Discipline is a concept often affiliated with kyudo.
It seems obvious.
The same could be said for martial arts in general.
Perhaps of all the key words that go along with martial arts, wouldn’t you put “discipline” near the top?
But what about “freedom”?
What about the “art” in martial arts?
And the “way” in the “way of the bow” that seems to defy limits in favor of boundless action?
What about “forgetting what you have learned” and all that other stuff?
Yes, they have their place too, but we can’t get all hasty and leave the idea of “discipline” all too soon.
It’s the concrete foundation of the grand house we want to build.
It’s the soil from which a great tree will grow.
It’s the legs that support your arms that hold the bow.
Let’s get specific.
There are some key basics to kyudo that are necessary for good technique to arise from.
1.) Actually using proper breathing (ikiai) at the proper times, while actually expanding your belly with real force.
2.) Focusing on expanding outwards with your elbows and shoulders straight to the sides without forgetting the vertical lines along the three and five crosses (sanju jumonji, goju jumonji) throughout the release without relying on cunning techniques of our hands.
3.) Sitting in a real kiza stance with space under your knee and between your butt and feet instead of just sitting on your feet.
These are just three examples of aspects of kyudo that are really really really fricken hard to do, and even harder to do over, and over, and over, and over …
Get the point?
All these annoying things we have to do in kyudo will never stop.
It never gets “easy”.
(At this point maybe you should ask yourself why the hell you go to all the trouble. Or maybe you’re better off not.)
I’ve worked my ass off for these three things, and I’ve gotten to the point where my lazy mind says,
“Well, I’ve put enough effort into these, I’m bored. Lets do something else. I’ve done this before.”
And as the mind wanders so does the body. And our limbs twist like wicked trees from which spiral arrows launch into the ten thousand directions.Then we are blind, drunk, and lost.
Maybe that’s fun.
But for elevated technique,
doing all the necessary basics is really difficult, and even more so to do so ad infinitum …
which is why discipline is important.
An archer without discipline, is one lacking in skill,
in my humble experience.
This freedom of the archer sage in the mountains, is an image of the mind.
Real technique, like real trunks of a tree,
or trunks of an elephant,
require deep work,
within the spirals of creation.