Saturday, January 11, 2014


If I had a magic wand that would enable me to instantly bestow a high level of (martial arts) skill upon my students, I would use it for kindling. I have mentioned this to some of my students over the years and they're always surprised. “Why?” they ask. “Why wouldn't you use it?”
“Because acquisition of high physical skill must be accompanied by an equally high level of discipline and spirit,” I tell them. “And it is the struggle for the skill that makes us strong.”

Martial skill in and of itself is very nice but believe it or not, it's not really the entire goal. The struggle; the discipline, the effort and pain and sacrifice that it takes to achieve high skill is, I believe, the most important thing. It is only through this special forge and tempering process that we can truly come to understand and develop ourselves.

As in the art of kyudo (Japanese archery), the goal is not necessarily to hit the bull's eye. To a Westerner, this would seem nonsensical. But as I mentioned in an earlier writing, we tend to see (Eastern) things through Western eyes. This distorts our vision. We are not seeing truly (which is different from not truly seeing).

No, the object in kyudo and in all of the martial ways is to perfect every aspect of the outer movements. This must naturally lead to perfection of the internal aspects as well. Perfection of the self. And if you hit the bull's eye from time to time, that's nice. But stop trying to hit it. Pay attention to how you're standing, how you're breathing, what your mind is doing (or not doing).

Do it perfectly. You'll understand when you get there.

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