Saturday, July 12, 2014

Concerning Practice

I've almost finished my reading for the year, which is to say I've almost finished reading 'The Life Giving Sword' by Yagyu Munenori in the back of my copy of the book of 5 rings. I think it's only my second or third reading of the text, but reading both back to back really reinforces the idea of practice.

Not practice as in, hit the gym and work through routine drills to build up muscle memory and what not, but the actual doing of a thing as compared to sitting around theorizing and formalizing it.

The one and only Musashi, and the second generation master Munenori knew close to nothing about neuroscience, theory of learning, cybernetics, psychology etc. They didn't need to, they simply did what worked in practice, then later formalised it as intelligibly as they could in their respective texts.

But reading it, I (at least) get the impression that these men understood combat as a closed system, and had reached independent of any knowledge of cybernetics the conclusion that a system is controlled by the component with the most choices.

Xen buddhism was known to both these men and in some ways they had a couple of centuries head start on mindfulness over what western psychology is now adopting. But even so, they had without any knowledge of Jung or indeed psychology, recognised that human behaviour isn't random.

They also just intuitively understand reaching unconscious competence and so on.

Because so many of these theories just describe human experience. They give names to concepts that remained unintelligible, but I guess even the unintelligible can be understood.

The reason why I think there's such value in reading the somewhat esoteric texts of ancient samurai, remains that whatever these guys did, had to work. There's enough common ground to suggest that both men didn't survive the dangerous games they played by chance.

Musashi's most famous opponent Ganryu may have had a completely different theory of swordsmanship, but he didn't live to write about it. For that matter, he may have had much the same theory of swordsmanship, and didn't live to write about it. It doesn't matter, through enough iterations, you are going to get a Musashi Miyamoto or a Yagyu Sekishusai who have to some extent produced knowledge.

If not knowledge of what works, at the very least certain knowledge of what doesn't work.

It reminds me that I don't need to know shit, as an artist, as a businessman or whatever. I don't really need to go to school. I just have to survive to keep playing, the rest I can figure out, if not actually explain it.

And I don't think I have much time anymore for those who would presume to teach, but do not do.

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