From the Archives, 2016
This short story reinforces the USMC Training mantra: “One Mind, Any Weapon”
Don’t get hung up on the Tool.
Always Train to WIN THE FIGHT, REGARDLESS OF THE TOOL!
“Warriors should not have ‘favorite’ weapons.”
Miyamoto Musashi, from his “Book of Five Rings,” written in 1645AD, near the end of his life
One of our students recalls a valuable drill, and now knows why we include it:
“Earlier this year, I was by myself in our remote mountain home.
Shortly after midnight, I was awakened by our driveway alarm and dogs barking. Getting up to investigate, I saw headlights on our steep mountain approach, heading in my direction. I observed for a few minutes as at least one car pulled below my drive and backed up. Very suspicious, as I was not expecting anyone!
I own two pistols, and on this particular day both were in the shop having sights installed. As a novice shooter, I only feel truly comfortable shooting my own guns.
But, my “favorite” guns weren’t available!
My brain immediately flashed back to my training with Vicki and the ‘Battlefield Pick-up Drill,’ where we all handled and shot every gun present. This has to be the most valuable training exercise of my entire shooting life, although I didn’t know it at the time!
Thanks to that training, I knew it was possible that I could pick up whatever pistol was available, and run it correctly and effectively. Thus mentally equipped with this ‘battlefield mentality,’ I retrieved my husband’s 1911 (which I had never shot), and then called 911.
While I’ve never shot my husband’s 1911 pistol, I was not afraid of it. I have shot other 1911 pistols, and I know how to run them, even though they’ll probably never by my favorite.
I stood guard, observing headlights crisscrossing below my property, until police arrived. I was informed the next day that several people in the cars in question had been arrested as burglary suspects.
No harm done, but as it turns out, this incident was a wonderful training exercise and wake-up call, and I discovered the true value of that ‘Battlefield Pick-up Drill,’ which, at time Vicki put us through it, I thought was superfluous!
I have my ‘regular’ pistols back now, and all is well, but I know I will never again think in terms of self-imposed ‘limitations.’
I’ll find a way to win, not look for an excuse to lose!”
Musashi in his day was a seasoned and exceptional fighter, the “John Boyd” of his time. He lived in a dangerous place during a particularly dangerous era, where the naive and unprepared seldom died of old age!
We are fortunate that he wrote down valuable and hard-learned advice shortly before he died (natural causes) at the age of sixty-one.
He knew, as we do, that a “favorite weapon” is little more than an excuse to lose. Thus, with the convenient absence of the “favorite weapon,” the fight is decided before it ever starts!
In his most famous duel, Musashi (age thirty at the time) was challenged by an extremely famous swordsman, known and feared throughout the region. The confrontation was pre-arranged and took place on a beach. The challenger, waiting in full battle regalia, was astonished and disgusted when Musashi arrived, late, and barely dressed, as if he had just woken up. Musashi neglected to even bring his sword!
Enraged and insulted, the challenger move forward quickly to make short work of this impudent “Master.” His overconfidence was his undoing!
Musashi, using an oar from the boat in which he had just arrived, killed his hapless opponent in less than a minute, then immediately departed in the same boat!
As it turns out, the challenger was completely outclassed, not even in the same league! He paid dearly for his miscalculation!
Musashi was always “ready.” He never waited for perfect conditions. He never hesitated!
In his honor, we put students through the “Battlefield Pick-up Drill” today, with today’s weapons, so our students absorb this ancient wisdom well!
During our lifelong journey as Operators and students of the Art, we can’t help but develop preferences. We all like some guns better than others, sometimes for good reasons, but sometimes for no particular reason at all, at least none we can persuasively articulate.
We must love, and be familiar with, all of them and never look upon the invariable absence of “perfect conditions” as some kind of limitation upon our ability to gain victory.
“The road of life is paved with flattened squirrels, who couldn’t make a decision!”