Category Archives: quotes

Occam’s Razor for shooters….

The Ockraz Logo
The Ockraz Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

William of Ockham was an influential medieval philosopher who is recalled chiefly for the maxim attributed to him known as Ockham’s razor. Also spelled “Occam’s Razor”. The words attributed to him are, entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem…or “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”.

I bring this up because I have just read a quote from the Dokkodo, the “The Solitary Path”, which is a short piece written by Miyamoto Musashi shortly before his death:

Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what can be of use to you.

I see a link between the philosophies of these two men and an application to weapon training. I will attempt to explain.

These philosophical issues come to mind because I was recently involved in a friendly conversation debating that “Less Filling. Tastes Great” topic of using the slide release vs “power stroking” the slide on a handgun during an emergency reload.

I have a post here regarding this very issue BTW.

Debate points that always seem to come up when discussing emergency reloads are:

“I use the power stroke because I may be using a weapon I am unfamiliar with and running the slide is fairly universal for all pistols while slide releases may vary.”

and

“I use the power stroke because the actions are similar to the manual of arms for clearing malfunctions.”

Being a fairly recent convert to the slide release method, Occam’s and Musashi’s quotes kind of cut me both ways.

I argue that the “It’s universal for all pistols” point either means you own too many pistols or you are saying you are going to be doing a combat pick up of a pistol…or a disarm.

Per Occam/Musashi…if you have so many different pistols that you may/may not be carrying at any one time, you are violating their precepts. I’m not against collecting guns, I’m not against having different pistols/rifles for different applications, but if you worry that you may not be able to “auto pilot” your weapon because you may be carrying something different on any given day, that’s a problem IMO. Pick one and make it a part of your hand.

The combat pick-up/disarm argument doesn’t hold much water for me either. I’m probably not going to disarm an attacker of his weapon and magazines and have to do an emergency reload with them. And the combat pick-up is such a statistically rare issue that I don’t see it as a valid point. Either way, if they worry you then do the power stroke method if that ever happens.

The second point…”I use the power stroke because the actions are similar to the manual of arms for clearing malfunctions.” Is a more valid argument when applying Occam (Musashi doesn’t really apply here). Having one way of operating the pistol regardless of reason (malfunction or running dry) is a stronger point IMO and I have much to agree with.

However I would counter that Occam said “…must not be multiplied beyond necessity” he didn’t say “never multiply”. The slide stop method has some things going for it; speed, efficiency, the weapon/hands stay more oriented to the threat, etc. The necessity of multiplying your manual of arms to gain those advantages may be debatable, but I would debate it.

Either way you choose I find Occam and Musashi’s points as interesting ways to analyze our choices when it comes to weaponcraft. What do you think?

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regrettable to become an artist..

There are many people who, by being attached to a martial art and taking apprentices, believe that they have arrived at the full stature of a warrior. But it is a regrettable thing to put forth much effort and in the end become an “artist.” In artistic technique it is good to learn to the extent that you will not be lacking.

-The Hagakure

An interesting passage…the “stature” is not to be found in simply the practice of skills. Do not be found lacking in skill, but don’t lose your way in pursuing them either.

persevere

Climber
Climber (Photo credit: Rich Jacques)

“Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable. However, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.” -Lord Chesterfield

How many skills have you let rest as “good enough”?

What skills are worth the time and effort..to the detriment of what others? Is perfection in “everything” possible to even attempt?

Is “perfection” ultimately a display of skill or a frame of mind? I think of the Zen tea ceremony. Is it really about perfection of every movement? Or is it about the “perfect mindfulness” in anything you do?

How far do you take this idea before it has no real useful meaning?  Like Kyudo…is the “perfect shot” one that can miss the target? From a practical manner (as in life or death) isn’t a hit all that really matters? But are practical matters all that there really is when we discuss “perfection”?

Honor

Bust of Antoninus Pius (reign 138–161 CE), ca....
Bust of Antoninus Pius (reign 138–161 CE), ca. 150. Français : Buste d’Antonin le Pieux (règne 138-161 ap. J.-C.), v. 150. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do not consider anything for your interest which makes you break your word, quit your modesty, or inclines you to any practice which will not bear the light or look the world in the face.

– Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

drink and forget

“As you climb toward the throne of Command, on the very first step of success, you will come to a strange fountain where people try to slake the thirst of ambition. One of that fountain’s strange, contrary effects is that it makes us forget the past. I saw people drink from it and forget their former friends and acquaintances: witnesses to their former lowliness. They forgot even their brothers and sisters, and one drinker was such an arrogant barbarian that he did not recognize the father who engendered him, deleting from his memory all obligations, all favors received, wanting to be a creditor, not a debtor. Those who drank wanted to borrow, not to return. They forgot even themselves, and now that they were on the high seas, could barely remember that they had been spawned in puddles. They forgot all that could remind them of their dust and dung, all that would make them lower their feathers. They drank up ingratitude and affected gravity and remoteness, and wafted up strangely to their thrones, unable to recognize others, or recognize themselves. That is the way that honors change customs.”

