Was There A Real Murphy, And What Does Murphy’s Law Have To Do With The Martial Arts?

Murphy’s Law says ‘Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.’ Actually, there are other variations 7.62×39 surplus ammo of this precept, all concise and to the point. The real question, of course, is who is the Murphy behind this sage advice, and what does his postulate have to do with the Martial Arts.

Murphy’s Law supposedly came into existence with seafarers. Iron men found that during the course of wooden ship sailing, everything breaks. Thus, they practiced fixing everything so they could be prepared for when it did break.

In 1866, in a work titled ‘A supplement to the paradoxes,’ mathematician Augustus De Morgan made scientific reference of Murphy’s Law. He said, “…illustrates a truth of the theory, well confirmed by practice, whatever can happen will happen if we make trials enough.” His statement caused him to be considered (erroneously) Murphy.

The next reference to this principle of determined chaos comes from stage magician Nevil Maskelyne. Mr. Maskelyne held that, “It is an experience common to all men to find that, on any special occasion…everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Whether we must attribute this to…the total depravity of inanimate things…the fact remains.”

Still, we have not found the real culprit, the real Mr. Murphy behind this scientific assessment of life. We are getting close, however, when we examine a mountaineering manual by the esteemed Jack Sack. Mr. Sack, in an epigraph to the manual in question, stated that the law was an ancient mountaineering adage.

All the above noted, the real Mr. Murphy was actually Captain Ed Murphy, who worked at Wright Field Aircraft Lab. Frustrated with the wiring of a technician, Capt. Murphy stated, “If there is any way to do it wrong, he will.” This is the real Mr. Murphy, and his statement aligns with past descriptions of the dire prophecy of his law.

Now, the importance of this to the martial arts actually stems from military recognition of the law. Simply, war is hell, war is chaos, and if the soldier does enough drilling, he will do something, maybe even something having to do with his military drilling, if he drills enough. The generals know that ammo runs out, people shoot the wrong way, and that everything that can go wrong will go wrong, and that discipline is the only possible way to confront the dreadful chaos of war.

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