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New Yumi

It didn’t take much encouragement for a friend to set me in motion. He told me that I should do something for myself, “get out of the house, go out to dinner or something”.

Well, I took the or something path and ordered a yumi.

I got an email the day before yesterday, saying my yumi would be here today. Now, being my first bow, I felt it was somewhat akin to bringing home a new baby. Don Symanski “gave birth” to my new yumi. but she is in my hands now to take care of. A bit of that “new mom panic” is setting in. Elementary education tells us we don’t take a newborn and expect it to walk, talk and eat table food right away. Likewise with the “green” bamboo yumi.

In my relatively short Kyudo career, I have witnessed a few different “parenting” techniques with new yumi. The two listed below could be considered the two extremes.

1. The Neglected Child:
This is the yumi that has arrived, been opened and put in a corner to fend for itself. It may become wild, having a high rise height.

According to Don Symanski, “When you hold an unstrung yumi up off the ground at the upper edge of the leather grip, with the two ends touching the ground, you have an unstrung yumi silhouette shape to observe… a tamed yumi can be left unstrung a week, two weeks, a month, or more without it rising above 8″ unstrung, when used… when a yumi goes above the 8″ measurement unstrung, to 10″-12″‘s or more it becomes unbalanced. Rising above a 14″ to 18″ zone it goes into a danger zone when you want to string it. Here lies the the dangers of leaving your yumi unstrung and unattended for long periods of time… needless to say, when stringing a neglected yumi you need caution and your full attention without distractions, or the help of yumi maker, for the yumi to be tamed and usable again.”

2. Hurry Up and Grow Up:
This is the yumi that is not treated with patience and given the time and training it needs to be shaped into the yumi it was meant to be.

A yumi shot before its time may very well break. The risk is not worth the reward here! Let your yumi mature and settle before putting it to the test.

Just as with children, each yumi is different. Training it requires patience and careful observation. According to Don, again, “There are at least nine types and a dozen styles of yumi.” And each one of these has its own characteristics. In addition, on any given day this may vary, as well. “Sudden or persistent humid or rainy weather can cause a yumi to rise up above the 8″ unstrung. Consider that the wood and bamboo [grass, not wood] of your yumi is alive, and quite sensitive to having its tension strength restored naturally with humidity intake.”

It is best to have supervision when you begin training your new yumi. Hopefully, your sensei can help with this. If this is not possible, be sure to talk with the yumi maker. In addition, there is a link to the right under Kyudo Articles/Documents: Yumi Care written by Don Symanski that has a lot of useful information. If you have other resources you can share, please feel free to list them in the comment section below.

Don has recently announced the launching of his new web page. You may view it at:
http://www.zenkyudo.org
He is one of the few, if not only yumi makers in the United States. His yumi come highly recommended. I am as proud as a new parent to finally have one to call my very own! 🙂

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