Life is like Wordle.
Perfectly legitimate decisions don’t always work.
In business, we can make all the correction decisions, and still go bankrupt.
In combat, we can make all the proper tactical and strategic decisions, and still lose.
Making wise decisions can greatly increase our odds of success. But our success is never guaranteed.
Likewise, unwise (or even foolish) decisions might be mitigated by extraordinary good fortune.
But worse, when we make the wrong decisions, and win against the odds, then we will often delude ourselves into thinking that the decision we made was a good one, based solely on our unlikely success.
If we practise a martial technique that works repeatedly under certain circumstances, we might fool ourselves into thinking that it will always work. Martial artists can often be blinded by the success in a class setting, unaware of the variables that they might face in unfamiliar situations.
Winning a lottery, even a small prize, can make us feel as if buying a ticket is a good idea, even though we know the odds. (It has been said that the chance of winning the lottery is the same as the chance that someone will send you the money by accident. If you play once per week, you will win the jackpot every two hundred and thirty thousand years, on average. You could also go millions of years without winning.)
There are things we can know with certainty, under certain conditions. But every new factor adds uncertainty to the other measurements. We can tell exactly where the opponent is, until they start to move. The more we get attached to their location, the more we become blind to the direction and velocity. Then add the opponent’s intent, then their awareness, then our own response, then their adaptation. Within a nanosecond the physical structure of both combatants has changed, along with tensile, bulk, and sheer moduli. Class 1 levers become class 3 levers. Intent and expectation are transformed by instinct and emotion. One could say that we switch universes in Planck time.
As soon as we decide what it happening, both the movement and the nature of the object have changed. Our mind is in the universe where we block a punch, while the opponent is in the universe where their punch became a throw.
There is more mathematics, dogma, and karma in a nanosecond than any military strategist or tactician can account for.
“No battle plan can survive contact with the enemy. “Winner Heisenberg
We must not give ourselves too much credit for our success, or judge ourselves too harshly for our failures.
But we must not abdicate responsibility for our decisions.
“The devil is in the details, Werner.”Even Schrödinger
We must learn to apply scientific method to our decision making whenever possible. Scientific method is a powerful tool for martial artists. It was designed to prevent smart people from repeatedly making stupid mistakes.
We should also study logic, so that we can recognize those places where normal scientific methods cannot apply.
I have the good fortune to teach students of all skill levels from around the world. Many are experts in different disciplines. So, I get to test my skill sets against many different types of people, from dozens of different martial arts. I get to see how fickle success can be when the variables change. I get to see the need to transcend human nature, and how so-called “common sense,” and emotions, and instincts, that have contributed to our survival as a species, can destroy any one of us, as individuals.
I believe we must learn to resist judging our personal worth according to success or failure, while still taking full responsibility for both.