Japanese ArcherBack In the days of high adventure, there lived a man who devoted himself wholeheartedly to Kyudo, the art of the bow. He practiced for hours each day and never, ever missed a session. After several years of constant and gradual improvement, he had reached a level of skill with a bow and arrow that was far greater than any man who had ever walked the Earth, before or since.

One evening, as he was walking in the mountains where he lived, he saw a flicker of movement in the shadows. It was a tiger with its teeth bared, its back arched and ready to rip him to shreds.

Since this very well have been the last thing he ever did, he put every ounce of concentration he had into what happened in the next moment. Without thought or hesitation, the archer grabbed an arrow from his quiver, notched it, and took aim.

He let the arrow fly…

It was a direct hit right to the head of the beast. The entire incident had only taken a few hundredths of a second. Without stopping to examine the dead animal, the archer continued on his way.

The next day, he became curious and returned to that spot. Upon his arrival, something seemed amiss as there was no dead tiger to be found. He was about to give up his search when he saw it… There is was: The arrow he had shot the night before, embedded in a huge boulder.

There had been no tiger after all, but the archer’s concentration had been so intense and so meaningful and his shot so powerful that his arrow had driven into solid rock. From this incident came the famous Samurai maxim about concentration and power in any Way of Life: ‘Ichinen iwa wo mo tosu‘ – The focused mind can pierce through stone.

Often people will ask me what one thing they can do right away to improve their training. I tell them to Concentrate harder and more intently on the things they already do.

Few people listen.Just as the archer did, if you can put every ounce of concentration that you have toward only a few simple tasks, the results will defy belief. Training itself is a simple thing to understand. The real secrets lie not necessarily in ‘what’ you do but how you do them. There are forces that can aid the mind that are hardly dreamt of by the average person.

If you’re going to be training tonight like I am, let the Tigers beware.

Train hard,
John Wood signature
John Wood