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Invincibility vs Invulnerability

If you look at yourself or an opponent up and down the body, what do you see that can not be made to feel pain, to bleed?  What do you see that is not vulnerable?  The answer should be nothing.  Everyone is vulnerable, everyone bleeds, and everyone dies. Combat is a contest of who decisively gets to whose vulnerability first. Thus feelings of invulnerability is the “pride that goeth before a fall and haughty spirit that goeth before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18).

While invulnerability is an illusion, there is something real that is similar and appears to many as being invulnerable.  This real concept is what gong fu practitioners call invincibility. This invincibility comes through humility.  It is the humble and aware acknowledgement of one’s inherent vulnerability and then effectively adapting to counter any attempts to strike at these vulnerabilities. Invincibility comes from effective adaptation.  Adaptability is the supreme quality for being effective in live application against dynamic forces.  This adaptability is a combination of being aware and attentive to what your enemy is doing while creatively exploiting whatever they choose to do.

“Invincibility is found within oneself; vulnerability is in the opponent” Sun Zi from the Art of War

This refers to the fact that you can be prepared, but that the opponent must make themselves vulnerable through their over ambition to get to your vulnerability. While you can tempt them into this, ultimately, they must choose.  The inherent advantage of the light natured martial artist as opposed to the dark natured attacker is the balance of their psyche.  Life is enough for the martial artist, they do not need to conquer others to be satisfied with life, life is enough for them.  Attackers are inherently out of balance and thus aggressive on a fundamental level, they must consume, life and the natural harmonious growth it offers is never enough for them and so they are inherently apt to lose patience because of their distorted sense of ambition and entitlement.

“The flow of water is determined by the earth; the flow of the military is determined by the opponent. In the same way that water avoids the high and seeks the low, an effective military avoids the full and strikes the empty of their opponent.” Sun Zi from the Art of War

This refers to custom fitting your solution to your enemy, to make the problem the answer.  It is about truly operating as water.  Water is the interesting combination of rigidity and flexibility.  Everyone focuses on the flexibility, that is true, but most miss the rigidity.  Water is immovably determined about its course, its polarity, its goal.  It will always flow from high to low, you cannot change its mind.  Yet after that it is purely flexible about how and when it gets there, thus embodying the perfect balance of powerful determination on one hand along with effective adaptability and patience on the other. Being like water is the supreme metaphor to understand how to be invincible in combat. It takes careful study and training to consistently apply this in combat and life.

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