The Way of the Bow

A full draw, called "kai".
A full draw, called "kai".

If archer shoots just for fun he has all his skill.
If he shoots for score his hands tremble and his breath is uneasy.
If he shoots for a golden price he becomes mad and blind.
His skill was not lessened, but the vision of the target changed him.

Old Chinese poem

The Way of the Bow is a story written by Paulo Coelho. The story is revolve around Tetsuya – the master of archery who now lived as carpenter in small village. No villagers know the fact that Tetsuya has great skill in archery, until one day another archer is come to challenge Tetsuya. One boy observed the battle between two archer. After the battle is over, the boy learn the way of the bow – aka kyūdō – from Tetsuya. The rest of the story is consist the explanation of the way of the boy by Tetsuya.

The story is short – you can finish reading it in less than two hours – but I found the story enjoyable. Tetsuya explanation is simple and easy to understand, even one who never known archery before will find it easy to understand. Although the story mainly talks about bow and arrow, the principle behind those is applicable to many aspect of life. Tetsuya himself tell the boy : “Because the way of the bow serves for everything, and my dream was to work with wood. Besides, an archer who follows the way does not need a bow or an arrow or a target”.

Maybe you will find the story is rather patronizing the reader. That is acceptable given the story told is based on Tetsuya lecture to the boy. But personally, I wish there are more and more teacher like Tetsuya. A teacher who master their expertise, give a meaning to his students, and give explanation that easy to understand. I quite sure there are many Tetsuya’s words is worth enough to take notes.

Here is some excerpt from the book :

“Thank you for your company,’ he said to the boy”

But the boy did not leave.

“How can I know if I’m doing the right thing? How can I be sure that my eyes are concentrating, that my posture is elegant, that I’m holding the bow correctly?”

“Visualize the perfect master always by your side and do everything to revere him and to honor his teachings. This master, whom many people call God, although some call him ‘the thing’ and others ‘talent’, is always watching us. He deserves the best”

Want to read it? Fortunately, Paulo Coelho is generously share The Way of the Bow for free. I hope someday I’m able to write great and high quality books too and share it for free :).

Picture is taken from Wikipedia.

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