A-Sensei is a teacher I met with a couple weeks ago who had a great impact on my training.
In a matter of two shots and a few questions back and forth he was able to pinpoint a whole heap of fundamental mistakes I was making, and then proceed to show me just how to fix them. The preciseness of his eye and ability with the bow impressed me a lot. In just a couple hours of training with him, my whole kyudo world was turned upside down. I’m already looking for the next chance to head back to his dojo.
Unfortunately this is not easy. Largely for the same reason that I will refer to him as A-Sensei instead of by his real name. At a time he was the highest ranking archer in the area with a long history of national tournaments and trophies. However, due to few certain reasons of disagreement with authorities in the kyudo world, he is no longer a member of the offical kyudo organization. Opinions about him seem to be mixed, in that some feel he shouldn’t have been ousted, others don’t seem to respect him, but mostly nobody really knows everything. I am vaguely aware of the details, but think it’s kind of silly to deprive the kyudo world of such a valuable teacher over such quibbles. That aside, I don’t think any worse or better of A-Sensei at this point, and I don’t really think it’s my business or anyone else who isn’t involved. But what it does mean is that I have to visit this teacher in relative secrecy. I know of a few teachers who would definitely not be happy with me visiting A-Sensei, but luckily my best training partner has known and practiced with A-Sensei since decades back into the past, and so I will sneak off with him at night from time to time for this special experience.
So where do we practice if we’re not allowed to in main dojos around the area? At a personal dojo located right next to his house. If there was ever a man-cave to fit my personal desires, this would be it. In a separate building from his house he’s built a shooting area that looks just like a living room until you clear out a chair and open the shutters that reveal two targets 28 meters away at a simple yet proper azuchi (shooting bank). There’s not enough room to practice taihai (movements leading up to the actual shooting), but instead his walls are lined with bows and kake (shooting gloves) and arrows, as well as shelves holding more books on kyudo than I’ve ever seen. He also has a makiwara (practice shooting bail) and a mirror, as well as a stand to hold his i-pad with which he can take videos of shooting and then watch them on a giant flat-screen TV right in front of the shooting area. A-Sensei also has guitars and music interspersed with the kyudo goods, and another shelf full of books about whatever. I’ll have to ask more about how he’s made all of this, especially as he’s a school teacher and doesn’t seem to have his hand in some infinite fountain of cash.
It seems that after he comes home from work he opens his dojo for personal practice and for a few other people around the area who come to train in secrecy. Unfortunately I work in the afternoons and nights so I won’t be able to visit regularly, but I’m hoping I can make it once a month. The buddy I go with goes about once a week, so we often help each other throughout the week trying to put to practice what A-Sensei is talking about. A-Sensei wants me to teach him English as he teaches me the bow, and after all the gems he gave me last time, I’ve got a lot of work to make up for.
Hopefully I’ll be able to head back soon and reveal some interesting stories and hints here.