Image Training · Kyudo · Tournaments

Tournament Dog

Keep it simple, like a dog.

Like a Japanese dog. Short brown hair. Perked up ears. Ready to roll.

Be simple, like a dog.

This will greatly improve your kyudo,

or maybe just mine.

I was gifted this cool little dog clip to go on my bowstring.

It’s kawaii, cute, which is I think is good to counteract all the serious herioc stuff.

It goes on my bowstring to help me find my bow, or god forbid actually take and use someone else’s (that actually almost happened!) while at tests and tournaments.

It also helps me to simplify my thoughts. It’s my little buddy who inspires me to forget about everything else.

Just be simple, like a dog.

In kyudo there is a tendency to overcomplicate. That’s easy to understand because we’re trying to focus on a lot of small seemingly disconnected little techniques within our one big movement of shooting an arrow. If we’re unlucky, or just normal really, then this probably magnifies exponentially when we go to tournaments or tests. Utilizing all of the myriad techniques in the bow will certainly help our shooting, but if we focus on them to the extent of forgetting the big picture, or all of the other techniques we should be utilizing, then our form will fail.

Our enemy here is 雑 (zatsu, complicated), which is the archrival of our great hero, 無心 (mushin, no-mind).

Zatsu is our mind stealing the breath from our bellies, and skirting between various parts of our bodies. It worries and moves and blows away like dust in the wind.

Mushin is big, silent, slow, commanding all from a great center, and yet allowing all of our tentacles to move just as they should.

We utilize technique to improve our shooting. That is good. We will often focus mainly on one small technique at a time. During practice time, we can sacrifice the rest a little for the sake of strengthening this one little technique. This one small technique may even subconsciously help others as a side-effect. This is good. However, we may begin to think that hitting the target depends only on this one small technique. When doing so we put all of our focus in the isolated technique, robbing the rest which are necessary to improved shooting. If we continue such thinking during a tournament, we may succeed with our newfound technique, but most likely, we will focus too much on the one small detail, damaging the whole. We will put all of our chips on this one little technique, and will see it all taken away if any little thing changes. It’s often easy to see when someone is doing this, and it’s not very attractive. It’s actually ugly, and desperate. To counteract this we must remain simple, like a dog, and use our big simple body to do one simple thing, shoot a good arrow.

Right now the little technique of my focus is keeping enough pressure in my grip (tenouchi) (as you can probably tell from my last few posts about tenouchi.) It’s been a huge jump in my technique for the better, but I can’t do it perfect everytime yet, and continually neglecting the rest of my technique has brought me down a bit. To counteract this my teacher told me this morning to remember to use my back, more specifically, my shoulder blades. By focusing on my shoulder blades, my technique immediately recovered. If I can use the big simple image of focusing on my shoulder blades, while using the small image of keeping my thumb pressed forward to maintain proper tension on my grip, then things are going really really well.

My teacher also told me a new little trick to help my right elbow I’d like to share real quick…

We can improve our draw and expansion (nobiai) in the right elbow by fully committing to our kao-muke (顔向け, turning our head). There is a tendency to slacken the turn of our head while focusing on other parts of our technique, but that’s not good. If we can remember to turn our head fully from the very beginning, and focus on it while drawing the bow, it creates great tension in the draw. Then once we reach our kai, (full draw) we continue the turning of our head and the stretching out of our right elbow. If we can do this, the chances of a clean release will increase dramatically, and that is very good.

I’ve already gotten a bit zatsu on all of this.

Keep it simple, like a dog.

Tomorrow I’m going to a tournament in Kokura Minami (In Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture) tomorrow and going to do my best to keep it simple. Screw everybody else. Screw all the little fears and fretting over technique and hitting the target. I’m just going to go, keep it simple, make it big, and shoot like the way I can.

Big and simple.

Just like the dog inside me.

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