Kyudo Notebook: The Fallacy of the Magic Technique

So that went pretty well, [OO OOXX OOOO], but only after I got scolded. What I think happens is that, when I learn or discover some new “magic technique” I tend to rely on it overly much, thinking/hoping (even if only semi-consciously) that all I need now is this new trick. At that point (1) I relax and, as if thinking “Now I can just coast,” and (2) I give less attention to the other points, no matter how hard-won they were. The end result is that the whole thing falls apart like a child’s tower of blocks.

So the scolding was basically about being lazy, putting in less than a 101% effort into every arrow. What I need to remember, down to my bones, is that the new-improved super magic technique thingy (whatever it is that month) only works as part of the greater whole, including all the effort that I was putting into shooting when it was not going well. There is no “Now I’ve got it and can just relax.” Not if I want to shoot in a way that keeps people watching (or even me!) from falling asleep.

This also answers the question, “If this is so effective, why didn’t they just teach me this before?” It’s because the magic technique alone is worthless. It only has value in combination with all the rest, and I had to develop those things first. So now rather than relax, I have to keep building, increasing the energy and intensity.

This makes me appreciate the teachers all the more. Although they are often content to just let me struggle with something, if I start developing a bad habit, they pounce. So much of kyudo learning seems to be like this: creating the right habits, while pruning the bad ones early, before they get established (which happens easily if the bad habit lets you hit). I’m amazed sometimes by the effort these teachers put into watching every little detail of how we shoot, rather than simply focusing on their own progress. The only other people I’ve known like that were Mahayana monks and nuns.

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