Learning everywhere, all the time

Musashi #3: Become acquainted with every art

I’ve seen this translated as “every martial art” or “every fine art form.”   the implications are different, and let’s see why.  If a warrior becomes familiar with all other martial arts forms, he starts seeing how there is a single 360-degree rotating sphere of motion, comprising throws, locks, holds, punches, kicks, etc.  Add weapons and you have stabbing, slashing and striking–extrapolations on the empty-hand motions.  From a further distance you have arrows and spears–extrapolations of rock-throwing, which are extrapolations of punching: the joints rotate in sequence, and technique translates rotary to linear momentum.  Guns, of course, lift the entire equation to another level: they barely depend upon musucular strength, or in some cases even coordination.   They have more in common with catapults–in other words, a purely mechanical approach to killing.  Somewhere within these arenas will be found most of the tools of warfare, or the things that a warrior will deal with.


But a warrior (by my definition) is one willing to kill or die for what he believes in, his dearest values.  That means that he is also happiily prepared to live in the world, seeks peace, hopes for a bloodless victory.  That means that politics (my  personal weak suit), commerse, interpersonal communication, spiritual harmony, and other factors must be at optimum level–in the sense that war is always a failure of diplomacy.  The position of warrior should be one of a balanced series of options for a human being–including healer, teacher, lover, merchant.  Some of us will specialize in one position or another, but all of us should, in emergency, be able to fill in.  (Emergency lovers, anyone?)


To this end, then, we should all strive to be, as the Chinese say, “Masters of the five Excellences”–or folk committed to a balanced path.  Much of the deep nature of human beings is revealed in their art works.  I would say that anywhere excellence is to be found, you should be sniffing about.  Painting, writing, acting, dancing, photography…can you converse with people in these different fields, learn what they think creates excellence?  And if you speak to enough different ones, can you begin to read “between the lines” and sense the path that leads to excellence in ANY endeavor?


Many brilliant human breakthroughs came from people studying one arena, and applying something there to another.  I’ve gotten ideas for writing from dance.  For martial arts from music.  For parenting from watching clay sculpting.  And on, and on.  go beyond the bounds of what is “obviously” applicable to your life, and learn to appreciate excellence everywhere, in every form you find it.  You will be enriched.



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