Kyudo Notebook: Down is not Back

Missed the bus yesterday so no practice, but will go tomorrow. The taikai over the weekend didn’t go so well, everything out of balance again. I’m thinking now that it may be due to this attempt to keep the left shoulder down. I suspect that I’m overcompensating and actually bringing the left shoulder back, which isn’t good. The initial symptom I notice is that the string doesn’t touch my chest when it should (at kai), and so I’m left in this weird state where I don’t feel “inside” the bow but rather struggling to shoot while holding it at a distance. As a result, even though I got some hits at the taikai they were all over the place. So more work on that tomorrow…

Also I’ve been thinking about the bow. Since I’m using a nominal 14kg bow I’m concerned that ordering 15kg and 16kg bows may be a bit aggressive. I’d hate to have them finally arrive and then not be able to draw them properly, so am thinking of 14/15 instead. It may be that I’ll outgrow the 14 but it seems better to outgrow a bow that I can draw properly than to struggle and possibly damage one that is too strong from the start. Need to sound out the teachers on this, but the decision point has to come soon.

Meanwhile I’ve been poking around some and there are some good pages on yumi selection/care to make note of:

If people have others, please let me know. Watching my teachers bend and shape other people’s bows over the years (including a neglected one that a friend picked up for ¥3,000 at a second hand shop, but which was made serviceable) it’s clear that this will be a long learning process.

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4 Responses to Kyudo Notebook: Down is not Back

  1. Problem with all this care advice is that it always differs immensely-. Some of the stuff you link to call for not using the bow for more then 25ish shoots per training session.- makes no sence.. If you read a book like W. Ackers Kyudo the Japanese Art of Archery, they did 100 makiwara shoot just as a warm up to mato shooting, you think they had 5 different bow each in the 1930’s 😉 -really hard to make any sense of. Seems to me the western sellers really overstate the frailty of a take-yumi, to cover their behind. If you can i would ask the seller or if possible the yumi-shi for advise on how to treat his particular bow.

  2. karamatsu says:

    Conflicting advice seems like a fact of life in kyudo… each person/teacheroffers his/her own experience, but ultimately you have to find out for yourself. But I will ask the yumi-shi. In fact he asked me how much I shoot on average as part of the initial conversation, so I think that information is taken into account in the construction of the bow. No doubt he’d build differently for a 100/day person than a 20/day person. But I should ask. It’s interesting.

    Anyway the sense I got from reading the notes on yumi care that limiting how much you use a bow each day was that it applied mainly to the early stages (first six months). Then once it settles down it seems like you’d know when it’s getting tired.

    But you’re right. Just 30-40 years ago, take-yumi were pretty much all there were, and somehow they survived being used by high school clubs and all the rest. But I’ve seen even relatively new bows snap, though, so there is a limit. I don’t know if the bows aren’t as durable these days or if the problem lies entirely with the kyudoka. Either way mistakes are expensive and it seems like the early “getting to know you” phase is the most important.

  3. Well – you are def. at a big advantage if you can buy directly from the yumi-shi – I’m envious.. (and also buying my first take-yumi from Japan made by Ogura Shiho), been shooting with one of Symanski’s for that last few years..

    Also in the “old days” they where all using nibe-yumi’s, that are supposed to be even more delicate.- so it’s kind of puzzling to me anyways.. Hard to believe that the craft should have declined to that extent.

    Would be really interesting to hear directly from a yumi-shi how to bring a new bow to life.

    But yea having a +100.000 bow break is something that makes grown men cry.. Kind of hard to be “zen’ish about seeing you lifesavings snap 😉 if not only for the reason of having to go back to a fiber bow..

  4. karamatsu says:

    Yes. Even though all things really are impermanent, it’s still an experience I’d rather avoid! Some of the yumi-shi have web sites and E-mail, in other cases it seems like they have agreements with certain shops and you have to go through them. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing, though, since the shop may be able to give you more attention and recommend this versus that, etc. Let’s hope that both we and our bows can have long and productive lives!

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