Archive for May, 2009

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell

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The Kyohon, which speaks in terms of modern kyudo, states on page 9, The key to Kyudo is both sincerity and courteousness. It is of more value to be sincere than to win against others. When we practice, it is very important to keep this in mind and to have real belief and courage to make it work.

The Kyohon goes on to state, in regard to correct attitude in the performance of shooting, on page 28 that all the movements (Kikyo-Shintai) should obey the criterion of shooting, expressing sincerity and dignity, not arrogance and indifference.

If we keep in mind the history of Kyudo, I think all can agree the Samuri were sincere as they stepped on the battlefield. The following story from Zen Buddhism and Its Influence on Japanese Culture, by D.T. Suzuki describes sincerity from a similar perspective.

Monk: I understand that when a lion seizes upon his opponent, whether it is a hare or an elephant, he makes an exhaustive use of his power: pray tell me what is this power?

Master: The spirit of sincerity (literally, the power of not-deceiving).

Sincerity, that is, not-deceiving, means “putting forth one’s whole being,” technically known as “the whole being in action”…in which nothing is kept in reserve, nothing is expressed under disguise, nothing goes to waste. When a person lives like this, he is said to be a golden-haired lion; he is the symbol of virility, sincerity, wholeheartedness; he is divinely human.

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In my studies, I ran across the following passage in Bow to Life: 365 Secrets from the Martial Arts for Daily Life by Joseph Cardillo. (pg 129) This is an excellent book, that brings much into perspective. My original post here had comments of my own, but I have since decided that any of my own thoughts detracted from the following message.

Your Way Is Your Way

Historically, the heart has been known as the primary organ of consciousness. In martial training this concept is known as Xin (heart consciousness). Xin is your open line to the Way. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the language of the Way is not English, German, Russian, French, Italian, Spanish, or the like. Its language is feeling: feeling what is truly in the pit of your heart-Xin. Joseph Campbell calls this “living from the heart” or “following your bliss.” Xin, however, doesn’t mean to live whimsically, and Campbell didn’t mean that either. Xin is a deep exploration of the heart to discover who you really are, the reason you are on this planet to begin with. Then, instead of going “outside” and gathering “things,” martial training emphasizes going “inside”. The more keenly you recognize and nurture what’s in your heart, the quicker and easier people, situations, events, and the like begin appearing in your life. Be present. Open your heart wherever you are. The secret is to be yourself- because you and the Way are one and the same.

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The martial arts divides the energies into the yin and yang and then further divides this in the five elements-water, wood, fire, earth, and metal.

The five element theory incorporates two cycles…

Generating or Creation cycle, where one element promotes the next one:

1. Water feeds wood, promoting growth potential. Water is vitality and grace. and is linked to the bladder.
2. Wood fuels fire, creating heat and energy. Wood is bone and sinew and linked to the liver and toxic processing.
3. Fire ash nourishes the earth, enabling it to sustain life. Fire is energy and agility and is linked to the heart and circulation.
4. Earth is center and stability, giving the other elements a place to use. From the earth comes metal. Earth is muscle strength and is linked to the stomach and digestion.
5. Metal is the combination of the elements, or result of them. Thus, creating either strong or weak metal. Strong metal can enhance or show weaknesses in the other elements. Mentally, metal is knowledge. It is linked to the lungs and respiration and elimination.

Overcoming or Destruction cycle, where one element exerts control, suppresses or inhibits the other:

1. Water cools fire
2. Fire tempers metal
3. Metal shapes wood
4. Wood growing penetrates the earth
5. Earth channels and controls water

Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings describes the five elements in regard to kendo. Blackwell Sensei pointed out that the five elements apply to kyudo as well. According to my notes, we can think in the following terms:

Wood-Kai and Nobia

Buddhisms’ five element theory replaces metal with void.

Bow to Life: 365 Secrets from the Martial Arts for Daily Life by Joseph Cardillo discusses the Five Element Theory in this manner:

Traditionally, martial arts (as well as Chinese medicine) offer the interplay between the five elements-metal, water, wood, fire, and earth-as a way of living. Each element represents a particular expression of Chi. Most dojos zero in on the constructive/creative and the destructive potential of each. This helps you to understand many subtler aspects of Universal Energy and to integrate them into your daily life. For example, metal liquefies into water, which produces wood, which produces fire, which produces earth, which sustains all life, and so on. Furthermore, for thousands of years, martial arts have taught that ultimately within any particular element each of the others can be found, and that such is the dance of life-“everything is part of everything else”, a banner that the most current of scientific research enjoys waving. Let such awareness enhance you by bringing you more contentment and clarity.

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One, One, One


The lamps are different,
But the Light is the same.
So many garish lamps in the dying brain’s lamp shop,
Forget about them.
Concentrate on essence, concentrate on Light.
In lucid bliss, calmly smoking off its own holy fire,
The Light strains toward you from all things,
All people, all possible permutations of good, evil, thought, passion.
The lamps are different,
But the Light is the same.
One matter, one energy, one Light, one Light-mind,
Endlessly emanating all things.
One turning and burning diamond,
One, one, one,
Ground yourself, strip yourself down,
To blind loving silence.
Stay there, until you see
You are gazing at the Light
With its own ageless eyes.

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In studying modern Kyudo, we consider there to be eight stages to shooting (Shaho-Hassetu). According to page 59 of the Kyohon, long ago, there were only the “Seven Ways” (Shichido). Since that time, Zanshin has been added in.

Within the Seven Ways of old are the “Five Tastes of the Seven Ways” (Gomi-Shichido). I understand the five flavors as “enhancing our shooting”, otherwise it is bland.

In my notes, I have these “five tastes” or “five flavors” (Gomi) listed as:

1. Metsuke (eye contact)
2. Hikikomi (pull)
3. Nobiai (expansion)
4. Hanare (release)
5. Mikomi (penetrating gaze)

If I correctly recall the context this discussion stemmed from, it was stressing the importance of mezukai. Note that the “five flavors” begins and ends with the eyes… metsuke to mikomi.

Never underestimate the use of the eyes throughout the practice of kyudo and I will venture one step further and say in life as well.

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A Moment to Pause

Bi Toku Kyudo Kai

Bi Toku Kyudo Kai

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