It is said that the ninja uses the juxtaposition of falsehood and truth (kyo-jitsu ten-kan ho) as one of his options for winning. Ostensibly this is translated as presenting truth as falsehood and falsehood as truth. This seems obvious as a ninjutsu tactic. If you are strong, appear weak to trick an adversary into underestimating you. If you are weak, imitate strength, and perhaps a dangerous adversary might choose to avoid you.
But there is a deeper significance beyond the simplistic presentation of kyo-jitsu ten-kan ho.
”Kyo” as falsehood can imply a sort of illusion or self-delusion. This is a wobbly state of incomplete spiritual strength. We want to believe we are competent and capable. We cultivate the outward signs of ability, to the point where we come to hope and believe in those outer imitations as though they were rock-solid truth. How many times in life have you deceived yourself in terms of what your actual motivations were, as opposed to what your true knowledge is?
The ninja can confuse and distract and divert and discourage his enemies by tapping into his adversaries’ kyo tendencies. How can we arrange it to where our adversaries’ secret doubts, conflicted wishes, hoped-for strategies get in his way? How can we cause him to spend more energy navigating his inner world than responding effectively to outer threats?
Opposite of kyo is “jitsu” as truth. An important part of victory is to bring yourself into the jitsu state. You are clear, honest, direct, and above weakness. From there you know how to put your opponent in the kyo state, where they are confused and vulnerable. In a sneaky way, you direct them away from their strengths. Knowing exactly your strengths and weaknesses, accepting those unemotionally, and continuously working on building up weaknesses and enhancing strengths is a part of the jitsu reality.