Dear Inquisitive Stranger,
If planet Earth took part in the Intergalactic Olympic Games there would be givens about some of the sports representatives.
Russia would chalk up their palms ready for a gymnastic bout.
China would get their spring-on for table tennis.
Germany would be confident their Mercedes horsepower runs like clockwork for the equestrian events.
Brazil would oil up bronzed skin for a volleyball spectacle.
Planetary reps for the archery competition would be Republic of Korea, the first choice for this sport by a long shot (boom boom!). South Korea would step up to the podium with a confident cheer of, “We got this!” So it could be fair to say, as I sit here in the Archery Cafe Robin Hood in Seoul, that I am in the best place to learn this sport. Korea, you are my archery mentor.
As a British subject, the mention of archery and I’m transported to Nottingham forest riding alongside the forest archer and folklore philanthropist, Robin Hood. The wealth redistributor of 12th century ballads who robbed the well-heeled to give to the penniless. Oh, that medieval rogue could make a gal swoon, my Gran in particular, especially if it was Kevin Costner fondling the arrows.
But was Robin a historical hero or yesteryear crook?
Camp Hood argue the villainous rich deserved the plundering of their wealth as they were, well, rich. Bards of old sang of an unjust tax imposed on the poor by the rich. A cavalier decision by scoundrels in their manors, wine spilled extravagantly over their beards and half-eaten chicken legs flung to the Irish wolfhounds. Readers of history harumph at the injustice and demand retribution. And came it did in the form of Robin Hood, the heroic tax return accountant.
However, for all of the bias fist shaking at those blackguards, history should remember that stealing is stealing is stealing. Centuries later, Ghandi’s quote may have made Robin pause before drawing an arrow from his quill, ‘an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind’.
But let’s not get too caught up in this debate as Robin may very well have been a myth. Whether he was a real person or not, the fable of Robin Hood is a great one and who doesn’t love a good yarn, especially one with a bandit and a lesson? At the heart of it, this is a tale of a man on a mission. No matter what your view about his motives there is a great deal we can learn from this goal-driven man.
Firstly, let’s look at Robin’s life manifesto. This was a guy who believed in something and was prepared to live like a hoodlum in the forest while stylin’ it out in his greenest tights for that cause. To achieve his goals, he identified his target then honed his craft to get the party started. Robin didn’t wake up one Tuesday morning and discover he was an archery ace but, like all successful Olympians and highwaymen, had to work at his art. Something the bards would not have sung about is the hours of unglamorous target practice hitting potato sacks with no arrow boy on hand to collect misfires. It was these long slogs at honing his craft that eventually lead to awesome skilllz. And something Hollywood has taught us is that dinosaurs only eat bad guys and being able to split an arrow with another is what makes the money shot.
Role play time: you are a poor peasant, eating raw potatoes from the ground because the extra tax squeeze means you had to sell your cooking pot. What is to be done? Whinge to neighbours? Wait for a spectral influence to change the course of things to come? Action man Robin, was never monikered Grumbling Hood for a reason. By fighting back, he demonstrated that taking a stand was to gain control of one’s own life. Truly the best of times rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of personal hardship. So make an executive decision for change and reap the rewards. If we all tackled our fitness regime with the same gusto as Robin on his quest, we would be a society of stealthy, six-packing ninjas.
By pinching from the pockets of the medieval rich, Robin understood there would be some powerful feathers ruffled, but consequences schmonsequences to that. Here was a passionate person and trying to distract a passionate person with a grand plan is like trying to steal a soggy dog chew from an Alsatian. Robin’s adaptability may have kept him out of trouble but he was a chap with an inflexible code of conduct. He stood up for what he believed was right, even if that meant he stood alone. Not that he ever had to do that. Those merry men were right behind him for the entire assignment. They shared his vision and it was this common goal that lead to their triumph.
This is where Robin’s life lessons equip us with workplace skills. Robin was nothing, if not a community man. Admittedly he ostracized society’s capitalists, but other than this blip he was a world class team player, generously distributing riches to the needy and protectively watching his kin dressed in disguise from the shadows. Robin put the hood in neighbourhood watch.
As a decision maker and person who could inspire others, Robin made a great leader. We all have a thing or two to learn from his management style. This was a dude who could be relied upon to get the job done and his merry men looked to him for purpose. Robin knew that successful people surround themselves with positive people. Well, they weren’t called Merry Men for nothing you know. A life filled with positive people who laugh easily will renew the zest in anyone’s blue day. Even heroic forest bandits have cruddy days. Dang, if alive in this decade, Robin would run an excellent corporate staff development workshop.
And lastly, let us not forget what Robin Hood has taught us about love. If you have a cool treehouse, you are more likely to seduce the object of your affection. Treehouse I do not have, but I hope my archery skills are irresistible. Ten minutes later, I have discovered they are not.
The Archery Cafe Robin Hood allows you to buy up to 18 arrows for 7,000 won or 36 arrows for 13,000 won. If, like me, you are a novice then you must practice at the 5 meter range before moving to 10 metres in order to get to grips with how to shoot.
The cafe has been open since September so the venue, equipment and toilet are squeaky clean and brand new. Staff are smiley, helpful and always on hand to assist with technique, advice and cheerlead. The owner, an ex-professional, is keen to share his passion and would be a hit with Gran as she liked her men “tall and dark with a friendly face”.
Don’t be fooled by the ‘cafe’ part in ‘archery cafe’. This is a place to come shoot some arrows not chew the fat with buddies over a mocha chocka fatolata. There is, however, a small selection of soft drinks and I must say the bottle of Evian water I purchased was extraordinarily good. Happy Kpop sets an upbeat mood while firing at the target so at least the music holds up the cafe part of the bargain.
The Archery Cafe Robin Hood hits bullseye if you fancy half an hour learning a new skill and friendly competition. Tempted to bet your mates that the loser buys a round? Remember gambling is illegal in Korea, you rascal! As I discovered from my shooting skills today, I will need a lot of practice before I go making bold wagers so shall return as this has been compelling fun and an arm workout to boot. I believe Robin would be pleased with this action plan as he knew a thing or two about wise investment.
Invest in your passion, invest in people, invest in yourself.
My challenge to you today, Stranger dearest, is to live like Robin by finding your passion and give it a good game. That is to say, whatever your hand finds to do, do it to the best of your ability and with all your might. Robin had a passionate life. Perhaps we all need a little bit of Robin Hood in our lives.
Now get out there and go set the world on fire!
Peace, love and cha cha cha.
Robin Hood Archery Cafe – the stress relief lifestyle cafe
43 Samseong-ro, 85-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Seoulleung station, line 2, exit 1
Monday – Friday 11:00 – 05:00, Saturday – Sunday 12:00 – 02:00
Hello. This letter was released in the wild at ‘Robin Hood Archery Cafe’ for a stranger to discover while shooting some arrows.
If that archer was you, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share your aspirations, archery scores or anything that made you smile today.
Maybe you did not find the letter but you did discover this blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts too. If not an archer, what sports and hobbies make your world go round? Like me, did Kevin Costner make you swoony when he played Robin Hood in the 90s?
With light and love,