But, how can we become strong and wise at the same time? This is the Channel of Zen and Traditional Martial Arts. Zen has always taught the two Channels in just one:
the development of our strength and wisdom. Both aspects are necessary and interdependent.
The development of the strength just leads to brutalization, competition and pride. A lot of problems and difficulties come from this unilateral attitude. On the other hand, wisdom without strength is ineffective and cannot transform us or act over the world.
In Traditional Martial Arts the necessary strength was developed and, at the same time, the wisdom to control and lead it to a high dimension.
This dimension cannot be another one but self-knowledge, our own body and spirit, become close to ourselves.
Modern Martial Arts are, generally, very far from its original spirit. Nowadays, they have become into a kind of sport, a competition, and the people who practice it are far from the spirit and the ideal of the authentic Bushido (the way of the warrior).
When the teaching of Zen and the spirit of Bushido arrived in Japan, the country was involved in continuous bloody fights betweeen the different groups and domains.
Progressively, Zen and the spirit of Chinese traditional martial arts could ‘stop the sabre’ and turn it into a support of meditation and introspection. This way, kendo arised, the Japanese fencing. Regarding bows and arrows, their goal was not the heart of the ‘enemy’ anymore. The target lost importance, the true target from then on was the illusory spirit itself and limited by the tight conceptions of our personality. This way kyudo was born, the channel of archery.
When we are close to ourselves, that let the body and the spirit be controlled and make us be over the tight personality, ego, its impulses and ambition of conquering and defeating the others.
As contradictory as it may seem, the secret of kendo, the channel of the sabre, is not to draw ever the sabre. That is, to develop some strength and spiritual wisdom that are able to sense, beforehand, the possibility of fighting and avoid those possibilities to become real.
The essence of Martial Arts and Zen is ‘not to fight’, but to awaken the common trunk that unites us with all the existences of the universe.