Kyudo Notebook: Teaching

So for reasons that are surprisingly complicated, I’ve been teaching lately, and it’s been both challenging and fun. The most challenging thing is having to communicate individually, and in words, things that I normally do without verbal thinking, and as part of a larger whole. Ask me a question about this or that part of the hassetsu, and quite often I have to do it with my body to “discover” the answer, rather than “retrieving” the answer from my mind as information. So, very interesting.

I’ve been trying to follow the same general sequence that my own teachers did, as best I can remember:

  • Watch people practice, point things out, answer questions
  • Practice the hassetsu without bow or arrow
  • Practice the hassetsu with just a bow (no release)
  • Practice the hassetsu with a gomu-yumi (release, zanshin)
  • Practice the hassetsu with a bow and one arrow (makiwara)
  • Add the second arrow
  • Practice the hassetsu with a target

I think this is roughly the order in which things seem to go with the annual open class for the community. Sometimes due to time, a group doesn’t get all the way to shooting at the target, but those who want to continue will. One thing I changed from the above that seemed a little useful was to practice just a little bit with a bow and an arrow early on, so that a person gets a feel for it. Otherwise they have no idea what’s going on in yugamae, or how the bow will feel as they are going through the different movements.

Right now we’re still working with the gomu-yumi and playing the rest by ear! I hope it works out well.

Meanwhile our spring shinsa has come and gone, and soon things will start gearing up for the chuo-shinsa (for renshi) at our dojo in June. Several friends are participating in that one and I’m looking forward to (mentally) cheering them on. There’s also another regional shinsa in between where some other friends are testing. So, it’s a busy season!

And we have a total solar eclipse on Monday morning. It won’t be total here, but the path of totality does pass right over Tokyo, so it should be pretty spectacular for the people there… if the weather is good.

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