The Way and the Power

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The Way and the Power is a compendium of the strategies and tactics used by the swordsmen-strategists of the Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū. Written by Fredrick J. Lovrett in 1987, The Way and the Power organizes and discusses these strategies in plain language, with direct examples from both swordfighting and debates. This book has gone out-of-print since the 2018 closure of its infamous publisher, Paladin Press. While used copies are still easily available, this will not always be true, so a summary of this book's core ideas is provided below for your personal study.

Life is too short to master all of these strategies. Instead, familiarize yourself with all of them to sense when they are being used again you. Only take the time to master your favorites.

Distancing

Stretching. Force the enemy to stretch and/or overextend themselves past their center or supply lines. The opponent will wind-up off-balancing themselves, or they will spread themselves out to thin (like in the board game "Risk").

Sudden, Large Steps. Immediately close the distance between you and the enemy with one, great leap. This fosters a negative, defensive spirit in the enemy. Additionally, it throws off their notions of distancing.

Standing a Little Closer than Normal. Holding your arms close to your chest conceals the length of your reach. This false boundary gives the enemy an incorrect sense of distancing.

Standing Close. Stick to your enemy like a coat of paint, denying them the room to maneuver.

Sticking. Clash, and press your weapon against the enemy's, and refuse to disengage. The enemy must momentarily drop their guard as they disengage to assume a striking position; attack in that moment.

Expanding. Pretend that the enemy creates as vacuum the pulls your technique in whenever they inhale or lighten their attacks. Soldiers will take cover under heavy fire, but light fire causes them to reveal themselves as they seek better cover.

Timing

Half-beat. Establish a rhythm, then strike in the split-second pause in between beats, to disrupt their sense of timing.

The Method of Winning. Don't fight at the enemy’s pace. Either speed up or slow down to force the enemy into fighting at a pace they are uncomfortable with.

Wedge Technique. A totally committed, perfectly timed attack cannot be stopped. This holds true even if you are being attacked, as your technique will act as a wedge that automatically deflects their blow.

Passing

The Principle of Softness. Cause stationary enemies to move, and then strike at a different (typically diagonal) angle. Drive takedowns with the enemy’s momentum, not yours.

Baiting. Present an obvious, seemingly unguarded target to provoke enemy attacks. When the enemy focuses on attacking, they are not thinking about defense, setting themselves up for a surprise counterattack.

Positioning. Don’t run from danger, move towards advantageous places. Pass the enemy and wind up behind them, where they can’t get you. (This is the Top Gun maneuver.)

Joining Centers. Weld yourself to the opponent, and think of both of you as one piece. By moving yourself, you will move them.

Dropping Your Guard. Completely drop your guard, so that you can be attacked in any direction. Upon realizing that you are awaiting an attack, the enemy will momentarily hesitate, since you must be incredibly insane and/or badass to do that.

Over-preparation. Through exhaustive preparation and drills, you can attack at any moment, from any position. Thus, you can always seize the initiative, since you are never off-guard.

Centering

Drawing Lines. When there are no boundaries, establish some, and then control them. Invade the enemy’s personal space and control their centerline.

Parrying. When your centerline is threatened, quickly sweep the enemy’s attacks aside, to create openings for counter-attacks.

Springing Away. Counter the enemy's strength with equal strength, then suddenly stop to off-balance the enemy with a their own continued momentum.

Subtlety. Give your enemies nothing to resist, and they cannot resist you. Manipulation must be always subtle to prevent your enemies from realizing that they're being manipulated.

Countering Leverage. The enemy is strongest near their absolute center. Pushing them away from their center weakens everything they do.

Appearing

Intimidating Appearance. By carrying yourself as though you cannot be attacked or defeated, the enemy will think the same. *This is countered by studying the enemy, and only concerning yourself with what they can do, rather than what they can seem to do.

Professional Appearance. You can weaken an enemy's spirit by simply maintaining a neat appearance and having good posture, since you'll be seen as a trained professional, even if you’re really not.

Threatening. Making threats momentarily locks up the enemy's mind when it transitions from peace to war; planning to counter the threat extends this delay.

  • Please note that this strategy only works against untrained opponents in situations with clearly-defined goals.

Transferring Emotion. Foster mutual feelings between you and the enemy, and then quickly change your demeanor. (i.e., make the enemy feel tense, then lighten up to lull them into feeling safe, and then strike.)

Hard and Soft Be equally skilled with hard and soft approaches; starting with one and finishing with the other. The enemy must switch between fighting two opponents contained in one person.

Changing

Letting Go. When the current strategy isn't working, it must be completely, entirely abandoned and replaced with a different strategy.

The Mountain and the Sea. If the enemy strongly resists, then abandon the current strategy and immediately adopt a new approach -- one which is just as vastly different and unrelated as the mountains are from the sea. The enemy will be unprepared for this new strategy, and will hesitate while adapting to it.

Flow or Bounce. Boost your attacking power by using the momentum of the previous attack to setup the next attack.

