For me, reinventing my kyudo is a necessity.
It’s not just an ideal, or just for fun, the life of my kyudo depends on it.
If I go to the dojo everyday with the same thoughts, the same images, the same goals, then my art will fall behind. Our art changes with every thought, and so should our practice. Yesterday’s weather doesn’t continue today.
Stuck in the same routine, my practice weights me down. It becomes just a practice, not an art.
In kyudo we do a lot of the same things without change.
We’re only doing one thing for Kami’s sake! Shooting the bow, that is.
We probably practice at the same place everyday, wear the same outfit, shoot at the same target, from the same distance. There are merits to this side of kyudo. Perhaps the stasis of all these outside phenomenon is to allow for change and movement on the inside of our bodies and minds. Stop the body and the mind begins to move.
But we’ve got to change our practice from time to time. For some it might be once a year, once a month, once a week. For me, I’m beginning to think it needs to be everyday, every shot.
Change the images you use. We must search until we find something that works. Then when it stops, keep searching.
Change where you stand. I’ve gotten in the habit with the others I train with in the morning to shoot at the same target everytime. It doesn’t feel good.
Clean something in your dojo. Do something to take your mind off of just, shoot, get arrow, shoot, get arrow, shoot, get arrow.
Change the clothes you wear under your dougi (shooting outfit). Change the shirt under your dougi, or your underpants! I wear a kind of long under shorts over my underwear and under my hakama. My first teacher told me it helps to keep our knees getting caught on the hakama while on our knees in the dojo. It also helps to keep sweat off the hakama in summer. I’ve had the same white pair since I’ve started three years ago. Just the other day I got a new dark blue pair, and just that made me feel refreshed in my practice.
But it’s not just the personal little daily things, kyudo does have it’s own built-in chances for variety. Shoot at an enteki target (far target) which is placed at 60 meters away instead of the usual 28 and has a diameter of 79 cm instead of the usual 36.
Go to tournaments.
These opportunities give rise to meet new archers, see new places, and find ways of shooting you never thought possible.
Read a book.
Write a blog.
This will make our kyudo vast.
This will make our kyudo deep.
This will make our bow taut and arrows sharp.
It’s all in our mind, and our mind is shaped by our environment.
Kyudo needs a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of outward things. It’s not easy. Maybe it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But if you nurture your practice, give it time and love … and don’t forget needed time and space away … it will tranform into something you never imagined.
Whatever will it look like …?