KFEB #31) A skillful warrior strikes a decisive blow and stops. He does not continue the attack to assert his mastery. He will strike the blow, but be on his guard against being vain or arrogant over his success. He strikes it as a matter of necessity, but not from a wish of mastery.

This entry into the KFEB is brought to you by Lao Tzu, making it Taoist in nature.  There is some paradigmatic baggage from Taoism that we won’t go into in-depth here, but will likely touch upon it.

This one is rather simple, and straightforward – it’s an almost intuitive concept, but what’s interesting is that it’s not that easy to execute.  This is why it’s such an important lesson to remember: When you are in a combat, never lose yourself to the passions that come.  Whenever you lose yourself to passions and your actions are unbridled, you’ve already lost.

A skilful warrior isn’t skilful because of their techniques; they aren’t skilful because of their cardio; they aren’t skilful because of muscle mass or any other developed physical attribute – they’re skilful because they have learned mastery over themselves.  Think about that for a moment – it is not the skills you develop that makes you a skilful warrior, although they are absolutely necessary to learn (otherwise you cannot be “skilful”).  It’s not the physical learning that matters here – it’s the application of said techniques and skills that comes under one thing: Control, specifically of the self.

I know that it’s cliché, but whenever someone engages in conflict angry, they’re almost certain to lose against a more composed and self-controlled person.  Never engage angry, because you lose yourself first, then the conflict… It’s when people lose themselves in the conflict that the primal comes out – it’s blind, and easily outwitted.  The primal is strong, but not particularly discerning; it’s reflexive and responsive, lashing out at what (who) it wants to engage with, making them vulnerable to external threats, but also how their environment can be beneficial.  If they do get the upper hand in a conflict, they tend to lash out until their rage has subsided… Even though, in this instance, they may be considered to have ‘won’ the conflict, they still lost themselves.

A skilful warrior does not need to assert their dominance in a conflict – they take the conflict to exactly where it needs to go to end it.  They maintain a rational mindset, even amidst the chaos.  They recognize what it will take to stop the fight, and take the appropriate actions – which can even be to fully leave the situation, regardless of what dull words might follow them.

If a physical altercation is necessary, they throw what needs to be thrown, using their physical skill set as they’ve trained, but always mindful of themselves in the equation.  By keeping their self under control, they simultaneously give a form of respect to their aggressor – but without losing the reciprocity of the situation; that which is thrown at them shows the skilful warrior the level of intent and anger of their opponent. Some might consider it paradoxical, but this consideration of their opponent is often a strength – If their strike is fuelled simply by angst or petty jealousy, do they deserve to be beaten?  No – they need to be taught to reconcile their emotions, and that doesn’t come with a fist.

It is this self-control that gives the warrior their skill – because anger and a desire to dominate impact rationality.


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