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Sparring>Tactics>Entering the void

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Entering the void

Intro

As a fight proceeds, the fighters tend to stay at their personal fighting range, which creates a void between the fighters that is dangerous to enter. At some point, a fighter decides to seize the initiative and deliver an effective attack before the opponent can defend against it. To do this, the fighter must first enter this void. During this moment of entry, the fighter is vulnerable.

Entering the void

The legendary Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi referred to this initial movement as "entering the void"; moving through time and space where nothing is known. To Musashi the void was death, and for him, as for all samurai, death was not something to be feared or cherished, for any attachment to it would lead to errors in attitude and action. One who "enters the void" must accept the consequences, such as the possibility that the opponent is ready and waiting for an attack.

In a fight, each opponent waits for the other to commence an attack, watching movements, and looking for openings. The result is hesitation, indecision, and usually a failed attack or defense. Actions and reactions should be instantaneous. As the Zen master, Takuan Soho wrote almost 400 years ago:
"There is such a thing as an interval into which not even a hair can be put. . . When you clap your hands and, just at that instant, let out a yell, the interval between clapping your hands and letting out a yell will not allow the entrance of a hairsbreadth. . . This is not a matter of clapping your hands, thinking about yelling, and then doing so, which would result in there being an interval in between. You clap your hands and, just at that instant, let out a sound.
. . . In just the same way, if the mind stops with the sword with which a man is going to strike you, there will be an interval, and your own action will be lost. But if in the interval between your opponent's striking sword and your own action you cannot introduce even the breadth of a hair, your opponent's sword should become your own."
In The Unfettered Mind, Soho wrote that an attack must come without a thought preceding it. For the thought betrays the attack.
"When the mind stops, it will be grasped by the opponent. On the other hand, if the mind contemplates being fast and goes into quick action, it will be captured by its own contemplation."
As with everything else fighter do in the ring, they must train for entering the void. They must use all they have learned about fighting to overcome any hesitation or indecision and charge into the void with the confidence they will prevail.

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