Budo/Martial Arts · Kyudo

Martial Arts, Just a Hobby?

The question calls worms under my skin.

How could you say such a thing?

Isn’t the answer obvious!?

Well, perhaps not.

I practice kyudo. This obviously will affect my view of the issue, however I believe this is a question for all martial artists, we who spend countless hours, years, and energies shooting, pushing, punching and kicking at targets, dummies, partners, and the even just the air itself.

Why do we do it all?

Where is the connection to “reality”?

What makes our practices “art”?

These are questions many martial artists may ponder, and inevitably one particular issue will arise,

is our practice just a hobby?

This first came to me when someone asked me about my hobbies: what do I do in my free time?

Well, the simple answer was martial arts, but it surely wasn’t just a hobby.

But I wasn’t making money,

I didn’t have to do it,

it is something I do in my free time …

“Well, that’s just a hobby, isn’t it?”

But I put my supreme effort into this. I couldn’t imaggine my life without it. Without it, I would be less of a person. This practice is “good” and can only have positive affects. It is dependent on working with other people. It has history and tradition. It is the expression of my primal nature as the Warrior.

This cannot simply be just a hobby.

So this is my position:

Martial arts are not just a hobby.

So … is there any way we can make changes to better reveal that our practice is more than a hobby?

Yes, however many answers conceal dreadful pitfalls.

Our practice is not better than others.

Other people shouldn’t necessarily practice our art.

Our practice should not take precedence over maintenance of life, job, family, social responsibilities, or other interests.

See a pattern? All of these pitfalls deal with our interactions with others. No matter how much we wish to escape the outside world, I believe it is impossible, and accepting this fate will only strenghten our practice and art.

This is where we discover the importance of reigi, ettiquette. In kyudo reigi comes first and is continually most important as we learn to deal with outside phenomenon with the utmost care throughout the practice of shooting a bow and arrow.

So is there anything we can do about this hobby business?

I believe we should first:

-practice our art as much as we wish

-respect others

-seek to better ourselves and environment.

… I suppose all else is just extra:

-read about the art

-write about the art

-discuss the art

-study the history and traditions of the art

-take part in the arts’ future

-communicate with others

-pray to the gods.

And in the end, realize that life will go on without our art.

There is no inherent need for our art.

The immediate callings of life are of primary importance, be they with our art or without.

Does this answer questions of martial arts as hobbies? Perhaps not directly.

But maybe we’re getting somewhere.


2 thoughts on “Martial Arts, Just a Hobby?

  1. Interesting…I suppose the thought would depend on how one definds hobby. If it is limited to something non- essential or essential. My studies of the Martial Arts are essential. Life is not lived just on working and eating. On a simple level, you can work at a desk job, go home eat, sleep and repeat. You will die soon. The body needs excerise, the mind needs excerise, the spirit needs excerise. Balance in life, for a full and healthy life. In Japan there are real life cases of death from overwork! No MA is not just a hobby, it add balance to ones “life”. We exist on three levels, physical, mental and spiritual. MA add that balance of three elements. It is not the only way to do this, but it is A Way! Is MA art a just hobby? Depends. Is living just in Black and White? Is Yang all positive and Yin all negative? In Zen we say; there is joy within sorrow and sorrow within joy! Short answer…perspective.

    1. Great words indeed. I guess I’m continually overwhelmed by the amount of energy and resources it takes to maintain one’s martial arts practice, especially kyudo, and how separate it seems to be from 99.9% of other people. I absolutely agree that the body, spirit, and mind need exercise … but there are lot of ways other people find this in their daily lives like reading, sports, religion. One thing I think martial arts lacks is a social network or bonding between people. I think for a lot of martial artists our practice is separate from work, separate from family, separate from other friends. Surely there are cases, and looking at myself, I’m not sure if I’d want my practice to dominate or be present in all other realms. There are threads for sure, but not complete overlaps. I don’t feel like I need to meet many new people. And I’m usually just fine pulling the bow on my own with the few other teachers and partners. Perhaps kyudo doesn’t need to be more than what it already is, pulling the bow and arrow. You’re right in that it’s all in perspective. I’d add to say it’s all individual, and undefinable just like the black is in white, and white is in black as you say. (Yin and Yang reference). Interesting stuff.

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