The other day I had the fortunate experience of meeting a teacher who told me that everything I was doing was wrong.
From now on I’ll call this teacher, A-Sensei.
Well, it wasn’t quite so simple and direct as that, but all it took was one night with this teacher to change me as an archer completely.
How is it possible to change so quickly? Our bodies surely can’t integrate technique that quickly, right?
We must see beneath the techniques, to the soil from which they grow.
That soil is our mind, and what allows advanced technique to flourish is intent.
A lot of the issues and bad habits of my kyudo form are made not from limitations with my body or gear, but because of how I think I’m supposed to shoot.
There a lot of universal truths of technique that apply to kyudo, like vertical and horizontal crosses (tate-yoko-ju-mon-ji), expansion (nobiai), correct alignment of the joints (tsumeai), but it’s how we achieve shooting in align with these truths that is the tricky part of kyudo. Until now I’ve had a variety of ideas on how to shoot in accordance with these universal truths, but in fact, a lot of these ideas have kept me from correct shooting.
In order to improve our shooting we must interact with other teachers, experiment with new ideas, and change.
Perhaps not everything I was doing was wrong. These ideas I’ve had about shooting were taken from high ranking teachers with decades of experience. Perhaps I just misinterpreted what they said. Perhaps I focused too hard on the two or three points I picked up only to ignore all the other important things I’m supposed to be doing. Maybe the techniques I picked up work better for some people more than others. I guess the most important thing to notice is there are a lot of different kinds of kyudo. In fact, there is a different kind of kyudo for each and every archer. We should be respectful of all the other kinds of shooting, give things that seem contrary a try, and then use our judgement to shoot how we feel is best for ourselves. We all seek to shoot along the universal truths of technique of kyudo, but like I said, how we do that is the trick of shooting.
In the next couple of posts I’ll talk about the specific points of technique that I have been doing wrong, the new ideas of technique that will help me to evolve, and more about A-Sensei who is a very interesting archer.