Tweaks, rants and stuff

Another session on Kyudo this past Friday. There were only a few people there. I was expecting to finally just get to practice. “Man plans, Heaven ordains” a senior offered me assitance. I am starting to wonder if I am just so bad I cry out for help. 🙂 More pointers on my left hand Tenouchi. Helpful pointers. That may have gotten me over the hump of understanding and making it work. Keeping the thumb nail up. I had gotten the part about how to place the thumb but I was not rotating the thumb nail to an up position. I see that bit of change, changes the focus of power/push and the little cup one is suppose to keep in the palm. 

I also shot this Friday. Not really with the intent of working on hitting, just to see how all these changes and the new Yumi came together. I have shot with this current Yumi in the states, but now it is a whole new ball game, so I was curious about my power, and aim. I did not hit which was as I expected. Both were a little high and to either side of the mato, but at least they did not drop before the target.
I went on to one of the Facebook forums on Kyudo this week past ( two weeks now, but no matter), and posted a question for discussion.
Why do ( some )  Kyudoka seemingly by choice ( or not?) want to be set apart from the Martial art circles , yet at the same time want to be seen as part of it? What is Kyudo ( there is no wrong answer) to YOU
There was an explanation that went before this. It was a dissapointing experience. 
One post was particularly irksome: “This will not happen, but I wish you would come back with this question after some 25 years. Doing kyudo in the mean time, of course.”
Ok maybe it is me, but what the Fukushima does my practicing have to do with these questions? I do not get it. It could be me, I am slow sometimes.
Only a couple of beginners really made the attempt to answer the questions. Most of the others went into their own idea of what was being said ( not on topic) or, into the standard Kyudo Zen vs Kyudo Martial Art debate. Maybe because of my lead in, but that was not the question about Zen or not. Another went into how a certain magazine I used as a reference example was not worth caring about. There is a saying by someone that goes ” most people do not listen with the intent of understanding, but with the intent of replying.” Something like that. So bloody true!
The business about Zen Kyudo, Martial Kyudo and Sport Kyudo is petty. It starts getting into the my dog is bigger than your dog , my style of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam is better, purer, whatever, than yours BS mentality. If you think Kyudo has to do with Zen, is Zen, is a martial art, is not, Renmei style is better than Shibata, Heki-ryu rules, no matter, do not care. We are taught in Kung Fu there is something to learn from all styles, people, things. Be respectful to all. I chose my style of Chan, (Kyudo, Kung Fu) over Soto, Tibetan, etc, because it filled my need. When I speak of it, it is my view/opinion for me. (If I ever come across otherwise, let me know, bust me on it. I will correct myself or offer an apology) That should be the basis of choosing a Kyudo practice, a fighting style, a car, not a label. Better, right or wrong is defined by the user. …end rant
I had reason to go back over some of my old post on Kyudo when I was just starting in 2007. Interesting reading the beginners mind. Perhaps more so that my thoughts have not really changed much. Good or bad ? Perspective I guess. Techniques big change beside that of style, but philosophy is pretty much the same. I believe still I am in line with the philosophy of the Kyuhon. I still enjoy doing the meditation before shooting and think it is important, not critical, it can be done without it, of course, just like you can shoot, run, play ball etc, without warming up first, but it helps one’s performance. In my Chan practice we have warmup “Ki” drills before sitting. They help meditation performance by enhancing the Chi flow, which we use to activate Chakras for a better meditative experience. As does stretching before sitting or shooting. I think meditation helps to clear the mind for focus on the details of Kyudo and leave “outside” stuff, outside sooner. I am guessing some have their own way of doing this, even just shooting a few Makiwara shots. However, what do I know, I am just a ni-dan and should practice another 25 yrs before speaking, maybe, I guess.
This post like several are written over a few days, not often all at one sitting. Today is Tuesday I went to Kyudo. I am so grateful to be able to attend. It is the only thing that has really worked out of the original plan since moving here. Ok, one of three, we wanted to move into an older house, done. I wanted to practice /study Zen, being done via my friend and Kyudo. The rest, not so successful…as yet. All our money was tied up in the boat, and jobs are few here, especially for me, and even LZ due to the woman age ceiling in Japan. So money is an big issue. Anyway I am able to attend Kyudo I can go on the average two times a week, sometimes pushing for three. Only due to riding the bike. The train fare and class would cost about $40.00 a month. Riding the bike I can go twice a week for 24.00 that is my monthly fun allowance.
Anyway, I went to the Dojo, it was a chilly ride today and my strength felt low on the ride. I am however down from a 2 hour trip to 1 hour and 20 min. Sugoi! I am even surprised at that, more so since I am not pushing it. Ok, so the group was fairly small, the Kaicho was there and worked with me a bit on my Hikiwaki. Nothing was said today about my Tenouchi so it must be better. He said I could go shoot mato but I stayed on the Makiwara. However later I did venture to the Matos. I was told to relax more on my Hikiwaki and use my shoulder muscles not my arm, but mostly relax. So, how can I relax if I am drawing the bow apart doing the Nobei thing splitting the draw. Maybe do need a little lighter bow. Drawing is not a problem, but staying relaxed while doing it is a challenge that at this point, and does not seem logical. 
My sempai told me to twist my right more as I draw and be more centered, as my shots started drifting to the right. Do not be a sniper he said, stay centered. His English is not very good so I am still not quite sure about that other than I need to focus in the center, in the middle of my draw. Perhaps I am leaning into it. I did get off one shot that hit and it felt perfect when released. After that it went downhill as I grew tired. I really miss my other Yumi. I could shoot all day with that. I do not see hw I am going to be able to pull off thenNew Year’s 108 (109) shots this year.So sad it is lost at sea. Anyway that is another story.
Speaking of which. It seems like in hind sight our losing the boat when we did maybe have been for our own good. This has been heavy Typhoon season, we would have been trying to make our way to Japan as of Oct and would have been in the heavy stuff that been going on. On the other hand a couple we know, with way less experience than me is now in Okinawa from Mexico, and they dodged all of the storms. Sigh! I am still not sure if we are better off now without the boat or with it, that would have had other limitations. Japan marinas, and fishing ports are not setup for livaboard, so do not have laundry facilities and showers. Well, all things in life are a trade off. Anyway, I am grateful for what we have, especially health to make changes, now some job/ money luck would be great.  
One another front, topic. Whist I have been doing my gardening thing and pleased with the results, LZ has been doing her thing on the home design. An outstanding job with our limited funds to make the place more feel more homey. She found some real bargains with fabric and set about making curtains. An amazing difference in the feel of the house with the windows dressed. I will add some more functionality to that by covering them, the windows not the curtains, with plastic behind these curtain to help keep our little heat in and the a lot of cold out! 
man cave
I am already starting to suffer the early touch of winter. It will not be a pleasant winter for me living in a wooden house with no heating system. Japanese are tuff, I am a tropical baby. My DNA is warm weather programed. I am more a Okinawa kind of guy!

