Tai Chi Kyudo – Internal training

6 01 2010

Yes, I know there is no such thing, and it mixes two languages and I am not starting a new style.  (^_^) So do not go there…moving on…

My Tai Chi class for the Island started yesterday. Not as many signed up as the first session. about half. Only one of those was a new student, which is fine. It is a good compliment that all those but one who finished the first session came back for the second. However, the Praying Mantis class was again canceled due to not enough signups. Anyway that is another story…

I did noticed the other night when teaching my the Class, that when doing Tai Chi I think of Kyudo. Not so much Kyudo the shooting part but Kyudo the pre-shooting parts, breath, stance, alignment, connectivity etc. When I was doing Kyudo the other night for the 108 Ya ceremony I was thinking Tai Chi. Not Tai Chi Chuan the grand ultimate fist, but the breath, alignment, stance, connectivity, balance. The internal training of both.

Part of this has to do with M3 saying about how he thought the internal training part of Kyudo is the challenge to him. Also Ed Sensei saying to me watching my first training vid about how my moves need to be more connected, yet individually complete. The same sense he gets when watching Tai Chi Players. My brain is taking all this in, click, click , click, store.

Speaking of clicks…

Maybe I should have posted this on the zenkaze.blogspot.com site so one could click on something…Hint hint

I wonder if cross/double posting is breaking some blogger code if I pos this there as well. Anyway , I digress.

This Sensei is my Hero I want to shoot like him when I grow up.

A prime example of Tai Chi Kyudo. Smooth, separate yet connected, power, focus, balance and a good moon walker, beside being a great shot. Only thing I noticed from being told this he did not bring his ya even with his mouth… It was just above his mouth on Kai. Maybe it is a style thing.





6 responses

6 01 2010
Rick Matz

Very nice. The way kyudoka go about it reminds me of the Wu style taijiquan square form.

6 01 2010


6 01 2010

Hi Zen,

Tai-Chi-Kyudo!? Sacrilege! Burn him! Burn him!!!!!

Seriously though, there are principles of training, movement, thought,… to be transfered between the two. It is natural to look for connections. As your brain learns movement it makes neural pathways, for example. If a path already exists the brain will use it – that is why you learn more quickly than some. Some pathways are already there.
A note of caution though! Under pressure the brain will often default to the oldest or most familiar. This can mean old mistakes come back for example.

So Zen versus Miauchi sensei – compare and contrast:

You can always find flaws in the individual performance. You mentioned the Ya – classic shomen style would be lower in heki to ryu we draw to below the cheekbone like he does, so this may be a style not a flaw.
I can’t bear to see people let go and end up holding the bow by the to section… but that’s a different story
Still, the shooting is beautiful. Deliberate but without artifice, controlled but not rigid,… great to watch.

You mentioned your own shooting being disjointed.
Well that is how we learn. Like Tai Chi as you are drawing parallels:
There too you learn “the ball, the whip, the ladies weaving, …” you learn the different movements separately. Only after much practice when they have become natural to you do they join up and flow. Tai chi is an ebb and flow Ying follows yang follows ying but the beginner just goes: checklist! A (stop) B (stop) C (stop),…
Fluidity comes through practice.
WANTING to do it fluidly or “beautifully” just leads to artifice. Then it looks labored.
Keep doing what you are doing. Just shoot. Keep an eye on shooting CORRECTLY only, fluidity and beauty will come naturally – it may take 4o years – I hope you have that long ; )

So, as no post would be complete without ill advised corrections…
I know I shouldn’t but when has that ever stopped me?
So today’s corrections:
make your mind up whether you are doing Chikurin-ha or shomen style. Your ashibumi is a composite – looks a bit half hearted.
That brings me to correction two: in the second shot you hesitate – you wanted a hit (guessing) and your attention was outside you not within so the release was hesitant.
Nobiai! the idea is you fill yourself with energy, build it up until a release happens naturally. Don’t hold back. Be decisive.
Dithering and hesitation are lethal (in all martial arts) and they show.
But pay attention to correct shooting then beauty and hits will be the natural result:


As I said your form is good(ish) fluidity will com naturally.

(Also: Please tell your colleage I hope his knees will soon be better ; )
I’m mean – we (heki to ryu) use his particular kneeling posture too but ONLY in competitions. It is easier on the knees so it was adopted to achieve optimal hit rate. For a shooting performance your posture is the correct one.)

