The story So far…
The story So far…
Different day, still changes…
I have vowed to get some shooting time in daily, even if it is just one Ya. One “mindful” shot minimum when possible. If it is raining or a Typhoon, ok, I get a pass. There was a Typhoon last night, I was busy most of the day and it was late when I got in front of the Makiwara, but I did get in 3 shots! Just a constant review I think is helpful. The same when I was heavy driven to make headway with the Shakuhachi. I vowed to get in at least 5 min a day practice. It made a difference. This will also make a difference…somewhere.I have noticed the difference working with the heavy bow for longer periods rather than the Bamboo. The Bamboo is also smaller in my hand so feels more comfortable. I can really put things in to place more easy. Which brings back the question which bow to use for the Shinsa. I am learning toward to Bamboo for comfort, but the Bamglass has the power. It is sort of like doing Taiji or Shaolin practice. With Shaolin you can cover your mistakes with speed and power, with Taiji you have the time to correct there is no hiding behind speed and power. No illusion, there is only truth.
I am sure, pretty sure, that with improvements over the next two weeks I will be ready for the Shinsa and pass at least the next one in Nov. I wanted to pass this year. Even if I do not care for the Dojo in Nov, it gives me another shot of completing my goal for this year. Which in turn would complete my (old) goal for studying in Japan, reaching Yon-dan.
I noticed another classmate, dojomate? Hmmm, also testing yet again for Yondan, since I have been at it. We have tested together before several times. She was getting some private one on one time from a sempai. I did not understand what he was saying to her. However I could see from his actions, he was telling her the same things I was working on. Lining up the upper body, turning and extending the left shoulder. A better ” jumonji”. So I am thinking yay! I am doing right, on the right path. Also if she is working on this and she speaks Japanese and has been doing this longer than me, maybe I am not doing so bad with my poor Japanese.
The results showed whenever I line up correctly. Bam hit! The thing is making sure I do it each and everytime. Even though it feels like I am doing wrong, the hit is right and even when I miss it is just below the mato or just above it!
Ok, back to the Tai Hai practice. It was a good thing I joined the group on the shot. I did hit both shots, but I made an error leaving the floor. It had been setup marked for the Shinsa, so it was different from the regular layout. I was schooled on it and where to bow. So it was a good thing to join the group. I may have gotten this info and correction another time, but, maybe not, therefore I was grateful for the guidance! Then after that I got the corrections about my arm and tenouchi, which threw my whole game off, but oh well I will make correction, adjustments again. To survive one adapts.
I am thinking even if I do not pass this time, I will be in a much much better place for next time. Sooner or later it will all click into place…and Bam!! Yon-dan in da hous!!! LoL!
Tic Toc …
And so another Solar circumnavigation is done, and as one thing ends another begins. Here I am in Japan at sixty plus something, feeling blessed. Sailing on occasion, Shakuhachi study, Kyudo Study, Still able to do Kung Fu, although not teaching. Still it is a part of my life. It was my first stop in the morning of the day to go to the local Shrine and practice yet another form of Meditation, “Motion Chan” aka Kung fu. The grounds are peaceful, most of the time, but early morning had that extra quality about it. Under the shade of trees, the sound of the birds, danced in my ears. It was going to be another hot day. Even early it was already quite warm and humid.
I have four items to practice, that I have made as my “practice”. Yang 24, Chen 24, Hsing Yi, Bum bo Mantis. I have been getting in Tai Chi in the mornings on the way to work. But it has been a while since I have done my full practice. Today was good, I wet down with oil the mosquitos do not like and was able to get through the sets without being bothered. Even into playing some Shakuhachi and grabbing a few pictures I was unmolested.
The next morning was fairly much the same. Less humid maybe, I did not sweat as much. or it was the clothes. I played more flute. I figured since it was the first day of Obon I should as a Komuso play a few traditional Komuso songs. I played Tamuke the offering song for the departed. Even though I was at a Shinto Shrine not a Buddhist temple, it still seemed fitting. Thanking the spirits there for letting me practice on the scared grounds.
I returned home with my top almost soaked from my water-loss, in the humidity, but it was cool. I felt in a good place having got my full practice done. I had done a little garden work in the morning before I left to train. I had a turf battle with a horde of caterpillar which had invaded my parsley. I was surprised that they tried to bite me when I went to remove them. I was reminded of a saying. ” your arms are to short to box with God”. As such was the case with them. I am very good with chop sticks!! The conflict was short. Banishment was carried out.
Next on the list for the day was getting a sail in. I was looking forward to it, but not overly so. I did not want to go to the “master’s” marina, or see him. More so not see him, and the boat was going to be hot hot, no shade, no cover. However, since I was able to take advantage of that perk as a instructor, I did.
There was not supposed to be much wind that day, however the wind was perfect I should take advantage of the opportunity. I was able to sail at a nice clip even under just the main sail. I was feeling lazy and mostly just wanted to get the sailing “chi” but did not want to work much. As in trimming and tacking, putting the extra sail on off and away. If there was a roller jib that would have been nice , but no, none. So I just used the main and it was perfect. I got the vibe, the energy, the Chi without a lot of work.
While there was good wind there was also a lot of chop. I could feel myself really needing to focus on the horizon a lot, even with taking the seasick pill. I did not wear my wrist bands, I should have. maybe I needed that little bit of “xtra”since I had not been out on the water in long time. No sea legs I guess it is called. Even still it was a good sail, a good reconnected to the water element and wind. Feng Shui of the earth. I felt like the return of Capt Zen.
