Kyudo & Sadō… weekend at Shambala- day 1

23 02 2009

It seems like I get more hits reading stuff about Kyudo than most other things that are posted on a regular basis. Interesting because it does not seem on the outside that there is much interest in Kyudo. I guess it is exotic enough still to draw that Japaneseness Zen interest. This weekend my Kyudo group held a workshop @ Shambala meditation center in Berkeley which is our usual meeting place on Mondays. It was this workshop/seminar that I first got started a couple of years ago. This year was different in that it was not open to new comers and day one had the afternoon session for Sadō (Chado),( Japanese tea ceremony).

It was relative small group for the Sat session, made up of for the most part intermediate Kyudo jin. There were 7 of us total, which in fact was a good size.  After our opening meditation the day lesson for us, was balance and breath.

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The instructor spoke on Earth and heaven when shooting. Earth of course is the grounding ability/need of us to have when shooting. That way we have a strong foundation to shot from.

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Of Course, like doing Kung Fu one needs a strong stance, a grounded stance to deliver applications. Heaven in the case of Kyudo is about lifting the Yumi and shooting. Similar to Tai Chi action of grounding ourselves but uprooting one’s opponent. Also doing the form, sinking the lower body rasing the upper.

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The other part of the day;s drills where breath, understanding our the breath works with of actions of both heaven and earth. The smoother  and deeper  the breath the more relaxed and centered we are. Not holding one’s breath when doing the draw and release For that matter at anytime. For someone with a background in Tai Chi,  Chan, any martial art form it was elementary my dear Watson. it was like review and validation since that was how I went through my shots and prep from the beginning, because I roll like that 🙂 coming from a Shaolin background.
The instructor had everyone do a Kai with their shots on release. The guy with a background in Kendo had the most forceful. It was different in that there was no Kai sound but a “Eh” sound. The purpose was to get people to not hold their breath when they shot.

I spent my time working on breath but with a little different mind set and focusing on my draw and the 10yr grip. On my draw, expanding the chest rather than push pull, which was another thing the instructor touched on. Which as said before went back to SiSuk telling on my Tai Chi practice expand  the chest do not use  just open the arms. Also on body alignment on my draw, not shifting or turning my body. I did make a small break through today day on holding my Yumi. In the past I held to tight the Yumi would not move at all when I shot. Where as the advanced students and senior.s Yumi flips around when they shot. Today mine did turn a quarter way in my hand. Nice. May not seem like much but I felt like a made big progress, even tough it was a small step. It was huge for me. What that means is more power is going into the Ya ( arrow), instead of the Yumi ( Bow) , then released instead of being held in the Yumi.

Chado: “Cha” is the Japanese word for Tea, “Do” means “way” so Chado mean the Way of Cha. The Japanese Tea ceremony was originally for the Samurai class, not for females. Even though most see it as a Woman’s ceremony it was not always this way. It is only somewhat recently that females did the Chado. Our Kyudo instructor gave us some history , and a demo on the tea ceremony.

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As well as how to serve, whisk, hold the bowl/cup and the basic on the two main kinds of Ceremony. Thick Tea, and Thin Tea. even though I was not that interested in the Chado, it was interesting to hear about how it all works. Also on the proper way to drink and hold the cup, which can be helpful in Japanese society. she also cleared up a couple of things I was unsure of which will for sure come in handy. The Instructor related how parts of the ceremony related to Kyudo practice and to Zen. It was a educational and relaxing afternoon addition to the Kyudo practice.

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