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Kyudo-Budo

When we think of budo, what are we talking about?
What is budo? What is bushido?

Budo can be considered as martial way. And within budo, bushido is taught.* Budo is a way of living and a way of dying. In Daidoji Yuzan’s book, Budoshoshinshu, he begins with:

“The man who would be a warrior considers it his most basic intention to keep death always in mind, day and night, from the time he first picks up his chopsticks in celebrating his morning meal on New Year’s day to the evening of the last day of the year. When one constantly keeps death in mind, both loyalty and filial piety are realized, myriad evils and disasters are avoided, one is without illness and mishap, and lives out a long life. In addition, even his character is improved. Such are the many benefits of this act.”

Budoshoshinshu, while written as the warrior’s primer, offers much in the way of guidance that is still pertinent today. When I read the section above, I take it to mean that we should live every day as it is our last. We should live life to the fullest and appreciate every moment. We should not leave things that should be done now, until tomorrow. We should make peace where peace needs to be made and to quote from one of my favorite songs, “Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way that you feel.”

Budoshoshinshu goes on to state:
“Day and night without fail, as one is involved in all of his business, both public and private, when there is just a moment to be calm, death should be kept in mind… these words are for the understanding of those intending to be warriors.”

I would think, good words for all.

“Bushidō (武士道?), roughly translated as “the way of the warrior,” is a Japanese code of conduct and way of Samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry. As part of the Samurai philosophy, Bushidō stresses loyalty, frugality, the mastery of martial arts, and “honor unto death.” Born of two main influences, philosophy and swordsmanship, the violent existence of the Samurai was tempered by the wisdom and serenity of Japanese Shinto (&) Buddhism.” (Wikipedia)

If we look at Inazo Nitobi’s Bushido, the Soul of Japan, he states:

“Bushido, then, is the code of moral principles which the knights were required or instructed to observe. It is not a written code; at best it consists of a few maxims handed down from mouth to mouth or coming from the pen of some well-known warrior or savant. More frequently it is a code unuttered and unwritten, possessing all the more the powerful sanction of veritable deed, and of a law written on the fleshly tablets of the heart. It was founded not on the creation of one brain, however able, or on the life of a single personage, however renowned. It was an organic growth of decades and centuries of military career.”

“Bushido as an independent code of ethics may vanish, but its power will not perish from the earth; its schools of martial prowess or civic honor may be demolished, but its light and its glory will long survive their ruins. Like its symbolic flower, after it is blown to the four winds, it will still bless mankind with the perfume with which it will enrich life. Ages after, when its customaries shall have been buried and its very name forgotten, its odors will come floating in the air as from a far-off unseen hill…”

It is our job, as martial artists, to do our part in ensuring that the budo code not be forgotten… not only by passing on the words, but by being living examples… by traveling the Way.

*A good article with more in regard to budo and bushido can be found @ http://ekamachdi.wordpress.com/2008/10/22/understanding-aikido-as-budo

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As I sit at the table, I glance down at my hands.
They are twisting, tearing, shredding a straw paper. I realize what I am doing.
I don’t stop. I hide nothing.
I am talking. I am telling a story with my hands.
Are you listening?
“I don’t know you.” “I don’t trust you.” “You make me uncomfortable.” “You are in my space.”
I turn slightly in your direction. Do you hear me? The fact that I remain at the table speaks for itself.
“If I did not want to be here, I would leave. I would not come back.”
“I give you this chance to earn my trust.”
-Unsent Letters, Unsaid Words

The excerpt above is an example of how the hands are a reflection of our mind, of how the body speaks.
Mezukai, ikiai, dozukuri. are reflections of our mind as well.
The hands, the eyes, the co-ordination of breath, our posture, they are all telling a story as we practice the art of kyudo. The Way.. the way of the bow.
Kyudo is a budo, a martial way. The warrior way. Any opening tells a tale of weakness. Leave no opening.

