Budo/Martial Arts · Kyudo · Taihai - Ceremonial Movements

Freedom in Discipline

The natural instinct is to resist the chains. We fight as ennobled beasts seeking to break the whip of calculations. In doing so, we are simple robots blindly following what our lazy beings find to be easiest. Instead, in order to be free of our internal cages, we look back at ourselves, the mirrors that are others, and choose to express ourselves in the way we desire. This is elevated freedom.

Perhaps for the first time, I’ve been able to see clearly how the specified movements in kyudo can teach us how to free ourselves by taming our bodies and movements.

I’ve been watching others shoot, or more importantly, their execution of taihai  (all of the other movements involved in kyudo that don’t necessarily deal with shooting). Most people enter the dojo thinking about the target, and in doing so they lean towards the target mentally and physically even when they’re not shooting. People round off the straight lines, let their breathing stop and congest when concentration is broken, lean their backs forward as their minds are covered in the target, forget others they should be cooperating with, and let their eyes dart to the surroundings that call their attention be it someone coming through the door, a dropped object outside the shooting area, a bird outside.

People shoot and get upset when they miss, making their following movements sloppy, and people get excited, or maybe upset still even when they hit, making their following movements sloppy. Like little kids throwing stones in the water looking for something entertaining.

And how about when others watch us? Have you felt the fear of humiliation and the great desire to impress?

Moths to the flame.

Here kyudo has no meaning. We might as well be watching TV or punching a bag.

By using our will to discipline ourselves to reject some natural tendencies, we learn to deal the limited energy in our bodies and minds where we want. That’s basically what the game of kyudo is, or at least as far as I understand it now:

In our bodies and minds we are given a certain amount of energy, or attention, and it is impossible to put it everywhere our monkey mind wants. So, we learn to control our attention and put it in the places we want at the right times.

So it’s easy to see the difference between Captain Robotic, or even his nemesis Mr. Grizzly, both of which blindly follow the twitches of the physical world, and the person who is using their effort and will to channel their energy to enhance their expression in shooting.

But I suppose we can climb one rung up on the ladder and find more cages in the rooms we thought were open and free.

Onward and upward.

We climb up to high cliffs where we can see farther.

But can we still feel the dark expanse below where we spawned from?

天地左右 - Ten-chi-sa-yuu  – “Heaven, earth, left, right”

We are told to infinitely expand in these directions from the center in our belly while pulling the bow.

In that powerful moment of the full draw it is possible to be everywhere in the world at once while looking into the center of the target


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