Friday, September 6, 2013

Budo Puzzles and Mountains: Gifts of Struggle


In budo, a sensei presents you with a puzzle. In kyudo, my sensei hands me the bow and a glove, and asks me to figure out how to shoot an arrow at the target. He gives me this problem, knowing it will be difficult, painful, and frustrating.


Why must I make time in my busy life to travel to a dojo, obey all of the rules, and engage a practice that reveals my flaws more than anything else?

Sensei gives me a mountain. At the top is something we may call a goal. He gives me the mountain because he knows I want to climb. But there will be storms on that mountain. Hidden behind boulders are monsters that hunger for my life. This mountain will take longer than one day for sure.

Someone may give me a flower. Another might give me beer. These things I receive with a smile and enjoy at ease.

But sensei, he gives me a gift of pain.

I think it's love.

I think it's all just for me. He doesn't want to kill me. He isn't only concerned with himself.

He wants me to become big, so he gives me these challenges. He wants me to become strong, so he gives me fearsome trials. He gives me puzzles I can't figure out as I am, so he teaches me how. It's not just about strength, it's about finding a way. It's about finding a way to the top of that mountain where I can say, "Yes."

There is only one thing my sensei fears, and that is my acceptance of failure. The only thing my sensei fears, is me giving up. I can fail. It can hurt. But to stop before the top, that is the only crime in budo.

Budo is a gift of struggle: a mountain, a puzzle. It is given by a sensei and accepted by a student.

We must overcome.


  1. "Hold on to the hard things and your mind will open."

    - Kushida Sensei

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