Kyudo – way of the Bow pt III

26 02 2007

So it’s the 3rd and final day of the seminar. Today we start off in one of the smaller meditation rooms as the large hall is being used for something else. As usual we start with 30 min Zazen. However today no talk. We have a video to watch, it is a short film from National Geographic on Onyumishi Kanjuro Shibata XX Sensei he is a 20th generation master bowmaker and archer and 3rd generation “Bowmaker to the Emperor of Japan” (retired) and the head of this clan. It is a short but interesting film. The seniors giving the seminar were not that impressed with the film, as it is made more for the lay person not a practicing archer.

(click on picture to see full view)

Next there is a lecture from a visiting senior student of Shibata Sensei. lecture.gifHe also spent 2 years as apprentice to Sensei’s son learning how to make Bows. Now he makes his own. He gave us details on the care of Bows, then narrated a film showing Sensei’s son making a bow, using the old methods, which was made for Japanese TV. It was important information and gives one more respect of the Bow.

It is now lunch time, we have lunch in the room together instead of going out.

After eating we head back to the main hall and setup. It does not take long as we have a lot of people. No off side instruction for me today I am part of the group and take part in the lineup for shooting. I was able to get in 5 or group 16 shots. As there are many people, we take turns of two shots each then rotate in line. I also took break to get in a few pictures for the group. Don, the visiting master student was kind enough to take some pictures for me, since I was doing everyone else. I got a few corrections on my form but overall I think I did reasonably well. I tried out a couple of different bows today and got a feel for the different weight pulls of them. Bows are fairly expensive, so it will be awhile before I can purchase my own, but it is good to get a feel for what I want. So far a 12lb pulls feel ok. One is suppose to get one that will challenge them but now have to fight with. So I’m thinking at this point maybe a 15lb pull might be a good weight for me, we’ll see.Kyudo zen

My overall impression of the art, great, I like it. I will be continuing more when I have a chance, perhaps I can make time at least once a month to visit the local school. The senior student in charge I liked, sheseniors is comfortable to be around very relaxed, but knows her stuff. What I enjoyed about the Kyudo is the sense and the practice of it being more than just using a bow, a weapon to hit a target. It has very strong, mental and spiritual depth. It is not about hitting a target, it is about raising your spirit, going beyond physical form, and expanding the spirit. I understand why it is sometimes referred to (incorrectly) as Zen archery. It is very much part of Zen , but it is not Zen, It is full of Zen, but not Zen, It is the state of Zen, but not attached, which makes it very Zen.

Full group

“One is not polishing one’s shooting style or technique, but the mind. The dignity of shooting is the important point. This is how Kyudo differs from the common approach to archery. In Kyudo there is no hope. Hope is not the point. The point is that through long and genuine practice your natural dignity as a human being comes out. This natural dignity is already in you, but it is covered up by a lot of obstacles. When they are cleared away, your natural dignity is allowed to shine forth” – Shibata Sensei.




One response

3 03 2007

Just read the three parts in one reading. Really brilliant descriptions – on many levels. Enthralling! I always wondered what it would be like. I am so glad that the instruction was of a high standard, and that you have the capabilities and skills to make the most of the opportunity.

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