their suffering hurts the target). And it is not easily distracted by other, unrelated pleasures, no matter how deep those pleasures might be.

It's not a static condition. Envy in a person gets more severe and creates new flaws. Start watching for them: irrational behavior, anger, possessiveness, heavy drinking or other abuses, obsessive control, even in matters not related to you. He has a rationalistic explanation for everything right now, but it's just a mask, and it won't last forever.

Now, the weaknesses of envy. The thing he will most strongly deny is his envy of you, and so if you calmly and articulately assess his behavior as that of envy, you'll deal him a good, hard strike (but always expect a counter strike).

Next, though he would deny it, he honestly does assume that you have more worth or value than he does. He is afraid of you. He feels helpless. Maximize all his secret assumptions. Always be calm and self possessed in front of him, always at your best; always keep your voice low and calm. Don't ever use sarcasm with him.

Based on the last six months, he has certain, definite expectations of your behavior now when he shows up. So now it's easier, with good mental training, to thwart his expectations and put him at a loss. If you must converse with him, I advise you to judiciously acknowledge being hurt and recovering. Acknowledge your indebtedness to others.

If you have to be in his presence, honest statements that show hurt and recovery will defeat all of his expectations. Nothing wrings your enemy more than seeing you receive mercy and goodness from others. That's the ultimate injury to him.

Watching you adjust, seeing that you are so strong that you can acknowledge pain, admit to faults, even apologize at times and keep your life moving in an upward direction will make all his fears and assumptions about you seem all the more real. It makes him even more convinced that yes, he is helpless. That he has reason to be afraid of you. That you *are* stronger than he. Be upbeat and purposeful in front of him, and make that happiness rooted in true, spiritual things of the human experience: the goodness of others, their generosity towards you, the satisfaction of hard work and a job well done, your pleasure in learning new things. Those are the things he cannot take away from you: private, innocent, personal pleasures.

It's you he hates and fears, and so the more that you are refined and made better, the worse it is for him. The ability to laugh at yourself, to play, to go right on living by the values that have always been important to you, reaffirms that the person you have always been is a fine person who can survive this catastrophe.

Acknowledging pain, apologizing for any wrongs, and taking constructive measures are all signs of *forgetting* the pain and hurt, of getting over it. And to him, forgetting your pain is the same as forgetting him. He knows that once you're over the catastrophe, he's not going to be on your mind any more. He becomes the nobody he fears being. That's another reason that I'm pretty sure he'll never entirely leave you alone. If you, the object of his envy, forget him, he disappears; that's how it will feel to him. The only link that holds him to self realization is your grief that he caused.

Up until now, I sense that he's been winning in the one-on-one aspect of this conflict: he's able to control your emotions to a certain degree. He won't give up that control position after a single defeat. Men assume that they can gain control again over a woman. You have to defeat them several times before they realize they can't win.

And now, his strengths. The man has patience. He's got a definite ability to make a plan, to wait without giving himself away, and to allow things to develop and then find ways to use the situation to further his ends.

His other strength is that he knows you better than any living person knows you. In some ways, he knows you better than you know yourself. He'll attack you when he knows you are weak. He'll use words and triggers that I know nothing about and that even your family knows nothing about to cause pain in you. But don't be afraid of him. In showing you his flaws, I hope I have showed you your strengths. And his mind cannot comprehend all your strengths. The more you develop a calm and ready mind, the more you leave his comprehension of you behind.

Remember, dear lady, protect yourself. That fall from outward rational conduct to irrational behavior in a man can happen in an instant. I've been talking about how he'll try to fool you and others. But he's got himself fooled as well. Even he doesn't know all that's gone haywire in that envious, destructive heart of his. I don't think it's a good idea to be alone with any man of self-destructive habits.

Remember this, if you still have dark moments: He has tormented you, but he lives in constant torment. He is the source of all his own torment. You *can* escape his torment; you *can* recover; you can enjoy all the innocent pleasures that actually make life worth living. But he can't. You can escape your husband. Your husband cannot escape himself. Nothing that he smokes or drinks or snorts or swallows can remove the pain of being eaten up by envy. All the stress of what he's done and what he wants to do and what he's afraid of goes down to the pillow with him at night, and it's there in his arms when he next opens his eyes. Someday, you very well may pity this man who has wronged you so dreadfully. All the same, please be careful for yourself.

Jeri Massi

#7 Kamae; detachment

Dear Miss Redgrave,
The first lesson in any martial art is the ready stance, in which the feet are spaced naturally and the weapon (or empty hands) are lifted slightly. From this stance, students learn to smoothly spring into motion to meet an attack. They learn to possess calm readiness, or "kamae". Readiness is a state of mind relied upon in the martial arts, but you have probably experienced kamae in non-martial situations.

The best analogy I can think of would be your readiness before going on stage in a theater. You know your part; you know your goals. I'm sure that in your career, you have seen or experienced all kinds of catastrophes while on stage: people tripping and falling over during their entrances, props not being where they were supposed to be, sound cues missed, etc.

And yet, when you are about to go on stage, you are not afraid of all the catastrophes that *might* happen. You clear your mind. You also possess a certain passive awareness as you sense those around you. You are very intent and focused, and yet you are also relaxed and very aware. This is kamae. It is a state of being at rest before action. This is the mind to have before battle. The mind closes out everything other than the present moment, is highly perceptive, and is prepared to carry out the task at hand with confidence. Fear and guilt have no entry in such a mind.

When I fight an opponent, whether he is big or small, of high rank or a new student, I clear my thoughts and return to readiness. Fear is a betrayer, and over confidence is a betrayer. To fight well, I must have a calm mind that is open to intuition. He moves, and I instantly react. In drills, my partner kicks high with a round kick, and I lift my forearms to block it. As soon as the kick touches my arms, I kick, and he blocks. As soon as my kick touches his arms, he kicks again, and so on. In this way, we learn to instinctively kick, without thought, as soon as we block. When we fight, the habit of training simply takes over, and the combinations, blocks, and counter strikes that I do are done without planning---immediate, intuitive responses. They are hammered into us and made a part of us by hard and earnest practice, again and again. And my "inner sword" (or primary weapon) is also trained to be calm and self-possessed. It's all done to build good readiness, or kamae. Kamae is an attitude and a discipline and a component of character.

You have great skill in acting, and so you have good kamae on the stage. Become proficient with the tools needed for your new life, and you will have good kamae in every situation. Musashi taught that the warrior should not have to "switch" to martial readiness. Rather, at all times he should be relaxed, aware, ready: possessing kamae.

Detachment is more difficult to describe. It is a certain distancing of the self from the self. In battle, it is a decision to view injuries done to the self as being done to something or somebody separate.

Consider detachment as extreme objectivity, in which you view your visible self only as another person and your inner self (your primary weapon) as the thing of importance. Therefore if you are called a name, no matter how outrageous, you know it is only an appellation latched onto the version of you that others see, not the true self that you are. If you are vilified, humiliated, accused, stay detached by recognizing that other people's opinions of you can only be attached to the "outer" version of you seen by the human eye. But their opinions cannot touch your inner self.

By practicing detachment, I have learned that another person's opinion of me is far more a reflection of that person's inner self than it is of me. A generous person finds me worthy of his/her praise and thanks because that person is inclined to find my best qualities; a tender hearted person finds me worthy of his/her love because that person is inclined to nurture. Likewise, an envious person finds me worth destroying. A critical person finds me worth belittling.

If you can stay detached, you can use what an opponent says or does to get insights on his/her weaknesses---or strengths. Be unafraid and stay aware of your opponent when you are in his presence. That's when you find out about him and what he's thinking.

Being detached does not mean that you must not feel grief or pain. It *does* mean that you do not let other people dictate how you immediately respond. It makes you the master, even when verbally attacked or tricked into a humiliating circumstance. It allows you to postpone feelings until you can deal with them privately and with understanding.

Both kamae and detachment remove the "personal" aspect from battle or negotiation. People uneducated in fighting mistakenly assume that fighting is an act of passion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only amateurs and children fight from being overwhelmed with emotion. The skillful combatant is dispassionate, relying on objective assessments and decisions, using a battle plan based on clearly defined goals and objectives, training himself or herself to respond intuitively in the midst of action.

Remember, you must fight this unhappy battle yourself, though I can give you knowledge and encouragement. But there is also a sense in which we all fight the same battle, no matter who the different opponents are. I want you to win, and I want you to fully recover.

Jeri Massi

#8 The samurai & death; the training hall experience

Dear Miss Redgrave,
This week's e-mail focuses on the samurai view of death and martial enlightenment's view of hardship.

"By the Way of the warrior is meant death.
The Way of the warrior is death.
This means choosing death
whenever there is a choice between life and death.
It means nothing more than this. "
--From the book, HIDDEN LEAVES, a compilation of samurai writings

"It is generally accepted that the way of the warrior
is the resolute acceptance of death.
But the way of death is not limited to warriors."
--Musashi, "Chi No Maki" (The Book of Earth, the first ring) BOOK OF

For the samurai, death was a daily part of life. Any swordsman might challenge him, and he must respond with full concentration, with only a minute or two of preparation.

Death is foundational to the samurai code. And death is foundational to courage. Once, about ten years ago, a car accident happened in front of me, and the car that was struck was thrown all the way across the intersection and rolled over onto its side. I ran to it and climbed up it to get the door open and help the driver out before the car's gas tank could catch fire. The whole while, there was a hissing sound from the underside of the car and a smell like overheated popcorn oil. I was sure the gas line was going to catch fire. But it never happened, even after we were safely away; and aside from a broken wrist, the driver was all right. Afterward, when I tried to walk away, my knees kept giving out.

I don't know if I could ever be that brave again, but the one time that I was, it changed me forever. I know now that the samurai were right. Once you face the threat of death, if you survive, you will be a much stronger person. After I recovered and could walk steadily, my inner self was a lot stronger. My primary weapon was better honed, and I was far less easily intimidated by aggressive people than I had been before.

The samurai concept of death is this: Possessions, name, reputation---all are lost, and he is reduced only to his life force and then flung, disembodied, into the void.

And sooner or later, death comes. So, really, whether it comes today or next year makes little difference to the warrior.

The samurai embraced this imminence of death. "To accept death is to be liberated from it" is an old Zen adage. Though he enjoyed wealth and reputation, he was ready at a moment's notice to fling it all away and get down to the one inevitable business of life: death.

Therefore, though he was a man who fought, the samurai was not fighting to prolong something as temporary and transitory as his own life. Honor, according to the Japanese warrior code ("bushido") was better than life itself. Honor could be preserved forever (through veneration of the dead); whereas life could not be preserved. Yammamoto Tsunetomo, a samurai of great rank who was a contemporary of Musashi, wrote, "A man exists for a generation, but his name lasts to the end of time."

Without the prevalence of ancestor worship in our own culture, we don't perceive honor as something immortal. And yet, to fight well, one must know what one is fighting for at the core. What a warrior would die for is what he will fight for. So every modern day warrior chooses the "immortal" reason to live and to fight. (My own choice is "to know". I want to know God's ways with people. But everybody's choice may be different.)

Martial enlightenment is rooted in this: to resolutely accept one's own mortality and set up all plans and values accordingly. Each person's "immortal" reason to live and to fight will affect the manner in which he meets death when it comes. And it will guide his conduct and his decisions in every battle until death comes.

Here is some good news: your opponents are mortal, too, and they also choose the reason to fight. Some choices make a warrior brave, and some choices make him merely savage. With knowledge of your opponent and his values, you can defeat him, with proper skill. A calm and alert warrior can detect an opponent's weaknesses and the values that will collapse under him. I plan to discuss this topic further in later essays.

In a fight, the warrior is stripped down to nothing, as in death. Reputation, wealth, even good deeds are all left outside the arena. It is only the warrior's inner self against the other person's inner self. Therefore, martial training, if it's good, also strips a person down to the inner sword or inner self. To train diligently in martial arts imitates the acceptance of death. That's why physical training is elevated to being a moral virtue in Eastern warrior codes like bushido and hwarangdo (the Korean warrior code). Musashi rates earnest martial training as the second highest virtue, surpassed only by personal integrity.

In the Earth Book (the first ring) Musashi complains about the poor quality training halls of his day. The teachers are selling "only technique," he laments. The same thing is true about the training halls today. Most are inferior. But a good training hall is a theater of life and death, in which all skills and virtues are practiced. Because, with death before each of us, martial skills *are* life skills. Living life to its fullest and fighting battles are the same thing because they require the same resolute spirit for success and terminate at the same point: death.

You have already demonstrated a brave and self-possessed spirit. Musashi, limited by his culture, would not be able to believe that you possess such strong character without being a part of a training hall. To him, earnest physical training was a moral virtue, a vital component of "mind-body" growth, which he viewed as the development of mind and body into a harmonious unit, a single courageous soul. And the principle of the training hall remains a vital part of martial thought and is part of the culture of BOOK OF FIVE RINGS. I would like to explain it to you.

Every serious, long-term martial artist believes in the importance of the training hall experience. The men and women with whom I train---my peers and my seniors in class---are the bravest and best people I know: people of integrity, honor, and kindness. Strong character, we believe, is built by hard training. And we train very hard. Diligent training is meant to break down the body and the spirit so that only the will is left. Musashi also believed this. Time and again in his book, sometimes at the end of every successive paragraph, he urges the reader to train harder. The samurai trained with the sword until it was an extension of his body, and then he trained harder still until---he believed---his soul could pass into the sword itself.

As people train in martial skills with others, they are repeatedly stripped down: exhausted together, driven beyond the limits together, injured at times. The senior students all suffer together and slowly advance while others drop away. The seniors demand the best of each other, and they hope for the best in each other.

In my training hall, we have senior students from all walks of life, everything from repair men to a judge on the Circuit Court of South Carolina. But the trappings of this life---wealth, status, beauty---are left outside the training hall door. Aside from our belts, which measure time spent in training, we dress alike in white, unadorned uniforms. Modern martial arts schools line their walls with trophies from tournaments. Conservative schools like ours don't. The training hall is a place for people ready to suffer. It teaches us to value each other for how we endure hardship. How well a person suffers is the true measuring stick of that person's integrity.

In the training hall, my peers and my seniors have seen me at my worst and at my weakest and even at my most physically ill and emotionally defeated. I've been knocked out in the training hall; I've had my ribs broken there (twice); I've thrown up in the training hall; I've cried in the training hall. I've even been furiously angry there. They haul me to my feet as soon as I can stand. And without judgement or mockery or pity, they assist me to calm down and then explain how best to proceed. And it is expected that I will proceed.

All of the training hall experience, sweat and blood and fatigue and pain, *is* the overcoming of fear and the building of strength and the acceptance of my own mortality. Perhaps one of its lessons is to value my inner self more than my outer self. But I think its most pointed lesson is that in order to accept and bear suffering and death, it is necessary to embrace suffering and death, to seek answers by means of the pain rather than to end the pain.

Strategically, as long as a fighter seeks to end pain or avoid pain, his enemy always knows what the fighter will do. Once a fighter is not ruled by pain, the enemy cannot predict the fighter's actions. Your opponent is now predictable to you because he cannot get beyond his own fears and pains. But if you can get beyond the pain he has caused you (by embracing it and using it to learn and grow), he will never be able to predict your reactions again, and you will thwart him no matter what he does.

I don't write any of this to minimize the wrongs that man has done to you and your family. To embrace grief and suffering is a type of death in itself, and it is never done easily or lightly. But this is what is said in the training hall: the truth, from the martial viewpoint, on how to proceed and win. I hope that this has helped you.

Jeri Massi

'To be swayed neither by the opponent nor by his sword is the essence of swordsmanship.' -
Miyamoto Musashi.

#9 Defeat is an Illusion (Part 1 of 2)

Dear Miss Redgrave,
The only true sign of defeat is death. Otherwise, defeat is an illusion. And you can discipline your mind to overcome that illusion. To do so, you must first understand the impermanence of all things and the rhythm of the flow of events. Musashi carefully points out that for all people, there are rhythms of progress and rhythms of deterioration:

"For the warrior (bushi), there is the rhythm of
being able to serve, the rhythm of failing, the
rhythm of achieving one's purpose, and the
rhythm of not achieving one's purpose.
In the path of commerce, there is the rhythm by
which one becomes wealthy, and the rhythm by
which the wealthy go bankrupt, with the
differences in the rhythms according to each
The rhythm with which things progress and the
rhythm with which things deteriorate should be
understood and differentiated."
--Musashi, "Chi No Maki" (The Book of Earth)

To fight well, Musashi warns us, you must know your own rhythm and be able to resist being drawn into the rhythm of your opponent. Further, you must know the rhythm of life and events that surround you, and you must understand that all that exists does not hold still. Rather, it changes and moves according to its rhythm.

Remember this: nothing holds still in the temporal world. Everything on the face of the earth is temporary. If at any time you view any condition as being a fixed point, you are heeding your perceptions and not what is really there (according to Zen). The samurai took this concept and used it to make themselves indefatigable fighters. And samurai history is filled with battles that went first one way, almost to complete victory, and then rebounded and went entirely the other way because the defenders would not give in to their own fears but found ways to create reverses for the enemy. Create enough small catastrophes for the enemy, and soon you have entirely reversed the rhythm of the battle.

The Zen mind recognizes that every event flows into the next event. It knows that "peace," "safety," "winning," and "losing" are illusory. They are value judgements that people place on imaginary fixed points in the constant flow of events. But there are no fixed points in a constant flow. Pearl Harbor was safe only until the Japanese bombed it to flinders. The Titanic was unsinkable only until she hit the iceberg. Custer had the Indians on the run up until the day they killed him and all his men.

All of these catastrophes were rooted in the idea that the strong would stay strong and the weak would stay weak; in the idea that strength and weakness could be made permanent, in viewing safety as an absolute. And even as there are no fixed points in the flow of events, even so no condition engineered by man is absolute. No human being can create "safety" or "victory" because no human being can stop time and make it hold still to accommodate to his will. Whenever a person decrees such a "stopping place," he is creating (or falling victim to) an illusion. History is filled with examples of generals and countries who assumed they had won a battle, only to be taken by surprise by a "conquered" foe.

Zen thinking finds all kinds of absurdities and paradoxes inherent in every event. What one person views as defeat can also be viewed as the beginning of victory. And what one person sees as a great loss can also be translated as sudden gain. I had to learn this concept by examples, and so I'll tell you a story, and I plan to explain it further next time. For the purpose of conveying to you how stark, deep, and pervasive illusions in battle can be, I'm including some graphic details. I don't mean to be offensive, just accurate:

In this story, you get to be a samurai. You have the honor, restricted to your class, of wearing two swords, the long katana and the short shoto. You also wear the roomy, skirt-like hakama that disguises your foot work in battle, and it is tied at the waist with the wide, sash-like belt called an obi. Like most samurai, you are careful to always be well groomed in public, composed in mind and body. Your gaze is direct, your voice quiet, your speech terse and honest.

