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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to Zen
Whether you are interested in exploring Zen as a discipline or driven by curiosity, this short book is definitely worth a read. Eugen Herrigel's journey through the apprenticeship of archery in Japan - years of hard - and often frustrating - practice, learning to "let go" and achieving absolute focus on the task by eliminating all "distracting"...
Published on 30 Oct. 2000

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars more Zen
I felt that this was a diary of a personal journey towards a Zen state using archery as a vehicle. It would be more interesting to students of philosophy or theology than to practising archers, unless they were particularly interested in this specific Japanese ceremonial archery.
Published on 2 May 2013 by A Page


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars more Zen, 2 May 2013
By 
A Page "Allan" (Northampton, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zen in the Art of Archery: Training the Mind and Body to Become One (Arkana) (Paperback)
I felt that this was a diary of a personal journey towards a Zen state using archery as a vehicle. It would be more interesting to students of philosophy or theology than to practising archers, unless they were particularly interested in this specific Japanese ceremonial archery.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read but too wordy, 30 July 2014
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This review is from: Zen in the Art of Archery: Training the Mind and Body to Become One (Arkana) (Paperback)
After an interlude, I decided to return to target sports and am looking to return to something like my previous standards. At a coaching course recently, it was suggested that current thinking was being influenced by Japanese archery in various ways and three books were recommended. I bought all three and am working through them as and when I can; all three are easy to read and the principles are straightforward enough most of the time so the books have been worth the money. This one though, feels rather too wordy - the key points I wanted could be condensed into a very short book indeed. Unless you're into target sports though, I can't imagine why you would want to read books like this unless there are some esoteric reasons I've missed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to do with zen or archery, 26 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Zen in the Art of Archery: Training the Mind and Body to Become One (Arkana) (Paperback)
or well, only about these topics superficially.

It's a story about training, learning, the process, the growth.

Which happens to occur via learning archery. Which is an art learned according to some Buddhist ideas.

4 stars because although it is a nice 'little book' (as it says in Suzuki Teitaro's foreword) it is a very personal account, so-so well written … and for a person that just is not that into autobiographies it left sort of goal-less-ness or "so what?" feeling.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Short, But in depth, 13 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Zen in the Art of Archery: Training the Mind and Body to Become One (Arkana) (Paperback)
I have been doing some serious studying around Archery and all aspects of the sport, as i was completing a level 1 archey coaching course,
This book will not teach you technique or instruction, however, it will give you some interesting incite into how archery is treated in Japan and further expand your horizons.

