Plan For Chaos, Fight Your Plan

by PhillipC
A commonly heard phrase in military circles is,
No plan ever survives contact with the enemy.
This quote was originally uttered by Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, a German Field Marshal during the 1800's.  But Colonel Tom Kolditz, head of the behavioral sciences division at West Point, sums it up this way:
You may start off trying to fight your plan, but the enemy gets a vote.  Unpredictable things happen- the weather changes, a key asset is destroyed, the enemy responds in a way you don't expect.  Many armies fail because they put all their emphasis into creating a plan that becomes useless ten minutes into the battle.
So what do we do as martial artists?  For the most part, martial arts is learning to deal with smaller battles with individual or few enemies.  But the same conundrum confronts us.  All of our training for battle, the years of classes and techniques we have learned, and all the hard work to stay fit- all of this will be upset by this simple truth of battle.

One answer can be found in the Bujinkan training method.  Soke's classes consist of a cascade of henka.  Unending change that teaches us to be very responsive.  But there is something more than that.  By becoming zero or empty we can respond in combat with tactics that can't be understood or defeated.

You can't teach this.  But you can use certain mental constructs to describe it.  One that I sometimes use in my classes is the concept of Past, Present, and Future in a fight.  If the attacker strikes, he is in the present.  If you respond, you are in the past.  Not the best place to be, especially if he is quicker or better than you are.

Better to connect to his rhythm and respond in the present as he attacks.  Real time.  If you are flowing in the present, it gives you the chance to counter if he falters or provides an opening.  But you also have the opportunity to disrupt his rhythm.

Even better is for you to be in the future.  Make him respond to you.  Or know where he is going to strike so you can trap him.

But the best is to do the unexplainable.  Once Hatsumi Sensei was asked,  "What would you do if a sniper shot at you from half a mile away while you were going out your door?  He said, "I would never walk through that door at that time."  We have many ideas to explain this unexplainable core of our training.  Things like Ku, Shizen Shugoku, Hi Jo Shiki and the like remind us that this art is bigger than any of our plans.
Maybe through this you can know Banpen Fugyou.


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