But now you have been challenged, so thrust your two swords into your obi and go to the courtyard to meet your opponent. He is already there, waiting for you. After bowing at a distance of 20 feet apart from each other, you each draw your long sword (katana) from the scabbard, hold the hilt in both hands at about navel level, and walk towards each other with short steps, right foot forward. You both come to a stop just out of striking distance and focus your eyes on each other, swords pointed at each other's throat. He strikes first, but not the conventional first strike at your throat or chest, which is what you had expected. You mistakenly parry as though the strike were a high strike, lifting your arms to use your blade to deflect his sword. But he brings his blade down as he steps into you with a sideways step.

The sharp katana catches your right wrist and severs the hand from your arm, flinging both hand and sword to the sand. Not stopping, he continues his forward motion into you. You sidestep and use your left hand to seize his right wrist and prevent him from running you through. For a moment, you both wrestle, as your blood fountains up from your severed wrist in a shower of red over both of you. He quickly wraps his left arm around you. His foot twists around your foot, and he forcefully throws you down. The fall stuns your senses. Your blood is splashed over you, down your tunic, and across the skirts of your hakama. It widens in a pool around you. For a moment, you faint from shock. Your opponent sneers at you and sheathes his katana. Then he takes up your discarded katana as his trophy, pulls the empty scabbard from your obi, and holds them both up in triumph before those looking on.

But you open your eyes, shakily draw your short sword (shoto) from your belt with your left hand, and roll to your knees. Or maybe you even have to crawl to your knees. He is no longer cautious as he brandishes your discarded weapon, and you spring up from your knees and run him through the bowels with your shoto in his unguarded moment.

Now your seconds are free to rescue you and cauterize the wound quickly with live coals. He is dead, and you have won, and you will survive. Surviving---as the coals teach you---can be excruciatingly painful; and even after the wound is stanched and cauterized, you're going to feel pretty bad for the next few weeks. Furthermore, you're a samurai who has lost your right hand. Ability with a sword is how you live; in fact, it is the root of your religion, your self worth, and your professional reputation. And so, though you have a worthy spirit and a worthy name, how will you live after your right hand has been struck away?

In view of your great injury, some people raise the question that perhaps you actually lost the fight. And for several weeks, especially as you recall your blood and weakness and pain, you even feel like you lost the fight. Indeed, you suffer fevers, delirium, nausea, and more weakness as you recover; and even when you are well, every time you automatically reach for something without thinking, you see all over again that you have no right hand. He destroyed it. And yet, you are alive and he is dead. So, how is a fight interpreted from the perspective of martial enlightenment?

A fight is a series of illusions, depending on the minds of the fighters. Your opponent caught you in an illusion early on and used it to sever your hand. But he was much more thoroughly fooled by the illusions that he created, and so you beat him. But now you must rid your mind of many other illusions in order to live in accord with your inner sword and continue to hone it, even without a right hand.

There's no room to explain it further, and so it must wait until next time. But this concept, like the concept of embracing suffering and mortality, is vital to martial enlightenment. All fighting theory rests on it.

Jeri Massi

'Know that when two warriors face each other with swords, the body and soul
of each individual is illuminated as they come together in a world that needs to be rid of falsehood and evil.'
- Morihei Ueshiba

#10 Defeat is an Illusion (Part 2 of 2)

Dear Miss Redgrave,

Here is a familiar passage that echoes Musashi's teachings on rhythm:
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
. . . .
What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?"
--Ecclesiastes, Chapter Three

Even Solomon agrees that nothing on the face of the earth is permanent. In fact, the concept of impermanence is almost universal in the major religions of history. But the samurai made the most of it in terms of practical application.

To review: The Zen mind is a mind that does not stop as circumstances change. It recognizes that every event flows into the next event. It knows that "peace," "safety," "winning," and "losing" are illusory. They are arbitrary judgements that people place on imaginary fixed points in the constant flow of events. But there are no fixed points. No human being can stop time and make it hold still to accommodate to his will.

Now, back to last week's story:

The samurai challenger fooled your expectations and severed your hand. But though you were fooled once, you reacted well by continuing to fight with detachment. And so with great presence of mind, in spite of your wound and the blood, you closed with him and wrestled to get his sword.

But physically, he was stronger and threw your down. Blood loss and the impact of the fall dazed you. He looked at that moment as the end of the fight. And yet, from the moment you went down, you were in process of recovering yourself, of getting back up. And in falling you began the process of the counter strike.

Therefore, your being badly injured and thrown down, though he viewed it as your defeat, was only an illusion of defeat. The fight had not ended. In fact, being injured and thrown down were the first step of your path to victory over him. Losing your right hand actually opened the path to winning with the left hand. Your foolish opponent created his own illusion in severing your hand. And that illusion took his life.

Your opponent possessed a "stopping mind" that broke its concentration. He stopped concentrating on the fight, on the present moment. Your blood and your weakness were his stopping point. But there was no stopping point. You did not fix on the idea of defeat, as he did. Still living and a part of the flow of time, not distracted by fears or dread, you regained yourself and struck. For you, being thrown down flowed into the next moment, that of rising to counter strike. He was unaware of the rhythm of your battle.

This is the way of all Zen concepts of living each moment to the fullest. The current moment is significant in relationship to the other moments around it, not in reference to itself. You will rise and you will fall in this life, and every rise is the action of coming up from a fall, and every fall by definition comes down from a higher point. To say at one point, "I have won" and at another point, "I have lost" is to lock yourself in a concept of reality that is not really reality.

Regaining yourself after personal catastrophe may take five minutes, five days, or five years. The duration doesn't matter. The rhythm hasn't stopped. Having everything and losing everything never last; they are merely stopping points of the mind. Suffering demands reflection, but not to end the suffering; rather, to see where it is leading, to know the rhythm and follow it. In the story, what your challenger viewed as your defeat was the seed of his defeat. He failed to see that events continue one after another, each leading to the other.

This is the principle: When all is lost, and you feel defeated, even then if you are still alive, you are coming back up on your feet.

In terms of martial enlightenment, losing your old life, as unjust and as cruel as the loss was, was not defeat. This is a dualistic concept: that within every event there are things in a complementary relationship---opposites that support each other. Losing the old life may have seemed like bankruptcy of all that you treasured, but it was also the richness, however painful, of gaining the power to make your new life anything that you choose. Both conditions were inherent in the same event. All illusions that once comforted you were painfully torn away, but the same action revealed to you certain truths. And actually, prior to that, that degree of truth was the one thing you did not have.

You know your environment much better know, both allies and adversaries; you know your weapons better as well. You know what you value. Truth is priceless, but truth can be really painful, too. A new gold coin, like new and painful truth, burns when it's dropped into your hand straight from the mold, but it's still a gold coin. And in its own rhythm, it will become more cool, more easily handled, capable of being wisely used.

And, even if you still feel a level of pain and confusion, a sense of the universe being dangerous and chaotic, you still know the questions you have asked. To truly question what is of value, to feel genuine pain at not knowing, is the starting point for gaining new wisdom (this is "formlessness" to the Zen mind, in which the self rejects its previously held format for the way things should run, and becomes open).

So, "Defeat," as the mind perceives it, is actually the constant honing of your inner sword, the bringing of your mind closer to those things that truly matter. Being thrown down is the choice either to die in the sand or to roll to your feet.

As I mentioned before, the way of the warrior is to tear an unexpected victory from the jaws of catastrophe. Even so, if you set your will to rebuild and be made both strong and good, then the defeat is actually the first step to victory. The old life was the process of making the new life. To lose the right hand is to be made free to develop the left to do great things. To lose the katana, dear lady, is to be made free to use the shoto. It's a whole new method, with an entirely different weapon. But history is my witness: more enemies have been killed in battle by the short and subtle shoto than the katana, even though the katana was the favored weapon.

And so, to get back to the story: every time you reach with your missing right hand for a tea cup or an ink brush and then switch to your left, you show that you are learning to use the left hand in new ways. And soon you take up the sword again, the shoto, and you increase the skill of the left hand until you can again wield the katana---either sword, as it suits you.

Soon, you think of yourself as the Fighter of the Left Hand, but that world's history will call you the Fighter of Two Hands, because for part of your life you did great things with the right, and then afterward you did great things with the left.

But the truth is, it was not the hands that were great, but the spirit and the will that directed them. To the samurai, the sword did nothing more and nothing less than reveal the spirit. *That* is the purpose of all the training and suffering: to make the outer sword and the inner sword one and the same thing in the moment of battle.

In fact, the hands, the eyes, the voice: they can only demonstrate the fighting spirit within and reveal the strength of the inner sword. You might lose everything in this life; you might gain everything. You won't know until you've lived your life to the end. But all you'll ever really possess, according to bushido, is your inner self.

Back to rhythm: Solomon and Musashi both observed that nothing on earth is permanent. Solomon's conclusion, since man cannot hold onto anything, was this: "I know that there is no good in them [man's endeavors], but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God." So his conclusion is to live each moment to the fullest, and do good every day. Musashi advises that you use the impermanence of life to accrue victories and increase the honor of your name.

But both agree that the only thing to do is to live each moment fully, and to act with a strong inner sword. The warrior must find the "immortal reason" to live and then develop his or her spirit in accord with it, regardless of gain or loss. If you seek martial enlightenment, you must always roll to your feet and never give in to the illusion of being defeated. You are still a life in progress. The rising and falling of the rhythm of your life continues until death.

For next week the alternate point (a much shorter one): Victory is an illusion. And that will bring us to the close of the first of the five rings.

Jeri Massi

'Conquering evil, not the opponent, is the essence of swordsmanship.'
- Yagyu Munenori

#11 Victory is an Illusion; breathing; end of the first ring

Dear Miss Redgrave,

Being defeated is an illusion. But being victorious is also an illusion. No experienced general who forces a truce ever really believes the truce is going to last.

No matter how solemnly two opponents promise peace, a truce is always a chance for the weaker side to rebuild and attack again. And the retreat or disappearance of the enemy is never a sure indication the war is over. Truces have often been the gateways to massacres of the side who really believed in them; those who failed to be vigilant.

Even after a warrior wins a fight, he must be just as perceptive and aware as he was at the beginning of the fight. Japanese martial artists call this awareness after a victory "zanshin" (literally, "perfect finish"). It is the descriptor for a mind at peace after battle but ready to immediately fight again without hesitation. Zanshin is simply kamae "after the fact". Westerners may have difficulty in seeing that a mind at peace can also be a mind prepared for an attack. And yet in bushido, these two components make up a single mind: the mind of kamae before a fight, the mind of zanshin after a fight: a mind of composure and rest, and yet prepared.

Good and well developed kamae is an excellent tool for a strong and brave woman. A woman wants her universe to be still and calm. And yet if her opponent is an angry man, he will seek to create havoc in her life so that he can see the havoc and feel powerful. That's the way of an angry and frustrated man. So to maintain good kamae, she must recognize that peace and safety are guaranteed only by calm readiness at all times and a strong inner weapon.

Breathing is a part of good kamae. When somebody suddenly frightens you, your breath probably goes high in your chest, perhaps even to your throat where it actually causes shortness of breath. This "high" breathing is a trigger to run from danger, a change from normal breathing to quick, shallow breaths suitable for a sudden sprint. This breathing also influences your mind. You may realize that you must stand and face whoever is intimidating you. But as long as your breath is high in your chest, then part of your mind will stay fixed on getting away.

The solution is to treat your breath like a ball of energy and sink that ball back into your abdomen, all the way to just below your navel. Sink the breath and slightly flex your knees, giving your mind a sense of making a deep stance, taking a stand. This helps clear your mind and fix it on the conflict instead of on escape. I've read that actors study breathing, so maybe you know these principles already. But this is the martial application.

You have a strong and brave fighting spirit. That spirit resides in your lower abdomen, a couple inches below your navel. Maybe this sounds too strange to take seriously, and I'm not sure that it's really true. But it works to think this way. When you must "stand and fight," keep your spirit seated deep within you, just below your navel. Your spirit is tied to your breath. So sink your breath and make yourself stable and calm. Breathe with your abdomen.

These are the guidelines for a proper "ready stance" before any type of conflict: Keep your head erect and level, your posture straight and yet relaxed, and fix calm eyes on your opponent. Stay calm and breathe all the way to your lower abdomen with regular breathing and stay fixed on what is being said, dispassionately (detached), with the mind clear and intent. Anger is only an illusion of strength. Fear will betray you.

Behave with sureness in yourself and a determination to be both reasonable and powerful in your inner self. Don't let anybody take these things from you, because you have both reason and power. A smart opponent will try to upset your emotions or make you feel weak and defenseless.

Remember: No matter what wealth you have that an adversary wants, he first has to conquer your inner person (your self) and put your selfhood in a condition in which it won't animate your body and mind to resist. Your inner self is the first target of any opponent. And no matter what weapon you hold, all your defenses come first from your inner self, your inner sword. And your inner sword is very strong, far stronger than what most people have in possession. And yet, as strong as it is, you must keep honing it. Because if you stop, it will become weaker. As you probably remember, that is the lesson of the training hall: to embrace suffering in order to be polished and strengthened.

We are at the end of the "Chi No Maki" (Book of Earth). The "Mizu No Maki" (Book of Water) is next. For next time, "soft" and "hard" methods of attack, and seeing the differences between what appears to be real and what is real.

Jeri Massi

"It is easy to kill someone with a slash of a sword. It is hard to be impossible for others to cut down."
-- Yagyu Munenori

#12 Combat methods; tatemae and honne; ken and kan

Dear Madam,
The second book, the "Mizu No Maki," or "Book of Water" discusses technique in battle and the proper mindset for applying it.
Here is a quick background on combat methods. All of these concepts are applicable to combat at any level, including confrontation:

Combat methods are hard, soft, or weapon-based. Musashi's sword style (kenjutsu) is a weapon-based martial art. Other weapon-based arts include the staff (bo), the sickle (kama), the flail (nunchaku), the three-pointed sai or jitte, and even the well-handle (tonfa) and the oar (ekubo). For your purposes, notice that weapons can be made from whatever is at hand---even intangible items. Anything that brings an opponent closer to what he or she fears is a weapon---at any level: words, actions, intentions, etc. In fact, according to Musashi, your most valuable weapons are the fears and moral flaws of your opponent, all of which you can exploit.

A soft martial art is an empty hand (weaponless) art that uses circular techniques, balance, and leverage. These styles usually involve yielding and rolling and the use of grasping, guiding, and joint locking rather than explosive blows. Aikido, jiu-jitsu, and tai chi are all soft styles. A soft style uses the opponent's attack against him. The defender gives way and doesn't push back. Instead, he or she often acts as a fulcrum to send a charging attacker flying through the air. "Soft" fighting conserves your strength and exploits the strength of your opponent against him or her.

The key to "soft" fighting is excellent detachment, not fearing threats, accusations, or blame, and being able to seize opportunity to let the other person trip himself up or lose control in his attack. Sometimes, just by continually *asking* an opponent to explain or define terms, you can get him tied up in his own lies or get him to reveal hidden motives. Gentle, non-aggressive "Questioning" is an excellent soft technique in non-physical combat.

Kicking and punching styles, with their straight line movements, their reliance on strength and snapping speed, are hard styles. Wing Chun uses a flurry of short hand strikes that confuse, deflect, and strike the opponent. (Bruce Lee's hand striking method was Wing Chun.) In contrast, tae kwon do would use a single, long, explosive kick to break a man's jaw or ribs and end a fight. The hard stylist sees an opening and strikes. "Hard" fighting frightens an opponent and shows your resolution; you directly communicate your inner spirit as you attack and counter-attack---even if it's just with words. Being prompt with hard fighting gives you a psychological edge over most opponents. Hit with truth and integrity from your inner sword, no empty threats, and use steady eyes.

In dealing with psychological aggression, a woman has the option to be "soft," (to elicit responses from her opponent that reveal his mind; to guide him into betraying himself, to question rather than accuse, until he trips himself up by what he says). She can be "hard" (to contradict him, to be confrontational---but not angry), and she can even use "weapons" (using anything he fears to force her own terms onto him). A fighter chooses his method according to his opponent and the current conditions.

In all skillful combat, there are "tatemae" and "honne." Tatemae is what you allow the opponent (or anybody) to see of you. It can be an unreadable exterior or an actual illusion you create. Once a woman gets past anger and fear in the heat of conflict and can make herself unreadable, she has already defeated many of the expectations of the other side. In any manipulative or emotional attack, the opponent expects a woman to react, to show some sign of stress---anger, fear, etc. When she doesn't, she's gotten an advantage by defeating her opponent's expectations.

Honne is the word for your true intentions or condition. Musashi urges you not to reveal your honne, not to anybody. If you have a plan to counter strike, the enemy must not see the gleam of anticipation in your eye. If you sense that it is impossible to win at the present moment and have a plan of escape, the enemy must not see your tension.

In any conflict, your eyes, your face, your voice, and your hands can give you away. They are the four points to observe ("the gates"). They must be smooth, relaxed, like placid water. Water takes the form of its container. It reflects agitation on its surface. Therefore, have a mind that is calm and confident, focused on the present moment, and by that method you will show calmness to your opponents.

Next, Musashi makes the distinction between seeing only the outward appearance ("ken") and seeing beyond appearance to what lies beneath the surface ("kan"). Your opponent will create illusions to keep you in a false peace, and he will also create illusions to intimidate you. You must see through him (kan). Know him in the sense of knowing the inward things: his values, his flaws, his ego, his blind spots, and where he will possess a stopping mind.

People who prey on others actually are very fearful, but the defender has to find out what it is they fear. And they are also very egotistical, so the defender has to find out what will deflate them---locate the truth about them that they cannot face. But always realize that fearful people can still be vicious people, even violent people. And they can be vengeful. Please keep yourself protected.

The last resort (aside from violence) of an opponent against a defender is blame. Blame is a means to cause you to waste the energy of your spirit. An opponent will seek to use it to his or her own advantage, a game of ken and kan, in which he zeroes in on the heart and soul of his prey while pretending to state only facts or casual observations. All that any person can do is confess any wrongdoing and make it right (or get forgiveness), confront inner fears and resolve them, and then go on. Musashi's method of combat relies on a strong inner sword. Polish it well and keep it sharp for the next duel. Be prepared to "turn the tables": to exploit the opponent's fears and ego when you are emotionally or verbally attacked.

For next time: being fluid, keeping the mind in control over the body, guarding and exploiting communication.

Jeri Massi

"Kill selfish desires, bravely face all enemies, and keep a stainless mind - this is bushido."
-- Yamaoka Tesshu

#13 Be fluid; the mind rules the body; depth of spirit

Dear Miss Redgrave,
All people who seek to gain strength suffer setbacks, in which they go all the way back to the beginning (or seem to) and are reduced to weakness again. I was badly defeated in another school this past Friday night. The instructor wrist locked me, pushed my face into the mat before the students, and forced me to admit that I was beaten. But there's always next Friday night. And the Friday after, etc. But it reminded me of something that Musashi neglects. Setbacks are a natural part of the progress towards strength. A fighter can only accept them, then embrace them, and then use them to be made strong all over again.

