THE SPARK HIT: When The Point Of Contact Is Not Where The Contest Is Won


“The SPARK HIT is when you opponent’s sword and your sword are locked together and you strike as strongly as possible without raising your sword at all.  One must strike quickly, exerting strength with the legs, torso, and hands.”

The above is 17th century martial arts master Miyamoto Musashi’s description of a special swordsman’s move.

Of all the techniques he describes in his martial arts treatise, The Book Of The Five Rings, this is the one that snagged my imagination.  For there is a message here, I believe:  Where you think the conflict is, is not where it is; it is lower, deeper.  The obvious place to focus one’s energies is not the right place.  The point of contact is not where the contest will be decided.

What you don’t want to do when you find yourself in locked swords with someone is try to escape using a cheap hack.  Lifting your sword to strike will only open you up to be struck.  Striking out is the same as striking yourself.  When you strike at the wrong time, with the wrong strategy, you only deal yourself a blow.

Sometimes when you are trying to accomplish something, whether it be at work, or in sports, or in your own artistic life, you find that you have come to a standstill.  That things are no longer flowing.  Deadlock.  You are even in jeopardy of having things fall apart.  But you can’t figure out what it is you’re doing wrong.

Could it be that where you think the conflict is, is not where it is?  Maybe you should go lower, go deeper.

Think about the places in your life that can disrupt your energy flow.  Has your home life been disruptive?  Have you been treating your body as the soul’s temple– or more like a waste disposal?  Have you been putting-in the practice or organization-time that you need in order to do well?  Proper stretching, breathing, and exercise are more vital to productive lives than many people realize.

If we’re not careful, we can waste our time hacking away at the branches, when we should be digging up the roots.  Sometimes the problem is not in the fruit, but in the soil.


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