10th Tenet – Never Engage in Battles With Weaker Opponents
10th Tenet of the Code
In the late 1990s some men from the Western Region (the Bay area around San Francisco) created an ark which contained 15 different pieces of wood, one for each tenet. Each stick was made of a specific type of wood and bore a specific design that reflected the way in which the men of the Western Region related to the tenets of the Code of Honor. The ark has since made its way throughout North America and men throughout MDI have had the opportunity to connect with it. I had the opportunity to safe guard it for a while and was moved to write a little about my relationship to each tenet. What follows is the second installment of my reflections on the tenets of the Code.
The Wood chosen to symbolize this tenet is Cottonwood – The trunk of the cottonwood is used in the Lakota Sioux’ sacred Sun Dance ceremony. In the Sun Dance, the Lakota warrior relinquishes any battles he has with weaker opponent and takes on the strongest of all foes, his own fears, as a sacrifice to his people.
The Symbol chosen to embody this tenet is Water – One of the most receptive of all elements, water will take on solid rock as its opponent and with persistence, eventually wear it away to nothing.
Definitions – The dictionary has no less than 18 different variables under the word weak. Suffice it to say that the definitions are broad enough to cover virtually any type of opponent.
On the surface the logic behind this tenet is simple. There is no honor in battle, whether you win or lose if your opponent is obviously weaker than you. But what makes an opponent weaker? Children are obvious examples of weaker opponents in every sense of the word. But what about women? Obviously engaging in physical contact with a woman would violate this tenet, but what about a battle of wills? Is there really any honor in such a battle even if you were to win?
Therefore, ask yourself a question when you find yourself about to engage in a battle. Is this a worthy opponent? Is this someone who will make me stronger from the battle or am I merely engaged to satisfy my ego, quell my anger, and assert my power?
In many martial arts, combatants are trained to use the strength or weight of their opponents against them. In many strategic battles out manned troops will prevail by going directly into the stronghold of their enemy. Often where we feel the strongest we are most vulnerable. Because it is where we are the least vigilant.
I often watch my two dogs play with each other. One is an 80 pound Labradoodle, who is seven years old. The other is a two year-old, 40 pound Springer spaniel. The spring will be relentless at nipping at the bigger dog’s heels and continually goading him until the bigger dog has had enough and then starts playing rough and physically dominating the smaller dog. At that point the little dog does a very simple thing; he lies on his back and exposes his belly. The bigger dog stops immediately and goes back to sleeping in the sun. Of the two I consider the Springer to be stronger not physically but in his ability to know when he is in over his head and give in. Conversely the Labradoodle will just keep going and going until he is exhausted or hurts himself, which he does often.
So it is not always in size or physical prowess that the temerity o you opponent can be measured. It is in the degree in which they know themselves.
Before you engage in any battle, look your opponent in the eye. Look deep into their soul. Honor their strength, expose your weakness, and then let the games begin.