Runners fall during a race; ball players strike out. Everybody who trains has what they call "bad days." Sometimes setbacks come from within and sometimes from without. But they are a part of training. I write this to say that as you get stronger, please don't be discouraged if something should set you back and make you feel weak again. Being pushed backward now and then is actually a natural part of moving forward. Your spirit is strong enough to continue on the path you choose.

"Do not become tense, and do not let yourself go.
Keep your mind on the center and do not waver.
Calm your mind, and do not cease the firmness for
a second. Always maintain a fluid and flexible,
free and open mind."
--Musashi, "Mizu No Maki" (the Book of Water)

To be fluid is to be able to alter course in order to reach a destination, like a stream does when a boulder is flung into it. The fighter must be fluid because an opponent will change tactics and be disruptive to get what he wants.

We all come from the womb figuring out ways to get what we want, learning to adjust to different people in order to charm them, intimidate them, cooperate with them, etc. This is why it is crucial to defeat the expectations of the other side. They can't get a handle on you to manipulate you if they can't determine your thoughts or inner reactions. When all signs of fear and all signs of anger have disappeared from your face, eyes, voice, and hands, they don't know your thoughts.

Suddenly the attacker "can't see you," the real you, the inner you. In a sword battle, not revealing anything to the other side was nicknamed "being invisible." Chances are, the more "invisible" one person becomes, the more agitated and highly visible the opponent will become. Your invisibility may create sudden uncertainty and wariness in an opponent, perhaps outright fear. Learning to become invisible is part of being fluid---attaining the transparency and yet the opaqueness of deep water.

To be fluid in battle, Musashi writes, always watch for a change in tactics and be ready to adapt. Be wary of falling into your own expectations. Nobody can truly say, "Now all is well; I am safe from harm." But a person with a trained inner weapon can say, "I am ready to meet the next challenge."

Some historians think that Musashi began his path to martial enlightenment when he had to duel with a renown swordsman named Sasaki Kojiro. Kojiro, an acclaimed sword master, was faster than Musashi and more expert in sword technique. Because Kojiro was favored to win, the match was to take place before a crowd of wealthy and prestigious families.

Musashi came three hours late to the duel, still dressed in his pajamas, with his hair wrapped up in a towel. He appeared to be hung over. Nobody had ever done such a thing in a public duel. It was an insult to samurai tradition, courtesy, and culture. Kojiro was furious. Shouting, he attacked Musashi. Musashi killed him with the first blow.

Some biographers assert that this was when Musashi realized that all fighting, ultimately, is a matter of the mind, of psychology. Certainly, he proved that a good fighter must be able to adapt, to be fluid and yet firm, able to accommodate to the unexpected and still strike with sureness and mental control.

From Musashi:
"Do not let the mind be dragged along by
the body or the body dragged along by
the mind."

Physical pain induces emotional pain: surrender, grief, etc., and so the mind must rule even during illness. This was part of the discipline of the samurai.

In many conflicts, Musashi adds, weariness is more common and more subtle than outright pain. A weary expression tells others of weariness and even reinforces it to the self. The samurai, whatever his state of health or his circumstances, was instructed to meet the day and his family with composure, courtesy, and a ready spirit. ("Shave the top of your head daily and anoint it with perfume," one advisor wrote.)

To sink the breath to the lower abdomen is a good way to keep the breathing steady and strong, and to maintain composure. Many martial artists spend a few minutes every morning focused and relaxed, gently guiding their breathing to the lower abdomen, using the lower abdomen as part of the breathing mechanism, to draw the breath down below the navel. This practice induces calm readiness.

The confidence of a quiet and ready spirit quickly warns away predators who look for weakness in others. A relaxed but ready attitude---observable in the eyes, face, voice, and hands---speaks of strength. This is samurai bearing, in which the calm and disciplined mind rules the body.

Again, from Musashi:
"Strengthen your fundamental spirit
and act in such a way as to not
reveal the depth of your spirit to

"Fundamental spirit" is the same thing as the "primary weapon," "inner weapon," and "inner sword." They all are all names for the same thing: the seat of your will, your courage, and your determination; what is also called your fighting spirit.

Musashi's warning has two sides: First, do not be visibly shocked or dismayed by setbacks. And second, beware of impatience in coming in for the kill. Both are dangerous and can betray a fighter or make him hasty.

As Musashi learned from Kojiro, let the overconfident opponent rush you. Never rush him. Also, a mind of depth never openly triumphs over a win. A warrior calmly finishes one battle and then prepares for the next, his attitude unchanged ("zanshin").

Musashi's warning goes deeper than mere expression and attitude. He warns the reader to take nobody into confidences regarding battle plans.

In the samurai culture, creating a strategy was a spiritual exercise, a matter of seeking or verifying one's own enlightenment, the validation of a person as a warrior. Therefore, strategy was personal and private. The samurai understood that any fight will be deeply personal, self-revealing, instructive, and cataclysmic.

Musashi's cautions are echoed in the writings of other samurai. Apart from the spiritual matters, their lives hung on their discretion. And especially in his type of fighting, which is so psychological, keeping strategy hidden is crucial.

Water tires out those who resist it. It is just yielding enough that it will not support the opponent, but just strong enough that he has to keep struggling against it. By the pint, it is transparent and invisible. But as an ocean, nobody can see into its depths.

No human being possesses the power to destroy evil or ill-will outright. But by being fluid, we can turn evil attacks aside and remain fixed on the values we believe in, unshaken by what others do. To be flexible and adaptable like water ensures the ability to recover from attack and to learn.

Jeri Massi

"Water bears no scars."
-- Japanese proverb

#14 From Aikido: Blending

Dear Miss Redgrave,

Because you and your lawyer must meet with your husband and his lawyer this Wednesday, I decided to discuss this concept from aikido. There is a method for taking a sword or knife from an opponent when you are unarmed. This is called "blending."

An unarmed defender against an armed attacker is at a disadvantage in that even a clumsy rush can injure him or kill him. The knife or sword, even when swung blindly or with bad technique, can slash him.

So the solution is not to interrupt the vicious attacker as he attacks. Instead of direct resistance, the defender turns as the rush comes in, slipping alongside the striking arm and gently guiding the weapon hand at a slight skew---just a few degrees off its intended track. Indeed, the defender does a complete turn so that he or she is actually facing the same direction that the attacker is going, right within the attacker's personal space. Thus the defender "blends" with the attack, attains a very similar direction and flow of movement, and then uses balance and inertia to throw, sweep, or wrist lock the attacker and take the knife away.

In emotional violence, to blend is to agree and yet guide a person to your conclusion, not his.

I don't think that your verbally abusive husband will let you get away from his presence without making some attempt to hurt you. I believe that controlling you is his means of self realization, so he will seek to hurt you or humiliate you in front of others. So when you must meet with him and the lawyers this week, you will have an opportunity to hand him a stunning psychological defeat. He doesn't know your mindset any more. Since you last saw him several weeks ago when he accosted you in public, you've had time to recover, reorganize yourself, grow, and learn. Since he can't grow, he won't comprehend these changes in you.

You already have a much clearer idea of the rhythm of his battle than he has of yours. He'll attack you in some predictable ways: comments on topics where he's observed your vulnerability before, provoking or outrageous statements, made very loudly and bombastically. With at least two lawyers there to serve as audience, he'll be on center stage in his mind. And he still thinks he can control your reactions.

To blend with an emotional attack, the defender must be detached and able to see the seat of fear, anger, and envy that motivates the attacker. Truth doesn't have anything to do with accusations, even if those accusations are true.

In other words, your husband may use true events to blame or accuse, but he's not interested in bringing up the past in order to resolve it. He only wants to hurt you or force you to fight back. So if he starts hitting you with his baggage from the past, you can blend by not arguing, but asking him what he would like you to do about these things *now*. (not sarcastically; ask kindly.) You don't have to agree or disagree with his claims, but you can put the load back on him by asking what it is he wants you to do to resolve what he's talking about. If you reply to him, reply in terms of a person seeking closure, not justification. That will surprise him and dismay him because he doesn't want closure. He expects you to want to be vindicated or justified, not finished.

Alternatively, you might be able to get an accusation down to a more direct question: "Are you trying to resolve that situation with me, or do you just want to blame me?" And it's very disarming to add, "You can blame me if you like---if it helps you move on with your life. I don't mind." Statements like that make it clear that you're not affected at all by his words and that you're moving on.

I don't think it's possible to make him be silent, but you can guide him to lose control of himself. Frustrate him by not being the person he demands you to be, the person he has come to hurt and belittle. If he starts shouting, that means you're winning. Let him shout. (Just don't be alone with him.)

This man's unfaithfulness, his harassment of you, and every other cruel thing that he has done to you are what he triumphs in. He holds it over your head that he's not sorry. From what I can determine from his actions in public, he takes a sort of glory in his wrongdoing. (That, of course, is just a big show to hurt you.)

To break that hold, you can behave as though you accept that he's not sorry, and you're ready to move on anyway. I'm telling you this as though we were two black belts discussing strategy for an upcoming fight. What he did was terribly cruel and ten months is not enough time to fully get over pain like that and such betrayal. But if he sees your grief, he will keep tormenting you with his lack of remorse.

If he does try to torment you this way, you can use what he did and his triumph in it to take him to your conclusion, not his. Instead of struggling you can blend:

Make it clear that you no longer expect him to understand your grief and feel remorse. Indicate that you realize that you cannot change his feelings or his viewpoint, but neither can you ignore your own feelings and your viewpoint. And your feelings are very strong about this. So you have to re-organize your life to deal with the pain and the grief that he obviously is unable to feel. Again, you use his attacks to show him that you are reaching closure, that you are moving on---without him.

In blending, you can express a detached and distant pity for him and acknowledge that you know he is hurting and feels helpless. All of this will catch him by surprise (and frustrate him). He wants and expects you to be angry. He's going to look for unresolved grief in you to satisfy himself. If he blames you for his own hurt, suggest therapy to him (kindly, not sarcastically). Tell him to rebuild his life as best as he can. Urge him to put you into his past and get on with his life. If he attacks, guide him again and again to the conclusion that you are moving on (and leaving him behind). I think that what he fears most is that you're going to get over him and just forget about him; that he will cease to matter to you at any level. The more real you make that fate seem to him, the more you'll see his fear and frustration.

What blending requires is excellent detachment, a clear mindset, and a good understanding of what techniques and strategies your opponent will use. If you want to use blending, you'll need to review every way that this man has tried to manipulate your feelings in the last few meetings between you (his patterns of attack). Then you'll need to figure out the lines of logic you can draw from what he says to suit your own goals. But in blending, you avoid both blame and the denial of blame. You don't get into a push-pull struggle. Instead, you use the opponent's words and arguments to support your conclusion.

It may chill you that I'm suggesting the expression of pity, etc. But, as a strategist, I think you can condescend to express distant pity, and that's better than defending yourself to him or answering to his blame and accusations. It cheats him of his prey to simply say, "You know, I realize you are hurting, and I hope you get help to deal with it." And pity automatically casts you as the stronger person.

He will come to you filled with expectations about you: about your anger, about your pain, about your values, about your fears of what he will say and do. He assumes that at this point he has the upper hand. Do not dissuade him from this. Instead, be fluid and keep agreeing but taking him to your conclusions, not his, to your ultimate acceptance of the situation and readiness to move on. Thus, you will thwart his expectations in every possible area, great and small, and it will gradually dawn on him that he is not controlling you. If he suddenly gets angry, then you know you've delivered excellent "cuts" as Musashi says.

The most important thing in conflict is to stay calm and relaxed. He probably expects you to want to finish any meeting with him as quickly as possible. So if you are willing to give a show of waiting and lingering and pondering things to suit yourself and your goals, you will take away his sense of "forcing" you to stay in the same room with him.

This is what I observe about him:

1. He's living in the past; he's consumed by it. He wants you back
the way he had you.
2. He's unable to mentally grasp some of the aspects of your
intellect and character at this point of your growth.
3. He's very angry with you; he's a slave to envy.
4. Part of him does feel helpless around you. He does have a sense
of helplessness, which he denies to himself. He's afraid of his destiny.
5. He has to see pain, humiliation, grief, etc., in you to find
self realization. And that need will not be sated.

If you think that I'm right, you can deal with his behaviors by being calm, relaxed, and patient, and recognizing that he's regressed as a human being. To defeat him most handily, you can work on these weaknesses and exploit them until he starts shouting or does something else to embarrass himself. Outright anger and loss of self-control from him means that he's frustrated over not being able to control you, so those are good signs.

You have the strength to upset your opponent's expectations on Wednesday and put him at a loss. In fact, you have many, many options. Every fighter is taught this: Relax with yourself and trust yourself as you step into the ring.

Jeri Massi

"You must concentrate upon and consecrate yourself wholly to each
day, as though a fire were raging in your hair."
-- Taisen Deshimaru

#15 "No Design, No Thought" ('Munen Muso')

Dear Miss Redgrave,
"Hit with your body, and hit with your spirit, and hit from the Void with your hands,
accelerating strongly. This is the 'No Design,
No Thought' [Munen Muso] cut. This is the
most important method of hitting. It is often
used. You must train hard to understand it."
--Musashi, "Mizu No Maki" (the Book of Water)

A martial arts master does not think of "breathing;" but rather that he "is breathed:" that the breathing of the life force of the cosmos [called "the Void", in Buddhism] goes through him, and if he incorporates it properly, he can direct the strength of the cosmos through himself at the target. He is limited only by how much of that power he can deliver through his body. When he "hits from the Void," in this way, the mind is completely passive and yet focused, with no thought at all [Munen Muso]; the body is relaxed, and breathing is proper, centered in the lower abdomen. It's by this method that the masters can strike a stack of three bricks with a hand blow and crack only the center brick, or crack all three, as it suits them. Hitting from the Void can be done with a weapon or unarmed.

Hitting from the Void is purely for physical power. But Munen Muso itself has wider application than just the physical, and it influences every aspect of a warrior's outlook on any battle. "Munen Muso" literally means "mind without designs" or "mind of no-mind." It's a key term in samurai thought, the ideal mindset of the warrior. In its most martial sense it means the ability to act calmly and behave in accord with enlightenment even in the face of danger.

Warriors displayed this mindset by composing highly structured poetry as they rode into battle or even by performing intricate dances or playing difficult melodies on their flutes when awaiting duels, execution, or ritual suicide. A person with Munen Muso is living fully in the present moment, with full concentration on this current instant, no matter what his circumstances or what the next moment may bring.

Ota Dokan, a man of great rank who enjoyed considerable reputation for his poetic abilities as well as for his skill in building a great castle in Edo, met his end at the hands of an assassin. The heartless assassin, knowing that his victim enjoyed local fame as a poet, ran Ota Dokan all the way through with a spear, and as he did, he recited this original couplet:

"Ah! How in moments like these,
Our heart doth grudge the light of life!"

And Dokan, impaled on the spear and dying, did not even hesitate as he looked up and recited his final composition of verse, in which the second line makes a pun on his killer's second line:

"Had not, in hours of peace,
It learned to lightly look on life."

The extremes of this behavior, of course, can be written off by cynical Western minds as exquisite bravado. But in the heat of combat it's a good quality to have. To live only in the present moment is vital in battle; it frees the fighter from both fear and regret and allows the fighter to read the fears of the enemy.

Having Munen Muso means that if you are grabbed or attacked suddenly, you strike in accordance with your inner sword: without thought, without panic, without a great gasp of fear, and with complete power and focus. Good Munen Muso dismays an attacker because it seems to him that you were prepared for the attack.

So if you are in a parking lot trying to get into your car, and some man grabs you by the hair, you don't think; you act. You shout "tsai!" and punch swiftly, your head level, with a quick twist of the hip to drive in the fist, sinking it into his floating ribs. Your readiness daunts him even as the punch stings him through the liver and makes him fall back. Before you can follow up, he's running away. The promptness of your response, the readiness of your eyes, and your lack of fear confuse his undisciplined mind.

In Musashi's lifetime, he fought and defeated opponents with whatever was at hand: katana, shoto, a spare oar, a dagger, a half whittled longbow, an iron fan, a wooden practice sword, a borrowed spear. He preferred to fight promptly when challenged, with whatever was at hand. He possessed, as he himself will tell you, excellent Munen Muso.

The term is also a description of moral character. It describes the quality of a warrior's words and actions being one and the same thing. This includes the idea of honesty, but even more it emphasizes the ability to do what one claims or to enforce one's own words instantly. The words of the warrior and the actions of the warrior are one and the same thing. That is also Munen Muso.

It is expressed in terse, accurate, honest speech, and direct, unflinching eye contact. A person with Munen Muso is a person of few words and sudden, forthright action. As a Westerner, I was puzzled when I first watched Japanese-made movies. The samurai warriors---even the heroes---seemed to glare at each other and at their lords. I finally realized that this was not anger but the depiction of Munen Muso. They look straight at people, unwavering, but they say nothing, unless they have something to say. And when they do have something to say, they are forthright and brief. No threats, no harangue, no boasting.

Be hard hitting without being angry. Be willing to stake yourself on what you say. Munen Muso means making your words and your actions one, the ability to confront the enemy with no fear and no ego. It includes the ability to react decisively (not angrily) in accord with your spirit, without needing to think. This "no-thought" method, as Musashi says several times, requires diligent training and inner development. To use it well, a person must be free of self-doubt, completely sure of his or her values, and calm.

It is difficult, in a moment of sudden catastrophe, to behave coolly and decisively, without panic. The samurai practiced inner stillness and meditation to achieve such a mindset. In our culture, I think that Munen Muso is best achieved by being able to let go of anything---or any one---at any time. Like the cherry blossom, to be lovely and glorious in one moment, and in the next to release the branch and drop away without a sound. This is difficult for all of us, but the secret to fighting calmly on the instant is to be able to accept whatever comes next, and that means letting go of this present moment instantly.

And this is what Munen Muso accomplishes: When your husband first hurt you so terribly, it was overwhelming and you had to get away. Within a few days or a couple weeks, you could hold yourself together, but only with great effort, and the stress was still visible in your bearing. After a few more weeks, during which time he further tried to hurt you, you could greet him with rigid self control, obvious distaste, and coldness.

Now is the time to be more relaxed in his presence, more genuinely at ease with yourself, as one who accepts that he is depraved and cannot recover. For now, the best thing is to be the person who has faced the worst, accepted it, and is prepared to move forward, with quiet self assurance. This is necessary to disrupt his rhythm and also to show your improving strength and to let you gain more confidence in your ability to be detached from his attacks. So the best demeanor at the moment is relaxed, calm, able to accept that he's a monster, and pity him for it.

But the goal in terms of martial enlightenment---if you choose it---is to face him with steady eyes, with a spirit that "crushes his spirit," as Musashi writes (and it is discussed in a future essay), so that your expression and your will transmit themselves into the pit of his stomach and quell his spirit. This is not done by ferocity or anger, but by Munen Muso, the energetic yet controlled demeanor of a samurai possessed by readiness at its fullest and most potent. This, as Musashi writes, "requires diligent training."

