Is There Such a Thing as Universal Wisdom?

When people start talking about universal truths I get antsy and start using words and phrases like dogma, penny wisdom and fortune cookie prophet.  The search for universal truths between and among a given group of viewpoints often leads to the lowest common denominator.  To quote Emerson,

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

And yet…

My devotion to the fighting arts compels me to look for universal truths.  What prompted this post was a conversation I had with a friend about a video starring the very impressive Doug Mercaida.   In said video, Doug makes some excellent points about training with realism, and I liked what he had to say.  What I didn’t care for is the grip that was displayed in the video.  As you can see by the below montage, the grip is rather loose.

Yes, I understand that their knives have retention rings, and that helps them avoid losing grip of the knife altogether.  But in my mind, even that is kind of an issue.

There are two universal truths I have arrived at in weapon training.  (1) Train with a readily available weapon, and (2) Hold on to your weapon with a death grip.  In the event you have to arm yourself from your surroundings, you need to be able to use what you find.  99% of knives you find in the real world will not have retention rings.  And anyone who trains with real force against heavy bags and forging posts quickly learns a death grip on the knife is required to avoid cutting yourself, especially if you stab.

I’m not dissing Doug — he and his team have wicked flow! — I’m just looking for those universal truths.  Maybe all I’ve found is the lowest common denominator of practical weaponry and a firm grip.

Yesterday I shared a story told about the Desert Fathers.  I shared it because it seemed so universal. It reads as though it might have been written by a Buddhist.   All the wisest men — the Christian and Gnositc Desert Fathers, Buddhist monks, and even the greatest martial artists like Musashi who wrote The Book of Five Rings while in seclusion — very much prize the ability to divorce themselves from attachments.  That’s another universal truth for me.

“Generally speaking, the Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.”  

~Miyamoto Musashi

What does Musashi say about about grip?

“As you cut an enemy you must not change your grip, and your hands must not “cower.”  Above all, you must be intent on cutting the enemy in the way you grip the sword.”

~Miyamoto Musashi

Maybe there are no universal truths.  People are really good at seeing patterns where there are none.  Who am I to think I’m above being deceived?

And yet…

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