Kyudo Mugen 究道無限 The Way of Learning Has No End

The great Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” If there is no end to learning, the greatest investment you can make is in your personal enrichment. Does this equate to higher education?  Perhaps – particularly if formal schooling catalyzes growth. However, pursuing a degree is costly and requires a significant time commitment. Credits are earned through a fixed curriculum, and...

Mekata 目 形  Way of Looking

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. (Wayne Dyer) Mount Fuji is affectionately referred to as Fuji-san.  Along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku, it is one of Japan’s “Three Sacred Mountains” (三霊山 -Sanreizan) and a place of scenic beauty, history, and even, superstition.  Prior to the Meiji era (1868-1912), general travel was reserved for samurai and the ruling class.  Most of the population, comprised of farmers and merchants, had to be satisfied...

Ichi-go ichi-e, 一期一会. One meeting. One chance.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. In the classic 1961 movie Yojimbo (用心棒), the man with no name confronts a gun-wielding adversary. From a considerable distance, the sword master has to face not just a superior weapon, but a likely death. In a matter of a millisecond, all is lost or gained. This is ichi–go ichi-e, 一期一会. One meeting.One chance. Although our lives may not be as dangerous or dramatic as the stuff we see on the...

Tatemae 建前 and Honne 本音– Budoka’s True Face.

Most of us wear two faces: Tatemae 建前 (outward appearance) and Honne  本音 (true appearance/self). These aren’t mutually exclusive – often the lines blur – nor are they limited to Japanese society. Additionally, having two-faces shouldn’t be confused with being two-faced.  What passes for appropriate behaviour in one situation might be thoroughly inappropriate in another social setting. In New Seeds of Contemplation, the theologian and progressive thinker Father Thomas Merton said, “We have the...

WHAT IS A DOJO 道場 ?

Like so much that is memorized, unquestioned and repeated, when asked what is a dojo, most students reflexively respond, it is the place (jo) of the way (do). Rather than accepting this standard and perhaps narrow definition, we should consider how the term dojo was described by great martial masters.   According to the...

Kaizen 改善 The Quest for Improvement

The Japanese term kaizen is made up of two kanji characters 改 (modify, change or search) and善 (goodness or excellence), often translated as to strive for continued improvement or betterment. If one individual embodies the concept of kaizen it is Japan’s renowned sword master Miyamoto Musashi kamisama, celebrated for his prowess with the blade, extraordinary talents as...

Ikigai and Mortality

Individuals who believe their lives are worth living, live longer. From Psychology Today magazine. “Only the good die young.” While this may have been true in the adolescent fantasies of Billy Joel, it does not square with the results of a recently-published study by Toshimasa Sone and colleagues at Tohoku University Graduate School of...

A lesson on loyalty – Hachiko the dog 

All traditional martial art systems are bound to concepts of Giri 義理(obligation, duty, justice) and On 恩 (a debt of gratitude for kindness given). True loyalty is born of these concepts. Maybe our canine friends understand it best. From Yomiuri Shimbun, English Edition. Noted professor of agriculture science at Tokyo University, Eizaburo Ueno for some time wanted...