The bamboo spear is a concept that was formed during the period of imperial expansion that Japan underwent during the 20th century. Japanese warrior hood developed in many ways through the expression of individual warriors prowess and skill honing. The samurai class however was slowly phased out by the end of the 19th century, for the obvious reasons that they represented an entrenched, patrician warrior class, that needed to disappear to make way for a modern military system to take root. While modern systems of warfare still require training and skill building, they are more focused on putting a particular set of weapons into the hands of soldiers. These weapons are supposed to be the best available at any time and will give their soldiers an edge against any others.
Although the samurai class was formally disbanded in the 19th century, the fact that it left the corporeal world, meant that it could become the stuff ideal for fantasies and myth making, something that is essential in how any nation conjures up its warrior identities (something that you can understand if you consider the way George W. Bush asserted himself as a "war president." Because he also exuded a sort of cowboy aura, it almost made sense for him to be reckless and violent, and so his war mongering became more acceptable in its time because of the way he seemed to match the mythical images that Americans had about how they wage war). Once the samurai were no longer the sort of tyrant war lord class, they could become the heroes of ole, and as Japan modernized and became poised to join their Western rivals in acquiring an empire, the spirit of the samurai underwent a transformation whereby all Japanese could now claim to possess it. This is not a unique sort of adaptation, but a sort of gesture that takes place in all national formation.
This became very important as Japan sought to expand its empire. The early victories of Japan in the 20th century came against countries that were considered to be more advanced than Japan by world opinion, China and Russia, but in practical terms were hardly so. As Japan advanced further and further, they found that while the direct imperial interests of Europeans were waning in Asia, the interests of the US were increasing. The US held colonies in Guam and in the Philippines, and although their presence in both places was minimal (the US was training Filipinos and preparing to give the country its independence in the mid 1940's, and Guam was deemed an impossible to defend location and was simply abandoned to the Japanese in 1941), the US as a younger and more industrially robust nation, would be something Japan must be cautious about.
When the war began Japanese war planners knew that they would always be behind the US in terms of technology and the infrastructure of war. The US had the largest industrial economy in the world at the time, and if it was converted into a war time economy, Japan would have no hope of keeping up.
The Bamboo Spear is one of the philosophical ways that Japanese military strategist argued that they could keep pace with the ability of the US to wage war. Although the US was better technologically, they lacked the warrior soul of the Japanese. And in the minds of the Japanese and most philosophies of war, that soul was what won battles. If men had a determination and resolve stronger than steel, it did not matter if your opponents had weapons of steel while you fought with wood. The image of the Bamboo Spear was one that combined different archetypal elements of war from Japanese history. It on the one hand invoked the figure of the master of fighting, for whom anything can be a weapon, and who can defeat you before you can even think, because of his spiritual and mental superiority. It also however invoked a very anti-samurai image. The image of a lowly peasant fighting for everything with nothing more than a simple bamboo spear, but able to hold off seasoned and trained warriors, with not so much the weapon in his hand, but the strength and power of his soul. The Bamboo Spear brought together a formerly very elite notion of Japanese power into something that was very horizontal in its national appeal, something that claimed that the Japanese did haven't an inherent power that could help them win over their technologically advanced enemies.
As we know, things did not work out this way. The Japanese should have already known that the Europeans underwent a similar realization of the ways in which modern war is both inhuman and anti-human during World War I. The bravery that French, German and British soldiers showed along entrenched battlelines did little to nothing against the waiting bombs, chemical weapons and machine guns. The Bamboo Spear ideology pushed the Japanese to levels of sacrifice and self-sacrifice that I would argue are unequaled by any other country during World War II (although you could make arguments for China and Russia). They killed themselves in huge numbers and conducted suicide missions in huge numbers.
The reason that I chose “The Bamboo Spear” as the title of my blog is because I feel this is also related to the way that I play SC2.
In one way it is because I feel that so many people I play against are of such superior skill than me, that the only way I could win is if I somehow more “heart” than them. I certainly don’t micro better than them, I don’t macro better than them, and so my only chance is if somehow they play with less courage or resolve than me.
I also choose it because one of my favorite moves in a 4v4 monobattle is to sacrifice my units for one of my allies to get a better position. This is a common thing since unlike most people in 4v4s who turtle like crazy before moving out, I like to move out with small packs of units. Often times I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere with a clump of units and it can be more practical in that moment to sacrifice them, rather than try to retreat with them.
If a teammate has the superior unit but is in trouble, I have no qualms about tossing my poor units to die in order to keep my ally’s units alive, give them precious seconds to run away or to get in a few more hits. Julyzerg once said that what gave him the edge against his opponents was that he imagined himself in his units as they fought. Given the way that Julyzerg played in SC2, this may have been a very schizophrenic sort of mental exercise, since Julyzerg seemed to gleefully toss his poor zerg units into every kind of meat-grinder.
I sometimes throw away my units in the same way, but hopefully as part of some tactic or strategy for the good of the team. I have no problem wielding the bamboo spear if it means that the guy with the machine gun can use those critical moments to get into position and slaughter the enemy.