Sincerely, Jeri Massi

"Be grateful even for hardships, setbacks, and bad people. Dealing with such obstacles is an essential part of training."
-- Morihei Ueshiba, founder of aikido

#16 The inner sword; accepting; emptiness

Dear Miss Redgrave,

The Fire Book, "Hi no Maki" discusses doing battle in terms of your opponent. This means understanding how combat itself works, and it means understanding how your opponent works.

"You can understand the enemy's strategies, his
strength and resources, and come to appreciate
how to apply enlightenment [heiho] to beat ten
thousand enemies.

"Any man who wants to master the essence of my
strategy must research diligently, training
morning and evening. Thus can he polish his
skill, become free from self, and realize
extraordinary ability."
--Musashi, "Hi no Maki" (The Fire Book)

Musashi makes clear that the greatest virtue of his method is that it relies so heavily on perfecting the inner spirit rather than extravagant technique of swordsmanship. To be perfectly truthful, Musashi founded the Niten Ichiryu [Two Heavens as One] school of swordsmanship, which taught the fighter to hold the katana in his favored hand and the shoto in his other hand. His whirling, two-sword style was actually the ultimate in flashy and unconventional technique.

But in spite of being a product of his times, he still shows extraordinary perception. His emphasis is on the power of the inner sword, the polished spirit, as the directing force behind any technique.

The first phase of war is understanding. How do you come to understand the enemy's strategies? According to Musashi, (and bushido) the warrior can do so by developing his own spirit, by eliminating deceit from his inner person, by accepting his own mortality, by embracing hardship, and by training with sincerity. Thus, the warrior grows into a "polished" person who can look without fear into another person and see his mind.

To attain martial enlightenment ("heiho") is to become formless, without expectation, without fear, and without thought: able to "strike from formlessness." Free from self.

This idea of formlessness remains a future study (the Fifth Ring). But I have to address certain aspects of it as a preliminary to knowing the enemy.

When people are criticized or controlled, they tend to do two things at the same time: rebut the criticism and yet believe it; or struggle against the control and yet allow it. To rebut criticism *is* to believe it, for in forming a rebuttal, a person shows that the criticism has a certain validity. To struggle against control is to allow it, for the struggle shows that the person views the control as a real force in his or her life.

Thus, those who criticize or control others are in a no-lose situation, as long as they direct their attacks against an untrained mind. For in fighting back, the criticized or controlled person is still conceding power.

When you write of your husband having power over you (though you note that he has less now than he did before), it makes me think that somehow in the marriage he must have criticized or controlled you. For the truth is, to an outsider, this wasted, lecherous man seems to have no power over you at all. You are beautiful, talented, witty, and energetic. He is helpless, dithering, vicious, and envious. But from your earliest days, I am guessing, he must have used manipulative designs to control you---at least at times---and perhaps he even criticized you in certain matters. Or perhaps it is only in the last year that his shameless and hostile behavior has given him an appearance of power over you.

Zen teaches Acceptance rather than struggle. To struggle is to be pulled into the other person's rhythm and made to act within its sphere, even though you are resisting. In a similar vein, the Bible teaches to forgive rather than hate, and now perhaps you see a practical and not just a spiritual purpose in this. To forgive is not to say that evil is all right or to behave as though it didn't happen. To forgive is to stop taking evil personally and to commit the wrong to God for judgement, to take your hands off of it, which is the only way to be free of it. Harboring hatred/anger forces a person to continue to bear the wrong done, to continue to relive it instead of moving on.

The warrior comes again and again to the place of what the Chinese call "Wu Ji", the emptiness of the beginner. When criticized, accept (That doesn't mean agree). One very beautiful woman with whom I work told me that her ex-husband would criticize her in bed for being too heavy and not having enough cleavage. She's five foot ten and a size eight. I wondered if he was into skeletons or something. She told me that she had to accept that maybe she was too heavy and too flat chested **for him** but if that mattered so much to him in their relationship then it was just as well that she divorced him (after he'd had an affair). Oddly enough, once she filed the papers, he suddenly found that he could tolerate her figure if she would only give him a second chance. (She did, with the predictable result that he repeated all his former behaviors, and now they are divorced.)

But she told me that she had to come to the point where she realized that physically she could never perfectly please every preference of any man. And there was something good in that, because relationships are built on more than just beauty. Having a few flaws here and there creates room for that key item: acceptance of each other, which is the heart of intimacy at any level.

Being criticized or blamed, though painful, is the opportunity to come back to the emptiness of the beginner. The beginner is open to new ideas and solutions, humble, ready to gain knowledge and apply it. The beginner has nothing to prove and nothing to hide and seeks to learn. Therefore in Zen thought, the beginner is more able to grow than the expert. In my aikido school (in which I wear a white belt), we bow in to the instructor at the beginning of class. Directly behind him, on a shelf, sits an empty cup. Our bow acknowledges the authority of the instructor and the wisdom of the emptiness of the cup. Each of us, from white belt all the way up to black belt, must be empty in order to learn. I could not learn aikido until I took off the black belt of tae kwon do, set aside that knowledge, and put on a white belt again and embraced formlessness: not knowing, not being, only becoming. Needless to say, this attitude has also improved my tae kwon do.

I worked for two people once, a married couple, who criticized me pretty frequently for failing to live up to being a Christian. I tied myself up in knots over it for many months, always upset, always feeling a need to defend myself, and always frustrated because I was actually doing very good work for these people, which they never seemed to notice. Then I remembered *why* I had become a Christian in the first place: because I am a sinner. And so when they criticized me, I brought them back to my true beginning: I am a sinner. It's what entitled me to become a Christian. For, you see, Christ Himself declared that He had come to save sinners, not the righteous. This rebuttal actually got them angrier, but it made me free. Once I stopped trying to "prove" myself and went back to the basics, they had no power over me.

And yet, on the other hand, there is an elderly woman with whom I've developed a strong friendship over the years, almost a mother-daughter relationship. Once or twice I've really lost my temper with others, said some terrible things, and I have gone straight to her, upset with myself, upset over what I've done, and I've found it perfectly natural to tell her where I've failed, perfectly easy to listen to her guidance, perfectly comforting when she reminds me that she loves me and that God loves me; and the task to go out and set things right is then perfectly do-able. I don't want to say that the sin of anger is good to have, and yet being flawed and admitting I am flawed has been a vital component of being loved and accepted.

Having flaws equips us to have the mind of the beginner, to go back to the basics, to emptiness, to not having a need or reason to prove ourselves. Having flaws equips us to be loved and accepted for what we are and thus enjoy the highest attainment of human relationships: selfless, accepting love. And being so loved equips us to love others. Paradoxically, it also equips us to fight without passion and thus be purposeful and undeterred in battle.

To struggle against criticism or control is to yield to it, and so the solution is to accept it and recognize that there is no struggle needed; another person's point of view or words of choice emanate from him, and that person is entitled to his opinion. If you should believe the criticism, let it enforce your credo as an empty person who is still "becoming," who is on the path of polishing the inner sword, of learning more and more, of overcoming flaws and developing yourself further. If you do not agree with the opinion, then allow it anyway, for it cannot hurt you.

But consider the other side: if I criticize or manipulate, I take the role of God, which is an impossible role to enforce: for I am implying by harsh criticism or manipulative behavior that somebody else has an obligation to live up to **my** standards and please **me.** So the person who criticizes or manipulates is already on a path of self destruction, of having to continually prove himself worthy of judging others, worthy of controlling others, and then having to maintain that control. This is a mind out of harmony with nature, a mind that does not see its own place in the scheme of things. Look at your husband, and you will see where that path of criticizing and controlling leads: deception and self deception and finally utter loss of self control and utter loss of true personality.

Nobody can throw off the habits of a lifetime in a day or a month or even a year. But be the person who is "becoming," the person of emptiness seeking strength and knowledge day by day. You only become trapped if you look at yourself and say, "Now I am this." As soon as you "be," you have stopped "becoming," stopped your awareness, tried to make time stand still, attained a Stopping Mind, which will deceive you. Once any person declares that he is full, he ceases to be empty and is no longer teachable, no longer capable of completely enjoying each moment.

Who is full? Your miserable husband is full. Full of envy, full of anger, full of declaring that he is right and you are wrong. Full of bitterness. Full of a myriad and tangle of desire and fear and hatred. He has to hold it all together now, justifying himself and blaming you and boasting and carrying on. Do you suppose he will ever experience the joy of gratitude again? Or wonder? Will he ever have a creative thought, or get lost in a good story? There is a level of joy and contentment that such a man will never feel again, simply because he makes himself unable to receive it.

To go to the emptiness of the beginner is actually to receive the fullness of all of the possibilities of the universe. In Chinese, the Word is "Wu Ji." In Japanese, the word for complete emptiness is "ku," and yet that it also a word for complete fullness. And emptiness comes by accepting, not struggling, staying focused on "becoming," on continuing your personal development and honing your inner sword.

Jeri Massi

"Those who are possessed by nothing possess everything."
-- Morihei Ueshiba, Found of Aikido

#17 Sticking; trapping

Dear Miss Redgrave,
Here are two more battle concepts: sticking and trapping.

"Stickiness is not hitting very strongly,
but hitting so that the katanas [long
swords] do not separate easily. It is best
to approach as calmly as possible when
meeting the enemy's katana with stickiness."
--Musashi, "Mizu No Maki" (the Book of Water)

Let me explain sticking in terms of unarmed combat. Imagine that you and I each take boxing stances, facing each other, right foot forward, and hands up in the conventional defensive posture. We wear no gloves. Your lead (right) hand is diagonally across from my lead (right) hand.

I jab at you with my lead hand. Instead of smacking my hand away with a hard block, you drop your lead arm down over the top of my punching wrist, guiding it down and keeping it between us. Though quick, this is a "soft" response.

Because you have blocked right arm over right wrist and are maintaining the connection, our joined arms are diagonally between us---in my way if I want to throw my left. So I pull back.

Instead of allowing me to break the connection, you keep your relaxed and heavy arm lying on my arm and you follow me as I move back. You are not forcing my arm anywhere, just "sticking" to me. You follow with me as I retreat further, and you are relaxed but close, your eyes on my eyes, your arm still sticking to my arm.

If I try to snap my right fist away and strike, you'll sense it as soon as I tense my arm, and you'll hit first because your arm is on top. If I try to plow into you, you'll also sense it immediately through my arm and strike first as I come in, or you'll throw me.

So you see, you can control me as long as you stick. And yet sticking is soft, not forceful, with your sticking hand or arm relaxed---not gripping hard, not restraining.

It takes a lot of assurance and calmness to stick. But it is a great tool for mentally dominating untrained people in a fight. Physically, when you stick to an opponent, you're nearly face to face, your eyes calm, your posture erect, your footwork light and sure as you move with him, advancing and retreating with him, ready to strike. The longer you stick, the more you intimidate your untrained opponent, unnerve him, and silently communicate through your quiet eyes that you are the master.

In negotiation, stick to the first thing your opponent says that you honestly agree with or that serves your purposes, and follow him with it, using it as the springboard for advancing your own agenda. You never get overly aggressive but you never retreat. You remain committed to your goals and you follow your opponent with your goals, never letting him sidetrack the issues with blame, emotional attacks, excuses, anger, and staying focused on that idea that you both agree with, using it to force your agenda onto him. His shouting and other antics don't affect you. Eyes fixed on his, calm, detached, you stick and don't let him escape.

Another method of sticking, is very soft questioning. You question only what your opponent says and why it was said, without voicing your own opinion or directly stating anything about your opponent's motives. It's a method of getting an opponent to trip himself up.

In all combat or negotiation, calmness is essential. But especially in sticking you must be impassive---perfectly calm and detached, with your observation highly tuned and active. No laughing, no anger, nothing but passive awareness and softly phrased questions and answers that meet every move he makes with the topic at hand. You stay intent but gentle, impassive and not blinking often. Keep a patient demeanor, not a stern or insistent one. Behave as though you are dealing with a child.

Bear this in mind, sticking in combat is "soft," and so it has to be initiated when conditions favor it. You have to let the opponent attack before you can stick. But if you're ready to start trying methods of more aggressive confronting instead of solely enduring with calmness and detachment, sticking may be all you need to cause "collapse" in your opponent: to control him in an encounter and to seize control of the dynamics of the meeting.

From Musashi:
"The goal is to get control of
his sword. . . . . If you then press down the
point of his sword with a sticky feeling, he
will necessarily drop the sword. If you
practice this cut it becomes easy to make the
enemy drop his sword. You must train

In physical, unarmed fighting, if we are boxing each other, imagine that you stick to me, right arm over right arm, as before. But now, as I try to step back in retreat, you also drop your left arm over my captured right arm and use both hands to forcefully push my own arm across my body like a bar, completely blocking my left hand from doing anything and knocking me off balance as you step into me. With your left hand pressing my right arm across me, I cannot hit with either fist. You've trapped both my hands. Keeping my arm pushed in place across me with your left, you can lift your right hand to strike to my face.

When you trap, you tie up your opponent's weapons, or the pathways of his movement. Trapping requires that you be close, that you remain calm and impassive, and that you take a more aggressive role than in sticking. Perhaps when we spar with each other, you realize that I am very likely to kick, and so you come in so close that I cannot lift my leg to kick. You keep your lead foot between my two feet, or you press your shin to my right shin. Or, worse, you keep moving into me so that I cannot get a moment's purchase even to stomp your instep. You are effectively trapping my legs.

Trapping in negotiation is anything done to prevent your opponent from initiating a powerful attack. Understanding his motives and plans ahead of time and thwarting them is the way to trap. If he opens an hour-long session with an unproved or outrageous comment about you, you can tie him up for ten minutes or more, directly and impartially questioning an unfounded comment: asking how he plans to use the comment to settle matters or asking him to prove what he just said. Again, this is asking rather than demanding. In trapping, your voice must also be calm and patient.

You can also blend and trap. Agree with a point he makes and then show that he's contradicting himself in something else that he said. Catch him in lies, but do so with a calm face, calm eyes, and a willingness to let him keep explaining himself. Never question his motives; only question his statements. In this way, he will say things like, "Stop calling me a liar," and you can reply, "When did I call you a liar?" again putting the burden on him to support his statements. If your opponent relies heavily on accusations and lies, then trapping will tie up his energies a good while, frustrate him, and put you in a control position.

Jeri Massi

'Those who are enlightened never stop forging themselves.'
--Morehi Ueshiba

#18 Kyudo; releasing the arrow

Dear Miss Redgrave,

The training for defeating enemies is by way
of many contests, fighting for survival,
discovering the meaning of life and death,
learning the Way of the sword.
--Musashi, "Hi no Maki" (The Fire Book)

The warrior has to learn exactly how to survive, how death and life are united and what they mean to a fighter. As a samurai, Musashi emphasizes the Way of the Sword, which in his day was the philosophical and martial training in the katana, the samurai's signature weapon. But today's essay will focus on the Way of the arrow: kyudo.

In Zen, the outward elements of weapon (any weapon), strategy, setting, and the self are blended. We Westerners wall out objective reality from our selves, making the thinker one entity and the object that he observes entirely separate. To the Japanese philosophers, the walls between self and the perceived object are a lot thinner, and there are many joining places.

To explain the "meaning of life and death" in terms of fight theory, I need to explain Japanese archery (kyudo) to you. In kyudo, the bow is nearly as tall as a Japanese man, and the first several months of learning this art are spent learning to string the bow. Then the next year is spent learning to draw the bow correctly, using breath and harmony of motion rather than raw strength. Finally, the student learns to shoot the arrow.

But to consciously release the arrow is forbidden. The arrow must release itself or the shot goes astray. And so, for the next year, the student archer learns *not* to release the arrow as he holds the drawn bow. He waits until self and arrow and breath are united, and then the arrow freely flies. To ensure this, kyudo archers hold the drawn arrow on the string with the thumb wrapped entirely around the string. If they consciously release the arrow, the string lets out a loud twang as the thumb unwraps, and the vibration sends the arrow askew. The arrow must release itself, and the thumb falls away naturally, completely relaxed. This happens only when bow, string, and arrow become a part of the archer's self and his breath.

Aiming is never even taught in the conventional sense. When the student has learned to consistently unite breath and self to arrow and bow, he begins shooting down the length of the long archery hall. There is no siting down the arm or arrow, no squinting, no tilting the head over.

Yet the masters unfailingly hit the black area of the target again and again. Of course, just by being in the hall they have the basic idea of where the target is, even without aiming, but the distance is too great for the shots to be so consistently perfect.

When Eugen Herrigel, the first Westerner to become a Master of kyudo, voiced doubts as a student in his own master, his master took him at night into the long archery hall with a single candle. The taper, of course, could light only a few feet around itself. Herrigel left his master in darkness and went to check the targets, then returned with the small candle, which he set on the floor. The master could not see the targets---only a wall of blackness. He strung his bow and fired an arrow into the blackness, and then he fired a second arrow. Then he instructed Herrigel to take the candle and check the center target. Herrigel went. He discovered that the first arrow had sunk into the black spot in the target, and the second arrow had splintered the shaft of the first arrow.

Herrigel would later demonstrate this same feat of skill in his native Germany. The archer, he explained, actually aims at himself. He is not shooting a separate entity called a target. Rather, the target (like the bow and the arrow) is an extension of himself on which he focuses his mind. So he becomes empty, relaxes, focuses with "no-thought", and releases the arrow into himself, the true target. He cannot unite with the target until he becomes empty of the fear of failing, empty of the pride of success, empty of every distraction of ego and self. When he becomes empty of himself, he can become the target. What unites the archer to the target? Obviously, the arrow does. He is the bow, and he is the arrow, and he is the target. They are all one and the same thing in his experience, and this is proved out when the archery hall is darkened, and the archer, with only a general sense of where the target is, fires into darkness and hits the target in the center.

Know in advance the designs of the
opponent . . . leave that which is of no
use in the opponent's control, but keep
protected from him that which he could
put to use. Thus make it impossible for
the opponent to succeed in his method
of attack. . . . When the opponent
attempts a strategy, defeat it in the first
instant. Make whatever the opponent
was trying to accomplish useless to him.
--Musashi, "Hi no Maki" (The Fire Book)

You must determine the enemy's objective and his plan. What is his target? And what his method?

Obviously, your husband is shooting at you. You are the target. Remember the Rule: This struggle is about an envious person who cannot attain self realization unless he sees you suffer; unless he has a sense of exercising control over you.

Therefore, if he cannot make you suffer, if he cannot control you at all, then he is defeated. When you can find his method, his strategy of power, then you can defeat him. So this is the real question: What must you destroy to defeat him?

I fight every week unless I'm sick or injured. Though I usually defeat the women of any rank, I often lose fights against tall men who both outrank me and outweigh me. When its fists and feet at high speed, and all I have is a mouthpiece for protection, I often forget who my prime enemy is---that person who gets me distracted, fills me with fear, goofs me up, makes me rush prematurely or jump away unnecessarily. It's me. Just last week I tried to blend with a guy who was throwing a military style round kick. I jumped right into the circle of his attack and ended up with a fat lip. He was aghast, but I knew it was my fault. What kind of an idiot runs into the circular path of a roundhouse kick, I asked myself. Easy---the kind of idiot who gives in to her own haste, who starts employing aikido principles too soon into the punches and whirling kicks of tae kwon do. Fear, haste, anger---the three great distracters in a fight. But they don't come from the other guy. They come from me. When I go into the ring, I must defeat and conquer myself in order to be free of my opponent.

