It is now a couple of days past the Kyoto advanced shinsas. All reports are in from my Dojo, no one advanced. I will get the full report shortly everything and everyone will be done. It has been interesting to watch the advance people’s attitude. Oh well, seems to be the general consensus. Maybe it is easier to feel that way when one is already up there, they have embraced the ” fault is within ” more training is needed, attitude fully. But then what else can one do. Or it is only a small step, not a big deal once the main step(s) are over. Or are good at covering disappointment. Anyway…whatever, there is some lessons to be learned from watching them. Sato Sempai was pretty intense with her practice the day before her Renshi Shinsa, that is a big step! The Kaicho spent a lot of time with her the day before, more than usual. I also got to learn something, a couple of things really, but one was indirectly. He showed her about checking the balance of her Ya. That was interesting.
A side benefit of his time with her, was that her and I were the only two on the floor for a while . While she was doing something he focused on me. It was pointed out what I was doing incorrectly in Daisan. Not extending my arm, he was telling me I should have it ( left arm) straight in daisan then just bring it around to the target. I was still straighten my arm after Daisan Into Kai. I am getting little points here and there that adding up. Hopefully to a better shot. Time will tell. My average is the same, but perhaps my form is improving. I am still not relaxed enough, says the Kaicho. I can do it at home with a lighter Yumi, but I am not there with my daily bow…yet. Also my tenouchi needs reworking, yet again…sigh.
I think one advantage I have from other past trainings in my favor, is that perhaps my seniors who are better shots in the practice hall, is I do not get rattled when the pressure is on. My average stays the same, perhaps improves some. I noticed my Sempai’s hit quota drops when at Shinsa or TaiKai. Speculation really on my part. That and 2.00 will buy a cup of coffee and a donut…some places 🙂
So with the shinsa drawing nearer, I have stepped up my training. Shooting daily, even just a few shoots on the home Makiwara. Will it really make a difference…unknown and of no matter, it keeps me focused and working on details with no pressure or eyes, but mine. Daily meditation is always on-line, now have re-added Taiji back into the mix, along with some planking to help my core strength, and daily Kiza. Of course these will not help with hitting but, it helps my mind and that is what controls everything else. In a Zen way of thinking, it is the interdependence factor. Even playing the Shakuhachi, is not just about playing the flute, it is Zen training, it is Kyudo training. Relaxing the mind, controlling the breath, posture…the perfect note/tone, the perfect shot, each note has a life. Each note is music, each arrow is music, each Ya has a life. Everything is training, everything is Kung Fu, everything is Zen, everything is Kyudo. Awa Kenzo said, about his peeing blood, even that is training.
I have also been reading more, besides the Kyuhon, old books I have on Kyudo, some parts have taken on a new life at this time. I read with new eyes. Will it make any difference when I face the mato, maybe , maybe not, life is full of maybes, maybe I will make it to the shinsa…Living Zen is being fully in the moment, each moment is music, each moment is the one arrow, the one note. Prepare for future moments, by living fully within this one.
The interesting thing about the Yondan shinsa, is on one hand it really makes no difference pass or not, the next dojo visit is a return to practice, on the other hand it changes everything in this small world. Very Yin and Yang, it changes nothing and changes everything, unlike the San-dan shinsa.
One thing I got from the Kyoto TaiKai is everyone misses. Well unless you are another Awa Sensei. Another thing I have learned is Kyudo is perhaps the most difficult physical martial art I have studied. Taiji is difficult. It looks simple, moving slow, staying in balance, the breath. When moving slow, going Yin to Yang, one can not cover up mistakes like in doing an external Martial Art. Kyudo is like that but more so. It is both Yin and Yang at the same time, controlled tension under relaxation. As I said before once upon a time it is the line between Yin and Yang. Tai Chi chuan flow back and forth. Kyudo is on the line of not one or the other but both.