This concept applies on many levels. On an archway in the Chinese Lan Su Garden in Portland there is an inscription that reads “listen to the fragrance”. The intent is to remind the visitor to use all of their senses to experience the garden fully; to feel the texture of the sculpted granite flooring underfoot, to smell the fragrances of the flowers, to see the beautiful vistas framed through the architecture and to listen to the the birdsong mingling with the exterior noise of the city. Our senses are weapons we commonly discard on a daily basis; one secret of flow and impact is to employ all of our them as much of the time as possible, gaining the most from each instant, grounding us in the moment and fueling intuition to sense a hazard or seize an opportunity.
On a more contemporary note, the most commonly seen accoutrement these days is the smartphone. Walk down any city street and you will see us all wired-in to our device, occupied with some i-task, neglecting the lessons of the Lan Su garden. Our phones are powerful allies in life's combat, however we commonly miss the opportunity to deploy the weapons they offer; worse, we implement the features that distract us, adding "noise" and suppressing "signal" . The smartphone is such a wonderful weapon to mitigate the mundane and stimulate the creative, yet we don't explore its potential, often preferring to stay with our habitual patterns of use. I have heard people repeatedly express "oh, I don't use my phone for that", meaning that they prefer to use it for messages, games and selfies. Not that there is anything wrong with entertainment—it's important—but the wealth of other possibilities for communicating, learning, listening and creating begs exploration.
In two of life’s most important areas—decision-making and negotiation—we routinely throw away our available weapons. As Chip and Dan Heath's book “Decisive” illustrates , we all-too-often make decisions on the basis of poorly founded predictions or options that are too narrow. Weapons here include our ready access to information via the internet--for example trends in historical data that can be used to more reliably predict the future--or, the simple realization that two-choice, either/or, options should be avoided, there are always other possible solutions to be considered. In the case of negotiation, our BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Outcome ) is a routinely overlooked device. Neglecting to recognize and build our BATNA is throwing away the most potent weapon in any negotiation situation, yet it is not intuitive for us to spend time strengthening this.
On the most immediate, physical and brutal level this principle means that in a violent confrontation all weapons should be sought and used. Even the most adept martial arts master should not rely solely on trained limbs but seek every potential weapon to-hand. For example in bar fights, tables, chairs or glasses can all be used; anything on the ground—rocks, sticks, cables, bricks—is also a potential weapon; unarmed combat should only be attempted if there’s no other resort. Remaining on the physical level, the whole body should be used to accelerate and drive any strike. Most people punch using their arms and kick using their legs, however these are just the agents of delivery. The real weapons are the body’s core, the large muscles in the legs and back, and the ligaments that can be stretched to fire a blow. Aligning all these to hit harder is really using all your weapons; ignoring their utility is tantamount to discarding the scabbard.
1. Musashi versus Kojiro
2. YouTube - Using a scabbard offensively