The path to Yon-dan
I went to the dojo today.
It was a interesting session. Yamashita Sensei was there. I had not seen him since the Shinsa. I wanted to see him to get his phone number for some other Kyudo matters of an International nature.
Anywho…it was my first real class of the new period, the new era as a San-dan.
He congratulated me on passing San-dan check point. Then he started talking about Breath. He said, my breath (kiai) was a good point to have control of as a San Dan or going for San Dan . Not sure which but it came to the same thing. Kiai and eye focus are another key the masters are looking for which testing San dan not just hitting. He said my Kiai was very good. It was the first conformation of cross trading for me. LZ says it shows when under stress like the Shinsa, the calm mind power. However I had not noticed any external effects. My breath for Kyudo is the same for Zazen, or Tai Chi, only the timing is different at places. I did not think so much about breathing I just did what was natural, understanding the principal of the breath and movement. I am guessing this is part of what the Kyohon refers to as developing natural moment. Growing from correct practice.
I read later that coordination of the breath is one of the items examined going into San-san by the judge panel. So what was interesting about Sensei’s comment is that he took the time to explain. Using images of water waves, which were good and bad. Also the strike, pre-strike of a swordsman as a metaphor.
Anyway, it was good to hear some positive feedback on my training. Passing the exam was positive but lacking details. Which is what the Kyudo practice consist of, so feedback should be as well. I did hear when we were making the fee payments, one judge said to the person in front of me, he did good but he should or next work on blah blah blah. To me he said something about seeing someone, doing something, did not get it at first. But it was about my Yumi.
Ok , so yeah. I go to shooting. Yamashita Sensei is quietly watching. I feel him, I sometimes see him out of my side vision. Finally at one point after I shot, he says. there is one thing…are you ready to listen? Of course I said yes. I had been expecting something. He then explains about my bow height at Dai-San, too high. It is causing me to left my shoulders. Then I am using to much arm power to draw Hikiwaki. Use no body power he says. Use the bow power. Pull from the elbows, expand from the center out through the elbows. Stay balanced with the draw and expansion.
So it is back to working on my draw and positioning. I am fairly sure the some issues, a couple at least, I had today are due to working with a different Yumi. Since my takiyumi is under question for use without repair I am using a Carbon. Way different feeling. I could have said that today to Sensei, but I just said; hai, arigatou. Because It sounds like excuses when people do that to me. Give these long explanations on why they did not do as well as they thought, hoped, expected, should have. Perhaps they are just self speculating out-loud.
So, Kyudo, yeah, back to training. Some foundation review and adjustments, and some mid range work. Basically start from the bottom and work my way up. I am officially in the new Yumi mode. I have a couple of people say a Yon-sun Yumi is better for me. Yamashita Sensei says my TakeYumi needs to be reshaped. The Kaicho now says something about my TakeYumi has a weird shape. I thought so before, but he said it was alright, so it let it go. The Yumi Shop says they will work on it but no guarantee, better to go back to the maker. It maybe costly the Yumi is not that great anyway. So I am thinking, sell it. Ebay type sale. Replacement costs will be a factor on what to get. I prefer Bamboo, however do I want to spend for Cheap Bamboo, that may or may not hold up for the next 3-4yrs? Or, a hybrid of Bamboo and carbon fiber, durable, reasonable cost, softer draw than a pure carbon. Or a used bamboo via the internet, Higher quality than a cheap bamboo bow, yet lower price…
Just misc thoughts on the path.
Training at the dojo has started for the Ta Kai next month. I was watching a guy training to be the one in Sharei who gathers and returns the arrow. It looked hard that semi- kneel crunched over position. A couple of Sensei saw me trying a couple of parts and showed me the correct way. One of my dojomate said something that sounded like you are San-san you will have to learn this. I did not think about the formal stuff coming until Yon-dan I guess the intense meter goes up from here.
One last thing before I go into cloaking mode. I have figure out this ranking thing. I figured the “Dan” = black belt thing was a farce. this is how I see it on a equal base with Japanese belt arts.
Kyudo. – Karate
Shodan – Yellow belt
Nidan – Green belt
Sandan – Purple belt
Yondan – Brown belt
Godan – Black Belt
I think this is how it equal values out.