Somedays you are the bug.

Dolly Parson, once said , some days you are the windshield, some days you are the bug…

I went to Kyudo today. With that said you already know where this is going, right?!
It was a good ride over. These days I take advantage of the time in traffic and biking to sing out loud. With the upcoming show in April I have been asked to sing. So not only do I need to get my finger chops in shape , but my vocal chops as well. The little bit of singing I did with the rock group really let me know I need get my vocal cords some exercise as well as my fingers. So I can sing on the road whilst biking without feeling to self conscious about the folks in the hood hearing me. It is said the world is our Dojo. In this case for vocal kung fu.
However this has nothing to do with the bug feeling…
I arrive at the Kyudojo. The Kaicho is there with several of the regulars I know and some who I do not. After today I figured out I am not the newest kid on the block. More so after seeing the surprise on one guy’s face when everyone knew my name. I spoke to him in the hall earlier, he was kind of distant with a reply, none in fact, maybe he did not hear me. Again nothing to do with the title, just a little written mind side trip. Ok , yeah, I digress.
Yamashita Sensei was there, I greeted him and everyone then go about my business to practice. I change, warmup, chat a bit with Yamashita Sensei as he is making ready to leave as are some others. Anyway I do a couple of Makiwara shots to get warmed up, then start Tai Hai. I am part way through my first shot when the Kaicho returns from Lunch he watches. I get a hmm not too bad comment. Ok, so next shot, he is there, gives me some instructions, mostly the same open more, chest and shoulders. I do so beyond my normal maximum I really extreme with the chest, arch, shoulders, back. Yes he says! I think oh boy! As in good grief. Is that what it takes!? sugoi! 
The Kaicho again takes me to the side where the charts are, says something about image, and following while pointing at the charts, graphics. “Copy this” in my head is what I am getting. My balance point, my power point, focal point. Hmmm, ok. To understand is easy, to do is difficult. I shoot again. I hit right on the edge of the mato. Interestingly my second shoot hits the same place. Surprising me and many with the sound. At the same time something white flies off the target. I thought I had hit my first arrow and at least ripped off some feathers. However the Ya were undamaged, so the piece of white whatever it was must have been off the Mato.
All that to say I kind of hit, but kind of did not, however at least I repeated my action, enough to get the same spot …almost. I see that as a win, of sorts.
Ok, so I am making note to myself about what I need to correct on my Tenouchi and my Hikiwaki. I notice a guy checking me out. I saw him helping someone else earlier. I do not recall him from before, I am guessing he is advanced, even though looks young. So he see me practicing trying to figure out what I am doing wrong, or right. He come over and starts giving me advice and knows my name. I guess being the only foreigner all the seniors know of me. Anyway, It is kind of nice the way, seniors offer help and guidance. He gave me some pointers on forming tenouchi, then went through the sequence backward to ashibumi, showing how each flows from the other, and the shoulders, do not change, nor the wrist. He showed me where my elbows should be placed, in a natural roundness not over done. How my angle was off in my right hand on daisan and Hikiwaki. It was all very helpful. Even as I was packing to go he was still adding a few pointers. All of this was great, yet at the same time, returned me to the mental point of I have a long way to go before I am ready to test. Maybe not, maybe for the test at my level they are not expecting these things to be perfect. Maybe they are things need to work on to be just better overall.
One thing that did become clear is I need to do something about my shoulder. The angles that everyone keeps moving me into all require my shoulder to have more movement ability. Perhaps movement is not the word. Pain free, large range of motion, may describe it better. The angles cause me to tighten up. The pain is not really bad, in training kung Fu we learn to deal with pain and keep going, but this is enough discomfort to make me tight. I consulted with an acupuncturist via LZ on the phone. Because of the time factor of this long term issue there is some inflammation, this is the cause of the tightness. Short version of this. It will take time and several treatments. LZ thinks I should see an inflammation specialist, ( and take some inflammation pills , eg: Advil) there are many in Japan she says. They treat this joint inflammation issue often. Ok, I am not big on pills, but I am to the point of willing to take some Advil before Kyudo if it will help. At least until I can get some professional help or pass the test in June. Whichever comes first. I dislike being told the same corrections over and over, pushing, thinking I am doing right , but still doing wrong. On the other hand I am clear about what I need to do now, I think. Also as I got more warmed up, I got more range motion. So I am thinking, lighter Yumi, Advil, find a joint inflammation doctor (Sekiginkai), practice mindfully, but not over doing it.  
* went out today and came across a clinic that does Sekiginkai and acupuncture! Two places in fact and nearby. Now it is just a matter of making an appointment in LZ’s free time so she can explain.
I found some Chinese herbs, I had stashed to make some “Dit tao jow”. Which is a kung fu herbal medicine used in training , for bruises, sprains, etc, however it takes 90 days for it to “cure” before being usable. I had some on Zen II, but that is lost at sea. So much for that. Still I will I am sure need it at some point in the future for something or another or somebody.
So yeah, I am feeling a bit like a bug that ran into the windshield with my Kyudo. I shall however continue onward with the phrase : knocked down seven times, stand eight! I am still making progress. The first step in fixing a problem, issue, is knowing what it is. So I am getting more clear where my changes need to be made. Another thing I worked on the last few times is posture, being more upright. This is something that the Sensei in Cal I sent the video to mentioned. I also noticed when I watched it, I did not seem fully upright. I think it has something to do with trying in my mind to remain humble. I can correct my posture. I can be more upright. I pushed myself taller physically. I have to keep in mind that it is not so much pushing myself up, but suspending my self from heaven by the top of my head. Very very much like any posture in Tai Chi. Head in heaven, feet on the ground. It is not from pride standing tall, but realizing our/my connection with heaven, while one’s feet are grounded. Suspended between heaven and earth, this was a point given to me before by this Sensei and again repeated by a student of his and friend of mine, another Zen follower. It is these beyond target hitting, and dan goals, these ideas, philosophies, ideals that take Kyudo for me to that other place, beyond marital training, beyond another physical art, beyond form. Like Zen, like sailing, like KungFu, like life it is form and formless. However, I maybe just weird like that.

One thought on “Somedays you are the bug.

  1. At one point I remember the light bulb coming on and realizing that, at my level, nobody is expecting even technical perfection, let alone spiritual energy. In fact if you check out the dan criteria in the back of the Kyohon it’s only at 8-dan that they expect some kind of perfection. So don’t worry about that! It’s also a very good sign that both arrows are going to the same place. Once you have that stable then hitting the centre is just a matter of shifting the aim, and that’s easy. Also as you know, doing those exercises before practice seemed to help with my shoulder, as did warming up first with the makiwara. Maybe worth a try?

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