Image Training · Kai - the Full Draw · Kyudo

From Where Wings Would Grow

There are places on your back that contain great hidden power.

Between your shoulder blades, just outside of your spine, in this area that is not bone nor joint, there are invisible secrets.

Almost as if we use them just right, wings might burst forth and send us to flight.

Or just make us awesome archers.

I’m not exactly sure what is going on, but just by noticing this valuable point I feel like I’m on the right track.

I’ve heard someone talking about the muscles around them squishing together, and they then showed me, but I thought something about it looked a little off. Trying now with empty hands, the back muscles certainly do bunch up, but the feeling I get is that they are spreading outwards infinitely. It’s like I’ve found a secret space to expand from, beneath all of my muscles. I feel that if I can expand from these points on my back, then my spine and vertical line (tatesen) will be correct, and I can use not just the strain of my muscles, but the sinews of my body powered by proper breathing and expansion (nobiai).

So, I start with ashibumi, spreading my legs apart, just aware that it is from this place wings will spring forth. Not tensing anything, just aware.

Then I begin dozukuri, observing the string, looking to the target, focusing on breathing from my belly, and still just aware of the points on my back.

Then in yugamae when I reach for the bow and string, I very gently grab hold, taking the tension out of my hands and instead focusing it into those two small places in my back outside of my spine.

Now the wings spread forth, pulling my chest apart, setting my eyes alight, and I turn my head towards the center of the target.

I raise the bow with soft hands as my wings spread in uchiokoshi.

Moving into daisan I remember the base of my wings. They do not move while my arms do, and great tension begins to build as they expand within the growing pressure of the bow.

Then hikiwake. As my belly expands with breath, these two small places at the base of my wings expand under the increasing pressure, keeping any tension away from the spine, like they are small shields. My left shoulder doesn’t bunch up, and rather extends from the base of the left wing. My right elbow doesn’t go too far behind my back, and instead goes straight out to the right.

We’ve entered the kai. My belly so slowly expands with the exhalation from my nose. I remember the base of my wings, and with my breath the wings slowly expand to their full length. With my expanding belly and base of the wings in my back, my left hand and right elbow naturally expand on the horizontal line (yokosen) and my chest opens expanding my spine up and down along the vertical line (tatesen). In the kai you expand from these points, and line them up with the target. This will keep you from leaning to one side. Since your back and shoulders are lined up the arrow is on point for the target and all you have to do is continue to expand through the release while protecting the straight line with the target.

CRACK.

The arrow hits the target, your wings are spread fully apart in zanshin, and you can fly away to wherever it is you want.

Kyudo gives us wings,

but really we’ve had them all along.

Here’s your wings,

welcome to the sky.

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