Tai Kai: # 37 and the challenge
On this day #37 was up early. The starting time for the tournament was at 9:00 am. The doors opening at 8:00 am. Check out needed to be done from the hotel as well before going to the event. The hotel was comfortable for the stay and #37 was glad to that LZ found it. He did not get to explore the area because of the weather, but that was ok, because his plate was full anyway. Some thought was given where to leave stuff at the hotel in storage and come back or just lug it all over to the event.
It was chosen to carry it. Because one had to go back past the train station to get to the Hotel so seemed more logical to take everything with. The walk through the park was pleasant, even on rainy days it was nice, but today it was clear, but still cool. Today being the last visit extra vision was given to the small things. Of course everyday should be like that following the path of “Zen”
The ground was too wet still for Tai Chi practice though. There was the plan for #37 to go get the arrow knocks replaced or repaired after check-in for the event. However that turned out to be more costly than planned @ about $20.00 to replace a set four, so it was decided to just deal with what was on hand and just be extra careful when shooting, there were not any expectations of winning anyway, just to shoot the best one is able at that moment.
The knocks where checked before starting as to the fit on the string. With the new string and wrapping it seemed fine. From reading the program #37 thought that the shooting group for San-dan and lower started late afternoon, so there was the thought of not changing until afternoon. However following the “zen sense” a clothing change was made and things were organized in time to make the opening lineup for the speeches and such, also the entrance of the Princess Takamado.
All the opening hoopla was interesting, long, in the cool morning air and with the cold wood floor, but interesting anyway. After the fan-fair was done next was the opening demos for the TaiKai. Everyone took spots, inside and out. There were more people today that during the week since this was the main event, so people filled the stands and also the other side of the range and the spectator area on the main floor.
#37 went upstairs and ran into M3 who was not pleased about some internal political things. He went on for a bit before #37 was able to slip away to watch the rest of the demo. There was just time to watch the last of the demos and take a few pictures, one of them with a Facebook acquaintance from France who had given him some encouragement on the first day of the seminar.
Shortly afterward came to call to line up for the eliminations. The teams were in the main dojo and started their Q in the hall. The San-dans and below were to go to the other dojo, the main one was for the teams to compete only.
It was surprise there was another dojo, meaning this place was huge. The main one at 28 meters could be convert into 60 meters, now to find out there is another 28 meter range, wow. After a bit of a scramble #37 made it to the designated area. Everyone was trying to sort thing out with the who goes where and does what, in the varied languages. French, Spanish, English, Japanese, German, Russian… it was controlled pandemonium.
Mushin: The term is shortened from mushin no shin (無心の心), a Zen expression meaning mind of no mind and is also referred to as the state of “no-mindness”. That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. ￼
It was said to the contestants that if one missed two arrow shots to turn in their numbers. The setup was different from the usual tournament, style with 4 arrows. Ok thought #37 maybe they do not want to be too complex with the lower ranks and it will make things faster this way. #37 got into the staging line, still unsure of just what and how things were going another new twist was 10 people went out, but shot in two groups of five. #37 was last in his group this time.
Ok he just needed to remember to walk backward after shooting then exit after passing Honza.
When an archer is shooting for nothing he has all his skill.
If he shoots for a brass buckle he is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold he goes blind or sees two targets –
he is out of his mind!
His skill has not changed.
But the prize divides him.
He thinks more of winning than of shooting
and the need to win drains him of power.
Ok, the group went to Honza all was well. #37 had no thoughts other than to shoot his two arrows and leave for Osaka on a early afternoon train. Just thinking only of doing good form what he was shown, the new points in drawing and grip, not even much though was given to aiming. Just form and release…Bam a hit…sugoi!
He was surprised, ok, he thought that was interesting. He figured oh well, that was cool, but the next one will be all over, even though not sure what happened if you hit one missed one. Again he drew, not much on the aim, breathe, expand, release…BAM! another hits. Wow shocked!
He was still thinking do not blow the exit as he left the floor. Once off the floor he was greeted with many congratulations, you are finished until the final this afternoon, he was told, ehhhhh! So much for leaving early.
