I went to Kyudo today, I figured on a simple practice to refine my technique, and Rhisa wearing my kimono. Little did I know what I was getting into for the day. My two sempai from the shrine, who i play music with were there. I was given the song line up and break down on who is doing what for the show we are doing in April. How nice! How professional, so simple, I asked for that time and time again from the Blues Band Leader. Still 2.5 yrs later never had one. However that is another story, I am not going there today. How nice to see that someone who is not even a working professional understands the need, the convenience of this. How wonderful! I looked it over, he explained a couple of things and I said ok. That was done, I felt good about that.
So on to Kyudo
I went on the dojo floor at the same time as another sempai Sensei. He was startled a bit to see me start Risha, then he got it. I made my turn and started to remove my Kimono sleeve…ehhh he says. Not right! My turn to say ehhh? My angle is wrong he says, I correct that and continue, he still watches, with a not so pleased look. I continue through and shoot, miss of course, i hear some remarks. I shoot again now there is another Sensei/sempai watching. Again, I shoot and miss. I turn, there is a discussion, two Sensei, plus the Kaicho. I am thinking oh good grief, this is not good. I do not know what they are saying, but I am sure it is not good. So one starts telling me what I am doing wrong. We move off the floor I go to the Makiwara to get a better idea. It has something to do with the angle of my right arm, and also my hand angle. It takes a while because of the language, but slowly I get it. I was told this before but now it makes more sense along with the other part of the arm angle, and three Sensei explaining. I heard one say, this is where English comes in handy. However with some effort I slowly got it. The Back of my hand should be facing up, starting from in Dai-san through Kai. The angle of my forearm and Bicep should not be so narrow.
Next, I was watched with the Kimono. I was using the wrong angle when doing the thumb slide, and straightening my arm with my elbow up. I do not need to pull the kimono sleeve until I bend the arm in order to loosen the back side, then the front afterward. That took some effort to explain and again slowly I got it. Little by little I made the needed adjustments to the kimono removal. Small details, bend of the thumb, slight cupping of the hand on the hip bone, fingers pointing, angle of the slide. Sugoi details. All of this is something that outside of Japan one does not have to deal with for Yondan Shinsa. So yeah, it is more difficult to get Yondan in Japan than outside of it. In the states one does not deal with a kimono until after passing Yondan. I do not know about other western places, but in the States, no ! I recall, it was my original goal in the Renmei when in the States to get Yondan so I could wear my Father-in-Law’s kimono. ( which my Mother-in-Law has since lost, packed away somewhere) Here it is not a big deal to wear one, in fact it is a hassle for just everyday practice, even though it looks cool. In the Shibata Clan in the States, it is also not a big deal. You want to wear a Kimono, wear it! Beginner whatever? So in that aspect the Shibata clan is more Japanese in the States than the Renmei who try to be more Japanese, in some things. In my opinion, which as San-dan has very little value and it with $2.00 can buy you coffee, maybe coffee and a donut some places.
So the day of my planned two hour practice shooting time was spent, practicing my Kimono technique and Risha. Little by little people started leaving, it was kind of a busy day, there was a group of high schoolers there practicing today. At one point 8 mato were put out instead of the usual 6 because it got busy with the grownups and the kids. Anyway, it slowly cleared out. I paid for another hour of dojo time ( 1.50) and met Yamashita Sensei at the desk. He was coming in to practice. I finally got on the floor to shoot. Yamashita Sensei only had something to say about my tenochi. I was loosing my hand on release instead of tightening it after release. Great I thought that crap is back! Sigh. His only other comment was I was looking at my thumb too soon when doing the Kimono sleeve thing. tai hen, tai hen! So many little details. Stateside readers, you guys got it easy, in some ways. But….I’d rather train here!
So finally after spending the day being adjusted by 5 sensei, (who needs a seminar with this kind of personal care) I finally got some mato time in. Overall it was better than I thought. Not as good as the other good day, but way better than the worse day. There is still about 2.5 weeks to pull it all together. If I do not succeed, it will not be from lack of trying. If I do not, oh well, it only matters to me and there is the next Shinsa in June which I will be much more ready to overcome. If The Lord willing and the Creek don’t rise.