The Fire Book
13 minutes • 2672 words
Table of contents
- Depending on the Place
- The Three Methods to Forestall the Enemy
- The First - Ken No Sen
- The Second - Tai No Sen
- The Third - Tai Tai No Sen
- To Hold Down a Pillow
- Crossing at a Ford
- To Know the Times
- To Tread Down the Sword
- To Know “Collapse”
- To Become the Enemy
- To Release Four Hands
- To Move the Shade
- To Hold Down a Shadow
- To Pass On
- To Cause Loss of Balance
- To Frighten
In this the Fire Book of the Ni To Ichi school of strategy I describe fighting as fire.
In the first place, people think narrowly about the benefit of strategy.
By using only their fingertips, they only know the benefit of three of the five inches of the wrist. They let a contest be decided, as with the folding fan, merely by the span of their forearms. They specialise in the small matter of dexterity, learning such trifles as hand and leg movements with the bamboo practice sword.
In my strategy, the training for killing enemies is by way of many contests, fighting for survival, discovering the meaning of life and death, learning the Way of the sword, judging the strength of attacks and understanding the Way of the “edge and ridge” of the sword.
You cannot profit from small techniques particularly when full armour is worn. My Way of Strategy is the sure method to win when fighting for your life one man against five or ten. There is nothing wrong with the principle “one man can beat ten, so a thousand men can beat 10,000”. You must research this. Of course you cannot assemble 1,000 or 10,000 men for everyday training. But you can become a master of strategy by training alone with a sword, so that you can understand the enemy’s strategy, his strength and resources, and come to appreciate how to apply strategy 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. He will come to possess miraculous power. This is the practical result of strategy.
Depending on the Place
Examine your environment.
Stand in the sun; that is, take up an attitude with the sun behind you.
If the situation does not allow this, you must try to keep the sun on your right side. In buildings, you must stand with the entrance behind you or to your right. Make sure that your rear is unobstructed, and that there is free space on your left, your right side being occupied with your side attitude. At night, if the enemy can be seen, keep the fire behind you and the entrance to your right, and otherwise take up your attitude as above.
You must look down on the enemy, and take up your attitude on slightly higher places. For example, the Kamiza in a house is thought of as a high place.
When the fight comes, always endeavour to chase the enemy around to your left side. Chase him towards awkward places, and try to keep him with his back to awkward places. When the enemy gets into an inconvenient position, do not let him look around, but conscientiously chase him around and pin him down. In houses, chase the enemy into the thresholds, lintels, doors, verandas, pillars, and so on, again not letting him see his situation.
Always chase the enemy into bad footholds, obstacles at the side, and so on, using the virtues of the place to establish predominant positions from which to fight. You must research and train diligently in this.
The Three Methods to Forestall the Enemy
The first is to forestall him by attacking. This is called Ken No Sen (to set him up).
Another method is to forestall him as he attacks. This is called Tai No Sen (to wait for the initiative).
The other method is when you and the enemy attack together. This is called Tai Tai No Sen (to accompany him and forestall him). There are no methods of taking the lead other than these three. Be- cause you can win quickly by taking the lead, it is one of the most im- portant things in strategy. There are several things involved in taking the lead. You must make the best of the situation, see through the enemy’s spirit so that you grasp his strategy and defeat him. It is impossible to write about this in detail.
The First - Ken No Sen
When you decide to attack, keep calm and dash in quickly, forestalling the enemy. Or you can advance seemingly strongly but with a reserved spirit, forestalling him with the reserve.
Alternatively, advance with as strong a spirit as possible, and when you reach the enemy move with your feet a little quicker than normal, unsettling him and overwhelming him sharply.
Or, with your spirit calm, attack with a feeling of constantly crushing the enemy, from first to last. The spirit is to win in the depths of the enemy.
These are all Ken No Sen.
The Second - Tai No Sen
When the enemy attacks, remain undisturbed but feign weakness. As the enemy reaches you, suddenly move away indicating that you intend to jump aside, then dash in attacking strongly as soon as you see the enemy relax.
Or, as the enemy attacks, attack still more strongly, taking advantage of the resulting disorder in his timing to win. This is the Tai No Sen principle.
The Third - Tai Tai No Sen
When the enemy makes a quick attack, you must attack strongly and calmly, aim for his weak point as he draws near, and strongly defeat him.
Or, if the enemy attacks calmly, you must observe his movements and, with your body rather floating, join in with his movements as he draws near. Move quickly and cut him strongly.
This is Tai Tai No Sen.
These things cannot be clearly explained in words. You must research what is written here. In these three ways of forestalling, you must judge the situation. This does not mean that you always attack first; but if the enemy attacks first you can lead him around. In strategy, you have effectively won when you forestall the enemy, so you must train well to attain this.
To Hold Down a Pillow
This means not allowing the enemy’s head to rise.
In contests of strategy it is bad to be led about by the enemy. You must always be able to lead the enemy about. Obviously the enemy will also be thinking of doing this, but he cannot forestall you if you do not allow him to come out.
In strategy, you must stop the enemy as he attempts to cut; you must push down his thrust, and throw off his hold when he tries to grapple. This is the meaning of “to hold down a pillow”.
When you have grasped this principle, whatever the enemy tries to bring about in the fight you will see in advance and suppress it. The spirit is to check his attack at the syllable “at… “, when he jumps check his jump at the syllable “ju… “, and check his cut at “cu… “.
The important thing in strategy is to suppress the enemy’s useful actions but allow his useless actions. However, doing this alone is defensive.
First, you must act according to the Way, suppressing the enemy’s techniques, foiling his plans and thence command him directly. When you can do this you will be a master of strategy. You must train well and research “holding down a pillow”.