It is for the archer who wants to be more aademic and read around, the subject.
A great book with some interesting discussions.
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3.0 out of 5 stars OK, 16 Jun. 2014
By 
Fat Surveyor (N. Yorkshire. UK) - See all my reviews
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Felt the words and the meaning were lost in the dated text. I will put myself forward to re-live and re-write the guys trip to Japan.
Shame as I was looking for more out of this on the two levels, archery and zen. Also felt his life in Japan wasn't really expressed enough. OR did I miss the point because I didn't like the style of writing.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Unconscious Competence into Spirituality, 14 May 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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To those who already practice Zen Buddhism, this book will seem awkward. To those nonpractitioners who would like to understand how to practice Zen Buddhism, this book will be a delightful enlightenment -- especially valuable to those who live outside of Asia. Eugen Herrigel takes on the almost impossible task of describing in writing something that has to be experienced to be understood, and is remarkably effective.
The author spent six years in Japan just after World War II, and decided that he wanted to understand Zen Buddhism. He was correctly advised that Zen needed to be experienced as the path to achieving that understanding. Several possible areas were suggested, from sword fighting to flower arrangement to archery. Because he had experience with rifle target shooting, the author chose archery. He was fortunate to be taken on by a Zen master who normally refused to teach Westerners, because they are so difficult to teach.
As a typical high-achieving Westerner, Mr. Herrigel wanted to make rapid progress and to achieve conscious competence in archery. His instructor wanted him to achieve unconscious competence based on experience and build from there into spiritual awareness. This conflict in perceptions created quite a tension for both of them. This tension was ironic, because the purpose of Zen practice is to achieve the ability to be strong like the flexible water. Tension is the enemy of that state of being.
Mr. Herrigel also learned from attending flower arranging classes from his wife, who was studying Zen in this way. He also benefited from finding some wonderful commentaries on sword fighting as a path to Zen that are included in this book. These are more eloquent than Mr. Herrigel, and he chose wisely in saving them for the end.
I suspect that this wonderful book will mean the most to people who have regularly practiced either meditation or Eastern-style breathing. Having followed both kinds of practices for the past six years, I found it was easier to relate to the Zen concepts in that way than through trying to imagine myself performing the archery described here.
By the way, this archery is not at all like what you did in camp as a youngster. It is both much more stylized and difficult. Think of it as being more like a Japanese tea ceremony than like Western-style archery.
You will love the many descriptions of how Zen masters helped their students learn through experience rather than lecturing or demonstrating to them endlessly. Mr. Herrigel makes a good point concerning how Japanese teaching in these ancient arts has remained the same, while newer subjects are taught much differently.
Some of the most beautiful parts of the book are the explanations that employ natural metaphors. The concept of the Samurai is explained through the fragile cherry blossom, for example, in a way you will not soon forget. The metaphors used in the archery are also very compelling and vivid. They spoke very eloquently to me, especially about how the shot is "released."
I got a lot personally from this book in reconsidering how I could and should step back more often to "go with the flow" of the moment rather than trying to orchestrate everything very rationally. The book made me much more aware that I operate in both styles, probably too often in the totally preplanned rational one.
I am also reminded of books about golf that I have read that cite similar principles for becoming more competent. I also remembered how all of my best golf shots have come when I was totally egoless. That lesson was very profound for me. I wonder what will happen in other areas if I follow that lesson, as well.
If you have never tried meditation, I encourage you to experience this if you find this book interesting. That will probably be your best way to begin to explore what is described here. Naturally, if you can find someone to teach you one of the Japanese arts, that will further expand your soul.
A good Western-style book to help you rethink your approach to life that parallels this one in many ways is The Art of Imperfection. The title is a misnomer. What we often think of as perfection is really the height of imperfection, as the author discovered when he began substituting his own methods for those of his Zen master.
Aim straight for yourself!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Approach, cautiously, Zen., 19 Aug. 2010
By 
I. Melvin (Fleetwood, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zen in the Art of Archery: Training the Mind and Body to Become One (Arkana) (Paperback)
I am deeply skeptical of the veracity of Eugen's story. There are problems with the timescales involved... for instance, he claims to have shot at nothing but the Makiwara (essentially a straw bale placed 2 metres away) for up to 4 years. Now, I am aware of fictional heroes undertaking such taxing and repetetive tasks for their sensei, but we are asked to believe that an educated modern man would submit to this. I find that hard, almost inpossible, to believe. But even if we accept this as a fact, there are deeper and more worrying issues with the book. For those interested, a read of The Myth of Zen in the Art of Archery by Yamada Shoji,available online, is an eye opener.

It is interesting to note also that in the pivotal scene in the book, where Awa pierces the arrow in the dark, Eugen fails to support his claim with the natural eyewitness account... either of what happened or what was said. Despte this we know that his translator had to be there if he was to understand what Awa said, and if so, he had witnessed the event. Clearly though, that is not the case as his witness is not cited. So if he was not there, Eugen invents what Awa says, or provides at best an imperfect translation.

I have also to disagree with many reviewers of this book. It is not a great introduction to Zen. Kyudo is not, nor has it ever been a path to enlightenment, except possibly after the publication of Herrigel's book, and then only mainly in the west. If you are interested in Kyudo read Kyudo: Essence and practice of Japanese archery or the Way of the Bow.

If interested in Zen... then find your own way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Title describes contents well, 30 April 2010
By 
Mr. F. Reid "Frank Reid" (Cumbria, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zen in the Art of Archery: Training the Mind and Body to Become One (Arkana) (Paperback)
It helps to have an understanding of Zen and the seemingly idiosyncratic ideas put forward, but as an introduction to Zen as experienced through Archery it is superb.
A small book, but one which may lead to an opening of the senses if the time is right for the reader.
Beautifully written it is an accessible read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read., 12 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Zen in the Art of Archery: Training the Mind and Body to Become One (Arkana) (Paperback)
Not your normal book, but if you are into Zen, meditation or similar self development processes then you may find this of interest. For me, I learned a thing or two about learning.
I definitely enjoyed it.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars comfortably numb, 19 April 2006
By 
G. N. Piette "Ave" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zen in the Art of Archery: Training the Mind and Body to Become One (Arkana) (Paperback)
I am only 15, this book has really helped me understand, if only a small aspect, but still a very important one of life.

Read this book first before any other zen books.
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