You do need a couple of long weekends between now and Tokyo but you are doing ok.

A couple of tips on the form for future exams – not correction, just to help…
examiners will expect to see ikasu (left knee up) or at least a small “jerk” up to indicate you thought of it. (That is after you stand your bow up.)
The rest,… the turn, raising of the bow etc will come when you do it a few times. Currently it just looks like “work”.
So to make easier “work” of it…
Getting down when you arrive at the shai:
You move the right foot too far back that makes it difficult to get the left knee on the ground. Right foot only 5″ back – the distance between the toe-tips on the floor is same as distance of left knee off the ground. Move right foot 12″ back the left knee is a foot off the ground – no way you can get that down smoothy… so… right foot 5″ back, no more!
then move the body weight back with (and over) the right foot (otherwise you trap your hakama)
get down (breathe while getting down helps control movement)
right knee on the ground first…
then slide forward to bring down left and align knees.
It is just geometry, not a circus act, when you make deliberate precise movements.
When you rise to your knees and bring the bow up. Imagine you are being pulled from a string attached to your navel. Tanden (belly) rises up – that means back rises up straight. Bow comes up simultaneously as body. Don’t just lift the bow.
Correct form here helps with the turn too.
So,… arrive at shai, get down, rise to your knees (practically “standing” on knees) then…
then you turn and lower body at the same time – round and down in one movement like “screwing” yourself down.

If you come all the way up you can turn easily. Just rise, move left foot over and pull the right along side and lower yourself at the same time.

Watch the background in this clip.
ok. watch the foreground too – archer no2 walks and shoots like a GOD. Watch his ashibumi and cry ! ; )
I could watch that for hours.

I can’t shut up.
Anyway… just trying to help.
I hope it does help…
Technique, geometry, dynamics,… all “outside” stuff but that is where you start – by understanding the form, noticing little details that make all the difference.

I’ll leave you in peace now.

All the best,

your virtual stalker M.

6 01 2010


just a link to show taihai.

I hope I don’t sound to rude when I offer opinions… I don’t mean to be. It is easy to see flaws in others, doesn’t mean I can do better – but maybe I can help YOU do better. Collegiate spirit,…
So a clip to teach taihai:


The little Devils* show position of feet, getting down, turning, ikasu,… very nicely.

* little figures are modeled on the author “Debiru” (Devil) Tamaka”



Stalker M.

6 01 2010


still had “you” open on my screen and it turns out I can’t spell…
the kid’s name is TaNaka.

So just to compensate you for wasting 21 seconds of your life and making you read my correction here is something for you to play with:


I though they are quite fun and as you are a web-savvy kind of guy you’ll be able to do something with these little guys. The site is quite temperamental – hope it works for you. I think they are free – but maybe I stole the one I took from there.


Stalker M.

7 01 2010

This morning I got up feeling bad about Chikurin-ha guy in your clip.
Apologies for my flippant remark.

I may feel even worse having commented 4 times in a row – STALKER!

It bothered me that the two of you were shooting different styles. That was why the ANKF taihai was developed, so that all schools could shoot together harmoniously. From Dozukuri to Zanshin everyone is free to use their own form but the timing, entering, exit… is unified. It is not that hard to do and it bugs me that Zenko are so insular that they do not teach it.
He CAN of course use his traditional form, we in Heki to Ryu do too – but only if it is the form everyone is using.
Here is a single guy in a little Heki ceremony – no problem there.
This particular kneeling posture is ideal for when you want to take a kneeling shot as the weight is on the left leg and right leg if free to move.

But Kyudo Styles Mix-and-Match? … hmmmm…

Anyway, it is your dojo, you are learning and you are doing ok so I should keep out of that. You are having to improvise as you are all individuals practicing informally – without a resident teacher I mean – so this is ok.
I’ll try and get over it.

My comments to you about ashibumi etc stem from there as well as I’m sure you guessed.

