Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A short primer on the Art of Strategy

It's easy sometimes to talk about what is the difference between various martial arts. But what they all seem to have in common is that each one is a peculiar model of a subset of the Art of Strategy. This is the nearly-mystic field of study epitomized by Sun Tzu's Art of War and Musashi's Five Rings, as well as some modern texts like Greene's 48 Laws of Power. Most any martial art you can think of is really just a set of concrete examples of some subset of the Art of Strategy. A very good text that makes all this strategic talk more concrete in the context of martial arts is Morgan's Living the Martial Way.
The following are some concepts that are useful to define and understand if you want to understand the Art of Strategy or whatever subset thereof that your particular martial art represents. I'm planning on talking some more in some upcoming posts on some topics surrounding these concepts.
  • Objective - your goal or desired end result. This may be anything ranging from destruction of the enemy to subjugation and control to simple self-preservation.
  • Doctrine (A.K.A. presuppositions, assumptions, worldview) – how you believe the world works. The way you believe things work affects your rational choice of strategy.
  • Strategy – (A.K.A. grand tactics) broad, general, or long-term goals or action plans that support your objectives based on your doctrine.
  • Principles – rules of thumb that govern which tactics are chosen to implement strategy.
  • Tactics – what you do in the short term to move toward your strategy.
  • Techniques – named models or examples of commonly-occurring tactical movements.
  • Effectiveness (A.K.A. proficiency) – Your ability to use your techniques, tactics, and strategies to create or tend toward your objective. Effectiveness is typically an objective consideration of whether you do or do not achieve your objective.
  • Efficiency - your ability to effect your objective with minimal expenditure of some chosen resources. Efficiency is often a subjective consideration.

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