-Balthazar Gracian

never confuse movement with action

Action (supermarkets)
Action (supermarkets) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“It is even better to act quickly and err than to hesitate until the time of action is past.” -Karl Von Clausewitz

I’ve seen/heard/read variations on this sentiment over the years and I agree with it on a conceptual level. If you hesitate when you need to act it can mean the difference between mission success or failure…or life and death.

What I’m less clear on is what happens with this saying on a practical level. WHEN is it better to act quickly? Always? Is it always better if you don’t hesitate? Will your boss support you if your actions result in an unsuccessful outcome? Will the military, the media, the government back you if your act on the battlefield results in civilian casualties?

I’m not asking if they SHOULD back you. That’s an entirely different matter.

I think this concept is situation dependent…if bullets are flying and you have to move, that’s different from considering your next step in a barricade call-out.

I also think that this idea can be expressed in a metaphor of a street fight. There are always two considerations in a self defense situation…the immediate issue of survival and the need to act within the scope of the law. While the first should always take precedence, failure to consider the second can turn survival into a Pyrrhic victory.

In my opinion the only way to approach crisis decision making is to have a solid grasp on the “higher order” concepts; tactics, law, ROE, etc and ingrained physical skills that don’t overburden your thought process. Hopefully you get to road test these skills enough so that experience will allow you to adapt your training to the chaos.

So live your life…

This 1848 drawing of the famous Chief Tecumseh...
Image via Wikipedia

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.

Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.

Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

-Tecumseh

of the office that appertaineth to a knight

English: A Knight in a re-enactment of the Bat...
Image via Wikipedia

Office of a knight is the end and the beginning wherefore began the order of chivalry. Then if a knight use not his office, he is contrary to his order and to the beginning of chivalry. *** The office of a knight is to maintain and defend the holy catholic faith by which God the Father sent his Son into the world to take human flesh in the glorious Virgin, our Lady Saint Mary; and for to honor and multiply the faith, suffered in this world many travails, despites, and anguishous death. Then in like wise as our Lord God hath chosen the clerks for to maintain the holy catholic faith with scripture and reasons against the miscreaunts and unbelievers, in like wise God of glory hath chosen knights because that by force of arms they vanquish the miscreaunts, which daily labor for to destroy holy church, and such knights God holdeth them for his friends honored in the world and in that other when they keep and maintain the faith by the which we intend to be saved.

* * *

The office of a knight is to maintain and defend his worldly or terrestrial lord, for a king ne no high baron hath no power to maintain righteousness in his men without aid and help. Then if any man do against the commandment of his king or prince, it behooves the knights aid their lord, which is but a man only as another is. * * * The office of a knight is to maintain the land, for because that the fear of the common people have of the knights, they labor and cultivate the earth for fear lest they should be destroyed.

* * *

The office of a knight is to maintain and defend women, widows, and orphans, and men diseased and not powerful ne strong. For like as custom and reason is that the greatest and most might help the feeble and less, and that they have recourse to the great; right so is the order of chivalry, because she is great, honorable, and mighty, be in succor and in aid of them that been under him and less mighty and less honored than he is.

* * *

The office of a knight is to have a castle and horse for to keep the ways and for to defend them that labor the lands and the earth. And they ought to have towns and cities for to hold right to the people, and for to assemble in a place men of many diverse crafts which been much necessary to the ordinance of this world to keep and maintain the life of man and of woman.

* * *

The office of a knight is also to search for thieves, robbers, and other wicked folk, for to make them to be punished. For in like wise as the ax is made for to hew and destroy the evil trees, in like wise is the office of a knight established for to punish the trespassers and delinquents.

* * *

– Raymon Lull,  Libre del Orde de Cauayleria (The Book of the Order of Chivalry).

have people ever really changed?

Achilles tending Patroclus wounded by an arrow...
Image via Wikipedia

The rest now took their seats and kept to their own several places, but Thersites still went on wagging his unbridled tongue—a man of many words, and those unseemly; a monger of sedition, a railer against all who were in authority, who cared not what he said, so that he might set the Achaeans in a laugh.

-The Iliad

I’m rereading the Iliad and this passage caught me. The Iliad is believed to be dated around the 8th Century BC, but who has not run into a person like Thersites at some point in their lives?

Ive always thought that while customs, styles and culture may change throughout the ages; there is a core of human behavior that has existed and will continue to exist, across all of humanity, as long as our species survives.