Kyudo no Unko mada Kuso desu… part III

19 11 2009

I was of the mind to let this topic slide until the next encounter …however…with the large feedback and some of the content of that said feedback I felt I should touch upon this briefly. Also having  heard from a few others on similar matters which redirected my thoughts back to this topic…I’m dong this for a couple of reasons. 1. No one is talking about this part of Kyudo…yet !  Everyone talks about how wonderful an art this is. and they are right! It is a wonderful Art, however like anything, formal Religion, Art, Politics, Sport, it is the whacked people behind these things, that put the bad slant on it. NOT ALL but enough that there is some taste of bitter and some are more sensitive let’s say than others to the taste. 2. From the comments I am guessing some people think that it is all abut me, I’m the only one seeing, feeling these things. WRONG! 3. Sometimes it is good to rock people’s world. wake them up. Like the wack the monk gives the mediators in Japanese Zen sittings to help them with their enlightenment. Perhaps the smell of this dirty laundry on front street will help with someone’s enlightenment.

There is a Go-Dan who is writing an article for Black Belt magazine. Some of the things I spoke about he is writing about, not the same thing, but in general. I wrote about my experience. I was asked what I thought about his article now after my experience. Do I still think he was too hard. I said, The article was good then, it is good now. However  my opinon had not changed on the modification I suggested. Which was to use more ” tack” on certain areas. Shaolin Tao is one of Compassion.

His words : “The sensei in Japan want you to learn, they want you to feel good about your training experience  and I feel they go out  of their way to make you feel welcome . Not in the United States”. This is a person who has trained here for many years.

Ok, here is another thought from a Go-Dan, a Renshi here in the states not from CA. ” I’m a believer that all forms of Kyudo polish the heart of the participant. Some people who have spent years walking the Way of the Bow seem to not understand any of this. Then again, I wonder, what would they be like if they had spent no time at all on the Path.”

say it together …WoW,

How about a view from another,  a Ni-Dan this time:

“Members of one school are not allowed to practice with the others, and members of one dojo are not allowed to practice elsewhere. This creates an insular culture and inhibits progress, for everyone.”

There is another teacher, who is now considered a “Ronin” he was a senior member in the Zenko clan. This is due to no wrong doing on his part, but someone’s ego got all in a knot, perhaps behind some jealousy …

The moral of this: words from a Go-dan:

“You would think this group would not have politics like other martial arts groups with political problems. It does because we all are human and as long as we are human we will have ego “

One of the biggest challenges, evils, demons we face in this world is ourselves, our egos. This is our largest mountain to climb. I heard the other day at the Extreme Buddhist gathering, the Leader said. “We need our ego, to interact with the world. To do business, etc, etc. However we can not let the ego control us.”

I say, The ego it is a tool for us, we should not be it’s tool or it’s fool

All this means, if you have a good teacher, be grateful, if you have a good practice, be grateful, Just becasue you are walkingin Sunshine does not mean there are no clouds somewhere. If you are struggling with your practice be grateful you are not alone and yours is not the only Dojo, seek out your spot, if you can not locally, there are things coming, developing, falling in place to help you walk the middle way of Compassionate Kyudo…BuddhaKyudo I’ll call it. (^_^)

Anyway have heart , as I said there are some Kyudo Lotus flowers. I tracked through some mud and muck just in my short time and found some…for now Ganbatte!

Here is the thing as I said before, in my most popular post, Kyudo – life in a small space.  It is about the shot, doing your best shot. Just like life. You have good days, bad days, good bosses, bad bosses, good relationships, bad relationship, but each day, each hour you have to give it your best shot. Deal with the Politics, the haters, the ego, the general BS that life throws at you and still give it your best shot. It is about the shot, not the Kuso. Look for the flower in the desert, the lotus in the mud. Ganbatte, Be the Shin Zen Bi.

Flower In The DesertWritten by Loki
A short story from Loki of the Sioux nation approximately 200 years ago. It is said to have been given to her by a medicine man. This happened many many summers ago. There was a young flower in the desert where all was dry and sad looking…It was growing by itself…enjoying every day…and saying to the sun “When shall I be grown up”? And the sun would say “Be patient”—Each time I touch you,you grow a little”…And she was so pleased.Because she would have a chance to bring beauty to this corner of sand…And this is all she wanted to do—bring a little bit of beauty to this world.One day the hunter came by—and stepped on her.—She was going to die—and she felt so sad.Not because she was dying —but because she would not have a chance to bring a little bit of beauty to this corner of the desert.The great spirit saw her, and was listening.—Indeed,he said …She should be living…And he reached down and touched her—and gave her life.And she grew up to be a beautiful flower…and this corner of the desert became so beautiful because of her.



5 responses

20 11 2009


I’m sorry you have had a bad experience with Kyudo. When I was saying you overreacted to the statement that a teacher insists on teaching ANKF kyudo seriously, I did not imply that there is no “drama” in US Kyudo (why does Georgia have 3-4 different Kyudo groups?) — you are not opening anyone’s eyes there. All I’m saying, you should really try to attend a practice before making judgments, and that particular statement you seem to have read too much into (I can’t speak about the other teachers you saw or emailed).

