/ kung-fu

Let Go of the Hilt

WARNING: Contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. If you haven't seen the movie yet, stop reading this post and go see it. Bonus: Come back to this post after you've seen it.

There is a scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi where Rey and Kylo Ren are fighting Snoke's praetorian guards in the throne room of the Supreme Leader. After dispatching a number of these guards, Rey ends up locked in battle with one of them, using Kylo Ren's lightsaber to fend off an attack from the praetorian guard's melee weapon. As they struggle to gain the advantage in this stalemate, Rey does something unexpected - she drops Kylo's lightsaber, allowing the guard to have the upper hand. She then grasps it again as it falls, dodging the assault of the guard and winning the battle.

Students of the Sinking Moon School of Kung Fu probably recognized this technique - we call it "Letting go of the hilt". In fact, as this stalemate became apparent, I actually whispered "let go of the hilt" right before Rey did just that. The idea is that, instead of continuing down a path that isn't working, it's better to change your strategy swiftly and suddenly, even if it means giving your opponent the upper hand temporarily. If you're fast enough, and committed enough, you can utilize your opponent's surprise at giving up to catch them off guard, and come back with a counterattack.

Hesitation is the death of advantage.

  • Victoria Schwab

Note that the key to this is being committed to the strategy, once you've made the choice to change. In other words, as soon as you decide to go with your opponent's movements, you must know what you're going to do next in order to be successful.

This concept isn't unique to Wu Chi Kung Fu. Ancient Samurai, upon which the Jedi are modeled (at least partially), taught this technique as well. The key to it is to be confident enough in your abilities to have absolute certainty that you can overcome your opponent once you commit to the strategy.