Violent Minimalism

Still.  Preparation.
The abyss: no quarter gave.
True to path.  None sought.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Our preparation and practice defines us. One of the greatest tenets I have learned is how we do the little things is how we are going to do the big things because the Devil, they say, is in the details. Graham Combat embraces the details and has repackaged it into our Haiku Drills. In order to fully understand our Haiku Drills I have to set the ground work for what they are, where they came from, and why we do them.

What Haiku drills are is our individual “dry practice” time – our time to sharpen – and it comes from the Japanese form of poetry that utilizes the 5-7-5 form. I translate that structure onto the physical space of the range: the space, within your lane, from the 5 yard line to the 7 yard line and back again. I start each class day with Haikus. It is a self-guided block of time in which you choose where you want to focus your preparation and practice: it may be the draw and presentation of the pistol, presentation and sight alignment of your carbine, refining your trigger press, or working through your movement and shifting. All dry. All slow for form. All detail work.

The main reason to practice Haiku Drills is you are the master of your destiny and I have found, as your teacher, the things that you think are necessary to your preparation and practice aren’t always the things that I can see or discern. One of the reasons I enjoy reading traditional Japanese Haiku poetry is what it requires of me: there is more story in the words that are not written than in the words that are. As the reader I become the equal of the writer. As much as the writer had to pare away to achieve minimalism, the reader has to build to make it complete. Equal footing. On the range there is only so much work that I can do with you from the outside: your equally important work comes from within. The Haiku time is your time to prepare, to practice, to refine. It is a block of “unstructured” structure time. Your lane, your time, your work.

Haiku drills drive to the essence of what we are doing; all wasted movement cut, all wasted effort gone, until just the finished piece remains. It is violent minimalism. It is time spent in the details – learning the Devil, and time spent in refinement – harnessing him. It is the you now, in search of perfection, meeting the you performing it. Perfect preparation and perfect practice. It is a time where you, alone, get to celebrate your perfect presentation, your perfect sight picture, or your perfect movement. It is where you get the benefit of knowing what right feels like, and how to get there again. It is in your preparation and your practice that you separate yourself from them. It is the defining characteristic of the professional. It is where you become you.

So spend time sharpening your axes because you don’t get to pick your trees.