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Archive for June, 2011

Haiku

I ran across this haiku from “Chibi”, the pen name of Dennis M. Holmes:

sudden shower!
each raindrop
a bull’s-eye

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Nesreddin is a Sufi from the Middle East during the Middle Ages. His tale applies quite well to all cultures, to Kyudo and all life experiences…

Nasreddin brought a bow and arrows with him to the country fair, and his students all came to see their teacher compete in the archery contest.

Like all other contestants, Nasreddin was given three shots at the target. Before he took his first shot, Nasreddin put on the kind of hat a soldier wears and stood up very straight. Then he pulled the bow back hard and fired. Nasreddin missed the target completely, and the crowd laughed mightily at him.

Nasreddin picked up the bow once more and drew it back. This time he used much less strength, and although the arrow flew straight at the target, it fell far short.

Nasreddin had only his third shot left. He simply turned to face the target and fired the third arrow. It hit dead center, and the whole crowd went crazy! Everyone wanted to know how he made the last shot after not even having come close with the first two.

“I’ll tell you,” Nasreddin said.

“For the first shot, I was imagining I was a soldier and a terrible enemy faced me. Fear caused the arrow to fly high over the target.

When I took the second shot, I was thinking like a man who had missed his first one and was so nervous he could not concentrate. He was weak with worry, and the shot was weak, too.”

Nasreddin paused. Finally a courageous soul spoke up. “And what about the third one? Who fired that arrow?”

“Oh,” said Nasreddin. “That was me!”

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Time for Kyudo

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. -Lin Yutang

An acquaintance said something to me a while back regarding others having more time than she did and what she thought they should be doing instead with their time. It occurred to me then, that no one person has more time than another. There are simply 24 hours in everyone’s day. It is a matter of what you choose to do with your time that influences the perception. Had I said this to her, I can imagine her next comment would have been, “Well, I have children and a job” and I would reply, “Did you choose the path that leads to family? Did you choose working to supplement your husband’s income, so you can have a bigger house and nicer things?” We each choose what we do with our time.

The issue of time came up again recently as a Kyudo friend confessed that he had not been shooting this year due to a new job. Another friend also informed me he was taking time off, but would return to Kyudo practice one day. And I confess, there have been periods when I “let life get in the way of living” myself.

As Don Rabska, former Olympic Archery coach, points out in Archery Focus magazine (http://archeryfocus.com), “Since everybody has a “life” schedule, be it school, work or family obligations, it is important to “fit” (customize) the training schedule around your life schedule to make it an integral part of your life.” In one of his other Archery Focus articles, he stresses the importance of setting aside time for practice and letting others know this is your time.

There are many forms of practice that can be done without ever leaving home and scheduled to fit around your other obligations. He recommends utilizing mental practice and states, “Mental training can be done almost anytime, but there should be specific times set aside when you can fully focus on your mental practice. Zen, visual imagery, affirmation review and progressive relaxation are very good mental practices that should be incorporated in your schedule.”

As part of the training program, he suggests, “Long drawing times. Draw the bow to full draw for 20 to 60 seconds while working on maintaining relaxation and fine motion.” He tells the reader to do this ten times before bedtime, resting one minute between draws.

On alternating days from the “long hold” practice described above, he tells students to work on, “Drawing practice. This is an important exercise for working on body position, consistent anchor position, drawing control and accuracy. Do this in front of a mirror part of the time to monitor your shoulder positions, body angle, i.e. standing up straight, and your alignment by facing the mirror. Do this about 30 times before going to bed. Drawing practice should also include work on body stability. This would include your breathing control routine (from the diaphragm), focusing stomach tension and practice toward relaxing the rest of your body while drawing the bow.”

In addition, Blackwell sensei has regularly stressed the importance of practicing kiza, seiza and kihontai (fundamental movements and postures) at home.

So, as you see, there are many ways to incorporate Kyudo practice into your daily life schedule, even when you can’t make it to the Kyudojo. I think this thought from Lin Yutang is well worth repeating, Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. Think about it. What do you have time to do?

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