Defeating the self is the heart and soul of martial enlightenment. And that fight against the self gets very personal and very painful.

When you combat your husband, he's too smart and too cowardly for a one-on-one fight. So he seizes his wife and all her hopes and fears and vulnerabilities, and he holds her up like a shield in battle. Thus, to send an arrow into him, you have to shoot through her. Like the kyudo archer, and like me in tae kwon do, your true opponent is a version of your self held up in front of you. She's grief stricken at his cruelty and her losses; unable to fully comprehend the envy, hatred, and deceit that possess him; missing the hopes and expectations he once shared with her. This hostage is the You that he knows, and you also recognize her. She's not just an illusion; she's a part of you. But she's someone you've got to be willing to sacrifice to defeat him. All martial enlightenment comes down to calmly drawing back the string and releasing the arrow, recognizing that you are the first target. It's the ultimate embracing of suffering and death.

I've mentioned that I know only an outer version of you. But your husband also knows only an outer version of you, but a version closer to the center than mine. And even you know only an outer version of you, though probably even closer to center. Your true self, like everybody's true self, is largely unknown to you. And knowing this true self is hindered by the expectations of others and your own expectations. Manners, customs, culture, expectation, vanity ("fullness"), pride, anger, fear---they all hinder each of us from reaching our true selves.

What your husband holds up in battle as a human shield to protect himself and hurt you, is a version of you, but not the central, innermost you. But he expects you to recognize and believe in his hostage. So he humiliates her. And he torments her in front of you. But the less afraid you are of his words, his sarcasm, his cruel tricks; and the more you can accept and recognize his fallen cruelty as just that, then the more you can separate both him and this version of you from your own innermost, empty, and developing self. Be ready to face inner fears, to seek forgiveness, to do good without thought, to stay fixed on "becoming" rather than "being". These are the components of emptiness (wu ji) and readiness (kamae). And thus that hostage he's holding becomes more ready to die and be free of him. And you become free to send an arrow through her with an act of your will, killing her old expectations, killing old hopes, killing the view of herself that he created in her. The arrow that is released from your bow ends her captive existence, and frees you. Because then, in accord with Musashi's words, you have made the enemy's hostage useless to him.

This takes tremendous will, and it hurts tremendously, as I know from my own experience. She is one of your selves, and the arrow that goes into her goes into you. Death of any part of us is lonely and bitter.

And I am not saying that the hostage wife is bad or wrong. She is a premature version of the genuine person who is still growing and developing: loving, vulnerable, enthusiastic, beautiful. But the alternative to sending an arrow through her is to allow this cruel man to continue to torture her right in front of you, and you'll feel that, too, as you have felt it since these troubles began.

I told you about the married couple for whom I worked, who tried to control me by criticizing me. As I worked for them I discovered unethical practices in their business and had to oppose them. Over a period of about four months, they tried to control me through harassment and fear on several levels, until I died to everything in myself that they attacked---hopes, expectations, concepts of myself, needs, my own future. But I don't think there was anything "evil" in the old Jeri who I killed, no more so than what exists in the current me. But they were so cruel and unrelenting in their harassment that it was a choice forced by necessity. And it really did hurt, but I did it. I kept killing off my old self until there was nothing left in me that they could attack. Then it hit them all at once that they had no control over me, and they became afraid of me. (To my surprise, they were caught in an entirely different scandal that I'd never even suspected. They quickly left the state to avoid any further repercussions.) It took me a couple years to recover from what they did to me and from what I did to myself to fight them.

One thing I learned is that normal, ordinary, decent people really have no clue as to how to fight predatory people. So afterwards I took the whole experience and tried to make sense of it---sense in terms of what I should have done sooner, in terms of what predatory people actually fear. Of course, every fighter is different, and I want you to be guided by what you can do. I was hasty and almost destroyed myself. Don't be hasty like I was: think and consider. I would like you to trust me as an honest explainer of these ideas. But trust yourself as the fighter. You are brave and have strong character and can rely on yourself to choose what works for you.

Most people can never release the arrow into themselves, even if they believe this concept; and some people require time to do it, and some people find that they must shoot several times. But the first time is the most difficult.

Embracing and willing the death of a part of yourself can only ever be your decision, done when you are ready to do it, if you believe that what I'm saying is accurate. Choose what works for you, doing only what you feel sure and ready to do.

Jeri Massi

"Victory goes to the one who has no thought of himself."
-- Shinkage School of Swordsmanship

#19 Injure the corners; mountain-sea change: breaking noses

Dear Miss Redgrave,

"To Injure the Corners

"It is difficult to move strong things
by pushing directly, so you should
"injure the corners".
. . . .
"In single combat, it is easy to win
once the enemy collapses. This happens
when you injure the "corners" of his
body, and thus weaken him. It is
important to know how to do this, so
you must research this deeply."
-- Musashi "Hi no Maki" (The Fire Book)

To attack the corners is a concept taught from a student's first day in judo, and the concept exists in Aikido but more so in all the "hard" martial arts. In physical combat, the fighter protects his head, stomach, ribs, kidneys, and perhaps groin. So the "corners" are the shoulders, knees, legs, elbows, arms, hands of the opponent---the non-vital areas on the edges.

I fought a very short man several weeks ago (five foot four inches). He's fifth degree black, technically a master though he declines to be addressed as such. I am six feet tall. One thing that he did to compensate for my longer reach was to "injure the corners" on me. He hook kicked very quickly at my head. I snapped my head back, but my left hand was still poised in the air, and that was what he truly was aiming at. His heel connected with the back of my hand, and it was instantly useless (and also bruised and swollen for the next two weeks). This is an example of attacking the corners---striking the non-vital areas in order to weaken the fighter overall.

In self defense, I favor hard shin kicks into a man's forward thigh. If he's got his weight on that leg, the blows cause his leg to cramp after the first or second hit. If you know how to kick with the shin, the forward thigh is superior to the groin as a target because every male assailant expects a kick in the groin, so he defends that area. Another good "corner" for self defense is a stamping kick against the inside of the forward knee. It causes collapse of the leg. And---not to lecture you---if a man were to ever seize you by the arm or wrist and drag you after him, it's amazing how successful it is to rush straight into him (instead of pulling away) and stamp full strength down on the top of his foot. These are all instances of striking the corners so that you can then open him up to strike at his vital targets.

This is "hard" martial arts--carry the attack but strike non-vital areas, and strike them hard to cause pain. Do anything to take the wind out of an opponent's sails. As a Christian I hesitate to advocate this strategy in personal conflict, and yet I want to give you an honest assessment of Musashi. You must decide for yourself what tactics are legitimate and not legitimate. On the practical side, if you decide to injure the corners, don't hesitate. It's all or nothing. Strike with everything at anything your opponent does not think needs to be protected. This is to save you from a determined and destructive opponent. In terms of your husband, hit his ego. But not by sarcastic put-downs or accusations, because he expects those. Learn to laugh. Lightly, gently, not sarcastically or cruelly. He expects you to take him very seriously. Don't. (or anyway, don't seem to.)

"The Mountain-Sea Change

"The "mountain-sea" spirit means that it is
bad to repeat the same thing several times
when fighting the enemy. There may be no help
but to do something twice, but do not try it
a third time.
. . . .
"If the enemy thinks of the mountains, attack
like the sea; and if he thinks of the sea,
attack like the mountains. You must research
this deeply."
-- Musashi "Hi no Maki" (The Fire Book)

We had a senior black belt student, Bill, who always opened every fight with a front kick, short punch combination. Bill was six foot four, so it was an effective opening on most people, and he used it as a warm up before he really sank into the concentration needed to fight.

One of our black belts from years before came back one night, after an absence of three years. His name was John, and in his younger days he'd been good enough to fight at Madison Square Garden. He was first up against Bill, and when the match started, Bill came in the exact way he'd fought John years ago: front kick and the right hand ready to short punch. John recognized it and snapped in a faster high kick to stop Bill's forward motion. He hit Bill flush on the nose with the kick, knocking him out and breaking his nose.

"I didn't mean to hurt him," John said as Bill was helped to a car and taken away to the hospital. I wondered exactly what he *had* meant when he'd rushed a head kick into a closing space between himself and Bill. But I didn't ask. Invariably when somebody gets his nose broken it's because somebody else was aiming for it, but the guy who does it always says, "Gosh, I didn't mean to break his nose," as though breaking a nose when you kick it is unusual. I've heard it a dozen times in my martial arts career (always from men), and it never makes sense. We girls never break noses because we never kick other people's noses. We've made the logical connection: Kick nose . . . Break nose.

But one of the other men said, "He came in with that front kick opening, didn't he?" And John nodded. Everybody nodded. "Well, I guess he won't ever use it again," the third man said. And Bill never did. But after he got out of the hospital, John decided to train someplace else.

The more familiar your rhythm is to your opponent, the easier it is for him to upset that rhythm. Musashi warns you to never turn off your mind in a fight, never fall into expectations or become a creature of habit in battle. Fully live every moment in a fight, and keep every moment new. You do have an advantage right now, I believe, in that I think that your husband will still expect old patterns of response from you, and you've changed enough to not respond as he expects. In fact, my guess is that if you sat down and thought it through, you could figure out patterns of battle he's used from the start, and then you could figure out ways to trip him up.

Jeri Massi

"Satsujinken katsujinken!" ["The sword that strikes down evil is the sword that
gives life."]
-- Samurai proverb

#20 Tread down the enemy; know collapse; fight to the end

Dear Miss Redgrave,

From the "Hi no Machi," the Fire Book:

"Know the enemy's morale in battle. Is it
flourishing or waning? . . . . "To tread
down the sword" is a principle often used
in strategy. . . . The spirit is to
attack quickly while the enemy is still
[attacking] . . . . The spirit is to win
by "treading down" as we receive the
enemy's attack.

"In single combat, we cannot get a
decisive victory by parrying, with a
"to-tan, to-tan" feeling [an unstressed
beat, quickly followed by a stressed beat].
We must defeat him at the start of his
attack, in the spirit of treading him down,
so that he cannot rise again to the attack.

"'Treading' does not simply mean treading
with the feet. Tread with the body, tread
with the spirit. . . . Once at the enemy,
you should not aspire just to strike him,
but to cling after the attack. You must
study this deeply."
--Miyamoto Musashi, "Hi No Maki" (The Book of Fire)

When a large and powerful opponent kicks at me, if I am nervous about his strength, I jump *back* to the outer edge of the kick's range, block hard enough to deflect the leg, nervously counter strike with a jab or a quick kick, and get out of his way. The parry is a light tap and the counter is a harder beat ("to-TAN"). The rhythm of this retreating parry-strike indicates that I lack confidence, that I am more prepared to dodge back than I am to actually strike with decision and focus. As the fight goes on---if I stay overly protective---my rhythm becomes the iambic "to-TAN, to-TAN, to-TAN". It is the rhythm of too much caution, of retreating; a rhythm that cannot prevail.

When I was a college student, there was a woman on the college staff who picked on four of us girls. We four were on work scholarship together in the Security department on the campus, and fortunately for us, our immediate supervisors were protective and sympathetic. We'd been selected based on our conscientiousness, professionalism, and good character, but she set out to prove that we were each unfit. For four years she complained about each of us, berated us, and tried to make us miserable.

I signed up at the tae kwon do school a week after I graduated. On my first night, this woman walked into the training hall, wearing a blue belt. I was a white belt. I wasn't on work scholarship any more. My chance had come.

She tried to bully me in the training hall, too, and I coolly told her to stop. This astonished and infuriated her. We were put together to spar, and I wanted her to attack. She roundhouse kicked to my head, and I slipped around behind her kick, and came in on her. Of course, I had this little angelic host of Sunday School teachers in my head, reminding me it would be a sin to hurt her. But I used the shin pads that I wore (which were loose) and clapped them against her. Clap! clap! clap! The noise scared her, but foam rubber doesn't hurt. She got mad and rushed me again, and I came in and shin kicked, light and firm, clap! clap! clap! Then I whisked my hands all around her face. I never touched her face, but she sure knew she better get out. She retreated and then rushed in again. She was furious, and I was delighted.

Each time she rushed me, I sprang towards her, thrust aside her attacks, and then I would drive her back. Clap! clap! clap! It sounded like I was beating the crap out of her, and that enraged her more than genuine pain would have done. I was broadcasting to the entire class that I was the better fighter, and she couldn't bear it. Her vanity drove her to keep attacking, and I enthusiastically met her each time. She never landed anything.

This confident willingness is what Musashi wants. Meet each rush with great spirit and anticipation, ready to slip around the attack and slam home your counter attack.

The spirit of treading him down means that you counter-attack as he attacks, and you don't back away. The key is to know that your morale is higher than his and that you can crush his spirit with your spirit (not with shouting or insults or sarcasm, but with true spirit--iron hard calmness and steadiness of gaze and voice). This is enacted by crushing his attack with a strong counter-attack: a decisive answer, or a "blend and throw" technique in which your husband realizes that he cannot make you angry or afraid. It's essential to let him start an attack and then slam him right away, before his attack is finished.

Put him at a loss each time he makes an attack, using a calm, focused reply that cuts him off or thwarts his expectations. Keep your eyes calmly fixed on him, unwavering but not angry, ready and waiting for his next attempt. Stay receptive. And when he next attacks, Wham! Hit him with another strong counter attack again. Use whatever is appropriate to his attack. Impart an attitude that you are willing that each attack should come so that you can deflect it and drive home your point or your agenda. Musashi also advises you to "cling," and that means after you meet his attack, you keep pushing your agenda onto him. Start asking why he is sidetracking himself and you with personal attacks. Ask him what his purposes are. The direct question, "Are you ready to discuss matters, yet?" is a good one.

"To Know Collapse
"Enemies collapse when their rhythm becomes
broken [literally, "deranged"] . . . . In
single combat, the enemy sometimes loses
timing and collapses. If you let this
opportunity pass, he may recover and not be
so negligent thereafter. Fix your eye on
the enemy's collapse, and chase him,
attacking so that you do not let him
recover. You must do this. The chasing
attack is with a strong spirit. You must
utterly cut the enemy down so that he does
not recover his position. You must
understand utterly how to cut down the
--Miyamoto Musashi, "Hi No Maki" (The Book of Fire)

The enemy can fail in and of himself. Understand the spirit of collapse. An opponent who is filled with envy or anger is an opponent on the verge of collapse. Watch for manic behavior because it signals that depressed behavior and uncertainty will be next, and when his own depression rises within him, you have found the moment of the collapse of his spirit. Then force the end of the battle onto him. Keep striking him with all your weapons (attacking his ego, his vanity, his need to control you). These are not personal or emotional attacks, but your insistence on your agenda, your freedom from his control. He won't be able to sustain the fight, but watch out for panic, and perhaps outright violence.

In a sword fight, fix your eyes on him, Musashi tells you, and chase him as he starts to become afraid. A lot of women find it upsetting to run a frightened opponent into the ground. Gender psychologists reason that women truly are more team oriented; that, being the child bearers, they are usually innately more willing to have everybody survive and pull together. So pounding somebody into the mud will offend most women at gut level.

But getting pity is a device as old as the first argument between a man and a woman. The man realizes that he cannot win by aggression and so he seeks to win by the woman's "soft heartedness" (her team mentality). And the woman, who actually could fight like a wild cat to protect herself or her children, has an instinct to end hostilities with someone who now seems to want peace.

This is one of the most important things I can tell you about fighting: Your opponent is beaten only when he drops his weapons and lets you pick them up. If he's got the breath and the strength to seek your pity, then he's not beaten. He's just trying a new tactic of manipulation. If your husband, who has deliberately and publicly caused you so much pain, changes tactics and uses tears and pleas and then calls to your mind all the things that you cherished in your life with him, that is still manipulation. And if you give in then, he can still win.

Remember, a fighter who has to get his self esteem from hurting you will use long lulls to make you think you've won and to lower your awareness. Then he'll attack again when you are unprepared.

Think of it this way. A man corners me, draws a knife, and walks towards me. He tells me not to scream and he'll let me go. So he's going to rape me. I hold still until he's almost in arm's reach, and then I slam him just above the groin with a front kick. He collapses forward, and I seize his knife hand in a wrist lock. I push the wristlock backward to break the wrist, and he starts crying, and he says, "I wouldn't have killed you! I said I wouldn't, I wasn't going to kill you. I'm sorry! I was out of control!"

If the opponent starts crying, the fighter keeps fighting. The trained fighter keeps striking with the same detachment, the same mind of no thought, the same determination to win the fight. When the opponent is really beaten, he'll stop crying and will start to give you the things you demand. He'll "drop the weapon." I.e., He'll sign papers. He'll return what he's taken. He'll make public apologies. A trained fighter doesn't stop fighting at promises, but at actions. No matter what your husband *says,* he's not defeated until he shows the actions of defeat, and that's surrendering up his weapons, his armies, and his forces.

My attacker hasn't dropped his knife. He's crying, he's telling me he's mentally ill, he's telling me he feels bad about this compulsion to rape women like me. But as I bend him backward in the wristlock, he still wants to get balanced on his feet. Even though he's not hitting me (because he can't), he's not surrendering, either, even with all his tears and his pleading. If I keep hesitating, he'll eventually break the wristlock and attack again. The most dangerous thing a woman can do is to try to hold down an armed man or keep him subdued once she's got him in a joint lock. Fortunately, aikido is fast. When he doesn't release the knife, I drop my weight into the wrist, and it breaks. The knife falls free, and he drops to the ground. *That's* surrender.

And that's what all combat, physical or emotional, is like when a woman is attacked by a man. Trying to pin him and hold him in place will not work because he will keep trying to attack again as soon as he gets on his feet. Remember, a woman thinks she's won when hostility ceases. A man thinks he's won when he's destroyed his opponent. He'll promise anything when he starts losing, just like the fox in the trap promises the farmer he won't steal any more chickens. Your husband is addicted to his sense of control over you. He cannot keep any promise that he makes.

The woman has to make the fight so personally costly to him, so devastating to his esteem, that he cannot recover unless he gets away from her. She has to break the link he forged that tells him he's a powerful person and in control when he is hurting her. The way to do that is make him believe that she is truly a danger to him. He has to learn to fear her, to associate her with unexpected abilities, counter attacks, and great, unseen strength.

This is not accomplished by insults, shouting, harangue, or threats. It is accomplished by presenting yourself as unafraid, relentless; defeating his expectations of you, by coolly thwarting his vanity, by pursuing your agenda without hesitation, by presenting a strong army (i.e., a full life, many allies), and by making him feel isolated. And you keep doing that past his crying and complaining, until he starts to perform the actions of surrendering the battle. According to martial enlightenment, you must make him believe two things: 1) that he cannot truly hurt or control you, and 2) that attacking you will hurt him more so than you.

