Within the next day or two we’ll be launching a completely new website. It’s taken a lot of hard work and I hope you’ll be pleased with the results. Once we do launch I’ll be sending you an announcement letting you know. The new site has a Blog function which will allow you to comment on various aspects of Seishindo, and I invite you to do just that!
2. Endless Determination
Recently someone asked what led me to Japan in the first place. I replied that there was something about the spirit of Aikido and the austere sense of aesthetics in all the Japanese arts that fascinated me. I thought some more about this after going home and I remembered the fragments of a story I’d heard as a young man….
Many, many years ago Kazu and Hiro were two young boys growing up on the outskirts of Kyoto, and they both loved the art of Japanese archery known as kyudo. While in high school they practiced as much as they could.
Upon graduating Kazu had to quit so he could work in his family’s business, making the protective armor worn by samurai during battle. The armor was heavily padded and Kazu joined the pieces together with a sewing machine that had a large wheel used to position the thick needle in the correct location for piercing the fabric. The job was physically demanding and dangerous. If Kazu’s mind wandered for just a moment, he could easily pierce his hand instead of the fabric.
Hiro, as the youngest of three boys had little in the way of family commitments. So he offered himself up as an apprentice to a renowned kyudo master. He eventually became known as one of the best archers in all of Japan.
When both boys had ripened to become men in their fifties, the Emperor declared a nationwide competition to honor the role and importance of Japan’s many fine archers. On his way to the competition Hiro stopped by to see his childhood friend Kazu. He told his friend about the upcoming event, and Kazu sheepishly asked if he could enter the competition being introduced as Hiro’s student. Although Hiro thought the proposal somewhat foolish, because of their strong friendship in the past he agreed to bring Kazu along.
With all the masters and their many students present, people were expecting a great display of prowess. With two arrows to shoot, whoever pierced the target twice, would be given a sizeable quantity of gold and a large plot of land. To everyone’s surprise though, the target was placed at twice the distance of their everyday practice!
With the target positioned much farther away than usual, one master after another failed to hit the target with both arrows. Finally with every master having missed the mark their students were given the opportunity to shoot. In the minds of everyone there, the competition was all but over.
With no official ranking, Kazu was the very last person with a chance to shoot and win the prize. He gathered his spirit, let loose his arrows, and both flew straight and sure piercing the target. Everyone in attendance was speechless as the emperor presented Kazu with his lavish reward.
With the ceremony over Hiro rushed over to Kazu and asked, “After all these years with no practice, how in the world did you manage to hit the target both times?”
â??Well,” Kazu replied, “As an artisan, countless times a day I aimed to pierce the heavy fabric in just the right spot. I imagined my needle was my arrow, and I must say I hit the target each and every time! Today was no different.”
“You see, whether it’s been kyudo or work, I’ve always been aiming at the same target. Myself. In the course of my mundane life I had endless determination and never gave up my dream of fulfilling my true potential. It was this determination that carried the arrows to the target today.”