Image Training · Kyudo · Tournaments

Lion at Home

I learned a Japanese saying the other day:



Uchi benkei

Which basically means, your tough and perfect at home, but change and can’t do anything when you go outside.

I heard this in reference to kyudo when someone does really good in practice in their home dojo, but can’t do anything at tournaments.

I looked up uchi benkei and it translated as “Lion at home.”

I’d say that fits pretty well.

No matter how great of a lion we are in practice, if we don’t deliver in tournaments, then we’re really not all that strong are we?

We’re little pussy cats, meowing for someone to give us some milk.

So let’s take our lion for a little walk, shall we?

Let the lion out of the house, and when you stand at the mark in someone else’s dojo, let that lion breathe.

Big, soft, resolute.

The lion doesn’t give a shit about what else is going on around it when it’s chillin on its rock.

Big. Let your presence fill the dojo. Let everyone want to look at your majesty.

Soft. Let your weight sink, muscles and fibers and bones and fat and hair heavy and relaxed.

Straight. Let your spine stretch up and down, your head slightly tilted down as your mane extends out.

Big, soft, straight, relaxed.

Then the gaze. Eyes half open. Mouth closed. Jaw unclenched.

Monomi (gaze) moves slowly from each place we need to see. We turn our heads and lock our soft commanding gaze right on the target, right to the center. Our arms rise, slide into daisan, and from our great shoulders, massive back and torso, soft grand muscle, the bow is lowered into the draw.

Long, slow, drawing the breath, gaze fixed on the target, chest expanding, tenouchi fixed in place like teeth,


The release is made, gaze and face unchanged, chest and arms open and relaxed.

We return our gaze, and exit the dojo, as a lion leaves from his rock.

The lion doesn’t worry about one part of its body, like it’s right claw, or left front tooth, or unstraightened back. The lion’s body moves naturally as one, focused only one what’s necessary. We don’t focus everything on our tenouchi, or right elbow, or chin, we do them all naturally as one draw.

The lion doesn’t worry about impressing others or hitting the target. It just is, and loves being. Completely relaxed and at home on its rock. We just shoot beautifully, with majesty, the target is hit, and spectators will be moved.

Wherever you are, be that lion.


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