Last week Jamie and Adam in Mythbusters tested out an old samurai saying:
"The one who moves first, loses"
The way they tested it was by using whacking each other in the head with shinais while wearing kendo protecting gear. The one to start was selected by random, and the other has to react as quick as possible to try to be the first to hit the other persons head.
I don't believe this is what the saying meant. Usually these types of saying has some philosophical meaning. For instance, karate was never meant to be a martial art to beat people up. It's for self defence, which means you are not intended to do the first move.
And yes, I know, samurai's didn't know karate but rather kendo and judo/ju-jitsu, and some other martial arts (please correct me if I'm wrong). But testing this myth with already drawn swords with two novice kendo practitioners, that had only learned the basics of one strike, is not really the way of testing this myth. Although I'm not really sure how to do it either.
In a kata I got to try out during an aikido training, one person was supposedly the student, doing big swings with the bokken, and the other being the teacher, tapping every attack out of the way and "winning" at the end. In this case the first person to move didn't win, but actually reinforces the samurai saying.
I would love for Mythbusters to revisit this myth and get more in to the root of the samurai way and their martial arts to get a more accurate understanding of this myth, and perhaps they'll get another result?
Picture from the Mythbusters episode.