The weak draw
Commander in Chief Minamoto no Kur Yoshitsune† (1159-89), during the shore battle at Yashima in early 1185, drops his bow in the water and struggles to retrieve it even as the enemy soldiers on the boats try to strike him off his horse and his own men urge him to abandon it. When he finally retrieves it and returns to the beach, some veteran warriors openly complain:
“That was a terrible thing to do, sir. Your bow may be worth a thousand, even ten thousands of gold, but how could it be worth risking your life?”
“It isn’t that I didn’t want to lose the bow itself,” Yoshitsune replied. “If my bow were like my uncle Tametomo’s and required two or three men for the stringing, I even might have deliberately dropped it for the enemy to take. But mine is weak and feeble. If the enemy had taken it, he would have jeered at me, saying, ‘See, this is Minamoto General Kur Yoshitsune’s bow!’ I wouldn’t have liked that. That’s why I risked my life to get it back.
-Legends of the Samurai, Hiroaki Sato
This passage resonated with me. I recognize something of myself in this.
Well… except for the part were I am adeptly capable of firing an arrow from horseback in the midst of a rollicking melee. Although (maybe) now, in my old age, having crossed the Rubicon into venerability (apparently when men hit 35 they become less stupid) I might be inclined to leave the bow.
Still, I have enough of an ego that I do worry about what my enemies might think of me. I think it’s important to be a good enemy to someone. You should put effort into being a decent nemesis. Maybe they’ll even reciprocate. (thereby giving meaning to your life)
Did you know that ‘samurai’ or ‘servants’ were primarily horse archers… and they only became synonymous with swordplay and the iconic katana much later on. Now you know. I am a font of knowledge. Most of it useless
Probably because swords are cooler. Although bows do occasionally make a sporadic incursion back into popularity through the ages. (looking at you Katniss Everdeen) Still, bows don’t allow for that conflict resolution in an up close and personal space violating manner with… eh… random strangers on a battlefield… for a cause that probably isn’t your own.
Although that might just be the grappler in me mouthing off an imagined personal preference. I think most people prefer some distance to their murdering. Makes things easier. Choking someone to death (for example) requires a certain… reptilian mindset. (Looking at you Derek Chauvin)
Each to their own I guess.