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Spearfishing is a philosophy that I was first introduced to in 2008 by my sensei. He often compared work, finances, education and personal life to spearfishing.

I have fond memories of waking up at 5am and looking forward to the orange sunrise(it really did look like a giant orange) over Awaji island as we made our way to the secret beach in Shikoku Island.It was a perfect craggy cove with no one around. Under the water, rocky formations seen on the surface were actually towers and spires, teeming with life. On the season opener of each year, I remember him praying and then pouring sake into the sea before we got into the water.

After half a day of fishing we prepared the barbecue and roasted our bounty on the open flame. The sound of the waves, smell of the smoke in my hair, warmth of the embers, taste of the dried salt around my lips and sight of the purple hues of twilight remind me of things nature can only teach. I’ve since graduated from spearing with him and taught up to 10 people how to spearfish but recall sensei’s teachings around the fire.

Everything Happens In Stages

Before you learn how to spear you must learn how to dive. Before you learn how to dive you must learn how to swim. Before you learn how to swim you must learn to respect the sea. Same as in most things in life, you must learn them step by step. You must master one level before moving on to the next. I thought spearfishing was an easy task and tried to rush at the fish. In fact I did not catch ANY [pullquote]He purposely allowed me to make all these mistakes before actually helping me improve in earnest.[/pullquote]fish for the first three trips. On many of my trips, when I could finally dive, I also got a splitting headache afterwards from my inability to equalize the pressure when diving beyond my level. In fact, I didn’t even know the proper way to dive. I was splashing around the top, causing a ruckus and scaring the fish away. In the ocean I was shooting my spear any which way, hoping to snare at least something. When I finally did, it was too small to be eaten. A waste of a precious life for game. He purposely allowed me to make all these mistakes before actually helping me improve in earnest. It takes a lot of time and training to move from one level to the next but you will have the advantage over others if you have a strong foundation. The best ice hockey player also happens to be the best ice skater. The best teacher also happens to be the best student.

If You Want Anything Good You Need To Dive Deep

There are no good fish at the surface. The real prize is at the bottom, in the gloom, beyond your comfort zone. Getting to the bottom is no easy feat as your body can only handle so much pressure. Spearos have to scout the landscape, make a judgement on the possibility of finding something, take a deep breath and jackknife down. Once down at the bottom, be it at 5 meters, be it at 10 meters, the approach can be different. First you comb through the bottom of the rocks to see if anything is hiding inside. If not, you then wait patiently on the surface. Sometimes I pick up a small rock and tap on the large rock’s surface to draw attention. 20 seconds. 30 seconds. 40 seconds. You will get close to your lung’s limit, feel the CO2 build up and adrenaline running through you. But it’s exactly when you’re near your limit, many times, an ominous shape appears from the deep blue. As in life, you do not want to catch the common abundant fish frolicking around the shallows. Anyone can get them and they don’t taste good. When you turn that ominous shape into a rewarding catch, that memory will stay with you forever.

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If You Think You’re Close Enough, You’re Not Close Enough

In the water, things look bigger and closer. Naturally when beginner spearos release their spears, they always fall short and the fish just veer away. They are afraid of getting too close and scaring off the fish. Beginners lack the agility and confidence. They also lack the skill of aim which an experienced spearo has. I often make this mistake in that I take action without being a hundred percent [pullquote align=”right”]When you think you’re close enough for the shot. you’re probably not close enough. When you think you’re too close for the shot, then you’re actually at the right distance.[/pullquote]ready. It’s a bad habit that I am constantly trying to improve. When you think you’re close enough for the shot. you’re probably not close enough. When you think you’re too close for the shot, then you’re actually at the right distance. Instead of taking risks, it’s important to learn how to take calculated risks in which a return is expected before you even take the risk. Emotions and fear often make us jump in too quickly, only to have lost the entire prize. If you stay calm like a rock, the opportunity will present itself and you will be more than ready to make the most of it.

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I think there are lessons to be learned in all parts of nature as well as in all types of sports. Many of us in urban societies often feel unhappy or unsatisfied, despite being surrounded by plenty. We amuse ourselves, spend money to satisfy a shot-term desire and glance at only the surface of things because we’re blinded by our own self importance. We are always surrounded by light, noise and other people. Maybe many of those problems can be remedied by getting back in touch with nature. Feeling like we are not beyond nature but an inherent piece of it. It will grant us a piece of mind and realization of our place in the world.

But with immense garbage problems in Midway and Radiation from Fukushima, I wonder if my child will be able to experience nature as I have.