Prepare to Win

You will fight like you train.


If we train well, we respond well. We cannot expect that we will rise to the demands of the moment just because we want to, or because our cause is just, or because we are courageous.


It’s good when we can all get along.


Over the years civilized people learned that collaboration is a key survival skill, and it contributes to happiness. Sharing difficulties and rewards, seeing things from another’s point of view, being concerned with their interests as well as your own, takes maturity and is necessary for a successful life.


But not every encounter can be resolved without conflict. Sometimes we deal with actions that are unreasonable, unfair, aggressive, selfish or violent. If we tolerate these violent actions, appease or compromise, we jeopardize our own lives, reward predatory behavior, and subject the people around us who need our help, to oppression.


Under violent threat we will fight like we trained. So to defend our lives and the lives of others, we need to train sincerely, now, while we have the chance.


Complacency is a deadly mistake.


Masters of training have spoken to this issue for millennia.


An 8th century professor at Nalanda University in India, instructed his students on the urgency of practice,


Suppose a captor handed you

A bowl full of oil,

Then stood before you with a raised sword,

And promised you if you could walk across the courtyard

Without spilling a drop

You would be free

But if you spilled a single drop

You would be killed on the spot

How deep would your focus be?

Real practitioners

Practice like this.


A millennium earlier:

“…Just as one whose clothes or head had caught fire would put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, skill, and focus to extinguish the fire, so you  should put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, skill and focus…” in practice…


Gichin Funakoshi, Okinawan leader of Japanese karate in the 20th century, taught:

In a fight your hands and feet should move just as if they were blades to cut your enemy. Your techniques should be sharp and powerful.”


Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu founder and Chief of Police Shoshin Nagamine advised us to “Regard the opponent’s hands and feet as blades.”



A skilled opponent does not always need to generate a powerful thrust to be effective. Sometimes just a touch – like the quick, light contact of a knife – will be decisive.


When you regard any contact of your opponent as “like that of a blade” you will move with urgency at the outer limit of your ability – you are more effective and your training goes deeper than if you are moderate or just going through the motions.


Head Coach Bear Bryant of the University of Alabama was the most successful football coach ever. He told his players:

The will to win is nothing. Everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.


We train sincerely and train hard.

Not just to meet a contingency, not just to prevail in confrontation.

We train sincerely to stop a violent opponent, but also to fulfill our potential today, to deepen our commitment to our lives, our family, our neighbors, and to this moment – to unite our body and mind and purpose.

To be calm and clear, skillful and strong when the time comes.

Prepare to win.



Post by Jeff Brooks

3 thoughts on “Prepare to Win

Add yours

  1. another really good read and today’s Zen Mirror post “train sincerely and train hard, with our whole body and mind united in form and spirit”. Thank you Jeff, danny.


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