The European Historical Combat Guild

Investigating Europe's Historical combative methods and behaviours

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

More Eyes

This is from the Japanese text The Sword and The Mind translated by Hiroaki Sato
This work is a synthesis of the ideas of 3 swordsmen of the 16th in to the 17th Centuries, Hidetsuna, Muneyoshi and Munenori

"Give special attention to the movement of your opponent's eyes. It is even said that you must make it your own. Unless you can follow your opponent's eye movements with absolute calm, whatever you may have learned about sword handling will be of no use."

While one could apply a more open or vague interpretation to this, for me the intent is pretty clear.


  1. Sharing this from the Guilds open forum
    In Aikido they talk about the danger of looking into the opponents eyes, because "he may steal your heart". Instead your should stare blankly through the opponent and not fix your eyes on anything specific.

    As aikido evolves from the samurai tradition, I believe the text could be saying something relating to that. For instance that you should be aware of the risk of being "taken" by the opponents eyes, if you are not completely calm inside.

    In other words, it's an awareness battle that ultimately settles in your movements in the fight, whichever way you focus. I'm not sure your awareness as such is dependent on physical eye contact - even though I stress it myself in training. But I think we should have our eyes open for different awareness perspectives - so to speak.


    1. Perhaps
      Given that the writings here and Aikido are separated by over 200 years and are stemming from different Ryu, the reference while interesting in itself, doesn't really help in the point here.

      The key part to me is

      "Unless you can follow your opponent's eye movements with absolute calm"

      As a tool using eyes a reference point is both normal and easy, the drawing of the eye away to other things, is a sign certainly in learning of conscious dissonance, the intellect trying to control what is happening. Think of looking at persons whose eye constantly move from one plac to another, the state of mind thy would be in.
      I'll agree that one dosnøt have to have the reference point of the eyes for awareness, but it certainly helps.

      I also am never that convinced of the various issues that form around "if you look at their eyes they can affect you, deceive you etc..." Yes they can, but as with anything, only if you allow it...

      The difference is that of looking and seeing ...