Kyudo in Japan may be a lot more welcoming, but most people in Japan understand what kyudo is and don’t assume it is “walking zen” or “shooting meditation”, just like they don’t don’t call tea ceremony “zen tea ceremony”. Kyudo borrows a lot from shintoism too – why call it not Shinto-archery? 🙂 The fact is, in the US, Americans have a lot of wrong ideas about Kyudo/Zen and they bring those ideas to Kyudo classes. This isn’t just limited to Kyudo too – I’ve seen people walk into swords classes and ask some silly things — (like, “how do you do the stuff in Kill Bill?”) and while we are all doing our best to be patient, we are all human and wary, and sometimes frustrated when we try to explain what Kyudo is to someone who clearly has a different preconception in their minds. The fact is, some teachers probably saw zen in your username and because of the past associations with students with zen-archery preconceptions, unfairly assumed those judgments about you.

You are making the same mistake that the teachers made about you — like each teacher must individual gauge each student, each teacher and group must be experienced on their own terms before you make sweeping judgments about the state of Kyudo in America, or even California.

21 11 2009

Hi Zen,

well I agree our human nature makes it difficult sometimes.

Actually our nature as westerners makes it difficult.

Yes, in Japan sensei want you to do well etc… but in Japan students want to learn and they conform absolutely.
Here we are too individualistic. This does apply to teachers too but more to students – or prospective student as most don’t stick with it after a few lessons for that very reason. I have previously related stories about students’ preconceptions and expectations… you don’t get that in Japan.
As mystery kyudoka pointed out Kyudo is an expression of japanese culture and most people there know what to expect and they know what is expected of them.
Teachers are strict and feel entitled to expect obedience.
Try doing that here…
Here in the West fringe sports like Kyudo attract individualist and people who look for self-fulfillment and an alternative lifestyle.
This does kind of clash with the whole culture of it.

So there is diversity here – different groups practicing Kyudo for different reasons. That is ok too. We are diverse and that is a good thing.
You just have to find your group. You (one) can’t expect someone who trains only to achieve a good hit rate to train with a guy who wants to meditate all morning and then shoot one arrow. They have nothing to say to each other.
Having “nothing to say to each other” should not mean looking down your nose or closing yourself off.
People should be open, we’ve agreed on that.
Maybe we should also agree that the student has to conform, learn on the teacher’s terms and obey absolutely as they do in Japan.

So you found a few people to bitch about the kyudo “establishment” or at least others who practice kyudo.
Well you’ll always find those and they are playing politics just like the rest, as they try to win over guys like you to their particular click.
There needs to be a uniform culture in the sport for it grow and function. That doesn’t seem to exist in the US.
Not sure the guys you quote are helping.
I’m not defending the guys who’d eject you off hand etc.
Just be wary of those you ally yourself to because f it. People get disgruntled because they are not accepted so they go out looking for like-minded guys. What you end up with is a group who only have their disdain for everyone else in common.
So how are they better?

There is a little story about Kyudo in Japan I can tell here…
Inagaki Sensei who introduced Kyudo to Germany could not accept the new ANKF style of shooting which was devised to allow Kyudoka from different schools to shoot together (before they were like closed off clans). He did not believe a “democratic” open kyudo was worth compromising his school for – that had been developed and proven on the battlefield and people had given their lives to get there….
He refused to conform and clung to the old style. For that he was ostracized (which actually lead him to look to the west – lucky for us).
He was one of the most outstanding archers of his time. But he disobeyed his teacher and for that he had to leave his dojo and was sidelined in the sport. This continues to this day as none his students (many are now teachers) have been accepted are part of the “establishment”.
So the point of this story actually goes both ways – he had “Ego” and could not conform blindly so he was ostracized. Absolute conformity is expected. You don’t conform and you are out – even if you are ranked Hanshi.
Shibata is a similar case I guess.
So much for Japan being the land of tolerance and harmony etc.
There are few cultures as conformist and insular as Japan.

Having said that it is a wonderful rich culture with much to teach and give to all of us. Much of its strength and appeal stems from the way traditions are respected and refined over generations.
Just let’s not idealize it too much.
And let’s consider that in japanese kyudo conformity is expected and enforced and that this actually is the basis of a lasting cohesive culture.
Anything else ends in chaos and anarchy.

Kind regards,


22 11 2009

Thank you both for your comments. _/|\_

25 11 2009

This was a really interesting post to me, Zen. I gave up practicing kyudo a couple of years ago. Although my reasons had nothing to do with the politics of North American kyudo, I am very aware of these squabbles and competitive postures here. You can’t practice kyudo with a teacher in any school here without eventually hearing something about these rivalries.

I was really disgusted by the public split in one school of kyudo here. However, last year I learned a lot about the competition among different Buddhist monasteries in medieval China and (later) in Japan. Those struggles and posturings reminded me of the situation in North American kyudo.

That is not to excuse it or to say it’s acceptable. But people are … well, people. We have many attachments. We suffer from delusions. We want our Buddhist teachers and our martial arts teachers to be above all that, but most of them are not. Does this make our kyudo practice less pure? Well, I would say your practice is your practice. If your practice is pure, then you can serve as a good example for others.

There is a saying in my school of Zen practice: “Your evil tongue will lead you to ruin.” Remember this and say nothing.

We are silent when we stand, when we raise the yumi, when the ya flies free.

25 11 2009

Hey ZQ, yeah, people are people, and we all something to work on in our nature…

thx for dropping by


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