The next few hours were spent getting congrats, doing meditation, watching the team finals, and killing time. People were checking out the posting board to see who was still in the running.
Steve Sensei visiting the board is excited to find his student was in the finals and offers congrats. Still it had not hit #37 the depth of what was happening. However now there was some pressure, the Mushin was tainted. He called his wife, she was full of surprise, congrats and ganbatte! The afternoon dragged on.
Another highlight for #37 for the day was meeting with the Queen of Kyudo and getting his picture with her.
She was surprised at his Japanese, but so are most Japanese to anyone who can speak it other than a Japanese. Come to think of it, any other country is surprise when an American speaks anything other than English. What is up with that? They an learn English but we can not learn Japanese, Chinese Tagalo… but I digress…
About one hour before the individual finals #37 met with the other finalist, as it turns out he was one of the 3 finalist to compete for 1st place and World Cup Individual Champion.What a turn of events this day was suddenly. He and the two others all had the same story, they were all surprised and just did it for the experience and not to go for the gold. We did a lock fist salute to each other… Time past slowly, the teams ran longer than planned. They had a heated competition. There was originally 10 finalist in the team battle.
The USA did not make a great showing and did not make it to the finals. The Canadians did not make it as well. However the Argentinians did make the finals.
not all Canadians
#37 had found them both the Canadians and Argentinians to be very friendly over the last couple of days, so was cheering for both. One of the Argentinean ladies was in his group during testing and Marcielo their leader was there as an assistant during the training.
Argentina and Canada
However the French team was nailing their shots. They were hot! I watched one of the French Sensei’s shoot during an earlier demo he was excellent.
Finally it was time for the individual showdown. The individual champion was the last contest of the day. Steve Sensei was there offering encouragement. That was appreciated with #37 feeling fairly alone, even with misc congrats and ganbatte’s drifting in from strangers, it was nice to have one’s Sensei there. Most of the focus was on the Team shooting. At last individual finalist lined up and went on the floor. They were suppose to shoot until someone missed, and they were given one arrow. As it turned out, they all missed.
They were re-staged and given another arrow. Again all missed. The crowd grew tense. Everyone was on the edge of their sets now, even the Judges and Sensei(s). Another round, listening to the advice of a finalist from Argentina ( bad move), #37 aimed higher than normal and hit the curtain, still the others also missed. Another round was up coming. The shooters were told, they would have 4 tries this way then a larger target would be place there and the one who came the closest would win, they had used up two. They lined up again and went on the floor. Bam the leader of the line from Switzerland hit the target, the crowd cheered. #37 missed as did the other shooter.
Now it was just down to two, who will be second and third. The target was replace with the standard size. It would be one shot, the closest one to the center was the silver. #37 was first now. Now there was desire, a goal, lost was the clear mind. #37 shot and missed, he was directed were to go and do shiza while waiting the next person’s shot, who also missed… The crowd was audible with their tension while they waited for the distance to be measure as it was too close to judge by looking with the eye…
#37 was slightly disappointed but to lose by only an inch. However delighted to have gone this far against the 175 entered. He had brought honor to his Sensei’s, school and coaches. He brought home more than planned for, a bronze metal in the Olympics of Kyudo and a cool statue.
Two part prize
A big Arigato to: Nogami Sensei, Scott Sensei, Ed Sensei, Marcus Sensei, Rick Sensei, Blackwell Sensei, Hans Senpai, Neu Senpai, Don Senpai, Micheal Senpai, LZ Suma, and well the wishers and special side thank you to Doug Sensei for coming over to offer his congratulations, the only one from the US team and to John of the Minnesota Renmei for taking a picture ( which I’m still waiting for – John). One other American, I believe from Georgia won the Individual 4-5 Dan section on Sunday, congrats to her!
It was a good day and a worthwhile journey. The only small bummer is there are no pictures of the award ceremony for the photo album. Oh well, maybe they will show up in the Japanese Kyudo Magazine. #37 was pretty much the last to leave the building, there were a few others but once the action was over people cleared out fast, on with their lives.
The place looked different with no-one around having been full for the last few days.
The crowds were gone ,
but the memories remained.
next …kickn it in Kobe