Stranger in a Strange land…

25 07 2011

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.


Yama Kuma…

23 07 2011

I got the Yamakuma on the trip to LA . I wanted a fiberglass Bow I could take on the Pacific passage on Zen. I wanted to be able to do a few ceremonial shots entering and leaving the ocean. I made the trade for a 6 string Bass. I was under the impression it was a 18 k bow but it is 22k!!!

I have mentioned getting a 22 k bow to a couple of people and they are a bit taken back, yeah me too!! I would really rather something lighter. Oh well. This will not be fun. Ok maybe trying to draw it once a day with give me some strength training on the boat.

I took the bow out to the parking lot at home to try to draw it. The first day I could not. The second day I got it opened … Once out of two tries. The first, the second … Pfst. However I am happy I was able to open it. I figured it will be a one shot session when I use this.

Thurs I went to class. I took Yamakuma along to get it a shot… The one shot for the night. Sensei looked over the Bow and was able to draw it. He says yeah I usually can work with a 20k .

My turn, I grabbed a Ya and took a spot in front of the makiwara. I knock the arrow and move to Ushiokoshi. At Daisan things are a bit tight but nothing I could not deal with. I went for full expansion. I made it to about 4 -6 inches before Kai…

The search for a Yumi to shoot while making the Pacific passage goes on 😦

Kind of bummed the trade did not go as planned. Sigh, oh well sometimes it happens…


LA Story-Kyudo pt*2

19 07 2011

It was nice to sleep in a while on Sat. Morning. I was up at 7:00 to have the breakfast, which I stated was a let down with the Orange Juice dilution. Afterward I went back to bed for a while, that was very nice! Later a bit of Chan-Ding (Zazen) before heading out the door to take care of business. I was not suppose to meet up with Darth or Jyozen Sensei until later.

We, Team 3M minus one, arrived at the Pasadena Dojo a little on the late side having come for a poolside party. We settled in quickly for class. It had not started as yet so we were able to beginning with the group. This practice with this group would be my own little test of how I was at doing Tai Hai.

Class started with some Zazen in a Seiza ( I need to practice that one more as well, yuk)  position. That was painful! I was told after fidgeting around that I could sit in cross leg position that was ok. Whewweeeww! We had about 10 min or so of meditation. The last time I was with this group they did Heart Sultra chatting as part of the opening. That was no longer happening but the rest of the opening was the same. The pattern and the “air” shooting (shooting with no Bow, like air-guitar), really helps one focus on the training at hand… IMHO

Next we start the shooting sequence. I got to be the third in line one round, then last, then first. It was good training. I suffered in Kiza while others got corrections when I was last. :-(. Good training for the seminar, painful but good, very good. Just like the real thing. Just what I wanted.

After three rounds it was break time. We sit in circle, have tea and chat. It is the social time. After about 20-30 min. we are back at the task of shooting. This time it is just free shots with corrections from Jyozen-Sensei. I got a good portion of suggestions and tips. Also watching and listening is helpful. Nogami Sensei says you learn from watching, you learn from doing. Sounds like the Yin and Yang of learning. I got some more details and demos on Tenouchi. Hand shape pressure, alignment. Class ran from 6-10 pm, all of the time was made use of. Thanks to the Nanka Kyudo Kai group for the hospitality and Jyozen-sensei for the instruction and guidance. It was a good visit. I had a bit of a surprise when a guy in the changing room says “hey your Zen from the ASA, I read the article about you there.” Wow never thought to hear that around here in Kyudoland. The seminar is in just a few weeks now. I am not as nervous about it as I was last year, in JAPAN!!!. There is still the apprehension but I feel more confident. I need to put in more reading the Kyohon. I think the listening to the tape I made will help.

I picked up the Yumi from DarthKyudoka. It was thinking it was 18 k however it is 22k!! It was not strung when I got it, I have yet to do that. I’m wondering if I can draw it…(yes & no I find later 😦 )

There is an open practice this Sunday coming for the seminar or anyone wanting a group practice. I will be attending unless work comes up. It will feel kind of weird. I have not perfected non-attachment. so I’m jus saying…

The LA Story – Kyudo

14 07 2011

It was hot on the road! One of the times having an A/C was a good part of life. When temps are in the three digits it is great part of modern  life!

