Posted by Matt Little on 14th Apr 2022

“Death never takes a wise man by surprise; he is always ready to go” – Jean de la Fontaine

Ai-Uchi is a concept in the classical martial arts of Japan that translates literally as “mutual strikes.” It means simultaneous defeat, where both combatants are struck decisively by the other in the same moment. This was reportedly a very common outcome in duels between Samurai, even the highly skilled.

When two skilled opponents fight with effectively lethal weaponry, both landing a fatal or incapacitating hit is very possible. Even if one survives, the cost of victory can easily be a wound one never quite recovers from. I, and every other veteran of extensive combat or active police work I know has injuries that never healed quite the same.

This simple fact is why those experienced at violence are not eager to enter into it unnecessarily. Once you truly understand how easy it is to be killed or seriously injured, regardless of your skill level, you reserve violence for when it is truly needed. Only the naïve or arrogant long for violence.

I’ll be the first to admit that I once did just that. I eagerly sought out life or death situations in order to test myself in their crucible. Now that I have thirty plus years of that in my past, I understand how many of my victories were due to luck and audacity rather than skill. I now feel no need to ever personally engage in violence again unless forced to, and would happily avoid it for the rest of my days.

The other effect this fact has on those with experience at violence is that they understand that you must always stack the deck in your favor. Once violence starts your response must be overwhelming and decisive. This can look excessive or brutal to the untrained eye.

This is the reality of conflict. To view it any way other than the truth is to invite serious injury or death. To understand this truth, and it’s implications, is to be truly prepared for violence if you’re forced to meet it head on.