Everyone Has a Plan
Have you heard the saying “everyone has a plan until they get hit?” Plans make us feel safe. Humans like to have plans because they give us a sense of control. However, is having a plan really a good idea in the martial arts? Think about it for a minute. The problem with us Westerners is that we are raised in a sports mentality; sportsmanship, winning, loosing, being a good sport, being a good competitor etc. I want to share with you why having a plan is not only a bad idea but in combat will actually get you killed. Please note, as your read this there is a difference between strategy and “a plan.”
Plans are usually hasty. Especially when you’re suddenly confronted by someone holding several inches of steel they want to bury in your body. Looking back this sickness of needing a plan existed in me as a beginner, and even now it tries to creep in. “Well, if he punches I will go low and hit him in the groin, then grab his shoulder and hit him in the temple.” It’s a kata I learned when I was 17. Do you see the problem here? What if my opponent is skilled and can take a punch?
A lot of times in martial arts I have seen people ass – ume that their opponent is an idiot and do techniques that would never, and I mean never work in a real situation. They look pretty and impress the ignorant, but the adept can see the holes. Let’s not forget people who commit crimes are skilled predators; they attack in packs with weapons and the element of surprise. More than likely this isn’t their first rodeo. Prisons are overcrowded and criminals spend much less time behind bars than they should. They have a lot of hands on experience.
Hoshinjutsu is a principle based martial art that uses naturally occurring biological reactions to solve a problem. In training we use the logical part of the brain to understand the bio-mechanical functions of techniques the instructor is demonstrating. The logical part of your brain does not function very well during a sudden life or death situation; it doesn’t usually kick back on until after a conflict. The reptilian part of your brain is the boss during combat. Ask any veteran and we will tell you that what you train is what comes out under stress, no thinking required. So by training the same motions over and over and over and over again you program your hardware to respond to stimulus in a manner that keeps you safe. The hours of sweat and blood you put in are the iceberg; the natural reaction to a stimulus that comes out to help you survive is the tip of the iceberg.
Finally, let’s look to nature for some wisdom. Picture a green grassy field with a tall old tree standing strong. Now see the sky darken because there is a powerful storm coming. Does the tree do anything? Does it think to itself “oh, the storm is coming from the North so I better hurry and bury my roots to the North deeper so I can withstand the wind?” No, the tree because of its “natural” abilities responds to the wind with no pre-conceived plans. It has no plan! The tree reacts naturally and weathers through the storm. Even if a limb is broken during a powerful storm the tree still survives. Sometimes the tree is uprooted and dies; life isn’t fair and combat is messy.
So what do you think about having a plan now? Here is a new concept for you, Mushin. Sound familiar? You have to trust that your training will come out under stress and will save your life. The second you make a plan you have locked yourself into tunnel vision and reduced your chances of survival. Be like the tree, see the storm coming and smile.