I’m on a roll! Well, just some down time after a long period of intense work. People, including me, often talk about school kyudo as being fixated on hitting the target. After all, they’re kids, and it’s looked on as a school club activity, like baseball or tennis. Nobody competes without the desire to win.
All the more reason why I was surprised, last weekend, when a group of high school students and their teacher gathered together in the room where I was changing clothes. The students formed a circle around the teacher for what I guessed would be a ritual pep talk before they began practising. But it turned out to be very different from what I expected. “Do NOT focus on hitting. If all you’re going to do is hit the target then you shouldn’t be on our team. Think only of shooting correctly, shooting well. In fact, although while you’re waiting for your turn to shoot you’ll probably think about this or that, some bit of technique you want to do, etc, when you enter the dojo you shouldn’t think about anything like that. Just decide, before you enter, that you are going to shoot well. Then clear your mind and go.”
Next time they practise at our dojo, I’m going to hang around for a while. I already know that some of them hit well, but I want to see what else is going on.