“People think that the most important moments in swordsmanship come after the swords have crossed, but this is nothing but the leaves and branches of the art. You should know that the most important time comes before the sword has been drawn, or the hand has grasped the hilt.
You should understand the meaning of this well.
For example, a firearm is something that can pierce solid armor and is naturally something to be feared. But its piercing solid armor is really the last part of the process. If you should ask why this is, it is because when the aim is true, the ball pierces the armor, but if the aim is not true, it is all for naught. Thus, one must clearly understand that the most fearsome matter of a firearm comes before the ball is ever fired.
I wonder if you can understand this.”
- From the Joseishi Kendan, by Joseishi Matsura Seizan (1760-1841), trans. by William Scott Wilson.