It was to be my first real contact and involvement with the NCR chapter. Even after having over a year membership my contact was limited. Given prior background … I was not really over joyed about going, being unsure about the welcome, the newness, the stranger. Anyway, I have no desire but to shoot, everything else is an illusion a distraction from the WAY . There is only now, this moment, this arrow…so…
I arrived early, I was the only one there. I waited, it was good a practice in stillness. Finally little by little after 30 min. the group showed up. However the building was locked. So everyone had some stillness practice. While a small group gathered at the door, I was greeted with a polite, yet friendly welcome from the local Pres. and everyone milled about in waiting practice for the gates to the Dojo to be opened. With that simple action, the spirit of ancient warriors and wannabes could enter the hall of training, dreams and power.
After everyone changed and we did a formal opening, with a small period of meditation, in Kiza :-(. This I found surprising not the kiza, but the meditation. It was not called that, but meditation is meditation, even if you call it George or reconnecting the chi to the source of all that is or was. A rose by any other name…
After doing something that was a lot like chatting, or sultra reading, we did group Tai Hai.
Other than two or three times I was “called out” because I did something inappropriate, because I did not know better, Sitting cross legged in the dojo, wearing my Yukake after shooting, I think I did ok. it was a good day session of Kyudo study.
I received a lot of helpful advise from an unexpected source. This was much appreciated and a surprise (Arigato Gozaimasu). I knew a couple of people there from when I had met them in Japan. However I mostly hung with my two schoolmates although everyone I encountered was nice.
I introduced myself to a woman I had seen before in Japan but not met. She was the only Black American female I had seen ever doing Kyudo. She seems pretty cool. She is a San Dan, when I asked her how does it feel being the highest ranked Black female in the states, She replied pretty much the same as being the lowest ranked, and laughed. Maybe one day I will interview her, it should be interesting hearing her story.
As for the class itself we did a lot a shooting, in both tournament timing and test timing. I found that very helpful. It was also helpful getting yet another view in how to form Tenouchi. Soon I should have it, I feel it is closerrrrr. I did get some good spin on a couple of shots and also almost lost the Yumi on another, too loose. Another thing happened, my first time hearing it, the string made this really cool sound on a couple of shots. I did not hear it from anyone else’s bow, so it must have just mine. I do not know if it was right or wrong, but it sounded cool.
It was a long day but a good one of practice. I was glad I went. While most of the others took lunch I took advantage of the free space and shot more. Since I did not bring lunch it was a perfect chance.
I got to watch the big dogs shoot also. Interesting. I have heard it said that some within the Renmei try to out do the Japanese on Japaneseness. Kind of like Nise being extreme of Japaness sometimes. I did notice that a couple of things that were ok in Japan were not ok here in the states ( and other dojos is ok, so maybe it was just there, or it is me ) Not a big deal really, every place is different, I’m just saying.
Well there is one more formal class for me before the seminar, I’ll get some more solo practice in, then it is show time. Too bad my classmates are not attending the seminar this year that would be kind of cool. Two of my favorite classmates are not attending this year but will for next. They will be testing for Shodan and Sandan. Hopefully there will be two of us testing for Sandan next year… Yosh!
Anyway my first official encounter with the Nor Cal Renmei group went well. Everyone was politely friendly (normal) and I left with an overall good impression.
On the topic of the seminar. I received my final confirmation the other day. I do have my own single room, yay! Now I will not disturb someone else with my schedule. I am not sure who else I know will be there in MN, but I do have two peeps I know will be there.
I missed the signup for the Tai Kai. I heard that 75 people signed up for the 60 spots. Oh well, there is next year, my last in the states. The best of which is, I do not have to travel out of town to attend… Totally cool.
So another thought. With all the Kyohon re-reading I been doing… the more I read the more I see Kyudo’s Chan nature. Not just that Kyudo is Zen ( a zen path) , but everything has that nature…
It reminds me of something Fong Sisuk said about one needing to reach a certain level before you can “see” the different levels of options with a movement/technique. There are many levels to the basic form, when you have the “eyes”, (knowledge, experience, education…) to see.