Hannibal, Aikido and Casanova

Bear with me, please. I’m trying, right now, to analyze Hannibal’s phenomenal skill at winning battles. And I’m trying to find parallels in other areas of life.

It occurs to me that Hannibal had some things in common with this Aikido Black Belt:

It further occurs to me that Hannibal had his way with the Romans rather as Casanova had his way with about 120 women.

You use the force of the opponent, rather than your own, to win. That seems to be the trick. This may or may not be obvious when looking at battle diagrams of Hannibal’s great victories, such as this one at Cannae:

I’m desperately looking for other examples or refinements of this idea. Any hints will be gratefully received. If you think I’ve gone bananas, please suggest remedies.

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7 thoughts on “Hannibal, Aikido and Casanova

  1. Sorry for the graffiti (previously) . I often got in trouble at school for making these sorts of remarks. Anyhoo, in terms of refinement, The Art of War comes to mind. There are lessons for what to do if your enemy is greater, fewer, etc. The Isreali Air Force in the late 1970s was considered to be the finest in the world, but certainly not the largest. I’m out of my depth here, but I like to think about it.

  2. Actually, the battle diagram also looks like a smiley face from one side and a frowny face from the other. And from the appropriate sides, no less!
    I’ve got the Art of War next to me and will browse a bit. What I’m really hoping for (because that’s the promise of every chapter in the book) is to extend the principle (ie, use your opponent’s force to overcome him/her/it) to non-martial, everyday situations. Love, business, negotiation, politics….

  3. The only image I’m coming up with is that of tug-of-war wherein one side might suddenly let go of the rope. Unfortunately, in this example, the side that lets go loses. This captures the physics of the Aikido falls, but not the victory. It might be satisfying to lose in this way.

  4. Not sure if this is relevant, but last year I walked from Calais to Venice, including those pesky Alps. I was following in the footsteps of a man named Thomas Coryat, the first “grand tourist” – approximately 150 years before the Grand Tourists. I blogged the journey as well…(blogging wasn’t dead last year):


    Of course what I’m getting at is perhaps Hannibal invented tourism…just a thought. Liked your Economist piece. Blogged it, actually.


  5. Thanks very much for the link, Robin. Your walking trip sounds fascinating.

    You don’t seem to have a “Thomas Coryat” label in your side bar. How would I be able to read your despatches from that trip?

    This also reminds me of the biography of Meriwether Lewis that I just read. That’s the Lewis in Lewis & Clark. He kept a journal of his trip. And so, now, did you.

    And yes, at least part of the way, you would have unknowingly trod in the footsteps of Hannibal and his elephants.

  6. My dispatches are by location, they follow Tom’s route day by day, and are linked on the right hand side just a little way down the scroll. Will sort out my Coryat links though, thanks for reminder. The project isn’t over yet: still have the Rhine.

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