I was on the way to Friday class with Sifu and Fong Sisuk It came to me whilst preparing mentally for the class it is the similar mind set as when doing Kyudo. That lead me to think, really it was more like preparing for Tai Chi Chuan (notice I am using the full name) and how doing Kyudo is not just like doing Tai Chi Chuan but rather doing Tai Chi Sword. Because with Tai Chi Sword not only must have that oneness on connection with your stances ( Ashibumi) , hips, spine, limbs, breath, eyes, (Dozukuri) connecting the flow of those with the sword. It’s position, grip, tip, (Yugamae), a further extension of that blending of oneness, in your movements but use the sword (Yumi). Achieving the San mai itai. The real difference is in those moments of stillness that one has doing Kyudo (yet as in sitting meditation there is still movement within stillness). At least when you are doing it as a group, the Kiza, the waiting time. Realizing of course that doing the Kyudo “set”, Kata it starts when you enter the Dojo floor, not just when you are shooting. I have heard it said by Jyozen-san that the shot, (the kata) starts when you pick up the Yumi/Ya. The Tai Hai is the Kyudo Kata…Hmmm, maybe I’m thinking to much about the seminar (-_-)
These are my thoughts whilst driving to Campbell for my monthly class session. The mind set of doing Kyudo is the same as Tai Chi Sword, different movements to the Kata but the same mind, the same connection to the weapon being held. The same extending of spirit and Chi. Got it! Just more that Zen/Chan stuff.
The release if the arrow is the Tai Chi Fajing ( power strike) of Kyudo.
Once there at the school I joined in the conversation about dealing with a much larger opponent. Sisuk empazided the importance of making the person fight your fight. Part of the higher levels of training is “sizing” up your opponent. Understanding his weak point and his strong points and using those weak points against him/ her. We, he said are Mantis a little small insect. We have to use our mind to fight, to control our adversary. Part of that control not only comes from physical control but mental control as well. Praying Mantis is a complex art , Tai Chi Mantis is even a higher complexity.
Another point covered was the use of the elbow and forearms . The Mantis is a multi jointed insect do not restrict your thoughts, actions to just use of hands.
The rest of the time was spent on some technical aspects of some movement and some comparisons with Aikido on controlling. Sisuk again stressed that the higher level of our art was about control and the compassion of control to end a conflict over pounding someone to death or submission. Training is about controlling ourselves first, then the other person. There is a saying from the Tao Ching something like. Mastering others takes wisdom, Mastering ourselves takes Strength.
At one point while we were eating or almost there Sifu said “to be good with Kung Fu, you have to learn it, then forget it”. I have heard this “meaning” before but the first time in this context, this setting, so it clicked into several things all at once, Music, Kyudo, Ceramics, Sailing…
All is Chan, Chan is all.