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This is an old legend, and is taught to you as part of the mental training and training in philosophy of the ninja initiate. This legend is about a young warrior who challenges a master to a contest of the bow, and it emphasizes how it is not only physical skill that a warrior must learn, but also control and command over his own mind and emotions.
...THIS LESSON CONTINUES AFTER THE MESSAGE BELOW...
...A PHILOSOPHY LESSON THAT UNDERLINES HOW CRUCIAL IT IS TO DEVELOP MENTAL CONTROL...
In the legend of the Bow Master, the master is challenged by a young warrior to a contest of the bow. First the warrior demonstrates his skill by shooting an arrow into a nearby tree, then sending another arrow after the first arrow, splintering it. The master observes his demonstration of skill, then invites the warrior to follow him.
Taking him deep into the mountains, the master leads the way to a chasm spanned only by a single unstable log. The master walks out upon the log with his bow, raises it, and sends an arrow into a nearby tree - then he steps off the log and invites the warrior to do the same.
The warrior steps onto the log, but he is so conscious of his danger that he cannot raise his bow for the shot, far less compete with the master. And the master tells him that it is not only one's skill with a weapon that is crucial, but one's skill with the mind that wields the weapon.
LEARNING TO LOOK BEYOND 'TUNNEL VISION' IN COMBAT
There are CRUCIAL lessons here for the Ninja initiate. In real combat against multiple opponents, it is common for a warrior to suffer from 'tunnel vision' where the entire awareness contracts to the person one is fighting. This is a natural instinct, and gives one an advantage when fighting a single attacker - however, when one is fighting several opponents it can be disastrous. This instinct is so powerful that even trained warriors have difficulty in perceiving many attackers in the midst of real-life combat.
The ninja have special exercises (these will be taught to you in the course of your training) that enable them to use the lower brain (the reptilian aspects of the mind) to fight the opponent in front of them, while they use the cerebral cortex (the part of the mind that controls logic) to observe the battleground and the other opponents, and to plot overall strategy.
This is one aspect in which 'skill with the mind' is crucial.
DEALING WITH THE EFFECTS OF ADRENALIN AND OTHER BIO-CHEMICALS IN COMBAT
Another aspect of 'skill with the mind' is dealing with the adrenalin rush that is inevitable when one fights for one's life against one or many attackers. When one fights for one's life, the body infuses the bloodstream with substances that increase strength and combat responses, while diverting blood from the surface of the body to the internal organs to minimize bleeding from superficial cuts (This is what causes the distinct 'skin turning cold' reaction when one fights for one's life).
However, this surge of bio-chemicals in the bloodstream can affect the emotional stability of the mind - unless one learns to control it. Again, there are specific exercises that can be done to improve the stability of the mind in such situations, which we will cover in the course of your training - but for now, know that this is another aspect of 'skill with the mind'.
PREVENTING THE MIND FROM GIVING IN TO FEAR
A third aspect of 'skill with the mind' is to control the effects of one's own fears. Often, in a dangerous situation, the mind tends to magnify the possible danger posed by one's foes. This is, again, an ancient instinct - one that actually improves the chances of survival by encouraging a person to flee rather than fight.
However, it can sometimes be misleading. As a matter of fact, it can even function in non-combat situations where its effects can be disastrous. For example, a businessman who is threatened by the expanding business of a competitor might find that his mind enlarges the possible effects of his competitor's expanding business - if he gives in to these fears, he will be unable to act.
In any situation, combat or non-combat, it is good to use the cerebral cortex to CORRECTLY assess a situation, and so to use logic, intuition and a deep harmony with the flow of the cosmos to come to decisions that lead to RIGHT ACTION.
For, truly, this is the core of the Way of the Ninja.
...FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO MASTER THE WAY OF THE GYOKKU NINJA...
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