Image Training · Kyudo · Tournaments




Jishin yori mo heijoushin.

Not confidence, but your normal relaxed mind.

This is what’s important in kyudo, and what you can learn at tournaments.

It occured to me this morning when I was talking to someone at kyudo this morning.

She asked me, “How was the tournament?”

“I did horrible.”

“Even though you hit the target so much before?”

“Yeah, I know. I was super confident, but once I started shooting it all fell apart.”

She went to shoot arrows and I went to pull the ones I had shot and then it hit me:

Confidence isn’t what’s important cause it will come and go and flutter according to outside conditions. What’s really important is this heijoushin, a normal relaxed mind.

In kyudo we’re trying to get to the bottom of things. Deep dark things. Pure light things. Down underneath the skin, under the muscles, under the bones, under our minds … in the depths of our soul and the nature of the world, that is what we’re working with in kyudo. As far as I’m concerned, heijoushin, is the Mariana Trench.

When we go and shoot honestly, confidence means nothing. Shooting in kyudo is not about feelings. Kyudo is not about feeling good, or bad, or happy, or down. Regardless of all of these feelings, our shooting should be constant and true. What propels that stoic attitude is not super confidence, “Alright, no matter what I’m going to be like stone and hit the target.” What propels that infinite perfection is heijoushin.

So what exactly is heijoushin?

I translated it roughly as “normal relaxed mind.”

My most trusted online translator,, translated it as, “One’s presence of mind.”

But I like these less than the understanding I get from seeing the Chinese characters: 平常心。

平 means: flat; level; even; calm; ordinary; common; peaceful.

常 means: ordinary; calm; normal.

心 means: mind; core; heart; soul.

(Definitions found in “Kodansha’s Essential Kanji Dictionary.”)

In my mind, I take the liberty as roughly translating heijoushin as: level normal spirit.

But let’s just call it, heijoushin.

Heijoushin is what we train and learn to use in kyudo. It is our weapon behind the bow and arrow. If we can achieve heijoushin in our shooting, we can shoot anywhere. Anything else, and we’re total victims to our environment.

Heijoushin is the connection between regular training and tournaments.

How should I practice for tournaments, tests, or better shooting?

The answer’s all the same: Heijoushin.

What does heijoushin feel like?

Like a vast calm ocean.

What does heijoushin look like?

The gaze of a lion.

Heijoushin is the secret technique we all want.

Good luck to us all.


5 thoughts on “自信よりも平常心

  1. When an archer is shooting for fun
    He has all his skill.

    If he shoots for a brass buckle
    He is already nervous.

    If he shoots for a prize of gold
    He goes blind

    Or sees two targets –
    He is out of his mind.

    His skill has not changed,
    But the prize divides him.

    He cares
    He thinks more of winning
    Than of shooting –
    And the need to win
    Drains him of power.

    ~Chuang Tz

  2. You write well. It is interesting you touch on things, already floating in my mind. I write about the outside (most times) experience, you write on the inside experience. Same coin, different sides. Karamatsu-san is like Kyudo, the line between Yin and Yang.

    1. I didn’t realize you had been writing again. Looking forward to reading about your experiences. It’s so necessary to see everyone’s different expressions of kyudo, this is why we need lots of practitioners. Otherwise we’re just playing with ourselves, and that’s no fun is it. Thanks for some yang.

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