A Complex Simplicity
I shot the Colt a bit more than the Springfield, but they shot equally well. The Colt just feels more "right" to me somehow, I suppose. Perhaps it's the Colt legacy, perhaps it's the more traditional style, simple sights and a high ejection port. Perhaps it was because I had to do less to the Colt to make it into what I wanted. I do not know the reason, I just shot it more.
As I shot, my mind drifted to Miyamoto Musashi, a samurai of feudal Japan. Musashi, an unconventional warrior, dressed in rags, rarely bathed, and traveled during the zenith of the samurai period, engaging in duels. Musashi was an outsider with allegiance to no lord, but he was a master of using two swords in a technique called niten'ichi. It was an effective, unembellished way of defeating an opponent. Although he engaged in scores of duels, Musashi himself was never defeated. Today, his technique is known as Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū.
The real legacy of Musashi though, is not one of swordsmanship. It is one of psychological combat. Once his reputation had grown, Musashi challenged one of Japan's most revered samurai of the time, Sasaki Kojirō, to a duel on an island at dawn. A traditional warrior, Kojirō prepared for the duel in prayer. He was known for wielding a katana with extra length, and was an established, well disciplined traditional warrior. Kojirō arrived on time, but his unorthodox opponent was nowhere to be found. For several hours, an enraged and humiliated Kojirō stormed the sands of the island's beach.
When Musashi finally arrived, he was carrying an elongated staff he had carved from the oar of a boat. Kojirō was brought down by a single strike to the head as Musashi side stepped a slash from his opponent's blade. A powerful thrust to the sternum crushed the renowned swordsman's chest.
What is significant is that Musashi did not bring a sword to fight a swordsman. Some would say he brought an oar. I would go further than that. It did not matter what Musashi brought. He brought his mind. He brought his self control. As he approached the infuriated Kojirō, legend has it Musashi taunted him by saying "You have already lost." There is truth there. When a man becomes so enraged that he acts on his anger rather than in a methodical manner to accomplish the task at hand, he has lost.
In his later years, Musashi studied Buddism and became an author and artist. His most widely read work, Go Rin No Sho, is still a relevant treatise on the way of the warrior. A passage reads "In strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different from normal. Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm."
I did not use my two pistols as Musashi used two swords. I shot them one at a time, trying to pare away any superfluous movement or pretense. Like the 1911 itself, it is Musashi's singularly simple but effective manner of stripping away the unnecessary flourishes to arrive at the elemental purpose of the actions needed that makes him relevant to me.
Labels: Range Journal