Iru Fumei Teki — Hit the Hidden Target 射る不明的

It may sound counter-intuitive, but aiming for a hidden target or goal can bring us enormous benefits.

Iru Fumei Teki 射る不明的 [pronounced “ee-roo foo-may tek-ee”] means to “hit the hidden target” — a perspective that urges us to seek the path less-traveled because it often leads to a prize most people never consider, let alone attain.

Many times we can see a target before us — we can easily aim for a goal that is within view, and within reach. However, stop to consider this: the easier the target is to view, and to hit, the more likely such a target is to be trivial. 

On the other hand, the “hidden targets” that Iru Fumei Teki speaks about are the gems worth pursuing. They are the goals and aspirations hidden-away from every-day seekers. 

Hidden Targets Hide Great Leaps Forward

Sometimes these targets are hidden because they are so very difficult to conceptualize. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer had a particularly apt insight into this: 

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.

This is a very important point: it oftentimes takes a spark of genius to see the target that no one else does, and then to formulate a plan for hitting that target. Advances in science and technology often come about in this manner: the advances are made by thinking in a unique and creative way — a target that simple linear thinking wasn't able to identify, let alone figure out a way to pursue it.

And novel and powerful works in the arts —whether a new way of seeing the world around us or an insightful written work, for instance — come about by taking the jump to a target hidden away which only genius sees.

Hidden Targets are High-Value Targets

It has often been said that repeating the same actions is guaranteed to give us the same results. Expecting otherwise is rarely realistic.

So if that's true, how do we achieve extraordinary results?

The answer lies in hidden targets. Aiming for the unusual, creating goals to achieve things that most people don't even imagine – these are all ways that we can take a great leap forward that brings us incredible rewards.

The highest value targets are often those hidden from our view. We don't consider them because perhaps they are outlandish. Or we don't even contemplate their existence because their very existence is outside our current realm of understanding.

But strive to imagine those targets: they are incredibly valuable.

Hidden Targets Drive Our Own Growth

We can also consider this: targets that are hidden are generally worth attaining simply because they are hidden. Hidden, difficult, non-obvious targets are worth achieving many times for the reason that they are quite so difficult to achieve.

The process of growth, focus, determination, and commitment required to hit those targets can be its own reward. Traveling the path to such a hidden target changes the traveler in many ways, and in so many positive and strong ways. Achieving the target itself may in fact almost appear secondary to the benefits of working hard to achieve it.

There is also a greater good involved in being the trailblazer, and in taking a path that is not obvious.

The writer Ralph Waldo Emerson encouraged:

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Creating a trail for others to follow is only possible if we go down paths that are generally untraveled, or traveled in a different way. Certainly, such a path is hard; certainly also there is a greater possibility of failure, at arriving at a “dead end” that produces nothing of value. But imagine the possibilities for success! 

Not Just the Path Less-Traveled; Instead, the Path Not Imagined

To succeed by going a way different from others has enormous rewards for ourselves, and enormous rewards for others in our community.

For all these perspectives, aiming for the hidden target, and then hitting it, is an incredibly powerful approach to seeing the value in the non-obvious, and pursuing it.

Kanji/Katakana Meaning
射る hit or shoot (iru)
不明 hidden or unclear (fumei)
target (teki/mato)

Editor's Note: This lecture was first delivered by Sensei at the Goju Karate dojo in San Rafael, California on 20 August 2014; this concept was presented again at the Goju Karate NYC Dojo on 18 October 2023.