Budo/Martial Arts · Kyudo · Shin, Zen, Bi - Truth, Goodness, Beauty

Politics and Kyudo: Perseverance in the Darkest Night

The recent American presidential election has left me stunned.

First, I thought, “What?”

Next, “How!?”

Then, “Why?”

I have nothing to say politically here that isn’t already better explained in other sources available in the media, but I can’t help but mention in this small gateway of my mind to any readers who may pass by this site that,

I have never felt so embarrassed as an American abroad.

Deep down I feel embarrassed to be a white American male at this moment.

I feel like all those walls that apparently many of my own countrymen have been wishing for for so long have all of a sudden sprung up over night and I’m on the other side.

What does all of this mean as an American living in Japan?

What does this mean for my international marriage?

What does this mean for a family I may want to raise one day back home on American soil, or even here in Japan?

What does this mean for kyudo in America? Or any other art for that matter?

Some dust has settled, and though I thought the world may end in a flash, it hasn’t.

So, now what do we do?

I can’t help but think about how kyudo is related to such political events. It’s clear to me now that the practice of kyudo is most certainly not about just shooting a bow and arrow in the safe quiet of a peaceful dojo. Kyudo is not about shutting oneself out from whatever it is one may not like and passing time punching holes in a target.

Kyudo is about looking at truth, or rather the current situation one finds themselves in.

Kyudo is about creating a spirit that is strong and persevering.

Kyudo is about meeting with the outside forces of our environment and blending or contrasting to find an appropriate path of action.

We seek to express shin (truth), zen (goodness), and bi (beauty).

Yet sometimes what we find when we look at our art is that these elements are greatly askew.

Instead of shooting along principles of balance and truth, we imagine only what we want to believe.

Instead of propagating “goodness”, we lash out biased opinions based on our own misinterpretations of truth.

And instead of beauty we find a warped displeasing unbalance.

So, perhaps we see our current situation, and it’s not what we want.

What do we do?

Give up?

Sure, that’s one path. But that’s where it all ends, and that situation you hated so much is either left never to change, or will continue to change without you.

Every piece of painful adversity that comes up in our practice of shooting the bow is a chance to evolve to higher levels. The worse the better.

No matter how dark or impossible progress may seem, rethinking your strategy and picking up the bow again to return to the mark is exactly where kyudo’s greatest strength lies: In forging a smarter, stronger, and adaptive archer.

It is only because of the resistance of the bow that we are able to launch an arrow into space.

For all those wishing to escape and withdraw from the happenings of the world, I urge you to stop, think, and then make your step in the world ready to meet and experience whatever adversity that may await. When the world slaps you in the face, look, think, evolve, and proceed.

We’ve got some big challenges ahead of us. I wonder what heroes may be born.



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