The Return to Banpacku
Not just about the hit, now not a second hand “I heard” story.
Now it is real…and in a way changes, everything.
I returned to Bampaku Kyudo-jo today for part one of the two part Yondan, shinsa visits. It was, fun, boring, educational, interesting, and sad. It was also a long day. I was up at 4:45 am, in order to make it there by 9:00am. I made it, still others had already started, must have been 8:30. My sempai rushed me right over to sign in, I saw many names already marked, then I found my spot in the lineup. I was very very thankful to be third in the lineup. I was even more relived later as the people for Yon-Dan took seemed like forever in Kai. The Omai in my line took forever just to going into Ushiokoshi! From where I was looked like he was just standing there. I am thinking WTF?!!?!
However, let’s back step some. I settled in after changing, and also found out we, my group starts the written exam at 10:20. It was now 9:30 something, The opening ceremonies started. There were this time around, several Nana Dan present as judges. Still the panel of judges for the shinsa was 5 or 6. Then there were the side judges checking one’s exit, entrance and the written test examiners. A lot. I was surprised how many people where there at this small local shinsa. It was interesting how they arranged the dojo to work under these conditions, like turning the Makiwara room into the written testing area.
One older master did the opening shinsa. He missed both shots, but looked smooth doing it. Besides struggling with his kimono and needing a lot of help. Then there was a line up of five masters, out of five only two hit both shots. One of these Sensei I had seen shoot before. He has some kind of nerve sickness that cause him to shake massively when shooting. He hit both shots! Sugoi! That was really impressive! I had seen him shoot twice before, but never hit both shots!
My FB friend was there with her Dojo testing for Shodan. It sure seems like from what I hear the test here for the locals are harder than national test given in the states. It is not a given to make Shodan, and “Kyu” are given to adults as well.
Next up, the written test. I tried to figure out what the questions where from the spoken Japanese, I was right with one, not the other. A Sensei I had seen before at another Shinsa was there. He spoke Japanese and was familiar with me, by name. We are comfortable enough to joke a bit with each other. I remember asking him one time at another Shinsa, to the shock of everyone, to take a group picture for us. This was when I first saw/met him. I knew he was a sensei, I did not know he was one of the big guns. Hahaha.
Anywho, I was a bit concerned about my written test, I tend to be short winded in my descriptions, correct, just not. very wordy. I finished among the first. I believe I really was the first, I just held back until I saw a couple of others turn in their paper. That done with it was time to chill. I had planned on spending the waiting time studying for the paper test, but that was done first…oh well. Even if it was wrongly answered. It was not completely wrong, but I did not expect to pass the shooting part anyway, making the written test moot.
It was just about lunch time so I grabbed a spot outside, after seeing others had the same idea, once I was out there scoping aera. I had a peaceful meal and just enjoyed sitting in the sun, and sort of nodding off. After a while I went, to the back to shoot Makiwara. Little by little time slipped away. Then it was show time.
Once again there was a lecture to the Yondan Candidates. I wish I knew what was being said. I think it something about being a Yon-Dan takes on a new set of rules for testing. There were some light hearted moments, because everyone laughed at a couple of spots. We all bowed out and the line up started. Still it would be nice to really know what was said, that would be helpful with what to practice. On the other hand, if I just continue to practice everything I am better off.
I was in the second group. Things started ok, then came the slow down, I was using reserve power to hold the knee up under the 10cm rule given to me via, “W” Sensei. It did not help that those in front of me had extra extra long Kai’s. It was a real blessing to be third in Line. Maybe that was Nogami Sensei helping. If I was last, OMG!! I maybe would have not held, or been able to stand at least smoothly. I really need to consider the standing form. Maybe I have some mild arthritis from my young Kung Fu years, and I need to face up I can not do certain things pain-free any more, at least for long periods. Perhaps put the ego aside. Or I just need more training. That would be the Kung Fu way, do until it does not hurt, go beyond the pain.
Ok, my first shot, surprised me with a center hit! I was working on not being attached to that for the second shot. The shooters in front me took even longer this time. I forced myself up. I could see from a friend’s video she took, of me I was a bit unsteady standing. I did a mind sweep but not enough and I missed the second shot. Oh well, I did better than I thought even hitting the one. I received several mentions afterwards about my form and Zanshin being very good. That was nice bit of a lift. Anyway I was done for the day. I still had Sempai from both Dojo’s yet to shoot. So I found a spot on the sidelines, and watched.
One of the things I found out from the registration paper posted with the names, and shooting order is how long each person has been studying Kyudo. Out of the people I was watching test for YonDan I am the “youngest” in Kyudo time, with 1 sempai at 11 yrs, and the other end was one at 7 yrs. Then me at 5 ( Renmei yrs) My Kyudo time is short! And one of those years was off sailing.
Out of my four Sempai testing, only one did not hit with both arrows. I was very pleased for them. The woman, who practiced for 11 yrs, was in tears, she had hits. We all milled about I gave congrats where due, all were reserved and said hmmmm, not yet, no posting. One other Sempai said, hmmmm, I was no good, I opened my hand during yogare, that is not good! I said, that is small stuff! Congrats! Omedetou!
Finally time was up. The results were posted, everyone, almost everyone, rushed over to to see. I hung back, I dislike crowds like that. The results could be heard. Many were very excited for their friends, even if them their selves did not pass. Several were in tears, one of my Sempai was one, another was a friend from another school. The other two Sempai came pass my pause spot, I ask, about their results, both said no good, no pass. I thought they were joking, but they were not. Both hit both arrows and still did not pass to YonDan. So yeah, there is more happening at the Shinsa than just hitting.
I got a friendly pat on the rib by one of the Seniors Sensei there that day, at the end when results were released and people and sensei were milling about, he was walking by I stood and gave a quick bow. He said nothing just the rib pat, like we were buds. I was a bit surprised. I did not recalled him from another time so were not acquainted that I knew. It was kind of a “nice work ganbrarimasu”, you were cool, tap. A Non-word Zennie kind of wordless transmission thing.
And so that is it for the local news, it is a wrap for now. So I learned in truth it is not all about just hitting. This changes my perspective on training, Shinsa and Yon-Dan attainment. Anyway, I will give this another shot in Sept. Then I will just train until Spring before another Shinsa, even though there is another in Nov.