Bows and arrows have fascinated mankind in many cultures for centuries … just think of the great tournament between Ulysses and the usurpers who had invaded his home and were hounding his wife to marry one of them.
We’ve learnt much about the Japanese art of archery from “Zen in the Art of Archery” by Eugen Herrigel .. though of course the art of archery or kyudo is not a religious practice as one might think by reading his book rather, as in all things Zen, it uses kyudo to find that pin-point concentration to create a state of harmony in oneself and find the ephemeral moment, the here and now. By the way his wife Gustie L. Herrigel wrote: “Zen and the Art of Flower Arrangement”.
I was around twelve the first time I used a real bow, like most children in my time I’d had several toy bows and arrows. I was convinced that archery was the sport for me. I was very good at hitting the target with my little string bows.
The bows I tried belonged to my Uncle and he had several including his first childhood bows. Pulling back the string was not easy at all. I had to try with different bows before I could find one that I could pull at all. By then the string had cut into my two fingers and thankfully my Uncle found me some finger guards small enough for my fingers. My first shot caused a burn to appear on inside of my forearm which I’d used to hold the bow steady. From then on I used an arm guard. There was no question in these early lessons of hitting the target, my concentration was on just holding and shooting the bow without hurting myself.
Now many years later I think back on that summer each time I read about people effortlessly shooting bows and arrows, as though it’s something as easy as stirring coffee and I wonder, how many of the writers have ever pulled a bow-string.
a twang of string
sharp song as the arrow flies
Link: Carpe Diem Haiku Kai