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Putting Away the Stick, Part 2

Photo of Norman Fischer by Samuel Ace

The kyosaku, the other students would be quick to tell you, did not actually hurt, despite its dramatic sound. If the monitor hit you properly, the experience was invigorating. I frequently requested the service and found this to be true. Later on, I carried it myself.

Occasionally, of course, monitors messed up. When their aim or attention flagged, the results could be painful. There were also now and again monitors whose intentions were not always good; who, subject to minor fits of sadism, seemed to miss more often than others. 

In addition to this anomaly, there were two other important downsides to kyosaku practice. Because the zendo was open, and newcomers were constantly coming to sit, it was impossible to orient everyone to the kyosaku. I used to wonder what such first-timers thought — or felt — when they heard a gunshot-like report coming out of nowhere as they peacefully meditated. 

Norman Fischer
from When You Greet Me, I Bow

To be continued . . .