Kyudo Notebook: Food

Sometimes by the time I get to the dojo after a day of work I feel kind of unsettled or unstable. Physically, I mean. Not a lack of balance but just a little jumpy somehow. It’s hard to describe, and it doesn’t happen very often, but it did yesterday. After much trial and error over the years one thing I found that helped was to eat some protein about an hour before we start practising. Maybe it’s some sort of glucose/insulin thing, but I’ve never been told I had any problem with that. Anyway I just thought I’d mention it in case someone else runs into similar problems. Since I don’t usually eat meat, I just have some yogurt or tofu from a convenience store, and that seems to do the trick.

I’m sure there are all sorts of recommendations for what to eat (or not) before physical activity, but I’m not sure what they are. I wonder if others with experience in physical disciplines have any pointers?

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4 Responses to Kyudo Notebook: Food

  1. JM says:

    Just an observation along these lines… obvious to many, but it took learning it for myself to take ownership of that knowledge. As a mudan, I would sometimes go out to eat with Sensei and those of higher rank. I noticed they weren’t drinking anything with caffeine, whereupon they explained they hadn’t shot for the day yet. I didn’t give it much thought… until… I put 2 and 2 together later down the road.

    I would be tired from working and still plan on shooting. Rather than resting I would drink an energy drink to keep going (Redbull). These were some of my very worst days of shooting… dropping arrows, premature releases, ect.

    While my situation is different from yours, they are similar in realizing that what we put in our body affects how it responds.

  2. ceterum censeo says:

    Obviously (excessive) use of stimulants as JM said can have an effect.
    Personally I find kyudo is a thing that instantly makes me feel centered and at ease.
    I may crawl into the dojo on all fours but once I have a bow in my hand I’m fine.
    Food, doesn’t seem to affect me either way.

    For most sports they do not recommend eating directly before exercise. An hour before is absolutely fine though and kyudo is hardly a high intensity workout so the effect of food in your stomach while doing it should be negligible.
    If you have worked and haven’t eaten you may just be hungry…
    Has your workload increased recently (that would include any training)… maybe your calorie intake is a little too low and you are slowly depleting your reserves…

    Maybe it is stress.
    Work can have an effect…
    If you start to become restless, hectic maybe towards the end of the day – things to finish, to remember for tomorrow, last minute requests from colleagues, then the phone rings just as you are half way through the door… that feeling may linger.

    I do know that kind of “fizzy insides” feeling only from work. I used to teach (two blocks of workshop practice for jewellers at a UK university) and it was a really long day – 7.30 am to 21.30 pm. I usually didn’t get a break and at the end of the day I was running on pure adrenaline – totally wound up (in a good way though).
    Maybe your work is busy. Maybe your day is long. Very likely – you are in Japan after all…
    Maybe you are just tired and wound up at the end of the day.
    Food can help.
    Eating is relaxing.
    Eating can be a tonic too.
    If the effect of eating is instant it is likely psychological.
    Protein takes a while to process but you’d feel the effect of carbs in an hour. If that is the timeframe then most likely it is just sugar you needed.

    Personally I feel you are most likely feeling the effects of a busy life. In a recent comment you said “…made it to kyudo practice though…” – something like that…
    Well, there you are: “…made it…” – time pressure – stress – adrenaline.

    Not sure what you do about that…
    Maybe give yourself a routine for leaving work and entering practice I guess…
    Eating as a routine may work.
    You buy yourself your “treat”, your tonic, and you start to prepare for training…
    Try to establish a “ritual” for consciously concluding your working day and entering the realm of kyudo practice.
    I have a 40 min drive through trees and fields, mountain sunset in the distance… your neighbors sweaty armpit on the subway may not have the same calming effect, but I feel you need to, as one old kyudo text says, find a way to “leave your 1000 treasures at the door”.
    The 1000 treasures is usually taken to refer to ambitions etc but here just take it to mean don’t take the pressures of your life to the dojo with you. Conclude your day at work actually at work and give yourself room to prepare and arrive at the dojo.
    Anyway, maybe looking at your routines will help, maybe looking at calorie intake.
    Good luck.

  3. Zen says:

    I have not been a meat eater for many moons and yr cycles. When I was early in my Shaolin training we had a health food store along with the dojo. Sifu ( Sensei) would say if you are in need of nutrition for your work out, do not eat just before class, however it is ok to have something easy to digest, eg: a protein drink or banana, fruit, some kind of grain bar. As a non-meat eater we digest food sooner and better, so some substance intake before a workout is good, fuel to burn. However it should be light as not to send too much blood to the stomach and distract the chi flow from the Tan Tien ( Dan ten/ Hara). Same as a light snack before meditation but not a full meal.

  4. karamatsu says:

    Thanks you for these suggestions. I’ll have to do some more experiments and see what works. It’s a rare thing, but does happen now and then. On weekdays I’m usually working up to the minute I catch the bus for kyudo. No way around that given the timing of things. Maybe I will try to buy a snack about an hour before (and avoid caffeine). Also come to think of it I really didn’t eat much that day, so maybe it’s that simple: remember to eat!

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