Chan (Zen) -n- Kyudo…

22 02 2010

Yesterday was day two of the weekend Kyudo practice. With 51 days to go I’m in it. I find it hard to focus in Zazen , without thoughts of Tai Hai forming in my mind’s eye. Yesterday I was out at RSD putting in some time on Tai Hai. It looks so simple, but it is difficult. Sort of like Tai Chi. It looks so peaceful and easy to do, but people sweat doing it. They get frustrated, discouraged, dis-hearted. Tai Hai is like that over-all it looks, so simple, but it is full of small details that drive one up the wall with it’s complexity and challenges. I’m more and more getting to non-attachment to passing the “test”,  just doing my best and whatever happens, happens. So much to deal with, group timing, group breath, individual timing, individual breath, the arms, the hands, the back, the feet, the turning on the KNEES, the grip, the release, the draw, the aim, the turn of the head, the look of the eyes, the angle of sight, the bow, the standing, the exit…Ganbattemasu Fuu-kun 🙂

I spent a couple of hours or more on practice on Sat. Not giving much to shooting or care to hitting. Just to get a smooth, mindful Tai Hai. Very much like a Zen practice, being there fully for each movement. Relaxed yet, clearly alert. Not attaching to the out come or end, but that moment.

“Given this day

Right now

To ponder;

Yesterday will not return

Who knows about tomorrow?  …Awa Kenzo

After a few hours of that I just shot. I did not do well, but I did not do bad. It did not matter, because I was not there to be about hitting, I was there about the practice.

Afterward I stopped by “the Bone” ( BoneYard dojo), the Lads, less one were there doing 60 meters shots. I was done with my shooting for the day and needed food more than target hits. The next day was a 6 hour session with Sensei, so I did not want to be burnt out. So we just chatted a bit, before I headed off into the soon to be sunset.

The next day was rainy, rainy, rainy. I like rainy days there is a cleansing about them that is nice. It meant there was no out-door range practice today, which was not as nice for other reasons I will not post.

Let me insert a bit about my Chan (Zen) practice. Shaolin Chan practice is different from your everyday Japanese Zen, Soto or Renzai. Our practice has the sitting like they do, and it is the foundation, but it is only the outside practice. We have the deeds to help the suffering and all but it is more than that. We do not sit and do the chatting or reading the Sutras. Our is an active meditation or sitting. We work on activating our Chakras, on moving Chi, we have motion Chan practice, which is physical movements, somewhat like chi gong. So our “Zen” practice is not just about sitting and going Ommmm, being in a calm state of mind, it is Physical as well as mental and spiritual. Therefore it is in all things, connected to all things. Sailing, Kung Fu, Kyudo, walking, gardening, healing.

Sensei and I got into the subject of Zen. Partly because of he told me something on the the Kanji. Sometimes or at one time the Japanese wrote it different from Chinese. Having to do with the strokes on the radical. Another one of the topics discussed was centering and expanding chi. On one of the Sensei’s shots, he said he was practicing bring up the chi. On another he said he was expanding the chest. He could not do them both as the same time yet, so he was going back and forth with them until the control merged. Like focus going from left hand to right hand until they connected. One thought, one mind, one arrow. Balancing the shot from the Tan Tien and not the upper body, then the other way around. This set me to thinking about our Chan practice we shift from one Chakra to another and then try to connect them. Ok, now we are on something I can understand. This was in keeping with our Chan practice, opening the chakras and expanding the Chi. Bring the Chi up from the Tan Tien or Hara and expanding it in to the other parts of the body  How that effects the power of the shot, the balance of the body, the expanding of the energy outward, shooting from the Bones as stated in the Kyuhon.

I tried that on my next shot. Not thinking of the Tenuchi, the hands, expanding the chest none of that. I just let the body fall into place as I did a large draw, Hikiwaki to Kai. I locked into a position that felt supported. From there I focused Tan Tien like we do in Chan sitting practice on the Navel Chakara and bring up the chi from there and pushing toward the target and out. Like a two direction punch we do in proper Kung Fu. Expanding the body with the Chi, rasing it then outward rather than thinking of opening the chest or arms or anything.  Bam, the arrow hit firm, the yumi spun, the right arm recoiled. Nice! Sensei said, Yes, that was it, like that, everything was there. Now the trick is can you do it again. Sou ne! I thought. I did the second arrow, still good, but not as good as the first, too much thought was there. Hmmm, so now the to do that consistently at will part, that is yet another Kyudo challenge.




3 responses

22 02 2010
Rick Beal

I used to use a similar practice. From the tanden I would allow the energy to naturally drop through my feet to the center of the earth (like a diamond) from the center of the earth it would bounce back up to my tailbone and work its way up my spine to the crown of my head, out the crown of my head to the moon… then hang from the moon so that gravity hung me really straight right back, like a plumb bob, to the center of the earth… so I was suspended between the two. At the instant the connection between moon and earth was complete the arrow would leave. It was a wonderful experience.

22 02 2010

Jyozen-san. I recall now you saying something about this when I was visiting in LA.

22 02 2010


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