Archive for July, 2011

The stage is set and curtains are ready to open on the 2011 American Kyudo Seminar Monday morning. We at the South Carolina Kyudo Renmei have been bidding our friends farewell, one by one, as they depart for Minnesota. I try to remember that I will be joining them on Monday for another week of camaraderie, learning and testing.

I have never been a great fan of testing. The “reasons for the need for testing” is one of the possible test questions, so I know and understand the logic here. That doesn’t make me like it any better. If nothing else, the exam is a test of our heijoshin, the calm everyday mind.

As the seminar approaches, I feel the tension running through my veins. I wake at night, take a few cleansing breaths and go back to sleep. When I shoot, Sensei tells me I think too much. I have to laugh. If he only knew! (Which he probably does.) I can think my way around a nutshell, through to the inside, around each turn and crevice and back out… over and over again. Not a good thing in shooting.

I have been taught well, no trying, just doing.

Yoshimi Junsei, puts it quite aptly in his preamble to the Shaho Kun (Principles of Shooting), as was translated in Sensei’s personal notes:

The practice of kyudo is to use a bow and arrow which possesses flexible energy in response to pulling and pushing , by means of a mind and body that are perturbed and always changing in order to pierce a target that is unmoving. (With a mind that moves, we try to hit a target that does not move.)

Although doing this seems extremely simple, what it contains extends to the three worlds of mind, action and appearance. These three worlds interrelate, and in a mysterious instant give birth to a myriad of changes, and thus the bullseye is not easily attained.

Getting it in the morning and losing it at night, if you ask this of the target, the target is unmoving and unconfused, if you ask this of the bow and arrow, the bow and arrow are of no mind and without evil.

One must only look for this in oneself. The only path is to work hard in training by rectifying your mind and body, cultivating your vitality with determination, practicing the correct skills and being the utmost in sincerity.

I am struggling with my mental training these last few days. In order to pass this test I know that I have to hit the target. The harder I try, the further I get from my goal.

In my thinking process, it hit me the other day that I don’t have to hit the target. I don’t have to go to the seminar. I don’t have to please anyone. I don’t have to pass this test at all.

What I need to do is remember page 70 of the Kyudo Kyohon, where it states:

The full draw (Kai) is, psychologically speaking, the continuity of an imperturbable spirit. Removing attachments, desire, and worldly thoughts towards the target, at the full draw you must wipe away negativity like doubt, anxiety, faintheartedness, fear, and self-depreciation and make the effort to fulfill the spirit with self-control, composure, endurance, and determination, founded on the right belief.

As Blackwell sensei tells us, pass or fail, the result is the same. We come home, pick up our yumi and continue to train. And, as my Argentinian friend passed along from one of his sensei, “We learn more from not passing an exam than passing.”

At the time when shooting fails, there should be no resentment towards those who win. On the contrary, this is an occasion to search for oneself. -Raiki Shagi

I hope we can all go and enjoy the seminar experience, have fun being with those of the same spirit and soak up all the knowledge we can. These few days together will pass quickly. Losing the pre-test stress is essential.

(Edited 7/31)

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