This all sounds so merciless, and of course, you must choose actions that you can live with, but this is the martial point of view. Believing in mercy does not negate the necessity of defeating the will and intentions of a person who attacks you. It is a part of self defense to break the opponent's will so that he cannot attack again. We don't take pleasure in it, but we carry out the task that has been forced upon us.

Jeri Massi

"An attack is proof that one is out of control."
--Morehi Ueshiba, founder of aikido

#21 Become the enemy; letting go the hilt; the way is to win

Dear Miss Redgrave,

"To Become the Enemy
" 'To become the enemy' means to think
yourself into the enemy's position. In the
world, people tend to think of a robber
trapped in a house as a fortified enemy
[and are afraid to approach the house].
However, if we think of "becoming the enemy",
we feel that the whole world is against us
and that there is no escape. He who is shut
inside is a pheasant. He who enters to arrest
is a hawk. You must appreciate this.
. . . . .

"In single combat also you must put yourself
in the enemy's position. If you think, "Here
is a master of the Way of the Sword, who is
unbeatable", then you will surely lose. You
must consider this deeply."
--Miyamoto Musashi, "Hi No Maki" (The Book of Fire)

Your own mindset is the most crucial determiner of the outcome of a fight. If you view your opponent as unbeatable, Musashi warns you that you are dooming yourself. Putting yourself in the enemy's "mind" helps you to think like he thinks and thus find his inner weaknesses.

So put yourself in his shoes. Why would a person attack your reputation or hurt your feelings or make people laugh at you? How does that person view you? And himself? Think of his words to you over the last few encounters. Get behind that person's eyes and look at yourself. How is that person viewing you, and what does that tell you about the person?

I know that I've mentioned this before: Although I am concerned that your husband could go over the edge and physically hurt you (or pay somebody to hurt you), I still view you as the more powerful person by nature. You are an energetic, capable woman of great resourcefulness and strength. And I view him as dithering, vicious, and a slave to his own ego and appetites. In an arena where there are other people present (like lawyers), you can soundly defeat this opponent. Have you ever taken stock of the ways that you've *already* defeated your husband?

In many ways, you've been defeating this opponent for a long time---way before I ever wrote to you. He wanted to ruin you, and you refused to be ruined. Maybe you didn't know what to do at first, but you knew what you weren't going to do. You weren't going to stay down. He wanted you to be a hysterical, helpless, fleeing woman; and you went away to get calm, then came back strong and faced him, faced your life, seized your career, and re-took your goals. He tried to take away your dignity in public, and you showed him---and the whole world---*more* dignity. He wanted you to stay confused at his bizarre behavior and unable to come to terms with it, and now you're understanding his harassment and maintaining control of yourself and your own environment during these attacks---and you'll take control of him, ultimately. Every public action you've taken has spoken of your inner strength and the high ideals you've set for yourself. From the very beginning, you have done many constructive things. And each of those actions has been your choice, your doing, your action.

If you put yourself in his mind, you will see that he is now frustrated at not getting what he wants from you (control; your fear; your grief). And because he cannot comprehend your adaptability and strength, his own self doubts trouble him more, and his mind is divided as he tries to deny his self doubt while reassuring himself that he is able to control you. It is very odd that tremendous vanity and tremendous self doubt always exist together, but they do.

In my life, I've had a few women come to me for help, wanting to learn some magical trick from "karate," as they call it, that will save them from an abusive man. But when I explain what it takes to use martial arts, they won't do it. And when I tell abused or harassed women how to behave with strength and decision apart from physical self defense, they also won't do that. They go seeking someone who will protect them (and usually pick someone as bad as the person harassing them). They sell themselves off instead of learning to be self-directed. These aren't street women, but professional women, educated women. Feminists and Fundamentalists alike. You are the first woman to whom I've ever explained these principles who has wanted to investigate this way, who has truly wanted to be stronger inwardly. I know there are more such women out there, but not many. Again, from my perspective, you have a lot of power over your husband.

Think like the enemy and feel his desperation and his need to strike out at you. Come to understand it. Here is another exercise on "becoming the enemy":

Picture a person who trusts you, and then picture yourself trying to do to that person what he has done to you. In fact, picture yourself doing it to the man himself. Some people would argue that he at least deserves to get back exactly what he dished out, but I'm guessing that even if you had the opportunity, you couldn't force yourself to make him suffer as cruelly as he's made you suffer. Maybe there have been moments when thoughts of revenge would have been sweet, but I don't think---even with all you have suffered---that you could inflict it all back on any human being. Your mind and heart and soul are still intact. Trying to think through being that cruel should make you see more clearly how ruined he is.

This man's frustrated need to control you may mean that he will do more outrageous things to regain control, but it also means that his fears are coming true and he has a sense of desperation, of losing. You can exploit that weakness. He is not unbeatable. He is merely savage. Strategy, proper understanding of his mind, decisiveness, and calm bearing will defeat him.

"Letting Go the Hilt

"Letting Go the Hilt has several meanings. It
means winning without a sword. But also, it
can mean being unable to win even though the
fighter holds a katana in his hands. I cannot
fully record all the various shades of meaning.
To comprehend this, one must train diligently."
--Musashi "Hi No Maki"

As far as I can determine, "letting go the hilt" means realizing how useless the sword truly is in a sword battle. This is the heart of Musashi's teachings.

If the basis of the battle is the sword, then the trained fighter realizes that the sword is only the beginning of fighting skill. He trains and trains and trains in the sword to be able to get beyond the sword in battle. Eye contact, sense of rhythm, mental composure, "invisibility", acceptance of one's own death, refusal to surrender---these are the skills that truly determine the outcome of the battle, not the sword. The sword is only the starting point, and the fighter must let it go, i.e., get beyond it, to win. Only the fighter who can "release the hilt" in order to win, will win. And the fighter who cannot release the hilt, who cannot appreciate and use all the other components of battle, will lose with the very hilt in his hands.

In your fight, the weapons are the lawyers and the procedures of the law that will secure you a divorce and a settlement. But you have known from the beginning that this is really a fight about your own self. You are his target, and you are your own means of defense (your inner sword), and there is a version of you that is best sacrificed (according to bushido) so that you can win and continue to develop and grow inwardly.

Your fight is exactly like a sword fight. Eye contact, sense of rhythm, mental composure, embracing of suffering and death: These have all come into play in your search for strength and courage. The lawyers and the procedures of law got left behind long ago, even though the battle comes back to them periodically. I've written too long about this. You have already let go the hilt and you understood the idea intuitively before I ever wrote to you.

"The true way of swordsmanship is to fight
opponents and to win the fight. Can it be
anything other than this?"
--Musashi, "Hi No Maki"

Musashi had to contend with people who disparaged his technique and his outlook. But his evidence always came back to this: he won his fights (usually). I first wrote thinking you to be a more aggressive person that you are at heart, and I had to adjust my perspective. I would fight such an opponent by cataclysmic counter attacks, and you fight more by attrition. But it doesn't matter. The only key, Musashi says, is winning. If attrition works (and it does), it is worthy to be used. If cataclysm works, it is worthy to be used.

As you know, there are "soft" and "hard" martial arts. They all work when properly learned and practiced, though some work better in some situations than in others. An aikido defender does well against any single, powerful attack, including attack with a knife or sword. But against something he cannot latch onto and blend with---lightning fast jabs or flying kicks---an aikidoist can only run or dodge (or be knocked out). A tae kwon do fighter can be unbeatable as long as he stays on his feet, spinning, striking, and kicking, but if he is taken to the ground and has to grapple or wrestle, he's lost.

All masters of all martial arts know something of other styles and incorporate what works for them into their own styles. (This is why even classical martial arts styles continue to evolve.) It's wisest to use a style that works for you in a way that takes advantage of your strengths, but also to refine yourself to use other methods when necessary. In other words, to keep growing and adapting. A stopping mind says, "I can never fight by that method." A mind of Wu Ji thinks, "How can I learn from that method?"

Your opponent has a stopping mind. For one thing, he cannot perceive that your suffering over the past year has been anything but destructive. The idea that you might grow from it spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually has never occurred to him. Your husband has all your weaknesses stored up in his mind: an inventory of how he can hurt or humiliate you. But his list is 10 months old. If you can come to understand how he views you, how he assesses your fears and "blind spots," you can understand what he will do next or what he will do when opportunities arise. Your advantage is that his appraisal of you is not accurate any more.

As I wrote last week, the woman who picked on me for several years could not see me in any context other than the college student who meekly took criticism and insults. When we met as equals, she could not perceive me as an equal. She actually believed the nonsense she'd been telling herself about being superior. *That's* a stopping mind. That's why she kept rushing me---she was sure she could beat me, and all the evidence to the contrary couldn't persuade her vanity otherwise. And when the constant clapping of my shin pads against her made the truth obvious to the entire class, she was furious; because in her mind, the universe was not supposed to run that way. She was supposed to be able to beat me.

That's the same mind that your husband has regarding you. It doesn't have anything to do with reality. It's a matter of his perception. And his perception of you is blinded by his vanity---and his anger. It's most efficient for you to adapt to his flawed "attacks" in ways that work to your full advantage.

Jeri Massi

"Stop fighting and start winning."
--Martial arts proverb

#22 Transfer a spirit; Upset the balance; cause hardship

Dear Miss Redgrave,

"Sleepiness can be passed on, and yawning can
be passed on. . . . When the enemy is agitated
and shows an inclination to rush, do not mind
in the least. Make a show of relaxing, and the
enemy will be taken by this and will become
relaxed. When you see that this spirit has been
transferred, you can bring about the enemy's
defeat by attacking strongly with a Void
spirit [Munen Muso]."
-- Miyamoto Musashi, "Hi No Maki" (The Fire Book)

Emotion and feeling can be passed on, even at a sub-verbal level. A teacher of Ki-aikido taught me this as I questioned him about his very esoteric art. He instructed me to seize him as though I were angry. So I grabbed hold of his arm to pull him over. He instantly relaxed both his body and his gaze--with his eyes calmly fixed on mine. For an instant, I also relaxed. And then he quietly hooked his arm out of my hands. But for that split second, he might have thrown me.

Musashi is saying that you can transfer a relaxed feeling to an opponent. Even as your powerful eyes can send your victory into the depths of an opponent, your calm eyes can catch him off guard and cause him to relax. This is not the same type of calmness and relaxation that I have described up to this point. Musashi is talking about a deceptive relaxation, a quietness, even sleepiness, of spirit. Communicate relaxation to him, and he may respond instinctively by relaxing. And then you can strike, or at least end the confrontation.

"What is known as "getting someone drunk"
is similar to this. You can intoxicate the
enemy with a bored, careless, or weak
spirit. You must study this well." -- Musashi

This is a slightly more elaborate method of passing on a spirit to an opponent. You get the opponent over full ("intoxicated") when you appear to lack something: strength, alertness, or attention. He'll compensate for your lack with an over fullness, instinctively. So let him think by your eyes and your voice that you are bored, stupid, or afraid of him. If he thinks you are afraid, he becomes a bully. If he thinks you are unwitting, he becomes sneering and condescending. If he thinks you are unprepared, he becomes overly self assured. In any of these instances, he loses caution and wariness and is actually less able to fight well, even though he gets more aggressive. As soon as your opponent is full of himself and unguarded, take him by surprise with your competence and hard hitting spirit.

One theory of fighting rests on the "dynamic sphere." The idea is that when two people grapple and struggle, they form a sphere, a circle that is balanced on its circumference by the opposing weights and forces of their bodies. A sphere can have only one fulcrum point, one center. If one person leans too far in any direction, the other person can take control of the center of the sphere by strategically slipping into place as the fulcrum or guiding the other person further off center. The person who attains control of the center of the sphere will be able to control or throw the other person by "rolling the sphere".

Morehei Ueshiba, the man who founded aikido, taught that when a person is blinded by emotion, passion, or drives, he has no emotional center, and another person can become that person's center and control him. This is what you did when you blended with your husband in the meeting with him and the lawyers. You guided him to visibly lose control of himself. Train yourself to recognize when a person is out of control and learn to use calm readiness (kamae) and a trained mind to become the calm, stable center of the dynamic sphere. You can use this to defeat enemies, and also to help friends when they cannot find their own center, emotionally.

Remember, in confrontation, it doesn't matter so much about whether or not accusations are true, but how you meet them. Arguing with an untrue accusation pulls you into the accuser's rhythm of battle just as much as if the accusation were true. Refocusing the conversation towards resolution is a better response. Stay calm, stay focused. Become the center of the sphere to blend and throw an enemy, or to gently bring an emotionally upset friend back to stability if you can.

"To upset the balance:
"Many things can cause a loss of balance.
One cause is danger, another is hardship,
and another is surprise. You must research
this by practice. . . . Attack without
warning where the enemy is not expecting
it, and while his spirit is undecided
follow up your advantage and, having the
lead, defeat him.
-- Miyamoto Musashi, "Hi No Maki" (The Fire Book)

Making threats is weak and self destructive, so trained fighters do not threaten. To truly create hardship and distress for an opponent, you make him feel trapped or powerless in the conflict. As far as I can see, your husband doesn't want your money, your possessions, or your children. He wants you to be miserable with yourself; to be captured in a sense of powerlessness and frustration that leads to self absorption but not resolution. Remember what he fears---that you will move on without him, that you will forget about him, that you will simply get over him---that you will be a free person with sufficient strength to be happy, without him.

I think this wretched man really does have a deep seated fear that he does not matter. That heartless, callous image he projects is a huge cover. He's a mass of insecurities and fears inside. That's why he has struck at your fears with such savagery. When you left him, you made his fears real to him (and this angered him further). So he turned it into a contest to prove he's tougher. Every humiliating thing he has done to you has been him proving something to you: proving that he is still in control of you and not the other way around.

These are guesses about what will frighten or cause hardship for him:

1) The hardship that you will be removed from his proximity (without appearing to flee). He wants control over you, and your absence takes it away from him. It's that simple. The power to intimidate you and the knowledge of where you are and what you are doing make him feel in control. Be absent: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And keep him ignorant. Of course you must always be careful of yourself because of his obsessions, but the more you build a new life for yourself, the worse his position becomes.

2) Growing in your personal life beyond his expectations. Seek personal enrichment, including the enrichment of giving of yourself and of risking new endeavors. Ultimately, the sight of you as intact, complete, "enlightened," and free is what will defeat his spirit.

For you to be greatly loved for who you are, not for your acting skills or outer self, and for you to respond with Wu Ji (emptiness) and willingness to love and to give of yourself is the ultimate attainment. That's true for all of us. I'm telling you this as a person capable of (and who has also been guilty of) intense anger and hatred, who has been greatly loved and accepted---and forgiven. Not only by Christ, but by people willing to invest themselves in me. I was changed forever by altruistic love (an elderly woman at my church who treated me like a daughter). And then nobody had any power over me. I stopped caring about criticism and manipulation. From that point on, life was a gift, and I wasn't going to spend it up on reliving my past.

I've studied fighting all my life, but I know for sure that there is no power greater than genuine love. Nothing can replace what was taken away from you, but the genuine, accepting love of others can really help a person recover from catastrophe.

3) Superseding the boundaries that used to exist between you. Taking over the roles or tasks that you once found impossible, and enjoying them for yourself will also demonstrate that you are not limited by the limitations he has assumed about you, your abilities, your growth.

Naturally occurring opportunities will spring up. As you cultivate Wu Ji, you'll see them more and more. I mentioned this weeks ago---Zen sees complementary truths inherent in the same event. When your husband tore your life and expectations apart, he also gave you the freedom to make your new life whatever you choose it to be. You can do anything you want to do, great or small. And if you use this catastrophe he caused to blossom further, you conquer him. You hand him back the two truths: one, that he did destroy your old life. And two, that he gave you a new life. He won't like it.

This ends the "Hi no Machi" or Fire Book. Next on the schedule is the "Kaze no Machi," the Wind Book, which discusses the false premises relied upon in fighting styles

Jeri Massi

"Calm and action are exactly one."
-- Koichi Tohei

#23 False premises 1: long sword, short sword, brute strength, intricate techniques

Dear Miss Redgrave,

The fourth of the five books, "Kaze no Machi," or Book of Wind, discusses the false premises from which other schools of sword training operated. Much of what is said applies to all conflict and confrontation. This book can be covered in two parts.

"There is a popular saying: *issun te masari*
["one inch advantage"]; but such ideas are for
those who are ignorant of martial
--Miyamoto Musashi, "Kaze no Machi" (the Book of Wind)

*Issun te masari* means that every extra inch of sword blade length is an advantage. It's the same concept that exists in every martial art, including Western boxing and wrestling: the greater your reach, the greater your advantage.

If my opponent is very short, I can strike at him even when he is too far away to counter-strike me. He's got to come a lot closer, right through my hail of fists and feet, in order to really do battle with me. That does seem like I've got an unbeatable advantage.

But skilled fighters close that distance (usually by coming *around* an attack once it's launched) so quickly that taller, slower people suddenly find this little person right up close, and then the tall person is at a disadvantage. We actually lose efficiency in our punches (and cannot kick at all) against a close-up target. So the shorter person can jam the tall person and strike freely once he gets in close.

My instructor, Tommy Hance, is about five foot four. I've seen him fight men a foot taller than he: He's light footed, erect, observant, quick. He sidesteps attacks and suddenly is in place, right at the tall person's chest with his perfect kicks and punches. And the tall person can't do anything (except back up) because Mr. Hance has him jammed. I have seen many "beautiful" fights of exceptional kicks thrown just right, but Mr. Hance's fights consistently are the most thrilling to watch. Perfect timing and perfect decision against a huge opponent.

If you can fight with a clear, receptive mind, then reach is only one more factor, but not a deciding factor. The only deciding factor in a fight is your own mind and spirit, your level of enlightenment, your ability to instantly adapt without thought [Munen Muso].

Your husband has tried to show you that he can send humiliation against you where ever you go, whatever you achieve. He wants you to believe that he has a long reach, that you cannot get out of his range. Your dignity and restraint have showed your wisdom and courage. You have fought him exactly right. Let his long-reach attacks be of no consequence. Just deflect them, as you have done. You fight best when you are face to face, with the lawyers there. Then, as you indicated, he loses control and you stay calm. He's finding out that his reach does him no good, that when you close with him, his power to humiliate you and hurt you gets jammed. He turns into a person who can only shout but cannot do any real harm.

Now, the converse of the "more reach the better" theory was the "short sword" theory of fighting. This school of thought advocated that it was always better to be purely receptive to an opponent, to always let him take the offensive, to always parry, parry, parry, until the attacker was exhausted from all those attacks, and then finish him off when he no longer had the strength to attack again. A short sword was better for this, as the defensive person would be jamming and trapping more and needed to get close. And so these fighters advocated the short sword only for fighting.

This school of thought had two big errors: for one thing, a really good long sword fighter who figured out that he was being coaxed into attacking could refuse to keep attacking and convert to fighting defensively. And second, many fights were against more than one opponent, and it's impossible to be purely defensive against several fighters. A short-sword fighter could be boxed in easily between the long swords of multiple opponents.

