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Archery and Zen in the art of biking

At first, archery was a hunting practice; later it became a warfare practice and nowadays it’s a sport. In Japan, it has always been and still is an Art. There are two ways to consider archery: efficiency or aesthetics. Efficiency aims at scoring, competition, results. The archer has tools to show his valor. Aesthetics is meditation, moral and spiritual perfection, without any score in mind. The archer has no tools to score points; the archer is the arrow and the goal is himself. For us, occidentals, it’s difficult to understand this philosophical way of thinking, but once approached, it becomes very simple and clear. The Art of archery is one of the most complete and beautiful martial arts in the world!

Why this philosophy on this forum about bikes? Because biking is the same thing as archery. At first, bikes and motorcycles were the poor’s only mean of locomotion, rapidly supplanted by the automobile. Later it became a sport and a passion-tool. There are two ways to consider biking. The first and most obvious, the must-want: you must go to work or on vacation and you want to take your bike to go from A to B, having pleasure sitting on your bike, but probably with your mind aiming at the destination. The second one is less obvious, the bike-want: you decide to go for a trip, somewhere in that direction, without a definite destination and just go. You’re not sitting on the bike, you are the bike and the goal is yourself. You feel it’s shaking and growing; you feel your body; you and your bike are just one. The road, you glide over it; other “customers” are non-existing: you cross them or pass them in harmony and full control, but without noticing them. You are in heaven!

Riding on a bike is constant concentration, not only “in the city”, everywhere, but no stress. We must constantly repeat ourselves not to stress, to be relax. Stress diminishes our pleasure to ride and our reaction time. We ought to be in a state of “relaxed alertness”, constantly. It might be an “art of survival” sometimes, yes, but in a “Zen-sort of way”.

Years ago, I’ve read Jeff Cooper’s “Principles of Personal Defense”, which left me a deep impression. His thought, which is deep and fundamental, has always accompanied me: “In whatever situation you are, only your mindset, as he calls it, will save you”. And he explains it with his famous color code: white, yellow, orange, red. Relaxed alertness is Cooper’s yellow in a context of “being armed”, nothing more. In Aikido relaxed alertness is a state of awareness. Isn’t it strange that it means “posture and awareness for what is to come” (rough definition, of course), while in archery it means “a mental aspect before, during and after losing an arrow”?

We bikers are all the same and yet so different. Biking is like archery: “a mental aspect before riding, during riding and after having left the bike”. Just a thought: shouldn’t bikers practice a martial art before being allowed to buy a bike? Silly isn’t it!

The Art of biking is the most beautiful experience in the world!
 

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I was a sponsored archer at one time so I found this thread very interesting. I am not a philosopher...lol but I think That’s why they built Indian and Ninja motorcycles for bikers that are all the same and yet so different To enjoy their own personal Zen with their bike and the road..lol...FTG
 

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I absolutely LOVE this post and it reminds me of an article I wrote called the Perfect Lap. You can read it here:
The Perfect Lap | MotoMom

I also love the reference to martial arts, as I practice Karate and Jiu-Jitsu and have dabbled in a few others. The reference and similarities to archery are amazing. Thank you for this!

Now, do you think there are ways to teach that kind of relaxed and mindful approach that is so useful in archery, to motorcycle riders? How might you transfer that information?
 
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