In Japan, bells at all temples ring 108 times which, according to the Buddhist religion, symbolize human desires. The last peal drives the desires away, and the new year is greeted in a pure condition. New Years in Japan is a serious event. Unlike here with drinking and noise and bedlam, Japan is quiet. Kind of surprising for a country that loves American Style, and is basically non-religious.
Kyudo:The goal: to shoot a total of 108 arrows to wash away the possible 108 sin’s of the last year. This is a Buddhist archery tradition. Followed by
Kotohajime the 1 arrow shot of the New Year bring in the year of the dog,
At my old School of Kinko Kyudo the teacher would call out “Last Shot” when the class was about to end. It was in a way symbolic of this is your last chance, your last effort at perfection…
I do not know if I have enough time to do this post justice as the last post for the year and get it up in the next hour in and a half.
I had seen messages for a Kyudo 108 arrow shot at the LA Dojo (NANKA’S), a received a write up and pictures from Team M3, I also saw a post on one the the Canada Dojo had last year, also hearing about Japan. I thought hmm why not have one here at Tanuki Dojo, that could be cool training and add some spiritual flavor to the practice, even though some look down on it. However that has been talked about in other post, and this is the Tanuki Clan’s Dojo, in our home it’s our rules.
I asked Senpai what he thought and he agreed it was a great idea! Sweet!
We planned for 9:30 am. Today Thursday New Years eve. Perfect!. The plan was for some meditation, Tai Hai, then just shoot. We got started just a little later than planned. I did a bit of cleaning, and sprinkled some salt ( kosher salt, I thought that was funny) around the Dojo, and on us to help purify the area and us as per Japanese tradition. After a spot of tea, we sat Zazen for 20 min., then did some chanting. It was a cool start.
I went through Tai Hai next a couple of times , since I made a mistake the first time and Senpai did a Chikurin-Ha version trying to match the timing. I will have to look at the film to see how it came out.
After that we shot, and shot and shot, and shot. We did sets of four arrows then retrieved them. After about 10 sets we took a lunch break. We had Sushi, sweet Mochi, and Matcha. Perfect amount of pick me up. Then back to shooting.
One would think just shooting is easy, wrong, not only the physical challenge is there but the mental challenge as well. Keeping focused, keeping each shot meaningful, learning from each shot, correcting mistakes, being aware of form, not getting lost in the target, or the form, being MINDFUL in short. It was a challenge. We learned a lot, not only about our shooting , but ourselves and our practice.
I think I made a huge advancement in my Hikiwake, plus my right and left hand work/grips. Toward the end of the night I was able to get almost a full spin on the Yumi upon Hanare. Also I really got to understand the meaning of trust the Yugagi and the snap of the finger for release, not using the thumb to hold. Once I got that working my shots were much better, smoother release. I was delighted that made my spin on the Yumi full once I got the pressure correct on holding with the left… consistently. I feel much more comfortable with the Tiger’s mouth grip now, although I use the close/curved finger version rather than the open one, which was suggested by, Ed Sensei and Marcus Sensei of team M3.
After all was done, and we had the last shot, number 108 , then we did the Kotohajime, the new shot for the Year of the Tiger and had a small toast with some Sake. It was a great way to spend New Years Eve day.