ZENJIRO(禅地朗) talks about Zen(禅) Vol.3: The idea of ‘Ken Zen Ichinyo剣禅一如’ (swordsmanship and Zen are

May 31, 2020

This word means to have a calm sense that is unchanging in battle due to silence and concentration of mind.

Samurai fought with swords and spears. It was necessary to maintain a normal mind even during the horrifying experience. The Japanese bow was a long bow and was different from the short bows of other countries. The short bow is similar to current Olympic archery. Archery aims at a 10-point circle with a diameter of 12 cm at a distance of 70 m. There is a theory that a long bow is farther than that and it is about 120m long. However, about 55m was the actual distance to the moving enemy. It is said that it was possible to reach 400 m if only considering the range. A calm sense with concentration like Kenzen Ichinyo was needed to shoot through the faraway target.

Also, the police organization in the Edo samurai period used sticks called Jitte (十手 short metal truncheon) around 40 cm. If a policeman killed the criminal, he could not be tried in court, so it was a weapon for a live capture. However, the criminal had a long Japanese sword. In order to avoid the slashing on the verge of smashing and capture the opponent’s body with Jitte, not only good skill but also mental strength to overcome fear was required. Here too, the spirit of Kenzen Ichinyo is utilized.

As you can see, the techniques used by the samurai required normality and concentration in all aspects of sword, bow, martial arts, captivity, and so on. The Zen philosophy here has become essential. The same goes for tea, which was popular with Zen. Even before the tea ceremony was established, samurai used to drink tea. Japanese people often drink Japanese tea and concentrate on it.

The spirit of Zen is rooted in Japan and is often described in anime. A little while ago, it was “Rurouni Kenshin”, and recently it is also “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba”.

Next time, we will look at the spirit of Zen that appears in ”Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba”.


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