“The human mind is disturbed by delusion, worldly desires, passions and attachments, which are more often than not the result of the pursuit of experience and knowledge. Also the mind succumbs to the temptation of the eye and the ear, which assail and agitate the spirit. To have the correct activity of the physical body and the right fullness of spirit, there must be stability of spirit. This is a fundamental requirement for the shooting.” (Kyudo Kyohon pg. 58)

In Herrigel’s book The Method of Zen, he tells a tale of eating dinner in a restaurant with Japanese colleagues. As one friend is telling a story, an earthquake shakes the entire building. The hotel creaks and sways, sending objects to the floor. While many rush to evacuate the hotel, his friend sits calmly. Herrigel fears for his life but is mesmerized by the calm nature of the friend. He sits back down at the table. As the commotion subsides, the friend continues his story at the exact point he left off from, as if nothing had happened. This story is a good example of heijoshin.

Simply put, heijoshin, can be described as the calm, everyday mind. The Kyohon states that “…at full draw you must wipe away negativity like doubt, anxiety, faintheartedness, fear, and self-depreciation…”. (pg. 70)

“When we are watching someone or something, our mind is concentrated only on what we see, and we neglect the spirit and the body. Therefore, the most important element of setting the gaze (metsuke) is to look into your own heart and take command of that place. The condition of the Mezukai has a great influence on the breathing and posture.” (pg.58)

As we begin to look deeper into the mental aspect of our shooting, we begin to see how everything is tied to the mind and the mind is tied to all else. The concept of sanmi-ittai , unity of the three essentials, Body, Spirit, and Bow as one body, then becomes clearer. (ref pg.24) In summation, as you shoot, show no weakness, take command of your heart, shoot with heijoshin. Focus the mind on the body and the body on the bow. Become One.

“The Way is in the training.”

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In re-reading parts of Ki in Daily Life by Koichi Tohei. last night, I ran across a section that pertained to something that has been popping into my mind from time to time. It deals with what can be called open mind. Tohei talks about being candid and begins with:

Not just in ki training, but when you are learning anything, frankness is essential. Some people, ruined by their previous experience or knowledge, are unable to learn things openly. These people have what we call bad habits. They judge things solely on the basis of their own narrow experience and think that what suits them is correct and what does not suit them is wrong. Progress does not lie this way.

Say we have a glass full of water. If we try to pour more water into it, the water will flow out, and only a little will remain in the glass. Once empty the glass, and it will hold plenty of new water. If your head is crammed with this and that, whatever new things you try to learn, they will not go in… Ki training is the discipline that lets you make great progress in moving from a world that emphasizes the body to one that centers on the spirit, from one that thinks in dualities, to one that thinks in absolutes, and from a world of fighting to a world of peace… Some people decide once and for all in their heart that they are not going to believe what anyone says.

We all come from varied backgrounds, different martial arts, religions, social backgrounds… that’s what makes us unique. But with the same vain of thought as Tohei’s glass of water, old water can become stagnant. And even if you add some fresh to it, I wouldn’t want to drink it. Best to empty your glass and refill with fresh water. I have also heard that as long as the ki flows pure, the water remains clean. I think the key here is that you have a continuous flow.

So, I suppose, we should try letting go… and have a glass of fresh water!

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Home is where the heart is...

Home is where the heart is...

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. – from Moving Water by Rumi

In Tohei’s book Ki in Daily Life, he speaks on plus ki and minus ki and yin and yang. He tells us that yin is the shade and yang the sunlight. Yin is destruction and yang is birth. He references the duality of this life… life-death…strength-weakness…high-low. Everything has its plus and its minus. We should focus on extending positive ki. He tells us later in his book that extending ki is the fourth of the Four Basic Principles to Unify Mind and Body.

Harmonious unity is accomplished when the three essentials (body, spirit or mind, and bow) come together as one, sanmi-ittai.

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“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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