“All warfare is based on deception…”

A good measure of intelligence is how early a child figures out how to lie.

Caught Red-handed

My mom loves telling a story about the time when I was 3 or 4, and she caught me with a cookie. I immediately put the guilty hand behind my back.

(If she can’t see it anymore, I’m no longer in trouble!)

She says, “What is that behind your back?! Show me what you have, there.” I reach back with my other hand, hold the cookie with that hand, and show her the original hand.

Fortunately my hand-ploy was so ridiculous that she wound up laughing instead of punishing me for trying to lie. (But she sure knew I was sneaky, though.)


I played soccer until about 4th grade, and I loved taking penalty shots. Favorite thing about the whole sport.

It’s just me and the goalie. It’s my job to sink the shot, and the only thing between me and the goal is that kid right there.

Enter: the fake out

I realized if I was too obvious about where I was aiming, the goalie would have too much of a heads up. So, I’d try my hardest to not broadcast my intention, and that worked pretty well.

Then I asked myself, “What if I don’t just ‘not broadcast’ my intentions, but actively broadcast false intentions?!” Bingo!

Humans have evolved these dark pupils & irises set against big white eyes. This makes it easy for another primate to know exactly where you’re looking, which is useful for non-verbal communication, to know where your fellow hunter is looking, and know which direction danger is coming when someone is locked on a threat. Thisn’t a conscious process; it’s in there on an evolutionary level.

That also means, if I looked at one side of the goal without looking too interested in it, I knew the goalie would assume that’s the direction I was going without even thinking about it.

Add into that I’d make sure to lean the opposite direction too. Everything said the same thing (I’m going right!), except what actually happened (ball went left).

Too Honest

Unfortunately, it seems most martial arts teachers have grown up, and are still about as deceptive as 3 kids in a trench coat.


People like to talk about a dynamic situation as being “the moment of truth,” which couldn’t be any more wrong if they tried. Your opponent is attacking you. They are violating your most precious rights; and you’re going to make it as easy for them to destroy you by being utterly incapable of guile?

Why don’t you hand your wallet to the next stranger you meet?

Deception is difficult. It really is. It doesn’t come naturally to most people. If anyone suspects you of cheating at a game, that mark sticks with you forever. You’re not invited back to play marbles if you steal (which is to lie about ownership).

So, we have evolved to be remarkably honest creatures; liars are the exception, not the rule.

But, if someone is attacking you, they’re already proving to you that they don’t play by the standard social rules. All socialized niceties go out the window; including honesty.

So, you have a moral obligation to defend yourself, and lying to your opponent is one of the most effective skills you can employ to achieve that goal.

Time Frame

You don’t have to wait until punches are thrown to lie, either. You can lie the instant you know you can’t trust someone. Don’t trust ’em? Why are you going to give them the truth they can leverage against you?

“…Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” ~Sun Tzu

The only person you have to honest with all the time is yourself.

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