I was exhausted when I got back to the dock. I am glad I had chilled water with me. I did not work much but the heat and sitting in the sun took my strength. After I got the boat put away I went to one of the seaside shops there at the marina and had a “softcream” cone. and relaxed in the a/c for a while. Once a felt normal again I mounted my bike and headed home.
My wife and I had dinner plans at a restaurant we had received free dinner tickets. They were given to us as part of thank you for attending a funeral of an “aunt”. Interestingly it is the start of Obon, a remembrance of the deceased time in Japan. We had received the tickets a long time ago but it worked out to go now for a couple of reasons. So it was like a birthday gift from “auntie” for us. My wife’s birthday is the next week.
It was a mediterranean meal. For me perfect! I ate a lot it was an upscale buffet type setting. Somethings had meat , but enough other things did not, so I got to double down on some things. My wife was not as pleased with things as I was. She was also surprised how busy it was, because the place was so new and Obon was the next day. Anyway I enjoyed.
It was a good day, a blessing. As one gets old, one understands more how short the good days grow. On the other hand, in Zen it is said, “every day is good”. But I am talking number not quality. Live so to enjoy each one, we can not see the bottom of the cookie jar….Amitoufo
I took my Shinsa paperwork into the dojo today for Watashi Sensei to review. As expected there were errors and changes to be made. He had me call my wife to explain, after some time on the phone with her all was clear and I was told with the correction I could just mail it to the headquarters. Hopefully it will turn out ok.
I am already depressed. The Tourney on Sunday gave me enough of a lift to think I could have a chance at being successful in the Shinsa. Tuesday at class I was not so sure. However after a little poking I figured to go ahead anyway. Sort of as a practice Shinsa again and also to be with my five classmates of the same rank also testing. Sort of like one for all, and all for one musketeers thing…sort of.
On Tuesday one of my Sempai noticed me hand shaping my Yumi. I was told by another Sensei I needed to do it often maybe every time I shot. This sempai did not think it was good what I was doing. I explained why. Hmmm he said looking at the Yumi. This is a Bamboo yumi made in the States by someone who learned in Japan. Other than the very top part which he did differently for better rotation, I guess, looks the same as made in Japan. I have to shape the top often as I said, I was told. My Sempai told the Kaicho, the Kaicho came an looked at the Yumi. Hmmmmm he said. This part is delicate, it is not good to shape it the way you are doing it. Then then showed me a wooden piece which can be placed on the Yumi and string to help set set the twist correctly. So this is not all that uncommon I guess. Set it and leave it for a couple of days it will be fine he said.
oK, So I am thinking I should just use my other Yumi as my main practice bow. It is Glass and Bamboo and heavier. Made in Japan.
I placed the “shaper” on to the bow after practice and left it to reset.
I returned on Thurs, to check on my bow and to have Sensei check my paperwork for the Shinsa. The Bow was better now, it worked, however it soon returned to the original shape. I was disappointed. I shot the rest of the day with the “Bamglass” bow. I shot poorly which was expected. I had to adjust “things’ to use the stronger, thicker, heavier Yumi. I asked Sensei which was a better yumi for me to use on a daily shoot. The Bamglass or the Bamboo. He said the Bamglass was the one to use for “everyday”. The Bamboo for once in a while. Sigh. The Bamboo being lighter and weaker was easier to shoot for long practice periods. but, Oh well in Kung Fu we train with heavier weapons for a purpose. So I would look at it that way. However Which should I test with? I have to set focus points for both, as both are different. Switch back and forth before and event to get use to both ?
Again my shooting for the day sucked. Worse now with a different bow. Oh well I am already signed up to go for the most part. Sometime we need that push, like a bird from it’s nest. I also faced the real truth of in Kyudo it is not the equipment, but the Archer. After I got a little better with my height adjustment. I notice my Ya going to the same place as they did with my Bamboo Yumi. This proves, I am the Problem. The issue is with in me. Very Zen. Yeah Bad choice to attend this Shinsa session.
Watashi Sensei gave me some time on corrections. I did get some helpful things to work on.
I returned on Sat, today. I figured If I am going for it, I should do it right and put in some more practice time, as much as possible. I am working sort of again so I should be ok with the minister of finance.
With the Shinsa so close and it being at our dojo the place today was busy. It usually is on Sat but seemed more so to me today. More Senseis on the floor.
I did some warm ups then shot. I hit with my first two shots. Big surprise to me. It went down hill from there. I ended up with a 25% or so hit rate. Not good going into a Yondan Shinsa.
The Kaicho gave me some one on one time today. I got more helpful corrections, Seems the explanations are getting more detailed now. Or making more sense to me now. I sent a lot of time today watching others shoot and get corrections. I found the shoulders being to tight, raised, alignment is a common issue. So it is not just my issue…Still others are shooting better, more hits it seems…Yeah I am not ready.
However, Shinsa is part of the training pass or not…it is a mind thing.
Before Shinsa you train
After Shinsa you train…
Last week at our dojo we hosted a “Goodwill Tai Kai”. There were three maybe four local Kyudojos involved. One of which was the dojo that I could not join. I have mixed with them on several occasions and am friends with a few members. Still it is the first thing that comes to mind when I see them as group. I am glad though it worked out as it did. Amitoufo.
My shots for the day were fair. Better than I have done in a while. I got 6 out of 12. Fair. Also no sensei came/said to correct some large mistake. So ok, I am thinking, I will give it a shot. I still have a few weeks I can maybe improve more and have more than a fifty fifty chance of passing, or at least 50/50. I would see how I did at the next practice.