Posts Tagged ‘Ki’

“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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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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Nearly everyday in class, I hear Sensei stress Ikiai and Mezukai. I suppose, as for myself, my focus has been more on Ikiai, the harmony of breath. He jokingly tells us to not stop (breathing), at least not in his class.

The breath should harmonize with movement throughout, but is even more essential to the shooting during the Shaho-Hassetsu. At our last Kyudo Alliance Seminar in Atlanta, Sensei reminded us that even before we enter the dojo, we are working on Ikiai. This creates the energy of the group as a whole, whereas Ikiai during the Shaho-Hassetsu gives the individual archer energy , or life. Tohei’s book Ki in Daily Life is an excellent resource to help with understanding the importance of the breathing. I need to re-read this myself.

In looking for something else in the Kyohon today, I noticed a highlighted passage there regarding Mezukai. It states that… the most important element of setting the gaze (Metsuke) is to look into your own heart and take command of that place. This one line alone should keep me busy thinking for a while.

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Kyudo: A Symphony

I’d been meaning to go to the symphony for quite some time. When I heard they were playing Rimsky Korsakov’s Sheherezade, I figured the time was right.

I had never thought of this before, but several things struck me this night. Kyudo and the orchestra have much in common.

As the conductor, Maestro, stepped on his podium his demeanor changed. He exuded a presence that emanated throughout the theater. All of those he led sat erect in their chair, ready. It reminded me of omai entering the dojo.

Maestro’s eyes were intense. He was living and breathing the music with the orchestra. Ikiai. His eyes were piercing as he looked at each section cuing them. Their eyes were focused, unblinking as they played. Mezukai. They moved as one. Taihai. When their moment came, they played their solos with mushin. The music was sharp, clean as they released each note. Hanare. It was on target as it flowed.

Don’t do kyudo, be kyudo.

Put yourself into your shooting just as the musician puts himself into his music. Shoot with spirit. Use ikiai and mezukai. To paraphrase Miyauchi Sensei, move yourself and you will move the people.

Maestro entered with dozukuri and left with zanshin. It was a moving performance. Bravo!

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The Shaho-Kun was written by Master Junsei Yoshimi, also known as Daiuemon Tsunetake, during the Tokugawa period. While the Raiki-Shagi deals more with ethics, such as courtesy and virtue, the Shaho-Kun relates to the issues of shooting. It is broken down paragraph by paragraph on page 25 of the Kyudo Kyohon.

It reads as follows:
“(1) The way is not with the bow, but with the bone, which is of the greatest importance in shooting. This means that when you are going to shoot, you must not lose your overall awareness and become preoccupied in just manipulating the bow and arrows, but remember that the shooting effort should also be made with yours muscles and bones.”

I have looked at this, read it and re-read it, trying to put it in words of my own. I came up with “Put yourself into your shooting.” This is possibly an over simplification. With more background information, things come into better focus.

In The Bodhisattva Warriors by Terrance Duke, on page 465, he states:
“Long before Western medicine had arisen, the Ksatreya Vaidya (healers) taught that the elements of Fire and Air combined in the marrow to create, or revitalize, the blood. The marrow was therefore considered to be an important source of life energy.

If the marrow became imbalanced, the balance of the body’s elements (dhatu) would be thrown out of order and , in turn, all the bodily functions suffered. In addition to the blood, the physical vital energies also were held to “mature” within the marrow, and thus the marrow was a point of contact between the different energy systems of this, and other, worlds.

So, here, we draw on the Five Element Theory that Miyamoto Musashi writes of in his Book of Five Rings. If we think of the aforementioned energies in terms of kyudo, we can refer to this as ki.

With this in mind, I take this to mean that we put ourselves into our shooting by extending ki through our arm and into the bow. In addition, I would also think this is one of the reasons tenouchi of the left hand is of great importance.

Therefore, we mustn’t think solely of technique (the bow) but hold in highest regard the spirit (bone) as well.

This leads us on to part 2, which begins with “Placing the spirit (Kokoro)…”

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