2 thoughts on “Tweaks, rants and stuff

  1. I guess I’ve never given much thought to the martial-art-or-not question. Maybe that’s because I’ve only ever practised in Japan, where its Budo credentials don’t seem to be questioned, and then also because I suppose I don’t feel any need to justify it… kyudo is kyudo. But maybe it depends on what people mean by martial arts? Perhaps the most obvious notions would involve a physical conflict with an external opponent, which of course we don’t have in kyudo, so I can understand why people would question. When I went to the International Budo Seminar last year (which, of course, included kyudo), I know some people were a bit confused by that. They valued speed and power. “Why is it so slow?” And for my part, too, there was some difficulty, especially when I tried kendo, in overcoming a reluctance to hit or to hurt someone. Nevertheless you can see, in the training that we do, the same sort of emphasis that you read in the work of high-level masters in other arts: the overcoming and letting go of self, the action without thought, mushin. Obviously the technique is different, as well as the attitude toward conflict with another person.

    But of course one thing to remember is that kyudo is too dangerous to practise with an external opponent. It would be like kendo with real swords. The first time I ever shot enteki one of the arrows missed the target and went through a steel wall at 60 meters. That made an impression.

    The more I think about it the more I suppose it comes down to “What are martial arts to YOU?” People who relish combat may not find kyudo satisfying, although that said, at the International Budo Seminar, when we had the option to try out two different arts other than our own, out of all nine arts represented there, the most popular choice was kyudo. I think it somehow refines some of the mental/spiritual and even physical challenges in a way that is unique, simply because there’s always the opponent to bring out something in you. In kyudo you have to do that yourself. The only other traditional art I can think of like that is iaido.

    Anyway I suppose I sidestep the question. It doesn’t seem so important what category it goes in, and besides, different people practice for different reasons. For me, kyudo is a mystery and also a way of exploring mysteries within myself. Why does my form change when I’m in front of the mato versus the makiwara? How do my thoughts affect the shooting so much that a master can see what is in my mind, just by watching? Or as you’re struggling with now, what does it mean to draw the bow in a way that is “relaxed,” yet fully, large, and in such a way that you put your whole life and everything you are into one arrow, then do it again? And of course there are the thousands of lesser mysteries: matters of technique, matters of mind… My primary teacher has been practising for 40 years and says it never gets old. There are always new challenges, new mysteries. I hope when I’ve been practising for 25 years that’s what I’ll say, too. Although first I have to live that long!

    Sometime when we meet I’d like to learn some of those ki drills you do before sitting. It seems like they would be good before practice, too. I’m actually very bad about warming up, and with the shoulder problem I think warming up would help. The first arrow today felt like someone had punched me hard in the shoulder, but it got progressively better as I shot, so maybe some warm-up exercises would help smooth that out.

    Oh, and the house is looking good! Think warm thoughts, and it’ll be spring in, um… well, a while.

    • I had to give this some thought. You are quite right on all counts. My query was not so much as what is Kyudo or if it is a Martial art.. It was more so on the Players. However in thinking about it, it would come down to the interpretation of the Art itself.

      The base for this was, how as a Martial Art and it’s Players as Martial Artist, do not involve themselves in martial art type things, unless they are a mixed MArtial artist, say Kyudo /Kendo/Karate. One , at least me has never seen a Kyudoka involved in say the Martial art hall of fame, or National Awards. So wondering if it is themselves that set them a part or is it the Martial art industry. Then within the Kyudo circle, at least in the States there is the attitude, our school is a martial art school, but so n so school is not. Where both are teaching the same thing, but emphasis, the mind set is different. Based only on is it important to hit the target or not. as you say, and I have also “It doesn’t seem so important what category it goes in, and besides, different people practice for different reasons” The label does not matter.

      Anyway, it was one of those things that made me go hmmmm.

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