Kyudo in Shaolin’s Shadow

1 08 2009

ShaolinI went to my first Kyudo shooting since back from LA out at RSD last Sunday. It was good to be back and just shoot. I did feel really awkward trying to shoot the new way. I fired off a couple of Chikurin style shots to remind myself I could still shoot reasonably and pat the ego. Then went back to crawling…

One of the things I found out in LA was that there are so many Kyudo styles. It remind me of Kung Fu with so many family styles. Then it is some application  some technique that is different, hidden. It seems kind of silly with Kyudo to have so many styles.. Once one is in Kai I would think they are all the same. Draw, be clear, shoot, hit the target. So why all the different styles, beside family ego. That will be something interesting to learn about. Maybe it is like signing for one’s family. Family pride is big.

I missed a lot of shots that day. Well I would have thought that once in Kai the shot, is the shot. Yet it took me several tries when shooting Renmei style to be able to get close to the target. and only was able to hit it once. However I am getting a feel for the draw now after several times. Getting the glove to hold the Ya in place is still tricky from the new angles to work with. That will take a while of practice.

I am changing my draw from on the inhale and expanding, to on the exhale compressing and sinking while drawing. I’m not sure on the difference yet, I will need to feel it more.  Bringing the chi up and out to the limbs with the exhale is fairly standard when doing Fu. yet it feels somewhat new/different when drawing the Bow. Maybe because I do not do Southern Style Kung Fu where they tend to ground more. Where in the Northern Styles we develop our power from the movement. So the timing on the breath will make a small different in a big way, or big difference in a small way. The mechanics of the draw seem the same once you are past that high setup stage on the Renmei Style. As a newbie though I may find out differently later.

Is Kyudo taking over my marital art interest… Just the other day I was wondering if Kyudo was taking over my MA practice. It does seem that way from the blog here most of the posts are about Kyudo recently. Seems like Fu has been pushed to the back seat. My Kyudo Oniisan mentioned that as well, not reading much about my Fu classes. Kyudo is the big challenge right now. Having done Kung Fu since the 70’s. I do not want to learn any more forms, and techniques. Nothing really new other than exploring my own personal practice and the mini enlightenments that come with more practice. I am just working on bettering what I know and digging into the details. There is only so much one can practice and have a life. Then there is my teaching, only a couple of students right now. I’m hoping to get a couple of classes going with the local P&R and maybe a a class at the local Buddhist temple. They have a hugh yard, that would be great also for a Makawara Dojo and Kung Fu class inside and out.  Kung Fu is very much alive and is at the root of my Kyudo practice. It was why I started Kyudo. Things that I have learned from my Fu practice some directly relate to the Kyudo. So to me as  Kyudo skills grow so does my understanding of some aspects of Fu and visa versa. I have decided that in the realm of the three harmonies, Kyudo, Chan/Zen, and Kung Fu fit the grouping. There is Sitting Meditation ( Stillness- Spirit) Zazen, Kyudo ( Stillness and movement – mind)  that is what I was trying to say about it being on the line of Yin and Yang, having both qualities. Kung Fu ( movement- body). Sitting of course is for the Spirit, Kyudo is more about the mind with some Spirit blending and a breath of Physical and Kung Fu is about Health, the body and the physical realm with the Mind and Spirit blending in to the mix. There is of course as you see the cross over, since all things are interdependent. Another plus for Kyudo is that you can tell the results of your efforts right away. Instant gratification. With Kung Fu unless you are sparing, competing or fighting that instant feed back is not there, well other than how it felt. So with all three in operation ( practicing) one has the Harmony of the three elements. Sanmi-Ittai in Physical art realm.

Kyudo was chosen as my retirement Martial Art for my golden years in Japan, which I am nearing. Kung Fu, Kyudo, Ceramics, Music and Sailing.  I do not plan on making money from Kyudo so it is all about personal development, the fun and the every shot is challenge of shooting. The personal development of living each day as that one arrow. Personal development is as important as development of a trade. We need to keep some balance in our life, like the Bow we need to be unstrung at times also. Another thing is the Kyudo practice these days helps keep my mind from bogging down on work issues, as in lack of. and no real space for Kung Fu class, and unemployment checks, that are stopped because of the State budget, things like that…Even in the Kyudo zone I run into things like this…

I was taken aback the other day to run into a Kyudo elite Bigot. Which in a way is ok, with perspective. The Tao was telling me something. I got the message, I do not need to be focused on the Federation or it’s ranking to get “in” a Kyudo Dojo in Japan. I already have an “in”. Located in the very place we’re moving near, Osaka. I already have had personal time with the Master there.  I will continue to learn as best I can from where I am lead to with the Renmei style, Trips to LA, working with the guy at RSD, whatever. But I would rather not be involved with the Renmei if it means having to learn from Bigots. I am grateful for having meet the Southern Ca Sensei to off set the negative impression I have of the Northern  (pure Elite) Renmei Group. I would rather travel to LA and learn from people I respect, even if I can not officially join, and get instruction only twice a year, than smile in the face of Bigots and taint my  Kyudo Karma. When one plays with pigs expect to get dirty. I would like to keep my Kyudo experience clear as possible. I will still visit their dojo in Aug. I will see for myself how they are, rather than make a blanket judgement, like one of the Sensei’s did concerning me. I give people a chance…and it could have been just a test.

Now getting back to Kung Fu, that is always under development, Kung fu like Kyudo is a never ending quest for perfection. Which some people like the Late Kyudo master Onuma Sensei, say humans can never do. However it is the effort of going for it that gives us purpose and refines our nature. My points of Kung Fu study these days are Mantis Wooden Man, Chen Tai Chi, and reviewing the countless forms and applications. Belonging to a large system as Northern Shaolin Tai Chi Praying Mantis there is a lot to keep up with. Northern Shaolin has it’s stuff, Seven Star and Tai Chi Mantis have their stuff.  Tai Chi and Kali have their stuff. There is no way I can ever be a master. There is too much to manage to be a real Master of all. The best I can do is to master what works for me and what is needed to be a good teacher. Learning to be a teacher is another skill. Shifu and SiSuk, bother have different styles. The Sensei in LA has a completely different style. I learned some thing from him as well on teaching Kung Fu.  To answer my own question is Kyudo taking control of my Martial life. For the time being yes, to a degree and well be of shorts for while, then I will focus on the other parts of the life puzzle as I prepare for casting off in two  – three years! After that once in Japan Kyudo will be just about shooting better, now it is another part of training for the journey.

“When our body, mind and spirit are unified, we live in the zone.  It is automatic, natural and effortless.  All in one. One in All”….HeartChan

I will need the correct Sanmi-ittai of Spirit ( prayer and meditation), Body ( Meditation, Kung fu, Kyudo) and Mind (Meditation, Kung fu, Kyudo, education and study) to face the ocean and the new land and people on the other side on the world. Yosh!




3 responses

1 08 2009
Rick Matz

There is an ebb and flow to life.Studying broadly or more narrowly but deeply. Those are both strategies. For myself, given my circumstances, I tend to focus on doing a few things really well even though I have wide interests.

6 08 2009

You are on the path. That is what counts.
Don’t let the blind mislead, or discourage you!

6 08 2009

Thanks J !

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