きゅうどう Kyudo brain のう

10 04 2008

There is not a correct word for what I wanted to say so i made up the Katana for it. So on with the post.

I had Kyudo on the brain lots lately. (For those reading from somewhere non-english that meant I’ve been thinking a lot about Kyudo) I really enjoyed the lesson with the guy and got me reading some more on Kyudo from others. It is so much about connection with the mind sitting and being still and the non-duality in movement. Maybe I’m finding it more interesting because of the connection I see with Ch’an and Shaolin fist. Yet is this missing so much in most classes. With the Tiger school it is right there in your face. Not hidden down some side path you may subtle across like a secluded stream. Or something made reference to like an old story. Meditation is part of this style, it is the medium of Kyudo. This Kyudo is a Motion expression of our meditation. Kung Fu to Ch’an exactly ! Tai Chi to Ch’an, Yoga to Ch’an.

The other part of this is after meeting with Instructor S. ( InS) I could see Kyudo here as a foot in the door to Japan Kyudo. Part of my golden years study plan in Japan. Ceramics, Kyudo, Zen. I do have a foot in already from meeting with the Master there in Osaka. Which is where we will be living, how about that for the Force working. However anyway I would like some proper training, as not to embarrass myself.

Meanwhile back here in the states now… I had contacted the other person recommend by InS. From the first email contact, I did not feel, compatible vibes let’s say, from Instructor E. So after a couple of brief exchanges about time, I was pretty much told, if I was not willing to full comment to Kyudo practice on a regular basis, he did not have the patience to deal with that type of student. Not those exact words, but with that meaning. Also explained that in his 35 yrs of doing Kyudo and 10 yrs teaching, it was harder and more time eating that thought, he did not like the frustration of dealing with someone who came once in a while.


The thing is I understand what he was saying, his way of saying, it was not my way. His philosophy on teaching is a bit different, and other areas no doubt. With that in mind, and the chi that I am picking up from his letters, it is a bad fit for a teacher /student relationship. I thanked him and said I would not add to his frustrations. Sumimasen.

So , I’m thinking, driving 1 hour to a class is not so bad once a month, I do/did it with Shifu’s classes. If I get what I need out of it, at my speed, that is more important to me that I enjoy it. The guy, who is a higher rank I went to first is looking better. Kind of sad though, I was hoping I could be friends with this closer guy, Instructor E. I think he speaks some Japanese fairly well. I was wondering if his wife is Japanese. I asked about if spoke Japanese in the intro letter, but I was ignored for an answer. For the best no doubt, if our chi clashes via email it will surely be inharmonious live.

Another part of this Kyudo brain is the retreat coming up. I am really looking froward to it. I know that it is not in Japanese training now to have the Zazen as part of the Kyudo training , but I like how the Sensei has them combined. Along with it being at a Zen temple and farm in the mountains, makes it even cooler. I would stick with just this style if I was staying here in the states. I like the non-duality approach to Kyudo. For me it no difference with Kung Fu and I understand that from my Ch’an practice. However it s a different style Kyudo being taught in Japan and that is where I am going. For now though I can just learn about shooting, like Zen beyond a style. Like Tai Chi, and Praying Mantis understanding the principals behind the motions, understanding the mind and spirit is more important than what style it is. As with Zen the style does not matter, it is about the journey.


Source Material: Dan and Jackie DeProspero

Much has been written about the philosophical connections of kyudo. Perhaps most known is the book Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel. In his book Mr. Herrigel sets forth his experiences with kyudo in the 1930’s. It was a beautifully written account that has been translated into many languages, giving people worldwide their first glimpse of the art. Unfortunately, the book was very one-sided in its description of kyudo as a Zen art and is responsible for a lot of the current misconception that kyudo is a religious activity.

While kyudo is not a religion it has been influenced by two schools of Eastern philosophy: The previously mentioned Zen, a form of Buddhism imported from China, and Shintoism, the indigenous faith of Japan. Of the two, the influence of Shintoism is much older. Ritualistic use of the bow and arrows have been a part of Shintoism for over two thousand years. Much of the kyudo ceremony, the attire worn by the archers, and the ritual respect shown for the equipment and shooting place are derived from ancient Shinto practice.

The influence of Zen, on the other hand, is more recent, dating back to the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) when the warrior archers adopted Zen as their preferred method of moral training. Zen’s influence on kyudo became even greater in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when Japan, as a whole, experienced a period of civil peace. During that time the practice of kyudo took on a definite philosophical leaning. This is the period when sayings like “one shot, one life” and “shooting should be like flowing water” were associated with the teaching of kyudo. Because of its long and varied past, modern Japanese archery will exhibit a wide variety of influences. Today, at any given kyudojo (practice hall), one can find people practicing ancient kyujutsu, ceremonial court games, rituals with religious connections, and contests of skill. The key to understanding kyudo is to keep an open mind and realize that any style of kyudo you see or practice is but a small part of a greater whole, and that each style has its own history and philosophical underpinnings which make them all equally interesting and important.




One response

21 04 2008

How lovely to hear of the sangha friend who met with you.

Thich Nhat Hanh is coming to UK in August, but I received my dharma name from the chief dharmacarya in UK, rather than go to Plum Village (his home sangha) and receive it from him. That was the transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings.

In a year or two I may be ready to be “ordained” as a full member of the UK Order, of Interbeing, but I feel I have a lot more practice and learning about his style first! I am what is called an “aspirant” right now. A humble student no more, no less.


Our sangha here is called Still Water Reflecting Sangha.

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