Kashita Shrine Tai Kai – the lesson
Back when I first came to this area I went to the Kyudojo that was closest to me. It was at this Kashita shrine. It had an old school Dojo feel to it and it was at a Shrine, so it had, at least to me a special “cool” feel, being at a shrine. I first went to visit and was told I could join. I was way happy, WAY happy. My next visit to start, after I had changed into my gig, I was told I could not join. They were sorry but the owner would not allow it. I was crushed. I could have at least been told that before I changed to shoot, or even better before I arrived. I was crushed, and even though I was told a reason, I thought it was a no Gaijin entry type thing…I am glad I was wrong.
I was told I could join over at Kishiwada, my current Dojo. Over the last couple of years I have come across the people from this school at various events. For the most part they have been nice. However I had not forgotten the suffering, the embarrassment of it all. That was my worst being in Japan experience. I am lucky in that matter. Some people have bad stories to tell.
I just found out recently that some of the advanced people that have helped me over the last couple of years have been from that Dojo and even the one who lent me the Shakuhachi and the other who plays guitar I am buds with. I was quite surprised to find that out and it explained several small things I had wonder about having noticed.
Over the last few weeks or days really I have been getting some one on time with Yamashita Sensei, as well as the Dojo Kaicho and the head Sensei Watase. Arms, hands, alignment, grip, etc. slow progress, but progress. Getting used to the different Yumi and giving some serious thought to the purchase of a Bamboo one of about the same weight. I am speaking with a bow maker in the states now. A student of Shibata-san XX. Buying from him will cost half the price of buying here. With my cousin working for an airline and planning a visit here, my shipping charges are minimal. So if I continued to work through the summer three days a week, which I am hating in this heat, but that is another story, I could save up the money instead of going to Nagoya in the spring… Something to meditate on… ( yes, that was a run on sentence, my college professor would have a fit.)
However for now I digress…
I have in addition to getting some in depth instruction, also I have been getting some solo practice time. Whenever there is some change to my form, my hit rate drops. I have accepted this as part of the way. “It ‘s like that, and that’s the way it is.”So yeah, TaiKai day arrives. Now that I am more comfortable at these events and my dojomates, I am enjoying them more. It kind of reminds me of my younger Kung fu days as a “Padawan” or as a young “grasshopper” when we a group of us from the school would go to all the “karate” tournaments to complete.
I always get a lot of attention when I travel with the Yumi. Not so much me, but the Yumi always draws looks.
It was hot hot hot that day, the hosting dojo had shade tents setup for the guest schools. When I arrived I spotted a few of my group right away and joined them. My mind was filled upon arrival with thoughts of my last visit and how things have changed. I encountered a few people I knew from the hosting dojo and was welcomed. I bowed to a few I did not but remembered when they remembered me, like the head Sensei.
I still liked the feel of the dojo, it had that old Japan kind of feel about it. Along with the Sakura and bamboo trees along the range, one really had the sense of shooting out in nature. With that in mind I am sure it is quite unpleasant on foul weather and cold days. Also the toilet is small and old style, another plus for modern Kishiwada.
Shooting started after the opening greetings. I was number 23 out of some 60 something. I was in the middle of threesome. I like that, all I had to do was follow. I like it when they arrange it that way.
To cut to the chase, I shot the worse ever since doing these TaiKai. Out of three sets I only hit one, the very last shot. I had a hard time finding my sighting. Many shots where centered but just too high, or too low. I was very disappointed with myself. Watashe Sensei said I was too tense in my hands and shoulders, but I did not feel that way to me. Both he and Yamashita Sensei said I was leaning into my shots and Yamashita Sensei said my left tenouchi was off, not a good jumongi. I felt it was my target sighting. Oh well. More practice Either way. A funny thing, as in interesting not hahaha, is that two other SanDan who were also testing with me the last two times for yondan, they also hit only one! Later I also I found out a Yon Dan who passed when I was testing for San Dan, he hit zero. Some days, things just do not work.
A couple of days before I told Yamashita Sensei I was not going to attend the up coming Shinsa, I was going to wait until Spring. I felt I needed more practice and many corrections to fix. I felt there was no need for me to rush. I need Not to be so focus to be so focused on the “prize” but the skill. He said something in Japanese that I did not understand, he said it was some “saying” about looking forward to something and the pleasure of achieving it. Anyway he sort of said it was a good idea. He said the Kaicho would be good at helping me achieve that skill level. I told him yes, the Kaicho has been very helpful. He is my favorite other than him, I did not say that part, it is just my thought, for you reading. Anyway. I have a “sempai” in Canada who was testing for yondan when I was testing for nidan, he just pass his Yondan Shinsa.
This TaiKai confirmed to me I was making the right choice to wait and train more. With my new knowledge of the certainty it is not just about hitting and want to sharpen up overall as well as my hits. I want to feel I deserved to pass, not I got lucky. This mind set I believe will put me closer to Go-dan when Yondan is reached. In fact I should be training as if going for Godan not YonDan. This was my lesson from the TaiKai.