Commentary by Eyal Nir
“Eyes on the Sword”
Long ago in Japan, a young man was an eager student of the sword. He roamed the land seeking instruction from any master who would
teach him. As he traveled, he heard rumors about a great sword teacher who had grown weary of fighting and had retired to the mountains to meditate. After months of searching, the young man finally discovered the teacher’s hut high in the mountains. Finding the teacher at home, the young man begged him to instruct him in the Way of the sword. The teacher agreed to take the young man on as a student.
"How long will it take for me to master the sword?” the young man inquired. “Five years,” the teacher replied.
"Five years!” exclaimed the young man. “That is FAR too long! I promise to practice every day as hard as I can. How long will it take me then?” “Ten years,” said the master.
“Ten years!” exclaimed the young man, “what if I agree to study and practice night and day – how long then?” “Fifteen years,” said the old man softly.
“I do not understand!” said the young man. “Why is it that the harder I say I will work, the longer you say it will take me to master the sword?”
“Because,” the wise teacher responded, “the more you seek to master the sword, the less I will be able to teach you. I cannot teach you to have two eyes on the sword if you have one eye on your goal.”
With that, the young man bowed deeply.
1. End results are important but often to get there one should forget
about the final goal and focus on the way (Do).
2. An easy to understand example is in mastering a technique:
· Often we tell students to give up power as in their desire
for an end result (e.g. punching harder) they "do more of the
same" within their current habits domain becoming more
stiff, isolating limbs rather than learning "center-driven
connection"...in short not allowing themselves to walk the
way (passing thru a discomfort zone) of abandoning old
habits for new and better ones adopting and digesting new
· While allowing ourselves to walk the way putting aside end
results is a necessary phase in acquiring new skills once the
"new info" is well digested into our system and for actual
application it is often useful to actually forget about all technique
details and focus on end results using "imagination training"
envisioning the desired result as this employs an unconscious \
automatic mechanism in our brain which is more efficient in
executing already acquired skill.
3. In summary - there are 2 phases:
1. Acquiring motor skill
2. Putting it to use in actual application.
The nice story above in more relevant to the 1st phase while in actual application we do not want to keep 2 eyes or even 1 eye on our sword (technique) as we should forget about technique, let the skill express itself automatically while we focus on intention and breath which make strategy.