Several weeks ago I had someone ask me, “How long have you been playing kyudo?”
Now, I don’t always hear correctly, so I asked him to repeat this just for affirmation. Yes, he said play. My immediate reaction was a mental thought of, “I don’t play kyudo. I take my kyudo very seriously!” Then it occurred to me that English was probably not this person’s first language and I gave an appropriate answer to his question.
This idea came to the forefront in another context when a friend explained to me that when he puts his glove on he is doing kyudo, even when he is not in the act of shooting. I gave this concept more thought, playing kyudo versus doing kyudo.
If we consider the English language and it’s use regarding sports, we play football, play tennis, play golf or baseball. I am sure most of these players take their game very seriously. But, we do martial arts, even those that incorporate a sporting aspect. When I taught karate classes, this was one thing that was stressed in every children’s class, “We never play karate. If I do… my hair will turn green… my teeth will fall out… (or any of other numerous absurdities).”
Again the subject of differences in languages came up at a recent Kyudo Alliance seminar. It was brought to our attention that students in the West generally think of practicing their martial art. But in Japan, there are at least six words to define this more precisely.
(1) Keiko is just showing up and doing something, usually translated as practice.
(2) Renshu denotes more involvement. Rather than practice, this word can be understood as training, such as baseball practice versus spring training.
(3) Shunren can be regarded as a discipline.
(4) Tanren can be thought of as forging.
(5) Kufu carries things a step further to where the body has been forged repeatedly, much as the layers of the Japanese sword. The mind and body have melded into one.
(6) Shugyo is the highest level in which the body, mind and spirit are as one. It has been said that shugyo is “conducting oneself in a way that inspires mastery”.
In this same vain, there are three levels of skill in the Japanese language relating to the arrow and target connecting:
(1) Tôteki, the arrow hits the target.
(2) Kanteki, the arrow pierces the target.
(3) Zaiteki, the arrow exists in the target.
So, as you do your kyudo, keep in mind the level of effort and the amount of yourself that are you giving. What level are you training on? Are you holding back or are you putting all into every shot? Are you shooting from the mind or are you shooting from the heart? Are you polishing your heart as you train?
“The Way is in the training.”
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