Darts: a game where participants compete with one another by throwing small arrow like devices at a target that is round and has numbers and sections and an inner bull with an outer bull and so on. Darts now refer to the standard game with a specific bristle board design and a set of rules. Rules that are general to the game and rules that govern games like, “501,” “301,” and “Cricket.”

Darts is a traditional pub game that was and is commonly played in the United Kingdom as well as other places in Europe and across the pond here in the America’s.

Wikipedia tells hits history in a terse form, i.e., “The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "butt"; the word comes from the French word but, meaning "target". In particular, the Yorkshire and Manchester Log End boards differ from the standard board in that they have no treble, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm across with double and bull areas measuring just 4 mm. The London Fives board is another variation. This has only 12 equal segments numbered 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10 with the doubles and triples being a quarter of an inch wide.”

There have been a variety of darts created over the years but the most common today is the tungsten dart. There are electronic darts but for this blog and for my efforts in tossing darts I remain a steel dart fan and enthusiast. I am recommending a book for novice darters but only because it appealed to me and my studies and rest assured most of the dart books out there are outstanding. In short, find one if this one does not fit your needs and get it. I can tell you when I started to play over twenty years ago, before I laid down my darts in 96, I tossed darts for several years without knowing some very important and critical mechanics, etc., of the dart game. As I take up once again my steel darts I have found a fountain of information to help make the game both enjoyable and competitive. Enjoy, diddle for the middle and let the darts fly!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mind-no-Mind and the Throw (the throw [投その])

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

In recent postings I have provided some interesting concepts regarding the dart arts. A stance, body structure and the mechanics of ‘the throw’ in darts along with other principles such as mushin, mushotoku, hishiryo, and fudoshin - all Asian martial discipline principles of the mind. The concept of ‘mind-no-mind’ and the throw are today’s article.

We as dart players have one thing we all must do well in order to succeed in the dart arts, the throw. We cannot spend any time ‘thinking of the throw’ with our human conscious mind thoughts for they distract and obfuscate what needs to happen in ‘the throw’. This brings us to the mind-no-mind concept, i.e., the ability to throw well and consistently in a competitive environment. 

We need to encode our procedural memories to create ‘tapes’ that are played each and every time in a consistent manner that provides us - “The Throw” that hits the target each time, every time and under a variety of situations and circumstances. These tapes are conditioned responses that bypass our thinking process, i.e., that process runs when we are observing our adversary, watching scores, figuring out our strategies and tactics in the moment, etc. We don’t have brain resources to make our throws, the throw, but must rely on triggering our tapes, i.e., those procedural memory oriented primal (instinct-like) conditioned responses so that our bodies and darts work much like our lizard brains (see my martial arts blogs for what the human, monkey and lizard brain concepts mean). 

How do we create, “The Throw?” Well, we first have to find our throw, then we have to practice-practice-practice and then practice-practice-practice some more to find and create a tape of our throw. This is going to take time and … wait for it …. “practice-practice-practice and then practice-practice-practice some more!”

I look at it as a life-or-death practice in that if I fail to encode the tape that I will actually lose life. It is the incentive I know is not reality but a way to convince the mind and the lizard brain to make it really and deeply encoded procedural memory tape that will consistently provide me, “My Personal Throw!”

The process of practice should include the following principles and concepts as goals to create a mind-no-mind ‘throw’. You have read them before if you read my blog but a reminder as follows is always a good repetitive learning tool:

Mushin: Mushin is the essence of Zen and Japanese martial arts. Mushin literally means the "mind without mind", and it is commonly called "the state of no-mindedness". Mushin is the essence of Zen and Japanese martial arts. It is a state of mind where the mind is not fixed on or occupied by any thought or emotion. In Zen on in your daily life, if the impulse is expressed as conscious thought, it is not Zen.

Mushotoku: In Zen, the concept of Mushotoku [無所得] represents a state of mind where the spirit does not seek to obtain anything. This is the attitude of a mind that does not get attached to objects and that seeks no personal gain. It transcends dualities and limitations of the ego. When in mushotoku, even if you lose a match you are still free, content and moving ever forward toward enlightened dart arts. 

Mushotoku is a concept of acting without wanting to achieve a result, and giving without wanting something in return while still attaining that very thing. It is about no fear of either having something or losing that something, it is about being something regardless. It is not discarding the very nature of the discipline but embracing it without attaching one’s mind to it to the detriment of all else, it allows its presence in the moment. 

Mushotoku means getting rid of attachment on a mental level, that is, becoming unattached to personal achievements in all forms. Letting go of achievements means letting go of the inner self. In the end, giving up the self is the greatest achievement you can reach. Mushotoku is you, me and the entire Universe in pure sincerity.

Hishiryo: [非思慮] is a state of mind beyond thinking and non-thinking. During Zazen, it is the normal condition of the consciousness. Consciousness during Zen meditation is not the same as it is in daily life, it does not behave like the intellect. During zazen, we have thoughts that appear and disappears naturally; this is perfectly normal. If we let those thoughts come and go freely, without giving form to them, without wanting to chase them, the intellect becomes peaceful by itself and hishiryo consciousness appears, beyond thinking and non-thinking.

The more you think, the more afraid you become, and the more anxious you grow. When you think too much, conflicts and battles take hold of your mind, preventing you from achieving a zen mind in the dart arts. When you stop this internal activity, you return to the normal, simple, and peaceful condition of the mind, the immovable mind. 

Hishiryo, it is entirely connected with the present, never overthinking, to be eternally connected to the present moment. Hishiryo is the absolute ego-lessness consciousness, in full unity with the dart arts.

Fudoshin: [不動心] is the 'immovable mind', that is, the mind that has met all challenges of life, and has attained a state of complete composure and fearlessness. This state of equanimity is essential in the practice of the dart arts. Fudoshin represents a peaceful state of total determination and unshakable will. It is the state of a spirit that is determined to win, and that is filled with courage, endurance and determination to surmount every obstacle that comes in its way. Fudoshin is associated with a feeling of invincibility, of a mind that cannot be disturbed by confusion, hesitation, doubt, or fear.

From the moment you set and prep to approach the ockey line, to the stance; to the position of your body; to the arm and to the actual ‘throw’ you need to trigger the tape and feel it instinctively and primally so that you can focus on those tactics and strategies that achieve your goals in the dart arts. If I had to say what the hardest part of the dart arts to achieve it would be the finding, creation and application of the personal throw because without that you don’t achieve mastery of the dart arts. 

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

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