Part Four of the Support Elements series.
Miyamoto Musashi is arguably the most famous Japanese swordsman in history. Innumerable books, comics, and other media have been produced with him as the protagonist. Feel free to listen to Jocko Willink’s podcast with Tim Ferris for many of the references herein, and more.
One account tells of Musashi arriving late to a duel. The narrator concludes that his opponent, while prepared by being on time for the duel, had only just begun to prepare his spirit for combat.
On the other hand, Musashi had stopped along the way to strike up a conversation with a priest and took time for tea. His spirit was already prepared for combat and even for the possibility of death.
This is the essence of maintaining a support element. Whether it be staying hydrated or training or studying, you must do them all before you need it. You will always fall back on your preparation and training, especially when things go wrong.
Once, when questioned about his education in the martial arts, Musashi explained:
Since making up his mind to study in earnest, he had taken as his teacher everything in the universe. “I’ve had no teacher in the traditional sense,” he says. He picked up a few points from the older samurai. He also spent some time traveling about the countryside learning from the mountains and the rivers – “I regard those too as teachers.”
A mentor of mine, Elliot Hulse, told me, Every master was once a disaster. Before we can be skilled and proficient at anything, we must first be awkward and ignorant of it entirely.
It was said of Musashi himself,
“His writing has a certain childish quality, but there’s an appealing – what can I say? – directness about it. If I had a swordsman in mind, I would say it shows spiritual breadth. The boy may eventually be somebody.”
– Musashi, A Samurai Novel
Musashi was young, and he even admitted that he was “always making blunders.” But it was his disastrous past that gave his lifelong path wider breadth.
Today, we have an abundance of teachers and coaches available to us. Many people provide incredible content for free online.
The following are all YouTube account links, and contain thousands of hours of content:
…Just to list my favorites.
You can also find teachers in the past.
Musashi himself found teachers in unconventional mediums. We can obtain a wealth of knowledge and practical experience through studying the lives of others, their experiences. We can also learn from their mistakes.
It doesn’t have to be biographies. Even the fictional work of the great writers can be of use to us. You will find your own style in the works of others. Do not be embarrassed to take upon yourself their voices.
Even I can attest that I write these words for your gain. I want to share my experiences and my disastrous past so that you may find a better path.
We live in a content-rich world. We have it better in that regard than any generation before us. Take full advantage of it.