I’ve been thinking on much I’ve been reading in Taisen Deshimaru’s “The Zen Way to the Martial Arts” [Penguin: New York, 1982.] The Zen Master speaks to basic principles I find appealing to the competitive cyclist. For example, in discussing the value of concentration he states, “You must not show your weak points, either in [competitive cycling-my substitution for ‘martial arts’] or in everyday life. You must remain concentrated and not reveal your defects; through continuous training in self-control, gradually you discard them. The traditional Japanese education is based entirely on this form of vigilance-never show your weak points, so other people will not be able to take advantage of them.” –③ Ibid, pg. 35. In a cycling race, it is to my advantage to discover my opponent’s weak points. The method, as articulated by Taisen Deshimaru, is based on attentiveness, determination, and focused concentration. Once achieved, when the opportunity presents itself, one can then “leap upon the opponent’s weak point(s) without a thought.” ④ Ibid, pg. 35.During a cycling race I pay close attention to my race opponent. I observe their position on the bike, the cadence of their pedal stroke, their eyes when not covered by colored lenses, the rate and labor of their breathing, and any twitching of their back or legs. Each of these elements will point to my opponent’s potential weaknesses or, in the case of twitching, if they are getting ready to launch an attack. For example, during a race, if you can watch an opponent’s eyes; and their eyes move, or are unclear, hesitate, show doubt, waiver, there’s the ‘suki’, opportunity, the opponent’s flaw.”⑤ Ibid, pg. 35. In the critical moments of the race, we must not show our weak points; because if we do we will make mistakes, we will stumble and fall and be defeated.
Deshimaru states, “…this form of vigilance cannot come from constant bodily tension, for the body would soon wear out; it must come from the attentiveness of mind. From which one can focus on the importance of ‘Shin’, or ‘Spirit’. The body manifests the weak points, but the mind can rectify, channel and direct them.” ⑥ Ibid, pg.35