Archery and Zen in the art of biking - BMW G310 R/GS Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-24-2018, 03:16 AM Thread Starter
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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 the most complete and beautiful martial art 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! The Art of biking is the most beautiful experience in the world!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-24-2018, 01:12 PM
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As a 36-year student and instructor of Aikido and Sword, I hear, understand, and agree with you brother. The best riding is a zen experience.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-24-2018, 02:10 PM
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Ever read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig? Great philosophy book & a good story. The last attached picture is my favorite quote from the book - it describes riding on a motorcycle vs. being in a car - priceless. Check it out...
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-24-2018, 02:50 PM
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Ever read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig? Great philosophy book & a good story. The last attached picture is my favorite quote from the book - it describes riding on a motorcycle vs. being in a car - priceless. Check it out...
Great book. Reminds me of the days riding on the back of my father's 1970s Honda 750.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-24-2018, 03:26 PM
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My very 1st motorcycle was a brand new 1975 Honda CB750F. A year later I sold it & bought a 1976 HD Electraglide. Sweet memories...
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-24-2018, 09:40 PM
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One of my hobbies is target pistol shooting, stationary targers at long range. That is akin to meditation I find, with single focus, total concentration, yet at the same time being totally relaxed, calm breathing technique and so on. I imagine, although I don't know this from personal experience, that it is similar to archery.
To me, the only similarity with motorcycle riding, at least where I ride which is the LA city streets, is in the utter concentration: constantlg scanning and being alert to traffic, predicting possible danger mosf of the time. Not relaxing at all, stressful.
It's different on long rides in for instance the canyons, when there's no car traffic. But in the city, it's not at all like pistol shooting, or 'Zen', to me. It's more the 'art of survival'. I enjoy both, but very differently.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-26-2018, 04:08 AM
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I’m also a target pistol and rifle shooter.
It’s a way to unstress because you have to focus to one thing only, watch your breathing and muscle tension and then make your perfect action.
Riding the bike is also focusing on one thing. You have to set your mind on one thing.

When I do not ride from A to B, I ride and almost every side road I don’t know where it’s heading to.
Not knowing we’re it will bring me.
It’s like an adventure and that is what riding motorcycles means to me, adventure.
The past 40 years riding motorcycles this way brought us to the most unexplored places on earth and ..... we loved it.
( we sometimes also ended on a farmers entrance with sh.. al over the place).

By the time it was getting dark, a map or gps brought us back to civilization.

So, go out there and enjoy and ......RELAX.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2018, 04:20 AM Thread Starter
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I see you all understood what I was explaining, and I’m not surprised some of you were or are shooters, so did I. Switch to archery; it’s more rewarding mentally.
I totally agree with Clees Klumper: riding on a bike is constant concentration. He says “in the city”; I say “everywhere”. He says “it’s stressful”; I say “we must constantly repeat ourselves not to stress, to be relax”. Stress diminishes our pleasure to ride and our reaction time. An “art of survival”? Yes! But in a “Zen-sort of way”. Nicely said Clees!
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-28-2018, 10:24 AM
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Great thread Gaeter. I periodically get to practice dynamic, high stress target shooting with law enforcement instructors, and they all use variations of the "zen" state in their training. The mind and nervous system must be honed if we are to enjoy or endure. The seemingly paradoxical state that meets both riding goals (enjoyment and survival) is what we in Aikido call "relaxed alertness".
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-29-2018, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
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… what we in Aikido call "relaxed alertness".
Thank you, Aiki-Jedi! Before buying anything, I make enquiries. Before buying my first handgun (this was a hundred years ago or so), I’ve read Jeff Cooper’s “Principles of Personal Defense”, which left me a deep impression, and which led me to buy a Colt .45. 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”. As you said it so precisely, Aiki-Jedi, 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”? Interesting, isn’t it? In other martial arts, like Kendo f.i. – I love Kendo – relaxed alertness has again a slight difference in meaning.
We bikers are all the same and yet so different. It’s like Aikido, a wonderful martial art, yet so different in style depending on the schools, as are all martial arts. Just a thought: shouldn’t bikers practice a martial art before being allowed to buy a bike? Silly isn’t it!
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