Chasing Two Rabbits

These are so nice to read… a quoted zen story:

A martial arts student approaches his master. The apprentice has a question. “I’d like to improve my martial arts knowledge. In addition to learning from you, I’d like to study with another teacher in order to learn another style. What do you think of this idea?”

“The hunter who chases two rabbits,” answered the master, “catches neither one.”

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. The koan with rabbit means that you can’t go from one place to a two different directions at once [because you are one, and directions are two ;)]. You have to focus at one of them and go that way. But…
    @Jams: Good point with his “chasing the one rabbit from two angles” ;)

  2. I think people are being a little too literal with the zen koan. Bear in mind…it’s zen. It’s not supposed to make sense! ;)

    Yes, learning multiple fighting styles is an excellent way to improve your overall fighting. I personally advocate learning as many programming languages as you can. I learned more about C++ when I used languages like Java and Python.

    The koan is all about knowing what you really want, and going after it rather than chasing a bunch of goals. The person above with the 120 rabbits? They won’t catch a single one, unless they specifically target that single rabbit, and chase it. Same thing with duck hunting…if you aim at a cloud of ducks, and pull the trigger, you get nothing. You have to select one duck, and aim at it.

    For game industry careers…you need to decide what you want to do. Art? Programming? Design? Working for someone else? Doing it all yourself? Then once you’ve decided, go after that one rabbit.

  3. In reply to Jake Birkett, i’m an Aikido man too (although with a fraction of your experience). If your goal is the ‘inner peace’ you speak of, then yes dedicating yourself to one art is a good plan (this was the reason i settled on Aikido). Having said that, if my goal had been to learn to defend myself, i probably wouldn’t have chosen Aikido… I’m not saying there’s no cross over, i’m sure some boxers develop their spirit, and i *know* many Aikido ka who can kick ass… but you have to make the right decisions for your goal – as Juuso says, choose your rabbit :)

  4. Jams: yes: ‘You have to ask yourself exactly what rabbit you’re chasing’.

    Studying different programming languages all can help make you a better programmer: therefore the goal of being a ‘good programmer’ can be found through several different programming languages. On the other hand, if you want to be programmer and 3d artist then you must notice that learning 3D art takes time (which is away from being great programmer). So, choose your rabbit.

  5. hmm, cross training *can* be useful, no doubt, if your only intention is to become a fighter with more flexibility (which Bruce Lee advocated with his style of no style). However, I’ve been doing Aikido for 9 years and I realise that I still know so little. So if you trained for 3 years in Judo and went up against someone who had trained for 20 years, you’d loose, probably even with the extra boxing skills. Jack of all trades master of none? Furthermore there is a lot of philosphy behind certain martial arts that you really only begin to appreciate after a long time. If you chop and change all the time you may never obtain the “inner peace” that is the ultimate goal.

    However, when applied to programming it can go both ways. Using Blitz a lot helped my Delphi programming, I was solving problems different ways BUT I wanted to do Blitz so much that I let my Delphi contract work (which earned money) slip a lot.

  6. Actually i had some further thoughts about this, i think the true meaning of that Zen story is a bit deeper…

    You have to ask yourself exactly what rabbit you’re chasing. Continuing the martial arts analogy… if the students aim was to become a great martial artist, then cross training in another style would still be relevent to his goal, he’d still be chasing that one rabbit, but from 2 different angles. However if he also decided to take up playing the flute, that deviates from his goal and he has a second rabbit!

    With your game project Juuso, even if you started another, or perhaps even 2 more game projects… would you really be chasing multiple rabbits? Or just one rabbit from diffeent angles?

  7. The thing is, it’s widely accepted in the martial arts that cross training in more than one discipline is essential to be a well rounded fighter (for example, 3 years boxing and 3 years judo would make you someone to be reckoned with).

    I would say to that ‘master’, it’s naive to think one person can teach you everything there is to know about a subject. He can only ever offer you one perspective…

    To make that relevent, i have found that studying C# has had a big impact on my Blitz3D code…

  8. @Ville: I have only one project going on: ‘the secret game project’. While it’s true that one must (sometimes) handle school, projects, family, hobbies… it still is a matter of choice. At the moment my game development time goes 100% only to secret project… Morphlings is in pre-production.

    Even if I hadn’t these projects I’d say that the ‘wisdom’ here has a great meaning: if you concentrate on one thing instead of many things…. you’ll suffer. The project will suffer. If you can concentrate on one thing – and only one thing, it’s great.

    @Tim & Mike: Argh :)

  9. Heh, yeah if you chase 120 rabbits you’ll catch one for sure :).

  10. Does this apply to studying to enter the game industry as a programmer?

    I’m often developing software in different areas than just C++ game code because I enjoy learning a lot of different things. My friends on the other hand believe that focusing on game code such as Unreal is how to best prepare for entering the game industry.

    I feel like I’m chasing two rabbits although I think I become a programmer who is well versed in many technologies.

    What do you think?

  11. If you chace two rabbits, you will lose them both.

    Well hasn’t it been working out for you then Juuso? You’re doing at least two projects right now.

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