It's dangerous to assume that one strategy will work in every situation. So it's dangerous to always be a passive fighter. The fighter must come to the duel open, receptive, stable, resolute in spirit, and well trained in a wide array of techniques. In your situation, be wary of your opponent's ability to launch multiple attacks.

"The katana which is swung with a violent
spirit is a coarse one. It is difficult
to win only with brute strength."
--Miyamoto Musashi, "Kaze no Machi" (the Book of Wind)

Violence and brutality are hailed in our culture as indications of manhood. Yet they are the two surest signs that a man is actually out of control of himself.

Musashi points out the problems created by a reliance on sheer strength. First, use of violent strength means over commitment of an attack. All the muscles lock down, and the person cannot modify his own motion. He can't change direction or adapt. As you know from blending and from the dynamic sphere, getting control in conflict means becoming the "fulcrum" and controlling the stable emotional center. A combatant must be agile and fluid, as well as stable. Therefore, to win, "one uses the correct principles," Musashi observes, and does not rely on sheer strength. Your husband has tried to overwhelm you with the sheer emotional strength and audacity of his attacks against you. But you have already shown that you can blend and throw him by applying the correct principles.

I learned the fallacy of strength when I trained to break concrete. Concrete is so strong that it can bear tons of pressure without buckling. Nobody in the entire world is strong enough to break concrete with strength. Apart from concrete's ability to withstand pressure, the tensing of human muscles propels them forward to strike but also holds them back. Our muscles are designed to go both forward and backward, and so flexing them, even if you want them to go in one direction only, always produces some work in the opposing direction---resistance. But concrete's vulnerability is that it cannot adapt to shock. In fact, inch per inch, the ability of human bone to withstand shock is far, far greater than that of concrete. A strike of the hand that hits concrete at 11.5 meters per second, per 1.75 inches of thickness of concrete, transfers a shock that the hand can survive, but not the concrete. So the hand is able to break concrete if it can only go fast enough, in the correct position to absorb the shock. Strength cannot accomplish it, but relaxing all the muscles that resist forward motion, focusing the mind, and relying on proper technique and fluid motion work. Out of about a dozen attempts, I've broken concrete twice. But when I have failed, it is always fear that hinders me and slows my strike. As I experience fear, my strength increases (as the muscles tense up), but my speed decreases.

You are far better able to withstand shock, stress, and strain than your husband is. Stay focused and fluid in his presence. Be sure and purposeful without tensing up. I know confrontation might make you feel grief, perhaps anger, perhaps loneliness, but this is because you are resilient and feel things. You must never worry if you still feel great loss after a confrontation. The bravest of warriors, from King David to General Norman Schwarzkopf, wept---even after victory. There's a certain honesty required to shed tears. In fact, grief is actually a shock absorber for living souls. Though you have great endurance and fortitude in difficulty, your heart obviously loves peace, and I hope that love of peace never changes, no matter how badly other people behave. Adjust your spirit to withstand shock, and give yourself recovery time afterward. But certainly, continued shock and stress will crack your opponent further. He is not adaptable.

A sword fighter who relies on strength too much will also run the risks of "reverberation," a principle of sword fighting made famous by several Bugs Bunny cartoons. The strong man who wields the sword with too much force will have the sword "bounce back" out of control (reverberation) from a failed or deflected strike. Also, the sword can get stuck in a wall or tree or even the ground if the attacker who relies too much on strength misses. So ultimately, to rely on strength too much is to always create the risk of losing control. You've seen this in your opponent, too.

An over-reliance on strength, Musashi says, results in clumsiness, inflexibility, and loss of control. The fighter must come to each fight with his skills balanced, and be prepared to fluidly adapt to the opponent's tactics.

In reality, there is no substitute for cutting
a person . . . . Twisting or wrenching the
opponent is of no use when you are trying to cut
him. In my heiho, it is of primary importance
to win by trampling down the spirit of the
opponent, by confusing him, by twisting his
spirit so that he loses self control. But I
always maintain a straightforward attitude and
spirit when I fight, and this is what I teach.
This should be well appreciated.
--Miyamoto Musashi, "Kaze no Machi" (the Book of Wind)

Other schools of Musashi's day were teaching jui-jitsu techniques along with sword skills. Jiu jitsu, a forerunner of aikido, emphasized the skills of an unarmed man taking the sword from an armed man. Enthusiastic jiu jitsu students used sword fights as an excuse to apply their holds and locks, twisting and wrenching their opponents. This also doubled or tripled the time it took to defeat an opponent. The sword, Musashi insists, is the way for the samurai. The best fighter, he affirms, requires only the power to intimidate, to confuse, to enrage, and to frighten the opponent. And then the fight will be swift and deadly. If a samurai does not kill his lord's enemies with the sword, the samurai has departed from what it is to be a samurai. In Musashi's day, of course, to kill with the hands was not honorable. Touching a dead body was a pollution, so the best way to kill was with a weapon. Thus, to him, jiu-jitsu was a "low" art, too intricate, and in the end it delivers no cuts.

Within the scope of what he lived, Musashi is correct. If the goal is to cut down as many enemies as possible before dying, then the intricate, bare-handed techniques of jui-jitsu are not necessary and are inefficient. The goal, he reminds the samurai reader, is to kill with the sword; not to look good and not to impress other people.

Your opponent is a pathologically self conscious person who is always on a stage in his mind, obsessed with appearing to be the controlling person. No matter how dramatic he gets, how intricate his schemes, your goal is simply to win, to render him unable to carry the fight any further and to force him to drop his weapons and retreat. You must defeat his spirit. Letting him tire himself out with all his twisting and bending and intricate scheming is good as long as you stay out of his rhythm.

Your fight is really two fights: the legal fight and the personal fight. It's in the personal fight that you can most handily defeat him. Always stick to facts and be calm with him, because he will seize on any sign of grief or indignation that you show. He wants to see anger and grief in you, so frustrate him with calm acceptance. To win the mental game, never justify yourself, never blame him, never do anything that gets you into a push-pull struggle against a direct attack. Every time you behave as though he's the weaker person who cannot cope, you thwart his vanity. And his vanity will open up those opportunities for you. And it is best to pressure him to make decisions when he's upset, frustrated, or low. Move fast, because he'll recover quickly.

Jeri Massi

#24 False premises 2: stances, gaze at the heart, speed, secret teachings

Dear Miss Redgrave,

What is known in the world as "stance" applies only
when there is no real enemy [i.e., only in training
alone]. . . . In a real fight, you must force the
enemy to move in an inconvenient manner.

. . . .

When your opponent takes a stance, he shows that he is
awaiting an attack, and the specific stance that he
takes shows which type of attack he anticipates from
you. You must appreciate this.

--Miyamoto Musashi, "Kaze no Machi" (the Book of Wind)

When a new student learns to punch, he or she is first taught how to stand low, in a stance that slightly resembles a fencer's lunge but is not quite as long. This stance, called the front stance, provides a stable base for upper body movement and facilitates pushing the hip forward to throw the punch. By diligent practice, a student uses this stance to practice punching hundreds of times and develops the straight-line and explosive punch that comes "through the hip."

All of this is only practice. Nobody stays that low and immobile to actually fight. Once the student learns to punch "through the hip," he can do so from any position.

So a stance is the fighter's source of power and stability. You know your husband's stance. He gets his power from cruelty and anger. He wants you to believe that he has irreparably hurt you, that you cannot recover, that life is now empty, that he can control your happiness. But he keeps using the same stance because he doesn't have anything else.

Be fluid and resist fighting in his rhythm. Resist thinking in the terms that he has laid out for you. Your life is actually filled with possibilities because you are a person bursting with possibilities and inner gifts. You're an agent of action that can carry out plans and do things, and yet you are also capable of enjoying and appreciating beautiful things, fascinating ideas, and capable people. Be patient with yourself and your new environment a little longer.

Suffering is a preparation, and suffering is a time of unfolding truths. Both my Christianity and the discipline of the training hall tell me that you are being prepared to do more things, and to do them even more wisely than you did things in the past. Only you can accomplish whatever lies ahead in your life. Your unkind husband may be a sorcerer who can raise up illusions of your current situation that dismay you, but that is all he will ever be: a man of clouds and smoke. You have further to go, more growth to attain, and more to do.

He hits you very hard in your self doubt, grief, and fears. All controlling people hit those targets. The many years of your marriage taught him how to hurt you effectivelyBut your spirit is that same brave spirit I picked out that he doesn't understand, and your spirit will use suffering to grow. It always has, all through your life. I'm as sure of your endurance and ability to persist against hardship as I am of his cruelty and anger.

Please let yourself---and that intense, forceful mind of yours---rest when you can. Practice what the Buddhists half-jokingly call "no-thought coming from non-mind". In other words, stay in the present moment. Don't let his words punish you or torment you. Controlling people are liars. Even when they tell any truth, they do it to serve a lie. It's good not to hear them.

Some schools maintain that the eyes should be
fixed on the enemy's katana. Some schools fix
the eye on the hands. Some fix the eyes on the
face, and some fix the eyes on the feet, and
so on. If you fix the eyes on these places your
spirit can become confused.

. . . .

In my strategy, "fixing the eyes" means gazing
at the man's heart.
--Miyamoto Musashi, "Kaze no Machi" (the Book of Wind)

The totality of the attacker tells you his heart. And this cruel man's heart knows that he has destroyed his own life. So he projects loneliness and bitterness at you with all his power, because he wants you to believe that it's your life that's been destroyed. The power of an enemy to project a belief or an illusion can be tremendous, especially when his self worth rests on whether you believe it or not.

I know from my own history that when a person is cruel that way: that unceasing, unremitting cruelty that humiliates and castigates and bullies, it's really coming from fear. It has its day of influence, but then suddenly you, the intended victim, turn a corner, grow the next inch, get enlightened, and suddenly you can see through your tormentor to his heart. And then you realize it was all a big lie, a big illusion. He was just trying to force his fearful, angry heart's image onto you, punishing you for what he knows himself to be. But suddenly you see that he can't. And then you're free.

When your opponent is using too much speed, you must
act contrarily, and keep calm. You must not be
influenced by the opponent. Train diligently to
attain this spirit.
--Miyamoto Musashi, "Kaze no Machi" (the Book of Wind)

The key to being a good fighter is to use the correct speed, not to use speed for its own sake. A good fighter times his opponent, fast or slow, and strikes in the moment of a clear opening, without distraction, and with proper rhythm.

We tend to get excited when an opponent is agitated and excitable, and it is instinctive to try to go faster and faster to keep up the pace. Musashi warns that this is the transference of a spirit, and a good fighter must be mindful not to let this transfer happen. The more agitated and excitable your opponent is, the more calm you must become, he says. Watch for the opportunity when he goes off balance or breaks up his own rhythm.

When I teach my Way, I first train the new
pupil in techniques and doctrines that are
easy to understand. I gradually endeavour
to explain the deeper principles: points more
difficult to comprehend, according to the
pupil's progress. In any event, because the
way to understanding is through experience, I
do not speak of "secret teaching" and "outer

. . . .

Accordingly, I dislike passing on my Way through
oaths of secrecy and punishments. . . . The method
by which I teach is to tell the truth to my students.
You must train diligently.
--Miyamoto Musashi, "Kaze no Machi" (the Book of Wind)

Musashi believed that having "secret methods" in a school (teachings reserved for the teacher's trusted inner circle) was conceding that if the secret method got out, somebody could defeat it. Something truly unbeatable should bear public scrutiny.

Any student at any time might have to fight for his life, so Musashi considered it unethical for a teacher to maintain "secrets." Whatever will work for the student should be taught to the student as soon as the student is ready.

Having to fight forces the truth about fighting onto us. And having to fight forces the truth from us---about ourselves, about our opponents, and about the nature of life and death. Only what works survives. When a student must learn to defend himself or herself, that person enters a school of what is true: the training hall, the place of suffering, where the vain world is left outside the door. This is why Musashi talks about those "in the world," as though they were in a different place from him. He viewed himself as separated from the world, which he considered a place of delusion and deception.

Through diligent practice and by battle, the fighter eventually comes full circle: whatever is worth dying for is worth living for. Whatever flaw will kill you in the arena will kill you anywhere else in life, eventually. What genuinely strengthens and encourages you against one cruel enemy will strengthen you against all hardship. What is of value in the arena is valuable where ever you find yourself. Some part of the fighter is always set apart from the world, seeking the plain truth and not the world's delusions.

Musashi's other point is that there are two ways to look at the training hall: it can be the vehicle that the teacher uses to control students, form "cliques" of special favorites, dominate and bully less able students, and gain a reputation as a great sword teacher. Or it is the teacher's means to develop students as worthy warriors who can freely choose what to do with their skills.

Musashi's teaching method followed the student's experience, not the teacher's ego. Only his newest students were instructed based on a routine of drill work and teacher requirements. This is because a new student does not really know yet what to ask, and so the teacher must provide the general framework of the skills to come.

Asking to be instructed formed a cornerstone of the teaching process in Asian cultures. It created certain obligations of respect on both sides, and yet opened endless possibilities for growth and understanding. Musashi, like all good teachers, taught his students and then released them into the world: no strings attached; he did not expect them to stay and preserve his secrets or promote the honor of his name. They were to go out and apply their knowledge and develop their skills. And when they were not able to progress further, they could come back to him, be received into the school, instructed anew, and then sent out again.

This essay ends the Book of Wind. Next is the last book, the shortest of them all, "Ku no Machi," the "Book of Emptiness," also translated as the "Book of the Void."

Jeri Massi

"In Budo, too, you have to practice until you die."
--Attributed to Kodo Sawaki

#25 The Book of Ku; three examples

Dear Miss Redgrave,

The Book of Ku is the shortest of the five books. It is only six paragraphs long. What follows is the main paragraph:

What is called the "spirit of the void [ku]"
is where there is nothing. Ku is that which
cannot be known by rational knowledge. This
is self evident, because ku is nothingness.
By knowing things that exist, you can know
that which does not exist. That is the void.
Miyamoto Musashi, "Ku no Maki"

The walls of a cup hold up the form of the cup. And yet what makes a cup truly a cup is the emptiness inside it: its capacity to receive fluid and to pour out fluid. A bell is made of walls and a heavy iron clapper. But what makes the resonance of the bell is the emptiness within the bell. Without that emptiness, the bell cannot make a sound. So the craftsman builds the form of the bell in order to capture the richness of its emptiness. The emptiness of the cup and of the bell is a microcosm of the void, or cosmos.

Emptiness, contained in proper form, produces fullness and power. Emptiness can be directed and given focus, but it must remain emptiness in order to manifest its fullness. And the governing principle in the material world is that form will hold emptiness only after form has been pounded, broken, melted, placed in fire, pounded again, etc. Durable and strong material is as passive as silk on the anvil, but because it is strong in its nature, it requires a hard pounding and a high flame to take on a form that can accommodate emptiness. And even the softest and most yielding forms will still be cut, bound, and stitched to come into union with emptiness. So Emptiness comes by a molding, suffering (training) process.

Musashi wrote his book so that samurai warriors could attain the "spirit of the void", not only as they fought, but in everything they did. This state of Ku is what Musashi calls enlightenment or spiritual perfection.

Now, to clarify terms: Zen Buddhism is not the same religion as the Buddhism that was founded in India. Nor is it the same thing as Chan Buddhism, its predecessor in China. And the particular version of Zen practiced by the samurai was not the same as other versions of Zen Buddhism in Japan. If Samurai Zen is a religion at all, then it's not a religion concerned with God or sin or even right and wrong. Samurai Zen teaches that mastery of an art or skill is spiritual mastery. So Zen enlightenment exists in terms of skills, not morality and not communion with God.

Musashi claims that he was never defeated, but history documents that he was defeated---at least twice. On occasion when his enemies would not die quickly enough from sword wounds, he beat them to death as they lay bleeding. And he counts the killing of a 10 year-old boy among his victorious "duels". But in his point of view, none of his claims or actions, right or wrong, had anything to do with being spiritually enlightened. He could put a grain of rice on a block of wood and split the grain with a sword blow without nicking or scratching the block of wood. That was mastery. That, to him, proved his spiritual enlightenment.

Eugen Herrigel, who wrote a powerful and moving book called ZEN IN THE ART OF ARCHERY and attained mastery of kyudo, could expound on morality and compassion with astounding beauty and power. Then he returned to Germany, took a high position in the Nazi party during Hitler's regime, and actively advocated the annihilation of the Jews to college students and Hitler Youth. And though Herrigel never stood trial for war crimes, he was confronted with the enormous wrong of what was done to European Jews. He steadfastly remained in favor of Hitler's policies---all the way up until the day he died in 1953. And yet all that while he claimed to have attained spiritual perfection. He didn't believe that oppressing other races, and teaching young men and women to oppress other races, had any effect on him, spiritually. His reasoning was that he could go into a dark archery hall, shoot down the length of it, and perfectly hit the black spot of a target that he could not see. To him, that meant he was spiritually perfected.

Samurai Zen will follow any morality imposed upon it, but it does not create one. Nor does it affirm God or deny God. It's a method for helping you further yourself in what you truly believe. It would help a medical missionary be a better medical missionary, and it would help a mass murderer be a better mass murderer.

For me, as a Christian, coming before the Lord with emptiness (Wu Ji) has given me great insight into what the Bible teaches about obedience to God. The Beginner's Mind of Zen helps me strip away my Western, 20th Century assumptions when I read the Scripture. Formlessness has helped me comprehend my incomprehension of God as He Is; to consciously get rid of my self-deception about how I think He should be.

Formlessness of thought is similar to Wu Ji. It's a conscious stepping away from ego, expectation, and self-made conclusions. Rejecting all preconceived notions of the self, and rejecting all preconceived notions of the way life "should" run, make a person much more receptive to life, much more able to greet each change with freshness and gratitude. That, as you know, is extremely difficult at times. But everything on this earth is only temporary.

Eastern philosophies view life as a flowing stream of events and consciousness, ever changing, but never holding still. To resist the flow ensures struggles, weariness, and no true progress. The person who fights a current too long or in weakened circumstances will be destroyed by it.

And so formlessness is like the ability to trim your sail and ride with the ever changing flow of life, to accept what you cannot change, to fix your eyes on life itself and stay focused on the living of it, and resist being capsized by having expectations stolen away or destroyed. Formlessness is a mindset essential for a person to experience Ku.

At the heart of Zen enlightenment, there is an experience of Ku. We can have moments of suddenly being filled with the "full emptiness" or "empty fullness" of the void. It will unite with us if we are receptive to it. And the more we make ourselves receptive, the more often we experience it and enter it, the void, where we are removed from fear and self because the great fullness is there. We unite with it best by the practice of proper breath and emptiness and stillness, and by entering into intense situations with formlessness rather than expectation.

