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Archery on the Squirrely Side

Okay, granted it’s not Kyudo, but mos def  it is  “The Road Less Traveled”.

While I have been absent in many ways for a while (No, it wasn’t jail.), I hope I will be sharing more of my musings here in the upcoming year.

It is my wish that the related article brings a smile and maybe even a little laugh as you read it.  May we take the positive into the new year and have a great future ahead, in Kyudo and in life, for “Kyudo is Life”!

Happy 2014!

Green-Arrow“Just don’t point that at Squirrel Girl, if you know what’s good for you.”

WASHINGTON MAN SHOOTING POT ARROWS AT JAIL WAS JUST TRYING TO GET THE SQUIRRELS HIIIIIIIGH

by DOKTOR ZOOM
There’s no gunshots or stripper poles, and sadly no alligators guarding a stash, but this story from Washington nonetheless warms the cockles of Yr Wonkette’s cruel dark heart:

A Bellingham man wrapped a baggie of marijuana around an arrow and fired it at the second-floor recreation area of Whatcom County Jail on Tuesday morning, Aug. 27, according to the sheriff’s office.

David Wayne Jordan, 36, later claimed he had been aiming at a squirrel.

“He had no explanation as to why squirrel hunting requires attaching marijuana to an arrow,” said Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo.

Is there anything about this story that is not perfect? Marijuana arrow, insane explanation – squirrel!! – Whatcom County, a suspect whose middle name is Wayne, and “Sheriff Bill Elfo,” who we suspect may be from The Shire.

Fuck it, we are DONE for the day.

We are informed by our Editrix that we are not actually done for the day.

Mr. Jordan’s attempt to play Green Arrow (sorry Hawkeye fans, no love for you here) was seen by a civilian jail employee who noticed Jordan getting out of his pickup with a hunting bow outside of the jail. We’ll just let the Bellingham Herald’s Caleb Hutton describe the event, because he clearly loves his job as much as we love ours right now:

He fired the marijuana missile upward toward a mesh screen near the top of the second-floor, fresh-air exercise area for inmates, Elfo said. If fired at a perfect angle, the sheriff added, an arrow might squeeze through the screen.

But, apparently, this marksman was no Robin Hood. The arrow — along with a few grams of marijuana and a yet-to-be-identified substance — missed its target and landed on the roof. Jordan fled the scene in his Ford, but the civilian employee wrote down its license plate, Elfo said.

The targeted recreation area was empty at the time, so “deputies aren’t sure if the arrow had an intended recipient.”

Jordan had previously been jailed earlier this month on charges of assault and resisting arrest, and had just gotten out last Friday, August 23. He was arrested and booked Tuesday “on suspicion of introducing contraband to a corrections facility” and other charges. In some of the best local reporting we’ve seen in a long time, Hutton notes that Jordan’s “current cell is on the first floor.”

Well played, Mr. Hutton. Well played.

Me-and-My-Arrow

Read more at http://wonkette.com/527076/washington-man-shooting-pot-arrows-at-jail-was-just-trying-to-get-the-squirrels-hiiiiiiigh#mO1OP3zJtRlWBYJI.99

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Sincerity

The Kyohon, which speaks in terms of modern kyudo, states on page 9, The key to Kyudo is both sincerity and courteousness. It is of more value to be sincere than to win against others. When we practice, it is very important to keep this in mind and to have real belief and courage to make it work.

The Kyohon goes on to state, in regard to correct attitude in the performance of shooting, on page 28 that all the movements (Kikyo-Shintai) should obey the criterion of shooting, expressing sincerity and dignity, not arrogance and indifference.

If we keep in mind the history of Kyudo, I think all can agree the Samuri were sincere as they stepped on the battlefield. The following story from Zen Buddhism and Its Influence on Japanese Culture, by D.T. Suzuki describes sincerity from a similar perspective.

Monk: I understand that when a lion seizes upon his opponent, whether it is a hare or an elephant, he makes an exhaustive use of his power: pray tell me what is this power?

Master: The spirit of sincerity (literally, the power of not-deceiving).

Sincerity, that is, not-deceiving, means “putting forth one’s whole being,” technically known as “the whole being in action”…in which nothing is kept in reserve, nothing is expressed under disguise, nothing goes to waste. When a person lives like this, he is said to be a golden-haired lion; he is the symbol of virility, sincerity, wholeheartedness; he is divinely human.

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In my studies, I ran across the following passage in Bow to Life: 365 Secrets from the Martial Arts for Daily Life by Joseph Cardillo. (pg 129) This is an excellent book, that brings much into perspective. My original post here had comments of my own, but I have since decided that any of my own thoughts detracted from the following message.

Your Way Is Your Way

Historically, the heart has been known as the primary organ of consciousness. In martial training this concept is known as Xin (heart consciousness). Xin is your open line to the Way. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the language of the Way is not English, German, Russian, French, Italian, Spanish, or the like. Its language is feeling: feeling what is truly in the pit of your heart-Xin. Joseph Campbell calls this “living from the heart” or “following your bliss.” Xin, however, doesn’t mean to live whimsically, and Campbell didn’t mean that either. Xin is a deep exploration of the heart to discover who you really are, the reason you are on this planet to begin with. Then, instead of going “outside” and gathering “things,” martial training emphasizes going “inside”. The more keenly you recognize and nurture what’s in your heart, the quicker and easier people, situations, events, and the like begin appearing in your life. Be present. Open your heart wherever you are. The secret is to be yourself- because you and the Way are one and the same.

