Author Topic: A Warrior Should Not Have a Favorite Sword; Gary Hartzell  (Read 4523 times)

Offline swanson

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A Warrior Should Not Have a Favorite Sword; Gary Hartzell
« on: December 05, 2008, 09:30:19 PM »
Here's a subject that bears consideration by all who carry weapons for defense.

Too often, those who carry arms adopt a favorite shooting device and train no further; warriors must be wary of this mentality.

Here's a decent article on the subject...


A Warrior Should Not Have a Favorite Sword

Gary Hartzell
Suarez International Staff Instructor

“You should not have a favorite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well.... It is bad for commanders and troops to have likes and dislikes.” The Book of Five Rings

The great Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi penned these words almost 400 years ago near the end of his life while living in a mountain cave.

This quotation is from a man who, in his youth, was the foremost swordsman in Japan and is the distillation of his fifty years of training and experience. Musashi believed in the Japanese proverb that one well-trained warrior can defeat ten. He also wrote of the corollary rule that ten could thus defeat one hundred, and one hundred could defeat one thousand. At the time, a warrior could only prove himself in combat against other warriors. Duels or combat were fought to the death. Musashi himself was never defeated in battle. The “undefeated heavyweight champion of the world” title takes on a whole new meaning under these circumstances.

In the first section of his book he enumerates 9 points with which the warrior should concern himself. However, for now, we will discuss only two.

3. "Become acquainted with every art."

Musashi was referring mainly to the martial and related arts. Not only should we as Warriors be proficient in shooting, but in all the ways of fighting. We should be able to fight with the knife, with our hands, with a club, and with our feet. We should be able to grapple and fight with our minds. As Col. John Boyd taught, we need to get inside our opponents’ OODA loops by whatever means possible, doing what we need to win the fight.

As shooters we all too often default to the gun as the answer to every situation. It was once said that “if all you have is a hammer, then every problem begins to resemble a nail.” Warriors need to learn not just to gunfight but to fight period. When we are at extremely close distances we may often have to fight with our hands or a knife BEFORE we are able to get the gun into action. It is not about gunfighting, but about fighting period. This has been borne out time and time again when using Force on Force scenarios.

Each of us is here because we train with a gun. Training with a gun seems easy. Why? Because it is fun. Training in combatives is not as much fun. Why? Because you get banged up and bruised. Try a class in weapon retention. It is much harder to learn conceptually because it sometimes hurts. I have trained in the Lindell method several times as well as with Gabe in his retention and disarm class. Was it fun? It was, and I learned a lot, but I was sore for days after the class which was not so fun now that I have hit the big 40. Same goes for when I certified for Kubotan. It hurt and was not as much fun, but I trained in it because it was a skill set I needed to possess.

In Musashi’s time, knowledgeable use of the bow caused someone to be called an archer, firearms, a gunner, the spear, a lancer, and pole axes, a halberdier. At that time, the martial art requiring the most time and skill was that of the sword. Following the established pattern, one would expect a master of the sword to be called a swordsman. Musashi preferred to call these warriors “martial artists” because they had to develop the widest variety of combat skills, and the sword was the most versatile weapon of its time.

We all carry those cool guy knives clipped on our pockets. Do you really know how to use one, or is it just a Hundred Dollar Tactical Box Opener? If the fight starts and all you have is your folding pocket knife, do you know how to use it to fight? I know I need a lot more knife training, so that is where a lot of my time is going to be focused this coming year. Otherwise, I am just a guy with an expensive but cool box opener.

Do you know anything about tactical medicine? Or ditch medicine? If you don’t, you need to get yourself some training pronto. Consider this: You win the fight and the bad guys are down, but your wife bleeds out because she took a stray round and you did not have the skills to help her.

4. "Know the ways of all professions."

Another translation of this point is “know the principles (workings) of all crafts.” With the opening quote, these two points seem to indicate Musashi did not want warriors to have a favorite weapon system, and certainly not a favorite sword. The modern warrior should not have a favorite rifle or pistol. He may have one that is his preferred or primary weapon but he should be able to operate any firearm he comes across at a reasonable level of proficiency.

A couple of examples:

Situation 1: You are an instructor and bring your favorite pistol type to teach a class, but find that your 20 students have a myriad of guns, including SIG-Sauers, Berettas, S&W autos, Rugers, revolvers (various cylinder releases operate at least 3 different directions), Glocks, and an H&K P7M8 for good measure. Can you operate each and every one of those platforms not only so you appear to be competent in front of your students, but also at a level where you can teach them to excel with their individual gun?