Crossing at a Ford
“Crossing at a ford” means, for example, crossing the sea at a strait, or crossing over a hundred miles of broad sea at a crossing place. I believe this “crossing at a ford” occurs often in man’s lifetime. It means setting sail even though your friends stay in harbour, knowing the route, knowing the soundness of your ship and the favour of the day.
When all the conditions are meet, and there is perhaps a favourable wind, or a tailwind, then set sail. If the wind changes within a few miles of your destination, you must row across the remaining distance without sail.
If you attain this spirit, it applies to everyday life. You must always think of crossing at a ford.
In strategy also it is important to “cross at a ford”. Discern the enemy’s capability and, knowing your own strong points, “cross the ford” at the advantageous place, as a good captain crosses a sea route. If you succeed in crossing at the best place, you may take your ease.
To cross at a ford means to attack the enemy’s weak point, and to put yourself in an advantageous position. This is how to win large-scale strategy. The spirit of crossing at a ford is necessary in both large- and small-scale strategy.
You must research this well.
To Know the Times
This means to know the enemy’s disposition in battle.
Is it flourishing or waning? By observing the spirit of the enemy’s men and getting the best position, you can work out the enemy’s disposition and move your men accordingly. You can win through this principle of strategy, fighting from a position of advantage.
When in a duel, you must forestall the enemy and attack when you have first recognised his school of strategy, perceived his quality and his strong and weak points. Attack in an unsuspecting manner, knowing his metre and modulation and the appropriate timing.
Knowing the times means, if your ability is high, seeing right into things. If you are thoroughly conversant with strategy, you will recognise the enemy’s intentions and thus have many opportunities to win.
You must sufficiently study this.
To Tread Down the Sword
“To tread down the sword” is a principle often used in strategy.
First, in large scale strategy, when the enemy first discharges bows and guns and then attacks it is difficult for us to attack if we are busy loading powder into our guns or notching our arrows. The spirit is to attack quickly while the enemy is still shooting with bows or guns. 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 cutting, with a “tee-dum tee-dum” feeling, in the wake of the enemy’s attacking long sword. We must defeat him at the start of his attack, in the spirit of treading him down with the feet, 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, and, of course, tread and cut with the long sword. You must achieve the spirit of not allowing the enemy to attack a second time. This is the spirit of forestalling in every sense. Once at the enemy, you should not aspire just to strike him, but to cling after the attack. You must study this deeply.
To Know “Collapse”
Everything can collapse. Houses, bodies, and enemies collapse when their rhythm becomes deranged.
In large-scale strategy, when the enemy starts to collapse, you must pursue him without letting the chance go. If you fail to take advantage of your enemies’ collapse, they may recover.
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 how to utterly cut down the enemy.
To Become the Enemy
This means to think yourself in the enemy’s position. In the world people tend to think of a robber trapped in a house as a fortified enemy.
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 large-scale strategy, people are always under the impression that the enemy is strong, and so tend to become cautious. But if you have good soldiers, and if you understand the principles of strategy, and if you know how to beat the enemy, there is nothing to worry about.
In single combat also you must put yourself in the enemy’s position. If you think, “Here is a a master of the Way, who knows the principles of strategy”, then you will surely lose. You must consider this deeply.
To Release Four Hands
This is used when you and the enemy are contending with the same spirit, and the issue cannot be decided. Abandon this spirit and win through an alternative resource.
In large-scale strategy, when there is a “four hands” spirit, do not give up - it is man’s existence. Immediately throw away this spirit and win with a technique the enemy does not expect.
In single combat also, when we think we have fallen into the “four hands” situation, we must defeat the enemy by changing our mind and applying a suitable technique according to his condition. You must be able to judge this.
To Move the Shade
This is used when you cannot see the enemy’s spirit.
In large-scale strategy, when you cannot see the enemy’s position, indicate that you are about to attack strongly, to discover his resources. It is easy then to defeat him with a different method once you see his resources.
In single combat, if the enemy takes up a rear or side attitude of the long sword so that you cannot see his intention, make a feint attack, and the enemy will show his long sword, thinking he sees your spirit. Benefiting from what you are shown, you can win with certainty. If you are negligent you will miss the timing. Research this well.
To Hold Down a Shadow
“Holding down a shadow” is use when you can see the enemy’s attacking spirit.
In large-scale strategy, when the enemy embarks on an attack, if you make a show of strongly suppressing his technique, he will change his mind. Then, altering your spirit, defeat him by forestalling him with a Void spirit.
Or, in single combat, hold down the enemy’s strong intention with a suitable timing, and defeat him by forestalling him with this timing. You must study this well.
To Pass On
Many things are said to be passed on. Sleepiness can be passed on, and yawning can be passed on. Time can be passed on also. In large-scale strategy, when the enemy is agitated and shows an inclination to rush, do not mind in the least. Make a show of complete calmness, and the enemy will be taken by this and will become relaxed.
When you see that this spirit has been passed on, you can bring about the enemy’s defeat by attacking strongly with a Void spirit. In single combat, you can win by relaxing your body and spirit and then, catching on to the moment the enemy relaxes, attack strongly and quickly, forestalling him. What is know as “getting someone drunk” is similar to this. You can also infect the enemy with a bored, careless, or weak spirit. You must study this well.
To Cause Loss of Balance
Many things can cause a loss of balance. One cause is danger, another is hardship, and another is surprise. You must research this. In large-scale strategy it is important to cause loss of balance. 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.
Or, in single combat, start by making a show of being slow, then suddenly attack strongly. Without allowing him space for breath to recover form the fluctuation of spirit, you must grasp the opportunity to win.
Get the feel of this.
Fright often occurs, caused by the unexpected.
In large-scale strategy you can frighten the enemy not just by what you present to their eyes, but by shouting, making a small force seem large, or by threatening them from the flank without warning. These