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It is amazing to me how much of life in general parallels the teachings in Kyudo. I have read that “Kyudo is Life” (p.9 Kyohon) Sha Soku Jinsei. I really questioned this when I first started kyudo. It didn’t make a bit of sense how shooting an arrow relates to life! But, the Kyohon goes on to say, “we as practitioners of Kyudo, who are expected to master such virtues as discipline, modesty, gentleness, self-restraint, and reflection through the shooting, can realize these qualities in our own life.”

This ties in with page 70 of the Kyohon. Herein 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. This disciplining of oneself in this very precious way is connected to Shasoku- Jinsei-Shooting is Life.

I was reminded of this today… no attachment, no doubt, no fear!

I hope you will find meaning in this as well.

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A friend asked me recently, “What do you really know? What do you really know for certain?” In trying to answer this and other questions that have come up, I have found that some of the simplest questions have the most difficult answers and in the process, open up more questions.

Now, I’m still not sure what kind of an answer he wanted me to arrive at, but I came up with an answer that works for me at this juncture in life. I came up with only one thing I know for certain. Hopefully, I can take that one thing and build upon it.

In this life things are constantly changing and remaining the same. It is the nature of things and no matter my displeasure, it is the way life goes.

Life can be a bumpy road filled with hurdles, detours, roadblocks, peaks, valleys, twists, turns and dead ends. It is how we handle these that counts if we want to continue to move forward. As we seek answers, oft times the harder we look at something the more unclear it becomes. Only in the stepping away, does the darkness fade and the light moves in. Sometimes, we are so far in that we can’t even see how to step away. “How can I just step away?”

I originally thought stepping away in order to let go meant I was ignoring the issue at hand. After much deliberation and reconsideration, I have come to terms with this. Stepping away does not mean “turning your back to the problem”. It means “putting it in reverse”, still focused on the issue, and backing up to the point where you took the wrong turn. Back up to a point where things were right. Back up to where you could see clearly.

It is in the backing up, the stepping away, the letting go, that we are enabled to move forward. That is not to say the road ahead will be clear with no obstacles, although one can hope. Even the smoothest of roads can have abrupt twists and turns that leave us off track.

Now, you may be wondering, “How does this relate to kyudo?”

Anyone that has done kyudo for more than a day has discovered that it can be, will be and is frustrating. Just as any path we follow, there are the peaks, valleys, and rough spots along the way. What do you do with this frustration? What do you do when you hit a dead end? Do you get discouraged and quit? I hope not!

You back up, step away. Find the root of the problem. Go back to the basics. Go back to ashibumi. Go back to dozukuri. Go back to the vertical line and the horizontal line and rebuild from there.

The spirit is made stable on the base of the vetrical and horizontal cross (Tateyoko-Jumonji). (p. 70)

Whether kyudo or life, we need a rock solid foundation to build upon. If necessary, tear it all down to rebuild on this solid ground. Tear it down to build it back. Back up to move forward, and hopefully you will find more.

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On Kai

How many times have I heard Sensei comment, “No kai!”, “You need more kai!”, or “Hold kai longer!” The other day we were also reminded that the eight stages of the hassetsu are the foundation that leads up to kai. All of the parts come together as a whole and culminate at kai.

How do we do this? We set up our vertical line (shoulders, hips and balls of the feet on a parallel plane, Sanju jumonji) at dozukuri, which was set up off of our proper footing at ashibumi. We continue through with uchiokoshi and daisan setting up the horizontal line.

“The horizontal line feeds off of the vertical line.”

“Harare is born of the vertical line.”

This balance of the vertical and horizontal line, Tate-Yoko Jumonji no Hanare, is set at kai.

Shihan Morisawa points out in one of his writings, “Unity of mind, body and breathing is expressed in kai. It is the perfect state one experiences just before shooting in Kyudo.”

He points out that “Kai is the most vital moment in the Kyudo hassetsu. It is an important level because the possibility of entering the Do can be determined through the trainee’s state of mind-whether one is ready to abandon dualistic thinking whereby the bow and the self or the target and arrows are two separate entities, or is incensed on external preoccupation of techniques and the desire to do well and hit the target.”

He stresses the importance of the extension at Kai and how this comes together to create the perfect cross. In following this train of thought, we need to return to the Kyohon.

The third paragraph of the Shaho-Kun states From the centre line of the chest, divide the left and right equally into release. The Kyohon later says, This refers to the dividing apart of the harmonious unity of the full draw (Kai).

It goes on to talk about the transition from full draw (kai), which we have learned is 80%, expanding (nobiai) through the remaining 20%. to release (hanare). If we are at 100% of our draw at kai, then there is nothing left for that explosive release at hanare. This final 20% need not be all physical, but mental as well. Every ounce of our being should be focused into this moment.

The Kyonon goes on to tell us on page 70 :
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. This disciplining of oneself in this very precious way is connected to Shasoku- Jinsei-Shooting is Life.

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