Situation 2: You are in the courthouse, a non permissive environment, and there is a gun battle when an escaped prisoner grabs a gun, and you are trapped right in the middle of it. You cannot return to your vehicle and retrieve your gun. Cover is a long way away. You drop to the floor as things erupt. You have nothing to fight with on you, knives included. A police officer or deputy is standing several feet away and takes a round, dropping to the floor. His gun skitters across the floor, stopping within arms reach as the prisoner approaches you, gun drawn, aiming at you. GREAT!!! Now you have a pistol to fight with. Unfortunately for you, it is a S&W autoloader, which you have never used. You try to get the safety off by pressing down on the frame like you do on your trusty school and guru approved pistol you carry every day but you can’t seem to get the gun to fire. You try pulling the trigger, but get no “bang,” just a long, light pull. Did you know that the safety operates by moving it up instead of down like on the 1911, and that these pistols also have a disconnector rendering them unusable without the magazine in place?

Situation 3: You are at the mall and several Hadjis come in and begin shooting the place up. Fortunately for you today, you remembered to bring a gun. However, you are slacking and decided to take only your J-frame and no spare ammo. Fortunately, the Lord has smiled upon you. One of the Hadjis is facing away, directly in front of you while attempting to slaughter the innocents. You place a round into the back of his skull. As he drops to the floor, you have to decide whether to continue the fight with the snubbie and 4 rounds, or take his AK? You decide on the AK because it has a 30 round magazine, and you are being shot at from a distance now. You attempt to fire it and get nothing. Do you know an immediate action drill for clearing the gun and getting it back into operation? Ten or fifteen seconds go by while you clear it, reload, and you take aim at another one of them 40 or so yards away. You press the trigger and brrraaappp, you let off several rounds since you had never bothered to familiarize yourself with the preferred weapons of your enemy. You have found out the hard way that safety in the middle is full auto and the fully down position is the semi auto that you really wanted. Sort of a shame that burst of full auto fire you accidentally let loose killed another innocent.

Maybe these are what your gunfight looks like, or maybe not. The common theme is that you did not have a choice except to train or fight with someone else’s gun. You also do not have time to learn a new system when students are looking to you for an answer, or worse, you are being shot at and in fear for your life. What does this mean for today’s Warrior? It means simply that you should not get all wrapped up in the “My gun is better than that gun” issue. You should also avoid the “I can’t shoot that gun because the safety, lack of safety, grip angle, caliber, etc. is wrong for me” debate. Learn to fight with what you are presented with now. You might not have a choice to do so later.

The “borrowed gun” drill is being used at some firearms schools in more recent times. Everyone in the class puts his or her gun on the ground with some ammunition and a magazine or two. Students then shift positions and fire a few rounds with someone else’s gun. The more complex version of the drill is to induce a malfunction into the firearm of some random type, and then shift to a new position to clear something you have not ever shot in an unknown condition. The drill does not end until the malfunction is cleared and the unknown firearm is shooting again.

You don’t even have to go to a school somewhere to try this drill, although you will get more benefit from the training if you do go to a formal firearm school. You and a few friends on the range with your own firearms can easily replicate this drill if you all bring something different.

You don’t need to own a safe full of different guns to train like this. But it sure does give you an excuse to bring your buddies along when you train. One of the best things you can do is train with weapons systems that you are not familiar with. Next time you get a chance to take a lower level class, talk to a buddy into going and switch guns and gear with him for the whole class. You could each bring something without even telling the other what it is before class. Trust me, it will be a real eye opener for you and him. Another recommendation is to take a lower level class from time to time and shoot the whole thing weak handed.

Now you do not need to be as good with every gun out there as you are with your preferred carry gun. You also do not need to fear lack of ability or balance with the weak hand. But you should be proficient enough to make center hits at least 25 yards away with a pistol and know how to run the controls. If you can’t do those things, keep working at it until you can.

Musashi lived what he professed in his writings. On the way to the greatest duel of his life, he carved a wooden sword out of a broken oar and used it to kill his opponent. I would think that is the essence of “not having a favorite weapon,” or even a favorite weapon system.

Offline Orionblade

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Re: A Warrior Should Not Have a Favorite Sword; Gary Hartzell
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2009, 09:13:26 AM »
I second that motion.

Gun: (n) tube through which bullet passes before hitting target.

and what did GI Joe always say?

Knowing is half the battle.

Offline ColdHaven

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Re: A Warrior Should Not Have a Favorite Sword; Gary Hartzell
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2009, 03:46:09 PM »
Musashi was a very wise man and warrior. I agree with his assessment. Get to know as many weapons as you can.