cut the enemy

January 23, 2023

You know that feeling, when you hear a quote, or an explanation of an idea and encompasses a set of values that you already held, or were close to verbalising, but didn’t? This happened to me the other day during a discussion with some folks from Bradfield. We were talking about note-taking methodology, and how to interact with them.

I always held an opinion it does not matter how - I cycle through tools, there’s always a flavor-of-the month text editor (shout out to Obsidian, rest in peace), and generally I always come back to the fact that it does not really matter what you use. The tool needs to make you interact with knowledge, or retrieve it successfully. Nothing else matters in the process. Fancy features have always been just that, at best, distractions, at worst.

This time though, Oz posted a quote from “The Book of Five Rings” that made me feel like I finally have an artifact of wording this idea clearly and succinctly, with additional style of … Japanese sword martial art. Here goes:

“The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy’s cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him.”

I think about this often now. When approaching a task, solving a problem, coding the solution… Am I going for the cut?

Written by Daniel Kaczmarczyk, a software engineer and educator. you can find me on twitter or email me at

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