Kihontai - Fundamental Form · Kyudo

Teaching Without Words: Kihontai, Kihondousa, and Internal Energy

Teaching without words.

Teaching with movements.

Space. Timing. Shape.

Teaching the “Basic Body” (“Basic Postures” as said in the official Kyudo manual) and “Basic Movements”.

In Kyudo we call these the 基本体 (kihontai) and 基本動作 (kihondousa).

All of Kyudo is based in these kihontai and kihondousa.

Kihontai, “Basic Body”, is comprised of:

1.) Standing, 2.) sitting on a chair, 3.) seiza (formal sitting on the floor), 4.) and kiza (half-sitting on the heels) and sonkyo (half-sitting on the haunches).

Kihondousa, “Basic Movements”, is comprised of:

1.) Standing up, 2.) sitting down, 3.) walking, 4.) turning from a standstill, 5.) turning while walking, 6.) turning in the kneeling position, 7.) rei (bowing), 8.) yuu (half-bow)

The first time I read the official Kyudo manual, I grazed over these parts searching for how you really shoot the bow, like techniques or something.

When I was studying for my written nidan (second-level) test I was told to watch out for questions concerning the kihontai and kihondousa coming up. I was told it comes in the form of a chart and we may need to write it out as it is in the Kyudo manual. I had never seen it before and thought it looked incredibly unrelated.

Perhaps this is part of the transition to growing through sandan-dom (third-level). Now I see these Basic Body and Basic Movements as the most vital part of practicing Kyudo, and connecting one’s practice with their daily, or higher spiritual life.

But that is all just the outside … the broad shape and movement.

Underneath, and bleeding through life is teaching with the movement of internal energy.

Intent. Focus.

We teach with where energy is put.

Taught by those who put their energy into the kihontai and kihondousa.

Taught by those who put their energy in waiting for the right moment.

Taught by those who put their complete focus into shooting when they are shooting.

Taught by those who do not put their energy in,

relying only on hitting the target,

relying on their own fleeting moods,

thinking on their job while shooting,

scurrying around the dojo like old rats,

rattling uneccesary explanations.

Perhaps these mark the characteristics of many different Japanese arts,

why lengthy explanations aren’t often given to students,

and why we often hear about “stealing technique” from teachers.

This is only slightly related to Kyudo.

This is our life,

human communication,

and the magic of life on Earth.


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