Kyudo · Tournaments

Tournament Reflections

So I went to a tournament yesterday and did horrible.

So now what should I do?

How should anyone reflect after a tournament?

How should one reflect when they do great? Should they feel great and not worry about changing anything?

How should one reflect when they do horribly? Get upset and search for answers?

Generally, I’d say one should remember to have fun above all else. Most likely a tournament is going to take place on a Sunday and will probably take all day. For some people Sunday may be their only day off. You won’t be making any money off going to tournaments, and actually going to one will tax your wallet a bit. Moreover, you’ll probably only going to be actually shooting arrows for about 10 to 20 minutes total in a kyudo event that usually takes 7 hours. Considering all this, if they’re not fun for you, figure out how to make them more fun for you, or do something else with your invaluable free time.

I don’t go to tournaments full of pressure to win, shoot horribly, and then beat myself up after it until the next tournament. I have before, but it sucks and doesn’t help anybody.

Though I did “horribly” in the tournament yesterday, I ended up having fun and learning a lot. Most of which is thanks to the others I went with.

Technically, I got to notice a lot of small details that contributed to me not hitting the target. My teacher and teammate in the tournament took a video of our shooting. After we shot we looked at it right away, which is always super helpful. My whole technique felt bad, primarily because I was gripping the string too hard with my right hand, putting an extreme amount of pressure in the hand, then to the shoulder, then to the whole body. With this, creating tsumeai (form) and nobiai (expansion) are nearly impossible. I felt like everything in my movements was strange, which means it was to some extent, but when looking at the video it didn’t look all that bad until the release. The release however was pretty bad, releasing the arrow instead of letting it release, and my right arm lowered greatly instead of going out to the side like it should. I watched the video, knew what I wanted to correct, and decided to do my best in the next round of four arrows.

Generally, my whole … “mood”(?) … “atmosphere”(?) … was really unappealing. I always end up going into these tournaments with this really serious face. My eyes are huge as I stare at the target, and my release is fake, as my main concern is hitting the target and impressing everyone. It looks stupid and it doesn’t work. It’s amazing how easy it is to see someone’s character and intent when they shoot. So my goal for the next round was to be soft; relax, enjoy my time, and focus on shooting with good technique, not just trying to hit the target.

The next round I didn’t do very well, but it was a million times better than before, so I guess that’s pretty good.

I’ll go to many more tournaments in the future. As for this one, I learned a lot and greatly expanded my own little kyudo universe.

As for training this week, what can I do to better prepare myself for the tournament next week? What are my training goals for this week?

Technically I’ll keep working on what I have been, keeping enough pressure on my tenouchi and releasing to the side. All of this depends upon proper expansion, nobiai. Proper release is not something we decide upon, it’s something that happens after we create proper structure and expand throughout the release. It’s not just left and right hands, it’s the one single line of the arrow (yasuji), stretching across our backs, shoulders, hands, and extending out.

Generally, I want to shoot every arrow in practice and tournaments without focusing too much on only one facet. Also focusing on having great form, and not just hitting the target.

The more I focus on my form, the more I hit.

The more I just want to hit the target, the less I do.

Strange stuff, eh?

How are your tournament experiences?

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4 thoughts on “Tournament Reflections

  1. Another school of thought is, it is not how many arrows you shoot, but the focus of the arrow shot. even if it is just one. LIke in doing Tai Chi Chuan, you can do the set, 10 times mindlessly, the outside. or benefit more doing it once, fully mindful. doing 100 arrows, or 100 kicks lacks the quality of 10 with “emotional content” as Bruce Lee said in Enter the Dragon. _/|\_

    1. Amen. That’s what I’ve found in really good archers, in practice our tournaments or tests … they put a LOT, perhaps all of their focus and passion into each shot, and so each one finds the target. I wonder what Bruce would say about the bow.

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