Still, there IS an exact correct form, every movement has a purpose, every one of the 600-odd muscles in the body has an exact job to do. Finding what exactly that job is is a lifetime’s work.
I know you are much more into the “inside” stuff.
I realize that was what the Tai-Chi-Kyudo post was about.
Still, you have to start from the outside. 640 muscles to get under control….
Tho point is practicing correct form – and correct form only. If you give yourself over to that you will (eventually) get to the beauty, the spirituality quite naturally. First you have to understand what you are doing and practice technique.
There are many in the West who “…just want to…” learn to meditate etc. There is no such thing as “just” doing anything in Kyudo.
Only in studying the bow and giving yourself over to selfless and unambitious practice of the bow can you achieve a spiritual dimension.
It is in the practice of correct technique that you learn about yourself and experience spirituality. We had that discussion before. Never the less I’ll tell you again: don’t mix up styles and schools and disciplines and expect it to be anything – it won’t be. SKILLS can be transfered, learning is easier… neural pathways… but kyudo is the study of the bow not anything else. Be wary of the quest for a spiritual dimension. Don’t imagine connections into things, your brain may just default into a wrong path when you really don’t need it.
Just practice kyudo as kyudo. Learn to master the craft and science of the bow first.
You have to master the bow until it is as natural a part of you as breathing. Then it naturally becomes all the things it should be.
Aspiring to beauty and spirituality is misplaced not to mention premature – the whole point is that you stop aspiring…
Ambitions ultimately are bad but you have to have and fulfill a few of them first before you can drop them.
I’m talking in general not to you so much here.
You are ambitious in the right way and you are working to learn and perfect technique so: good for you!
You are going to Tokyo, you want to compete… that is a great thing.
In years you are old and wise ; ) your kyudo-age is young though (as is mine) so it is natural to want to succeed, learn, measure yourself against others,… to be ambitious.
So you go to Tokyo to see how you measure up, experience the thrill of a big event like that. Great! I wish I could…
Just be aware that what they want to see there is not spirituality but hits.
Here in Europe we have a few kyudoka who – on a good day – can manage an 80% hit rate. I expect the US is similar.
In Japan you need to be at almost 100% if you want to be in the running for anything.
In large competitions you have to actually achieve 100%. It is a knock-out system – miss once and you are out – it’s the only way to get through events with thousands of participants.
You queue up for hours and take your shot – maybe 2 or 4 – but still you have to turn up cold, step up and hit every time.
I met and trained with a couple of the young “stars of YouTube”, students from Tsukuba Uni.
Now, Tsukuba does not (NOT) pride itself in winning much. That is because the private Colleges offer scholarships to attract the very best archers.
Still, I went to two training sessions with one student who was on a whistle-stop tour of Germany. I did not see her miss – not once. 50 – maybe 60 arrows – steps up stone cold and hits – every time.
A girl of 23.
That is what you are up against – simple technical perfection, not zen or “inside” anything.
We have the zen crowd here too – Herrigel is popular still.
A colleague of hers said about the zen-thing: if they were doing zen they’d have to be able to hit – zen is concentration – do it right and concentrate and you hit.
Anyway you REALLY don’t need lectures from me – not on that subject.
Still, the point is they are not looking to see the “inner you” shining out – not in exams or competitions. They just don’t. Not at our level.

Anyway, I’m ranting again…
Apologies for the rant.

I bet you are thinking this guy is so full of himself… maybe you are thinking full of …s… something else.
That may be true.
Thing is I mean you no disrespect.
You have the likes of Rick M. who just go “love the xyz” “great hat” “blabla”
No disrespect to R-san either… just making the point you put yourself out there and for me there really is no point in commenting on that level. It is a waste of your time and mine. Guess you talk to RM face to face so the comments are just to say “hi”. I get that.
I on the other hand don’t know you and I do try to challenge you – I hope to be challenged back. I do take on board what you are saying in your posts and some things stay with me.
Seeing things your way helps me.
For you to have someone to challenge your perspective should help you.
I am no go-dan-anything so my opinion has no weight – that is exactly the point though. You are putting your views out there over the internet – informally – and this is what comes back – some guy somewhere… It is just a sounding board – a surface to bounce ideas off – I am,… you are to me…
Maybe you are happy for this blog to be just a diary… “today I did xyz…got a new hat” RM goes “nice hat”…
…or maybe you want to communicate.
No idea who reads this stuff. Would be nice to hear though. Wouldn’t it?
Maybe you don’t care for that.
I can’t quite work out why you blog. What do you hope to get out of it?
Communication or diary?

I guess you think I’m a monumental pain in the back.

Well, even if I’m not communicating with you I am still enjoying communicating with me in the margins here… do you?

Mar(k)gins pirate – signing out.

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