Stirring Up. Make small, frequent, random changes to a strategy. You will appear illogical, and the confused enemy cannot discern -- or counter -- your strategy.

Variation. Changing the ending of a standard technique counters all of the standard defenses against that technique.

Concealing

Mirroring. If you don’t know what to do, copy the enemy’s strategy. This is not a solution, but it delays the enemy’s plan from working, buying you the time needed to develop and implement a better solution.

Stomping on a Sword. Attack the enemy as they try to set up their attacks. By countering attempts to attack rather than actual attacks, the enemy will be constantly imbalanced.

Moving a Shadow. When the enemy’s intentions are unknown, throw a feint to force them to act. The enemy will then reveal their plan, and execute it before they are ready.

Pressing a Shadow. When you have discovered the enemy’s intentions, make the necessary changes which will force the enemy to abandon that strategy, and frame them in to adopting one which they aren't as good with. These changes do not have to be large or elaborate.

Flanking / Pincer Maneuvers. Attack to distract the enemy from noticing another attack from a different direction. Unlike a feint, both of these attacks are meant to hurt.

Focal point. Don't look directly your at enemies, look behind them, as thought you were gazing at a faraway mountain. This forces you to view your enemy with your peripheral vision, which is more motion-sensitive than foveal vision, resulting in improved response times. Additionally, de-focusing the eyes de-focuses the mind, allowing you to easily flow from one task to another.

Initiating

Rhythm of One. Drill constantly, so that you can react to anything without any delay or wasted motion. Then, the enemy cannot act, since they will immediately be countered.

Free of All Thoughts and Plans. Train to the point where you can automatically react in the best possible way. ''This is not running on "autopilot." There is a stage of development beyond "autopilot" where you reflexively generate new, unique, and ideal situation-specific solutions.

Heading Off. Perceive the enemy’s attack, plan, or train of thought, and calculate the shortest possible path to counter it.

Sacrificing

Sacrifice. One must accept receiving small injuries in order to inflict a major injury to the enemy.

Accept Death. Accepting your own mortality renders the enemy unable to frighten or intimidate you. By being willing to get hurt in order to hurt -- to be killed in order to kill -- will cause enemies with < 100% commitment to become overwhelmed and forced to flee (and likely, get killed in the process). Thus, preparing for this worst-case scenario will render you completely unstoppable.

Responding

Broken Rhythm. Constantly vary your attack speed, intensity, and duration. When the enemy cannot discern a pattern, they cannot develop a counter-strategy.

Leading the Target. Rather than launching multiple attacks against a mobile enemy, launch the initial attack along the enemy’s projected path. Strike where the enemy will be; not where they are.

Big Picture. Treat the enemy as one large unit, rather than as a complex multi-component being.

Feinting. If you can't make a decisive attack, make the enemy flinch; then attack.

  • Note that this strategy does not work against highly-skilled opponents.

Picking Away. If you cannot immediately destroy your enemy, attack targets of opportunity.

Striking the Heart. Fixating your mind on defeating the enemy grants the inner strength needed to recover from failure and eventually win. This is why any enemy whose heart still beats is a potential danger.

Controlling

Decapitation. A person's mobility can be completely restricted by directly manipulating their heads. Likewise, organizations can be completely hampered by attacking or controlling their officers or leaders.

Balance-Breaking. Weaken the enemy by breaking their balance, usually by pushing or pulling their shoulders. An organization's balance can be overthrown by focusing on a single branch or division.

Officers and Men. Pretend that your enemies are your subordinates, not your opponents. By exploiting their conditioned responses to authority figures, you can stun them by giving simple commands, like “Stop!”

  • Do not make threats; the enemy won't comply.

Crushing. Be mindful that the ultimate goal of conflict is to reduce the enemy into a mentally and spiritually crushed pile of shattered bones and torn flesh. All other techniques and strategies are only steps to achieve this larger goal.

Planning

Large and Small. Large problems should not be treated in the same way as small problems. Small problems should not be treated in the same way as large problems.

Strategies for Dealing with Multiple Enemies. Turn organized enemy groups into disorganized mobs through the following best practices:

  • Immediately and brutally incapacitate the most powerful enemy first. The resulting chilling effect will break the group's spirit. More importantly, you will have to fight the toughest enemy eventually, so you should do so before the other enemies tire you out.
  • Incapacitate the group's officers or leaders to destroy unit cohesion and disrupt communication. The distracts the entire group, since they must come up with a new plan, and no one knows who is in charge.
  • Push your enemies into the paths of your other enemies. At worst, they must waste their energy maneuvering around themselves. At best, they become human shields.

Circumstances. Do not fight on the enemy’s terms. Only fight at places and times which stifle the enemy. Study the opponent prior to the engagement to find exploitable personal weaknesses and/or character flaws.

Trojan Horse. Rather than wasting energy tearing down elaborate defenses, coax an overly-defensive enemy into letting their guard down.