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only goal in his mind was to "become one" with the bow -- to feel the forces involved so closely, to become so finely in tune w ith the bow, that the archer's spirit is an a rrow, and the 'arrow " shoots itse lf" with no conscious effort on the part of the arc her. Th ere in is the potential for mental refinements, and a growing unity of body and mind , of man and Daniel j. Millman Stanford University nature. This article is the first in a series of three -- development of body-mind unity comes in As it happens, Zen archers are known to each dealing with an aspect of many ways in japan ; through meditation or shoot more than 1200 bull's-eyes in a row, for gymnastics-and-the-mind. I. Describes meditative activity, ranging from flower once one has discovered the spirit of kyundo obstacles found in Western society which arranging to karate, gymnastics or painting, (a rchery), the physical follows the spirit. hinder our development of bod y-m ind unity haiku or kendo, archery or the tea ceremony. In the Eastern tradition, mastery of one through sport. All activities are seen as potentially artistic activity leads to master of any activ ity, for in II. Discusses in particular how gymnastics can en deavors ... a bus driver who has mastered mastering one activ ity, you learn to master help us to better integrate body-mind, and the refinements of his activity is an artist as yourself. perhaps grow in previously unexplored ways. much as a musician who has mastered his. In the West, our sports are socially oriented, III. Tells how gymnastics can serve as a There are no status heirarchi es of art in Taoist or with external development stressed rather than constant reminder " how to live an artistic life." Zen thought -- the important thing is that the internal. Because of many complicating Part I: "Obstacles in the Path of Inner individual picks and pursues every activity of economic and psychological factors, we end up his life with an artistic spirit. Development" with often authoritarian tendencies in our The artistic spirit is simply a constant For the past two or three hundred years, sporting activities, gymnastics included. Other Western thought has been dominated by a awareness based on some fundamental than relatively shallow "cha racter building" body-mind polarity -- the concept that the questions -- " How can I act with the least rhetoric, we seem to have llittle stress on inner physical body and the mind are somehow two possible conflict (with myself, with nature's development, because our aims, like the separate entities joined together in an uneasy laws) -- how can I flow, be lighter" more beginning archer, seem confused. It becomes partnership, with each "fighting" for control. effortless, natural , rela xed?" If all the Western harder and harde r to seek and find individual The body has been viewed as lower, or techniques ("how to" do gymnastics joy in the free movement of sport. "animalistic," to be controlled by the " higher" movements, paint, do karate movements) Since the 1950's when Sputnik was orbited, could be called the parts of a stained glass part, the mind there has been an unprecedented push toward This body~mind dualism didn 't exist to the window, we in the West would have a very scientific and technological professions. What same extent in ancient Greece. Plato taught beutiful window, with many fine and colorful , waning prestige physical education and gymnastics. Aristotle did much of his teachings panes ... but this spirit is the light from behind physical activity had in the 1950's was soon while sitting on the floor of the gymnasium. the window, shining through and bringing the sublimated for the "great intellectual " push in The intellectual man who wasn't physically fit beauty alive. Without the spirit, the light, all our the schools, which has affected most of us. In was not considered a whole individual. The fancy techniques are mechanical, without life. trying to keep up with the joneses (in this cases, athlete who had an undisciplined mind drew Perhaps an example will serve well here. the USSR) , we have fallen deeper into the little respect. The body-mind was seen as a unit, There is a story of a Zen master of archery who semantic trap of " higher" mind over the "less reflected in a later latin saying, " Mens corpore severely chasti zed a pupil for hitting the important" body. en corpore sano;" "A healthy mind in a healthy bull's-eyes! "W hat!?" we reply. " That doesn 't Many students are self conscious about body." make sense! " Because we 've been taught all spending so much time in the gymnasium . Why The Chinese Taoist and japanese Zen our lives, on television, in the little leagues of do you, reader, not enter the gymnasium with Buddhist life-views are similar in many ways to baseball or football , that so long as you win, or the attitude that you are about to do some the Greek's. Man and nature, the physical and get first place, you've done the job. How important studying? One reason is our spiriutal, are regarded as one. The different were this Zen master 's views! For the conditioning -- another is, our programs are rarely run in such a way that one is allowed to pursue individual body-mind growth . It seems as if most gymnasts and coaches are preoccupied with the little wars we call competition, and fetishizing of external rewards such as medals, trophies and such. We build the stained glass window with such care we forget about the light beyond. Another complicating factor obscuring a meaning'ful view of sport is the economically-oriented, spectator-based system of athletics in the West. Intense, individually oriented growth is generally set aside for team goals. Since schools receive prestige from sports pages and how well their teams do in the gladitorial arena of athletics, the emphasis on winning has overshadowed participation for the fun of it. A great deal of pressure falls on coaches, and "s uccess " in their job is defined by the school administrators and society at large as winning (and if any character development happens on the way, that's fine) . Often this pressure on coaches is mirrored on the athletes, who are required to do such and such "for the good of their own development." This might be true for their physical development , but too many athletes forget the inherent fun in their activity and begin finding their only solace in winning, by " beating" other people. This development is particularly sad in gymnastics -- an art form of such aesthetic appeal, one wonders if such competition stress is needed at all.

gymnastics: APATH TO THE ARTISTIC LIFE

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Profile for USA Gymnastics

Gymnast Magazine - February 1972  

Gymnast Magazine - February 1972