As Musashi said, Ku cannot be explained rationally. Ku is experiential. It cannot be comprehended, but it can be apprehended. Experiencing ku is not just for masters and not just for Buddhists. It's for any person at any moment who attains emptiness, clarity, and awareness at the same time, and this state of mind most often comes by relaxing and releasing, though in moments of stress sometimes it will just spring into being. I can only tell you my experience of ku, as I have known it, with three short examples:

Example One

When I was 11, my family was at our vacation house in the mountains, in winter. I was walking home, trudging down a ranger trail at supper time. Snow lay heavy everywhere, though walking on the trail was not difficult, as the snow had been packed down by other travelers.

The air was clear and yet silent. It was just sunset. And the trees, which were the spindly aspen and birch type, looked like India ink drawings against the clear sky and white snow. The western third of the sky was aflame with red sunset light, and it reflected in the broader places of snow on the ground with a faint pink flush.

My spirit became quiet as I trudged along in my parka, heavy corduroy slacks, and boots. The trail led past our back yard, and as I stepped over the rim of the trail onto the smooth, snowy yard, I saw my father's car parked alongside our cabin.

Chances were 50-50 that he would be in a dark mood and there would be trouble and shouting. But the quiet spirit that had come over me did not diminish. I stood and gazed around at the pink flush on the smooth snow, the elegant, India ink trees, and a great quiet stillness moved into me like a breathing stillness, so that for a moment I was unconscious of my father and my life, aware only of this vast, quiet breathing life around me, as far removed from my troubles as a deaf, dumb, and blind person, and yet somehow calling me into itself, making me a part of it.

That was Ku. It passed without self consciousness or anguish. Then I went inside the house. The moment remained merely a pleasant memory, until years later I read of "Zen moments."

Example Two
When I was in conflict with those people I wrote to you about earlier, there was a confrontation at their house. They were trying to pressure me, and it was turning into a shouting match. I don't remember what I said, but this event occurred early in my attempts to embrace my own death of self in order to defeat them. Whatever it was that I said, I saw the man realize that he could not frighten me. He stopped the wife from shouting at me, and he quickly apologized. And as I looked at his face, I saw behind his eyes that he was not sorry, that he was merely calculating a new workaround, another means to get what he wanted. I was nothing to him but a problem to be solved so that he could get something---my silence, in this case. The rightness or wrongness of everything he had done, which was what I was so concerned about, meant nothing to him. It didn't weigh on him a bit.

I realized that he did not hate me. Nor had he hated the people he had ruined. All people, even his wife and children, were little incidental things to him as he got what he wanted. He didn't bother to hate or love anybody. All he wanted in life was money and prestige---and sex, as I later found out from others. This, I suddenly realized, is a man with no conscience whatsoever, no awareness of others at all. It was like looking into the face of a demon and seeing---not the grand and majestic evil you see in operas and stories---but an infantile, self-infatuated imbecile who used thinking only as a tedious strategy when necessary. I felt as though I stood within the universe and looked at somebody excluded from it.

This was also a moment of ku, of receiving a totality of the universe that I had not guessed. It was a horrible moment, but it was an enlightenment. The same sense of the great, vast breathing universe was there. After that moment, I actually began to mentally defeat them, and I understood everything they would do with a much greater intuitive understanding. But the awareness of that exclusion never left any of my dealings with him.

Example Three

One morning about ten years ago I was out jogging, and as I came to a place of clear space over the road, I saw a white airplane way out in the distance, a big plane.

And much closer, a jet black crow sailed up off a tree branch as I got too close. He and the airplane crossed trajectories of flight. For one moment, the crow spread his wings about three quarters of the way, and the plane turned to make a broad circle, and the crow was completely framed by the white airplane, a black crow outlined with white, against a blue sky.

Then he folded his wings and dived straight down, and the plane continued.

It filled me with an awareness of the great, living universe, the garden of God, at one moment so close to me and so familiar, and yet also far removed and distant, a universe where every stray element is brought together for purpose. A sudden, stark sense that the minute is great in God's Providence. That was also ku.


Receptiveness to these moments increases our ability to "receive enlightenments"---that is, in the middle of a struggle to suddenly, intuitively know what to do to win. These intuitive enlightenments form the turning point in many samurai stories of battle. The samurai sought to cultivate themselves to receive these moments.

Westerners tend to think that we are alive and the universe out there is dead, a vacuum. The truth is, we are bound into a world where death reigns; we ourselves are dying creatures; and all around this enclosed globe of death and dying is the ocean of life, of a perfect cycle that will not run down: Heaven to Westerners; the Void to Easterners. It would kill us if it broke through our atmosphere and touched us, because we're frail and it's strong. But in some ways we can unite to it.

Almost all martial arts teach that mankind is a part of the creation, but higher and greater than the animals: part of nature but able to transcend nature. We are separate from the universe that dwarfs us, but we are able to unite to it. In all the creation, only human beings can consciously open up ourselves, and divest ourselves of ourselves in order to receive different communings---with God, with each other, with the void itself.

The samurai view is that union with the void fills the ready fighter with enlightenment, with mental and "spiritual"
focus that will translate through the body as perfect form, the ability to fight perfectly. It will translate through the mind as perfect calmness and perfect intuition and awareness.

This ends the Book of Five Rings, though there are a few essays left that I want to include, and that will be the end.

Jeri Massi

'Take all that is good as your own.'
- Morihei Ueshiba, founder of aikido

#26 "Bushi no Nasaki"

Dear Miss Redgrave,
In the medieval battle of Sumano-ura, a war-hardened samurai named Kumagaye broke off from the main charge of the cavalry to pursue a small party of the enemy fleeing on horseback for a narrow pass. As he gave chase, Kumagaye picked out the most nobly armored member of the escaping pack, expertly cut him away from his fellows, and then tackled him from the saddle and brought him down to the earth to kill him. The prey's horse ran off, after the fleeing pack.

As the two samurai wrestled, Kumagaye stripped off the warrior's helmet and iron mask, and found himself face to face with a mere boy, unbearded.

Kumagaye instantly released him and jumped back. Then he told the young man to go. He himself had a son the same age. But his young captive, pale at the prospect of death, but humiliated by this mercy, stood up and insisted that he must fight. Kumagaye assured him that escape now would ensure a better fight at a later date. He urged him to go.

But that brief debate had sealed the young man's fate. A group from Kumagaye's army broke into the pass on horseback. Escape was now impossible. And Kumagaye, realizing that these hardened soldiers would torture the young man to death (which was the normal treatment given to prisoners), drew his sword at once. He briefly explained. The boy understood and gave his permission to the old soldier and his thanks, knelt down, and Kumagaye struck off his head at one blow. This story, retold in Japanese drama, story, and poetry, illustrates "Bushi no nasaki," the tenderness---or pity---of the warrior.

In bushido, tenderness and pity are guided by a virtue that is best translated as "rectitude" in English. Like the concept of "Munen Muso," it's a virtue that has no exact Western counterpart. To behave with rectitude implies that "rightness" or the right choice is immediate and pervasive in every decision. One must choose the right thing to do, and every other choice is a concession to evil---or at least to weakness. That may seem a quite extreme, but it had its place in their war-oriented culture.

The whole concept of rectitude rests on an idea of immediacy of right action. As patient as the samurai could be with their training and their strategizing, they tended to view themselves as the agents of change, as so they viewed their actions as being right actions to bring about right changes that would create order out of turbulence. Being swift and resolute with action is part of rectitude. The idea is that when something must be done, it must be done right now, without hesitation, without concession to sentiment, or fear, or self indulgence.

"Strike when it is right to strike. Die when it is right to die!" is the adage. And therefore, "Spare when it is right to spare." Kumagaye would have spared his young prisoner, not from sentiment, but from rectitude; not because he *felt* pity, but because it was wrong to kill a boy who had no hope of defending himself well. But when the situation changed, and the young man was doomed to a slow and agonizing (and humiliating) death, it was also rectitude that guided Kumagaye to strike quickly and save his captive from such cruelty. In neither decision was he blinded by sentiment or guided by impulse. He chose, and he acted.

The summer after I was promoted to black belt, our school was visited one Friday night by some black belts from Georgia. When it came time to spar, I was paired with a fellow named Todd. As we began, he shoved me back. I came around the shove, and he thrust the sole of his foot against my uniform at my collarbone and swiped it down my breasts. This insulting behavior was unmistakable.

I got angry and rushed in again, but he would not let me get in to truly fight him. He was too fast for me to close with him against his will. I could have hit him below the belt or against the knee as payback, but I was idealistic about fighting by the rules, even when my opponent didn't. It was a frustrating and humiliating fight for me. He was openly sneering, and there was nothing I could do about it. He swiped me a couple more times down my front with his foot and shoved me away with open hands (which in martial arts is an expression of contempt).

After class ended, I went to our instructor, Mr. Hance, and told him what happened. "You have to let me fight him again!" I told him. "Next time I'll fight for real!"

I think that Mr. Hance was surprised, but after a moment he said, "All right."

I knew what he was thinking---he would stop the fight if I started to lose badly. "Please promise me that you won't stop the fight!" I said. "No matter what happens. Two full minutes, okay?"

He nodded. "I promise. I won't stop it."

I thanked him and left. All week it was on my mind. I knew I could not beat Todd. He was faster; and he was stronger; and he was more experienced. Plus, he really liked hitting people---including girls. I prayed about it, but the way seemed obvious. The first couple months of having a black belt are an incredible proving time. To maintain the honor of the black belt, you must win outright or show "indomitable spirit" as you get pounded into the ground. On my very first night as a black belt, I had kicked my opponent halfway down the line during the sparring session after he'd bragged that he would defeat me. And I'd already completed a match (that I lost) with two cracked ribs. It was going to be option Number 2 when I next fought Todd.

The next Friday I was there, ready, stretching out and looking out the front window every five minutes. Mr. Hance didn't say anything to me either way. He instructed Berry, who was a black belt by then, to help me with my sparring. Todd never showed up. Well, it was a two hour drive. Next time, I thought.

Under Mr. Hance's supervision, I began to practice techniques with Berry for close-in fighting, and learned better methods for closing the distance. The next Friday I was back at the window as I stretched out, but Todd didn't come again.

For about five weeks Mr. Hance saw to it that I improved in fighting. Todd still had not showed. I accepted that I would have to be ready for whenever he might come.

The summer ended, and Todd quit. Everybody was surprised at the news. But it quickly passed. People come and go, and everybody's attention is mostly taken up with who is training *today*. But about three years after that one miserable match, my school had a seminar attended by black belts from the other schools, and one of the senior men asked what had ever happened to Todd.

"Well, his wife finally got the good sense to leave him," somebody said.

Then Todd's own instructor from Georgia said: "That Todd, he never did know how to treat women right." He flicked one glance from me to Mr. Hance, but my teacher was studying his lesson plan. And finally, the lights came on for me.

As far as I can figure and piece together, Mr. Hance had called Todd's instructor in Georgia to say that the next time Todd showed up at our school, Todd would fight me as I'd requested, and then Todd would fight him (Mr. Hance). It's standard procedure for one fighter to step forward as another fighter's second. But I'm sure it had never occurred to Todd that our head instructor would step forward to be mine. (It had never occurred to me, either.) Tommy Hance surpassed Todd as a fighter even more than Todd surpassed me. So rather than come back and take his lumps (or apologize to me) Todd had quit.

But if he had come, Mr. Hance was ready to grant my request. Rectitude dictates that we treat those we respect as worthy to embrace hardship; worthy to fight for themselves. So the manifestation of "Bushi no nasaki" is to come forward as an ally or second.

In bushido, acting as a second is expressed in helping an embattled person find the strength to endure hardship and continue to grow; to assist the person as he or she goes on a quest for inner strength and outward skill. We seek to keep an ally's destiny securely in that person's own hands, usually by explaining martial teaching, providing actual training, and expressing our own personal confidence in the person; sometimes by literally fighting alongside the person, if the situation requires it, or---in the training hall---as the next person in line against the ally's opponent. Tommy Hance's emphasis on letting me chose my course and helping me improve my fighting skills is exactly what a second does, and his mandate that he would fight Todd after Todd fought me is also pretty standard for a second, at least in the training hall.

I took a 5-year old boy from church, Jeremiah, under my tutelage several years ago. Though hot tempered and often overly fearful, Jeremiah was inquisitive, outgoing, and sweet. But his parents often complained to people that he was their "problem child." And this attitude towards him was picked up by his three older brothers and sisters.

So I demonstrated board breaking for him and his family. Then I asked him if he would like me to teach him martial arts. His face lit up, and he said yes. "Good," I told him. "I think you'll make a good warrior." His siblings were deeply impressed, as I had not offered to teach any of them. He certainly became a devoted and obedient student. He even refrained from showing off when I explained that showing off was wrong behavior for a warrior.

After several weeks, I spent a Saturday evening with all the kids. We settled down to watch their favorite movie, "The Princess Bride," that features a scene with giant, ferocious rats. Jeremiah had always been afraid of the rats and usually hid his eyes during that scene, but that night he suddenly exclaimed, "I'm a warrior, and I'm not going to close my eyes!"

I told him it's all right for a warrior to close his eyes over some things, but he refused. So I put my arm around him and silently asked God to forgive me for making this kid think he had to terrify himself to be brave.

But after the scene was over, he said, very loudly, "I wasn't even scared." (Though he permitted me to keep my arm around him.)

Martial tenderness has the power to call out to hidden inner strengths in a person. As a "problem child", Jeremiah could never be shamed or coaxed or forced out of his fears. But he subdued them himself when he saw himself as a warrior. And he was a very good warrior. His family eventually moved away, but not before he had gotten as far as 4th Gup in tae kwon do, the lowest brown belt rank in our school. He was only six years old, but after several weeks of practice with me, he broke a board with a side kick on his promotion test. He was the littlest person in the group that tested, and I was very proud of him.

In bushido, you can find the sleeping strengths in a person you respect, and call to those strengths with confidence. The discipline of the training hall is to see excellence, not equality; to encourage your ally to surpass you in strength and skill. By that same standard, another person might see in you a strength or virtue that you may have missed in your own self, and that person calls to it with the same confidence, until it suddenly answers from within you, and you find it for yourself. This is the compassion of rectitude, the belief that it is worthwhile to cultivate that which is good in yourself and others, but especially in those worthy of respect, who are facing adversity. Scholars share knowledge together; the wealthy share luxury together; warriors share suffering together. But though "bushi no nasaki" may generate sentiment and warm feelings, ideally it originates from belief and duty (rectitude), a resolution to act and do the right thing at the exact right moment.

Martial pity has one purpose for allies and another for enemies. Even when a person is destructive and cruel, martial pity seeks to put that cruel person's destiny back into that person's hands, but for an exactly opposite purpose.

According to rectitude, it is better, if possible, to let a cruel person destroy himself than for you to be stained in destroying him. Regarding your husband, you can choose to extend martial pity---which does not imply warmth of feeling---by presenting him with his options for a constructive life (i.e., getting help, putting you into his past, moving on from the marriage) so that his choice to cling to wrong and destructive behavior is forced into the open. In a sense, you would do for him what Mr. Hance did for me, or what I did for Jeremiah, offering the opportunity for him to grow and develop. You are calling to strengths within him. But in your husband's instance, those strengths to grow and develop are not there. In calling to them, in extending warrior benevolence to him and asking him to choose to be constructive about his life, you demonstrate by his responses that he is destroying himself.

He depicts himself in his mind as having been wronged, and he blames you, as though he were helpless and his happiness rested solely in your hands. But if you present constructive choices to him, he will continually make the decision to be angry and envious, and it will become more apparent that he's willfully choosing unhappiness. Every time he behaves as though you controlled his life and ruined him, you can put his destiny back into his own hands by reminding him of the constructive options before him. Extending martial pity to him---which is based on rectitude, not feeling---frees you from the guilt he's trying to raise in you. He will demonstrate that his destruction is his choice, not yours.

Jeri Massi

"The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth even his own flesh."

#27 The Fighter's Short List

Dear Miss Redgrave,
The following list is the simplest way I can phrase all of Martial fighting theory. These are six general premises of warfare with subpoints under each. These are certainly not commandments, but guidelines for a mindset. To follow them in total is to take on a different mindset from that held by most people in our culture, especially women. If you must face your husband on Tuesday (as opposed to his lawyer), this is the most concise list of principles I could devise.

==Roll to Your Feet==
The fight isn't over when he thinks it's over.
The fight isn't over when you think it's over.

==Thwart His Expectations==
Never be where he expects you to be.
Never do what he expects you to do.
Never say what he expects you to say.
(Unless you are using deception;
then do everything that he expects and
catch him in his unguarded moment.)

==Recognize His Illusions==
Refuse to see what he wants you to see.
Refuse to believe what he wants you to believe.
Refuse to expect what he wants you to expect.

==Gain Victory Over Yourself==
Search yourself for the things that matter most to you;
Behave in accord with your truest, deepest wishes.
Find and acknowledge your fears. As you progress, conquer them.

==Yield to the Way of Heaven==
All people suffer, so embrace suffering.
All people die, so embrace death.
Experience every moment to the fullest.
Have the beginner's mind (Wu Ji).

==Follow Rectitude==
Your place is between heaven and earth.
Fearlessly practice benevolence.
Be aware of the right moment for proper action.

Jeri Massi

#28 The two questions for bushido training

Dear Miss Redgrave,

I've admired you for many years, and you've been very generous to allow me to present these insights and ideas to you, to welcome my letters to you, and to respond with such kindness. I think you are a remarkable person, and I believe that you have too much to give to others to let this man pull you down.

Every person who suffers must either be warped, perhaps destroyed, or go inside and find elements of strength that they never knew they had. You've been finding that strength from the beginning of this unhappy situation. Most people who successfully come to terms with their suffering agree that it had to become meaningful to them. Somehow in spite of everything that was lost in whatever catastrophe struck them, they realize that something precious was gained; some part of their soul was almost taken away, and they seized it back. Bushido is the way of life that refines the precious thing that was gained amid great and terrible loss. It's the art of seizing back a piece of your own soul from a predator. The story of every great swordsman begins with a major defeat or loss that he suffered, and then tells how he overcame it and how it formed him into a great fighter.

In Bushido, pain and training are linked to the point of being considered the same thing. Suffering, physical or mental, is simply the most intense form of training. The two questions to ask yourself that will help advance your awareness and your progress in growing stronger are these: What has your pain taught you? And, How has your pain changed you? To embrace suffering is to be willing to know it and experience it honestly, and then to use it to its fullest advantage.

I hope that you will reserve the things I've told you from profane people. Bushido remains an intensely private and personal study, designed for those who suffer and yet choose to persevere against adversity. It is the language and the bond that exists among those who engage in warfare, training, and suffering.

You have many options as you continue, and martial enlightenment is only one of them. You have been very patient with me, and I thank you for your willingness to read these essays and consider these ideas. If you become concerned about your husband, or if you come to a stopping place where you cannot see through his attacks, I will help you if I can. I continue to pray that the Lord will hinder him. But I really hope that these troubles end soon, and that you have peace.

As the next year unfolds, may God answer the questions you have asked. May He grant to you abundant rest, wisdom, and wholeness. Restore your sorrow with joy, and cause you to sense His good will towards you.

Jeri Massi

"I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift,
nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet
riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but
time and chance happeneth to them all."
Ecclesiastes 9:11

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