Sunday, April 18, 2010

What has swordfighting got to do with writing.

"The Unfettered Mind" by Takuan Shoho, "The Way of The Living Sword" by Yagyu Munenori and "The Sword & The Mind" by Hiroaki Sato are books about the mind and sword-fighting.

I used to practice Kendo. Despite having stopped practicing, I haven't stopped practicing in my mind, I often think about Kendo and sword fighting in general.

I bought these books to gain more knowledge about the art of fighting and by that improving my skill in Kendo. Though it did much more for me.

Takuan Soho was a Zen Buddhist who advised many famous Japanese master swordsman like Miyamoto Musashi and Yagyu Munenori. In "The Unfettered Mind" he tries to apply Zen Buddhism to Martial Arts.

Yagyu Munenori was a master swordsman and daimyo (Feudal Lord) and founder of the Edo branch of Yagyū Shinkage-ryū. "The Way of the Living Sword" is a study about the connection between martial arts and the mental process of Zen.

Hiroaki Sato is a Japanese poet and translator. "The Sword & The mind" is a translation of ideas and experience from these three sword masters, Hidetsuna, Muneyoshi, and Munenor.

The big question is what do these books have to do with writing, besides being beautiful pieces of written text.

Kendo changed, in great deal, how I think and deal with everyday problems. It was a life changing moment when a fellow Kendoka in full gear came charging at me and I felt my mind at peace and my hart without fear nor doubt and I charged head on.

I learned, when needed, to let go of fear and doubt. If you can't let go, the fear and doubt will paralyze you and you will suffer that what you fear, by moving forward you might escape the sad fate that awaits you.

To writing this translates into that however bleak the market can be and how challenging the task ahead may seem, if you keep doubting yourself and fear failing you will never take the steps needed to succeed.

Another lesson I took at hart is the way to become a master in your art. A beginner does yet not know the techniques of the art, he could have raw talent and make beautiful art yet there would be no form into it.

By practicing and learning the required techniques one sets a strong basis of knowledge but by being constrained by what one learned, loose the fluency and spontaneity of the beginner.

To become a master one would need to unlearn the rules and gain back the fluency and spontaneity of a beginner but unlike a beginner use the ability to steer ones talent.

In writing we should strife to get to that point where we do not need to think about the technique we use and write without the constraint of the rules we learned.

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