Kyudo – different day, same training

Different day same training – Kyudo, the long and winding road…
I have been working on items, tenouchi, not dropping the left arm, not twisting my body on Hanare, etc, etc. the unending list of details. Kyudo looks so simple, like Tai Chi Chuan, but also so complex. To me kind of sorta the same thing, Tai Chi with a weapon. The set, the form starts when you pickup your Yumi and step up to the dojo floor entry. Hmmmm wonder what is the name for that?

The next Shinsa is in June. I do not feel ready. I am having serious thoughts about skipping it. One day I had a hit rate of 12%!! Ewww yuk! Since then it has improved, 30%/40/58%. My avg seems 50%. Not bad, but not good enough. Yesterday was my first time in reverse scoring. Usually I start off good then go down, this time I started off big time sucking and improved. What seemed to make a big difference was I was not pushing at the mato into the release. Once I changed that I started hitting, and getting my Yugari back.
I am sort of thinking I am putting too much thought into passing to Yondan. I had planned on taking 1 to 1.5 yrs of just training before trying for GoDan. If I skip on the testing now it will make me mentally back off and just develop what I need to, without any Self-imposed pressure. On the other hand sometime the pressure is a good driving force. I have a few weeks, maybe two or three to figure it out, before registration. I might have said this before. I told my Sensei in the States I did not pass to yondan yet, he said it took him four years.
I have been giving some thought to breath. Wind, Kaze, air, breath, the connecting element from the universe to us, to our movements, Kyudo, Tai Chi, Shakuhachi, Sailing, Meditation. Our breath is the common element. I asked my Sempai, who plays Shakuhachi, about breath the other day. Is it the same in Kyudo as Shakuhachi? Yes he says and showed me the expanding Hara. So I am wondering now about, about timing. How do you expand “Nobei” and exhale at the same time. The exhale lends itself more to contracting than expanding. However I have heard exhale on Hanare. Perhaps I need to think of it like blowing the Shakuhachi. One takes in the breath expanding, but on blowing the note one needs to still be forcing out air, whilst the Hara is shrinking, but holding pressure in the lungs. However that is not expanding though is it. That is more like holding an expansion. Hmmm, maybe inhaling, expanding during Nobiai, then at the moment of changing from inhale to exhale, yin to yang, the release comes, not at the end of the exhale, but at the beginning, holding the expansion, but not holding the breath. That way Zanshin is the follow through of the full breath…or I do not understand Nobiai.
I happened across an interesting blog by a guy studying ( at least he did no post for a while) Kyudo also in Japan. He said the breath in this part of Kyudo is reverse breathing. Expand the belly on exhale not shrink it. I recall this being called Taoist breathing. This guy had some things to say about Nobiai, which correspond to my thoughts. So maybe I do understand.

It is interesting reading another Kyudo blog on the same level as me. Also him a foreigner, although sounds like his Japanese is really good, unlike mine. That give him a better experience, nice! There was another blog from someone about my level, we have the same dan now, ( you JM ) but it has not been updated in a while. Life happens. As this guy on this, just found blog says it is one of those knock downs, stuff happening that take you away from Kyudo, for a time. The standing up is getting back into it. A person on one of the FaceBook Kyudo sites. Said in reply once to a post I put up “who really gets knocked down 7 times and will stand 8?” I let it go, because it was not worth it. However since this is my blog, I’ll say; It happens daily. Knocked down does not always mean being physically hit, beat down. The lost of my Graphic Design position, was a big knock down, The lost of our Condo, another, the lost of our savings, another, the lost of our boat, Zen and all that was associated with that, serious knockdowns. Still, we ( LZ and I) carried on, restart, reboot, stand again to continue, Kyudo study and advancement, starting a new life in a new country, new jobs, new fields, give birth to new dreams, a garden now replaces the flowing water at out door. That is standing again, 8 , 9 , 10 plus times.


I digress…


Breathing in Kyudo is timed with the movement like in Tai Chi and Kung Fu, however, at times different. Like when starting a movement, say a step in Kyudo the breath is inhaled. In Tai Chi/ Kung Fu it is for the most part exhaled. Extending the out-going power with the breath, not getting the wind knocked out of you on your power move. Kyudo, say going into Kiza, the move is started with inhale. On the other hand, going from Daisan to kai is an exhale. So I am thinking, once in Kai, inhale and expand, up, out and down, to the sides, at the apex of fullness comes the release, like water spilling from a glass. However would that not be a ” forced”, “planned” release, not a natural spilling of water from a leaf…or is it? Maybe I am thinking to much on it, instead of feeling it, being Zen.


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