Kyudo · Kyudo Books

Shoulder Update and Kyudo Manual Volume 2 “Kyohon Dai-Nikan”

Well, it’s been almost three weeks since I’ve pulled the bow, and I’ve got about 5 days left until I’m planning to go back, which will make my time away about 3 and a half weeks in total. There is an upcoming seminar I want to go to which won’t involve all that much shooting, probably ten arrows at the most, and so I’m thinking that if I start slow and go in using a weaker bow than I usually use I should be OK. In the beginning the doctor said I should leave a month of no shooting to let the shoulder heal, but last week when I mentioned going to this seminar he seemed like I could go and that would be no problem.

So, what exactly should I be doing doc?

I’ll meet with him again next week before I go, and if it looks like I need more time then I guess I’ll just have to skip the seminar this time around.

That being said, my shoulder feels considerably better. I can do a lot of movements I couldn’t do before, and yet I still feel something in there, and there are still some movements that hurt like stretching my arm across my body shoulder level with the thumb down, or if I try and pick up a baby in front of me. How exactly long is all of this going to take to heal?

I had a very interesting conversation with my physical trainer the other day concerning pain. It seemed to make a lot of sense, but then we started talking about some really complicated stuff and I’m sure I don’t understand it completely.

I asked him about doing some exercises that I heard can “help biceps tendonitis.” I asked him if these are exercises that actively help heal the injury, or if they just cause more swelling and complete rest should be done instead. He said that the swelling dissipates by going back into the blood stream and flowing away from the painful area. In this way, certain exercises do in fact break down the affected area and help it flow back into the blood system. However, if pain is felt, then that means further damage is being made to the area and the exercise isn’t helping.

So, it seems very basically, pain means stop, no pain means go ahead.

The physical trainer has taught me some really great exercises to strengthen the muscles in my back that control my shoulder blades, as well as some that help strengthen the inner muscles around the joint in my shoulder. I’m going to continue these, but as I move back to using the bow maybe it’s time to start trying some exercises that directly engage the shoulder and biceps.

How about pulling the bow? According to this, if pulling the bow doesn’t hurt, then it shouldn’t be a problem, and may in fact help the healing of my shoulder. I now remember a conversation I had with another archer who used to have pain in his shoulder, but by changing the way he pulled the bow (pulling it properly), the pain eventually went away and now he said he feels nothing in his shoulder at all.

Does pulling the bow hurt and cause further damage? I guess that will be the deciding factor.

I haven’t been pulling the bow, and have been doing my best to let the shoulder heal, but damn, we use our shoulder so much in our daily life, especially if it’s on our dominant hand. I now see the benefit of a sling and how it can help to remind us not to use our shoulder at all.

Anyway, with all this time away from the dojo I’ve been busy reading the Kyudo Manual Volume 2, (Kyohon Dai-Nikan).

What an amazing resource. I can’t believe I’ve taken so long to find it. And yet, maybe it’s best that it’s taken me so long to get here. I first heard about it at a seminar last year when the head teacher mentioned something that was in the Kyudo Manual Volume 2 while everybody nodded their head and I was like “There’s another volume?!?!?!” I asked someone about it and didn’t really understand so I forgot about it for a while until it came up again at another seminar and I decided it’s time to figure out exactly what’s going on. I asked one of my training mates and he said that there’s actually 4 volumes full of lots of valuable information from various hanshi teachers. In preparing for the renshi test this summer I heard that you may be asked if you’ve read these extra volumes, and along with the massive amount of extra time I have thanks to this injury, I decided it’s time to read through them.

Right now I’m 2/3 through with Volume 2, and like I said … what an amazing resource. I’ve wanted to read something like this for so long. It goes more in depth into kyudo, talking about more spiritual aspects, the connections between taihai and technique, and further elaborations on technical specifics in the hassetsu eight stages of shooting. I wondered why there isn’t a translation of this in English, and I assume that’s because it’s really fricken difficult to understand. Aspects on the spiritual side use a lot of language connected to Buddhism that most Japanese people don’t understand. Much of the language is also written in an older style, which is cumbersome to anybody who isn’t used to it. And also understanding the content concerning technique takes an intimate experience with the technique physically. I can read through this volume and understand most of it, but putting it into legible English would be a whole different monster. Also, I can read and understand a lot of the content because it’s stuff I’ve heard over and over again over the past 5 years. For the most part, if I read something I’ve heard of before, then I understand it. If it’s completely new information, then I can’t help but skim over it. I imagine I’ll read these volumes again in a few years and will have a completely different perspective.

And so that’s what an accurate translation of these texts needs, someone who has read and experienced these specifics over and over again in different lights. To translate it as you go with minimal experience will make for a very shallow translation. I imagine translations will be made (if they’re not already in progress) in the future, but it will be an endeavor taken on by those with a long experience with the bow, a lot of experience talking to high level teachers in Japan (ideally those who actually wrote, or new those who wrote the content), and those with a thorough understanding of the Japanese language and Buddhist terms. Actually, those first two points are absolutely necessary while that last one about the Japanese language and Buddhist terms will probably just naturally follow.

The road may not always be a constant 45 degree angle up, but continues it does. Through dark valleys and forests, caverns and deserts. Along the way we meet various teachers in myriad forms, that we wouldn’t have met if we were elsewhere. Wherever we are is the best possible place to be. Even if it’s broken and impatient.

A little more time in the shade, and just maybe that sunlight will come back.


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