Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Roland2 comments on Lost Purposes - Less Wrong

68 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 November 2007 09:01AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (73)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: Roland2 25 November 2007 04:42:27PM 10 points [-]

As someone who actually practices medieval fighting arts I have to take objection to this:

Miyamoto Musashi said:

"The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means."

This is of course a generalization. The reality is more complex. Never forget that the real primary goal of yours is to stay alive and unharmed(at least that's my goal), so sometimes a parry makes sense, even if you can't cut the enemy in the same movement. You could cut or kill the enemy a lot of times if you simply ignore his blade and go straight for the attack/counter-attack, but that would also mean that you would be killed or injured.

Btw you don't want to always cut the enemy. Sometimes your objective will be to disarm him and take him captive without seriously injuring him.

But in GENERAL his advice is correct: defend and attack(cut) in the same movement, that's a good guideline although it's not always possible to do that depending on the actual situation.

Btw generating the entire art from withhin yourself would be kinda hard like trying to generate physics from yourself, you better have a good teacher. Of course you probably mean that you should be able to understand the idea behind each move so if the teacher doesn't explain it you better think about it and try to figure it out for yourself.

Comment author: taryneast 13 December 2010 01:45:09PM *  16 points [-]

MM should be understood in context... the fighting style he talks about is caught up in a whole lot of issues about "honour".

Fights are to the death because they are over the matter of honour. So he doesn't even bother to talk about fights that are intended to dis-arm only. It makes sense (for him) to talk only of the fights that involve "killing the enemy" as the ultimate goal.

What you describe above is actually exactly what he was talking about. If you are thinking two thoughts (eg "I must not die" AND "I must kill the enemy") - the two goals conflict... and in a fight - you kinda only have time for one goal. As somebody who also has a lot of experience in medieval swordcraft, I can attest to that.

A sword comes at you - do you parry or lunge? ... you hesitate, you die.

So, you must pick one goal over the other.

All things being roughly equal, if you pick "I must stay alive" and your enemy picks "I must kill my enemy" - then your enemy will probably win, because he gives no thought to protecting himself (except insofar as it allows him to strike back next time and kill you) and is willing to take more risks in achieving his goal than you are.

I think that was MM's point.