I was on my way to LA for training and trading. It has been a while since I trained with Jyozen-Sensei. With the up coming test ahead I was looking forward to the sessions with him on over the weekend, he is one of my favorite people to train with. Having some of the same Shaolin/Tai Chi background as well as Zen gives me a different level of connection with him. Kind of a San-Mai-Ittai thingy with Kyudo thrown in.  It would be also a chance to do the blog interview with him as well. This will be for the last interview of Kung Fu Beyond Combat. I do know if any one else found the interviews interesting, but I did. So …

On Sat I was suppose to attend Jyozen-Sensei’s formal class in Pasadena with Nanka Kyudo Kai. Friday night was a private meeting at his home. Saturday would be my chance to shoot with a large group and test myself under live large conditions. At Scott Sensei’s classes we are a small group of three at a time shooting. A large group of strangers would give me a better view of shooting under stress and how I am following protocol.

There were small visits and items also within the trip but the training was a major part of this journey and picking up the Ya from Darth-Kyudoka, the hated Dark Lord. This was right on time (so I thought) as I will be without my Yumi for two week, since it is being taken to MN via van with a bunch of others for the upcoming Seminar.

I had a difficult beginning of this trip  getting the rental car and getting on the road. LZ was concerned about it spoiling my weekend but once on the road the rest of the trip was fine. Well other than the driving bakas that are out there on the road.

The only let down was breakfast at the motel on Sat morning. I had stayed in this motel before. It was a reasonable price, clean , Japanese motel in, a Japanese section of town.

There is free breakfast. On the weekend it is not that great for me since I do not eat most of what they serve. I get rice and pickles, green tea and orange juice.

The BUMMER came in with the orange juice. It was so watered down it had no flavor of being juice at all. I can understand some cut backs but this was over the top. I will be putting it in a review. However I will still recommend the place.

Friday’s session was good with Jyozen-Sensei. We had the interview first then shot some. (I will post the interview separately later).
Before shooting we had a short meditation in his little Zendo which is in his backyard. Next to that, just near that is a cemented area which is the Makiwara Dojo.

I did a couple of shots for him to critic. His first words were now “that” is Kyudo. He said I improved greatly since the last time. I was pleased I was on the right path. His main critic was I did not use the same amount of mindfulness in my upper body as I did in my stance (Ashibumi). From my years of martial arts my rooting was good by I did not continue that “mindfulness” up into my trunk and arms on a consistent basis.

After spending a couple of hours with Jyozen-Sensei I headed to my motel room. I was there early enough that I could give a couple of my old Kung Fu mates a call and setup visits for Sat. After that it was a evening of watching an odd Kung Fu movie for the evening.

Chan practice – Five Element Kyudo

11 07 2011

I shoot for a couple of hours on Friday. Come to think of it I put in a fair amount of Kyudo time this week. I shot Thurs, Fri, and Sunday. Friday as I was saying before the digression is that was only a couple of hours of just shooting working on Tenouchi and Hikiwaki .

Sat I spent on the boat, it was my boat day. I thought of sailing but got to involved with projects and non- such.

Sunday I went back to RSD and worked on what I call five Element Training. Zazen ( earth), Kiza ( wood), Tai Chi ( water),  Tai Hai ( metal), Hitting ( fire).
This is my new perspective on looking at a training regime for my solo combo practice.


As far as the shooting I was way off on targeting all my shots for the most part were low. I wonder if the age of my string tsuru has anything to do with it. I really gave more thought to my Teniuchi and Hikiwaki than my hitting. I feel I understand the Tenouchi now just getting the hand to cooperate is the trick.

As a sidenote to my physical training, I have started to record section of the Kyohon on my iPod so I can study at work for the written test…yosh!!

Kyudo Thursday…

7 07 2011

Went down to Kyudo practice on was a good session. It is a good thing I went I learned the proper form for shitsu recovery. I was called to do the broken string recovery. I never learned the proper way so I just faked my way throughout from things I had seen and things read. I wad told it was almost perfect except for moving the ya around while wrapping the string. Pretty good , I was surprised I pulled it off.

The rest of the class was pretty routine except for this drill. The Nidan and I had a kiza face off. We both kiza in front of each other up and down looking for mistakes. Then we added the turn Hirakiashi into the mix. I can do the move but I always have to do a notice little as possible shift to adjust my position since I am not flexible enough to turn my knee out 90 degrees.

I heard from Sensei there are a couple of events happening. One is a open shoot among the Northern Ca Renmei schools. I will not be attending maybe working that day or out of town. If not I’ll go. The other is a bi-annual event hosted each time by different a Dojo. There is a name but I do not recall it. I think this same thing I was not invited to last time. Sensei asked if I could help this year with the arrangements, it is our school hosting. Since it is not until Nov. there is enough time for me to set aside that day and it is not a day that I usually work at the marina. I an off to LA this weekend coming . I will be doing some training for the seminar and also picking up another Yumi, the 18 lb’r . I am looking forward to shooting with that.