Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stack the Deck

The Vikings vs Finns post illustrates the difference in tactical choices between a highly armed, superior force and a smaller, weaker one. The Finns take their stuff and run for the forests, fighting guerrilla style - hit and run, from cover - as the Vikings retreat with whatever booty they have managed to pillage. Not sure about their magical ability to create storms of course, but nice timing all the same. They menace, in sight, from the shore to make sure the invaders don't land again.

About 800 years later, my father did military service, as did (and do) pretty much all men in Finland. He was basically taught to fight guerrilla style - hide, fight and run, using the natural environment, trees and snow, as cover - The best option for an out-manned and out-gunned force, which Finland with a population about 5 million (that's half the population of London living in a country the size of Italy), will always be.
The most famous Finnish example of this, of course, is The Winter War, when the Finns took on Stalin's invading army and succeeded in pushing them back despite all odds.  

How does this little excursion into Finnish history relate to dueling you might ask ....? After all is it not hard to equate a full scale war or straight out ambush with 2 parties facing off (unless they have friends and are not interested in 'honor' and a matching of skills of course .....)?
Well, the underlying connecting piece, at least to me, is this - Fighting from a level playing field is always undesirable, regardless of if you start 'even', or worse. Even if your skills are in theory better than your opponent, Murphy's Law always plays a part, so the common thread in all these examples is the necessity to stack the deck in your favor.
Of course some may consider this unfair, or call it 'cheating' ... but usually only if they lose.

Ways to do this -

- Increase your level of protection 
Hide in the forest, lie in the snow unseen, have a great defense, be out of range

- Be able to see, and seize the moment when it comes
The enemy is exposed (in a clearing), trapped (in the forest), or at a disadvantage (no exit)

- Deception [Mental, physical, and emotional.]
Intimidation/fear, feigned weakness, surprise, confusion, uncertainty/certainty

None of this is new. Strategists have written about it through the ages. The way Sonny said it was
Don't get hit. Learn to see. Tell a lie.

- First part is about you, your strengths, weaknesses, the best way to move and keep yourself protected.

- The second part about the 'you and them situation' (as Luo De Xiu would say), range, angle, timing, rhythm.

- Third part is about them .... perhaps a little about you, and the you and them situation, but mostly about who they are. You are deceiving them, not yourself, and if you are too much stuck in yourself, you cannot affect change in them. Some human psychology is pretty universal, but some, especially in a dueling situation is very particular to your opponent.

..... And of course there is always luck/witchcraft, but that you can only influence ... maybe ... Certainly not rely on .... :-)

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