Budo/Martial Arts · Kyudo · Shin, Zen, Bi - Truth, Goodness, Beauty

When Too Much Turns into Nothing

Everything in its excess turns to its opposite.

Or something like that, goes the I-Ching.

For the past few months I’ve been doing a lot of training and reading producing massive amounts of ideas I’ve wanted to put into words on the blog, but the time wasn’t there. Now, I have this strange void of time, with just me and the computer. And now, I have nothing in particular I want to write.

Perhaps it’s due to the renshi test next week in Hiroshima. The past two months have flown by at anatomically impossible speeds with work and the training and life when all I’ve wanted is for time to slow down so I can relax for the test. Now, all I have is time to sit and think and shoot. The proverbial “calm before the storm”, I guess.

There are lots of technical details about shooting the bow I’d love to talk about, but I can’t help but think they’ll negate most things I’ve written until now … and will probably be negated once I evolve again. Thinking about this, I’d probably be shocked if I took a look at some of my past technique posts over the years, terrified that maybe there are some out there that would actually follow what I say! I only write what I feel is right, so I guess it can’t be so bad.

I suppose it brings light on a topic that has been slowly unfolding in front of me over the past year:

There is a different style of shooting for each archer that exists.

That’s a lot of styles!

It’s overwhelming when you’re looking at everyone trying to figure out what is the “right way.” I think there is a “right way” for me. So, I look at others and find a whole lot of things I don’t want to do in my own form, and then others that I admire and want to imitate. (Isn’t that something common in most other arts, or “living” in general?) What I find to be the “truth”, is not necessarily so for others, and others don’t necessarily want to be told by me about what I think is the “truth.” I always thought there should be more talking and sharing of ideas in the dojo about shooting styles and techniques, but now after seeing the complexity of all the styles and bodies, and adding emotional conflicts and egos and misunderstandings, I understand why people just stay quiet 99% of the time. I don’t think there’s any big immediate mistake about that. The process of learning kyudo is a slow one that evolves naturally over time, like a big tree. Letting it grow naturally is, well, natural. What isn’t natural, or perhaps dangerous for the growth of that being, is someone coming in and trying to force it in all kinds of directions.

This analogy is getting dangerously close to bonsai, which I know absolutely nothing about, except that one day I want to try it. Perhaps we could learn a lot about “learning” and “teaching”, and “the Way” from this art about humans and trees.

Back to kyudo and tests and such.

I feel like there are lot of people in the dojo I’m at now that are heading for the middle and higher ranks. About 5 people going for 5 dan, about 5 headed for renshi, and a few others going for 6 dan and kyoshi. The common trend is a lot of not passing. This isn’t a bad thing. It seems to be natural. And it seems to be a very interesting time. It feels like at this stage there are great crossroads with giant walls and beasts at every corner. People are trying to figure out how they can evolve, or if they want to at all. With the level of difficulty and possibility of failure, the easiest decision is to just give up, or just coast along and settle for what one has achieved until now.

But you know why I feel like this about this mid level? Because that’s where I’m at. This isn’t a phenomenon only related to 5 dan and renshi and 6 dan and kyoshi, but one that can be found at any level, be it 1 dan or 8 dan hanshi.

It all depends on how we walk our path. That is one reason why kyudo, along with any other martial arts, or perhaps any arts in general are about expression. How we decide to progress in the physical world is an expression of how we feel and what we think. Which is why it’s all so interesting to me.

So many paths and complexities lay around me,

and now I sit on my raft on the flat ocean,

staring at the thick forming clouds in the distance.

It’s time to embrace the simplicity, become one with the calm, and hold on to only what I want to survive the storm, cause we ain’t all gonna make it out alive.

Eyes half-open, back straight, belly slowly filled and emptied of air.

Expand beyond yourself in the drawing of the bow, and a shining light may be revealed.



2 thoughts on “When Too Much Turns into Nothing

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