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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Admitting to Weakness


The other day at Shodo [書道] class I was practicing writing the Kanji[漢字] for Bu[武]. I wrote the same Kanji for an hour or so. Whittling away at a large stack of rice paper. When I was finally finished I spread my many feeble attempts across the floor for my sensei and I to examine.

He asked me to choose my favourite one. When I choose a very dark slightly illegible piece of work, he was surprised. The second to last stroke was crooked and clumsy. He told me that when he thought of the Japanese character for Bu[武], meaning warrior, he thought of strength, fluidity and structure. He showed me his favourite of my works. A piece much more fitting to this description.

We continued to talk for awhile. Me only understanding at best sixty or seventy percent of what he was saying as my japanese is still quite poor and we were talking about Art. A topic which rarely lends its self to simple words. I tried to explain to him why i had chosen the one I had.

武は強いでも、みなは下手。何時も稽古、頑張って。毎日ちょっともっと強いでも何時も下手、強いくない。

If you read Japanese you know that makes very little sense but it was the best I could do at the time. What I was trying to say is that the idea of Bu being about strength is a limited observation of an outer manifestation, representative of an internal battle against weakness. A manifestation that will only take hold after continual admissions of weakness. A manifestation that is more deception than reality.

For those who see Bu as something that represents strength, I imagine it is not something they have truly experienced. They likely have never hit anything until they bled, or did Kata until their legs shook. Nor would I imagine hey have fell victim to the same technique over and over again at the hands of a superior opponent.

The strongest men like the wisest know they can always be better. They know that even if every one thinks they are the best there is some one out there waiting to take their title. With this in mind they continue to admit to weakness. With out such admissions one becomes blinded and arrogant, a veil of weakness we have all surly worn at one time or another.

I believe the ultimate goal of Budo[武道] like that of any of life's paths is not to be strong but to admit to ones weaknesses. To continually grow through overcoming weakness and to be humbled by accepting that even if you have summited the greatest mountain there is always something more out there. Something to stumble upon.

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