Kyudo Notebook: Seduction

My laptop battery died so I went to kyudo an hour early, thinking that I would just take my time, but things fell apart pretty quickly. I think what happened is that I’ve become attached to hitting the target. Even though I don’t exactly think about it, I’m focused too much in that direction. The way it manifests is that my left hand is working well, but sometimes I tend to move forward (toward the target) at hanare. K先生 was there and could see what was happening physically, reminding me that the release has to come from the center, but I think what was happening internally, and preventing that, was this focus on hitting. There was one shot in particular that I remember because it was as if I’d “closed my eyes,” shifting the focus from the paper thing 28m away back toward the center of my body. It was a distinct feeling. And on that shot all went well.

I titled this “Seduction” because I think this is a consequence of shooting so well at the taikai, and then since then. I began expecting to hit, which on the one hand, allowed me to relax about hitting, but then also made it a bigger emotional deal when I was unable to do so. I’ve been through this before, and recognize it, but ironically, the better I do, the harder it is to let go of just that doing well. I imagine this cycle will repeat until I die or become enlightened. Another point may just be pride.

Also I got some advice from both teachers about kiza. K先生 was spending some time just sitting in kiza after yatsugae. He said he does that for five minutes, as a way of getting used to it for the All-Japan tournament. When we were at Ise last year I timed some of them… if you were ochi, on average you had to wait about three and a half minutes before you could stand. Five would allow you to handle a delay (someone drops an arrow, etc), or there are a couple of kyudoka who wait in kai for a very, very long time. Being behind one of them would be agony. Anyway the advice was to point out that when you are sitting in kiza you don’t rest your butt on your heels, but are actually a bit (anywhere from the width of a piece of paper to the width of your hand) above. When I pointed out that I tended to slide forward after a minute or two when I did that, they said this was because I was slacking off. Instead of trying to relax, I need to tighten up the muscles in the legs, ankles, and even the toes. As so often happens in kyudo, this is the opposite of what I thought I should do, which gives me some confidence, so I will try it and see. But they also said it is something that can only come through practice.

Taikai next weekend, then shinsa in a month, plus the time in Tokyo. Not much time…

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2 Responses to Kyudo Notebook: Seduction

  1. Zen says:

    Ah, very timely. I just came in from Kyudo class. Tonight there were no very beginners so instead of helping instruct I got to shoot and take a lesson. Kiza, not having done it for a long period for a while was painful. I wondered about not fully sitting, it seemed from watching some masters or something I recall they did not seem to be all the way down.
    I will need to practice kiza more regular even if I can not go shoot. I will try this method of not resting on the heels. Arigatou. Ganbattemasho ne!

  2. karamatsu says:

    Ganbare! But yes, they were quite clear about not resting on your heels. The idea is to stretch the upper part of your body up straight and hold that. In fact they said they even do this when sitting seiza (in the dojo). The hakama makes it difficult to see, but they say they can tell just by looking at a person’s posture. I’m sure it would be a good thing to get used to!
    What I find is that I’m OK when I practice at home, but the real problem comes when I go to the dojo… the slippery synthetic fabric of the hakama combined with the smooth waxed floor… after about one minute my knees start sliding forward, and if I can’t stop it, the pressure increases until I end up falling (with a very loud boom!) into seiza. It’s not quite what you want at a test…
    I think holding the bow out in front has an effect, too, changing the centre of gravity just a bit, so I brought my bow home yesterday and will try on the kitchen floor. There must be a way!

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