Angelica Gam: Kyudo and KyoDai Choir

As per usual, the days have continued to grow increasingly busy now that the end of the semester is drawing near. Even so, I continue attending practices for both Kyudo and choir on a regular basis.

First, I’d like to discuss my relationship with my bow. Emily, Megan and I have nicknamed the bow that I tend to use during Kyudo, “Edward”, as in “Edward Cullen.” Why would I ever do that to myself, you ask? See, just like the abusive boyfriend Edward Cullen of Twilight fame, I tend to get injured whenever I use the bow. And, just like a textbook case of domestic abusive, I still use the same bow because I know that the reason why my bruises from Kyudo continue to increase is because I’m doing something incorrectly. It’s all fun when we joke about my abusive bow (Bow, Beau, get it?) but whenever I think my bruises have healed, I find myself getting new ones to replace the old ones. It’s like the bows are trying to remind me that this is a sport and requires some kind of physical strain. I joked around about finding the one sport that doesn’t require running and getting exhausted when I found my strong affection for archery of all types, but after practicing for these past months, I realize that’s not entirely true. Partly because of the occasional slaps of the bow string against my arm, and partly because of the gripping energy I realize I lack after a full hour of shooting, do I realize that archery still exercises muscles more than one would think.

With that said, I’ve known for a while as to what my issue is, and I’m just having problems changing it. My fear of being attacked by the string of the bow and my improper method of handling the bow has hindered me from shooting arrows sans corporal punishment. You’d think I’d be used to dealing with pain from the string after having gotten hit so many times, but I’m still subconsciously shying away and doing weird things when I practice. Meaning, I’m not really getting the meditating aspect part of Kyudo down. I’m entirely wrapped up in going through the motions that I find that I’m having difficulty getting out of my mind. More than shooting the arrow, trying to get out of my mind is the hardest part for me.

Since I’ve figured out how to hold the bow somewhat properly, the pain has decreased over the past couple of weeks. That does not mean that I’ve been able to graduate on to a painless existence in the dojo. In the end, the pain I receive is just like when those monks hit people during meditation when they find their minds wandering. It serves as a reminder of the fact that A.) I’m still doing weird things unnatural to kyudo and that B.) it needs to stop. All I can do is keeping chugging on, and maybe Edward and I can come to some kind of compromise soon. Or I could just use the other bow we named Jacob, whom I work better with anyway. Either works.

Moving on to choir, I think my main issue is the fact that my motivation to regularly attend is like zip. My lack of motivation stems from the fact that I know I’m practicing for a performance that I don’t have the funds to participate in. I personally think it’s ridiculous that I have to pay 10600 yen to perform in my own concert. And I really want to introduce the concept of fundraising to the group. But since I need some kind of motivation to keep me going, I’ve decided to go with the cheaper option: performing the theme song and the encore for only 2000 yen.

It’s still frustrating, though. The people are really nice, and they’ve always been incredibly welcoming, and even though we’re not performing the actual set, we’re still allowed to practice with them. But perhaps actually going and practicing the set with them increases my frustration with my lack of sufficient funds to appear in the whole concert.

It makes me wonder though, am I in this for the music, or am I in this for the people? Giving up on performing because of funds, and losing motivation… Perhaps this also stems from the lack of practices over their spring break, and the cancelled practices due to influenza bugs going around. I miss singing like crazy, but I’m not so crazy as to spend that much on my own performance. Maybe my love for music has died over the years of not singing — although I really hope that’s not the case. I have to think about this more.

It’s at least a bit heartening to know that my issues with both kyudo and choir do not stem from some kind of cultural misunderstanding. These are things that could virtually, and probably already does, happen anywhere else in the world. Money, time, lack of skills—these are all problems common to any other college student like myself, Japanese or not. And in a way, that provides at least a little bit of comfort, knowing that I have some kind of inherent connection with this strange new world I’ve been living in for the past few months.

Woes aside, I really am having a blast. That much, at least, hasn’t changed.

2 thoughts on “Angelica Gam: Kyudo and KyoDai Choir

  1. Wow, your experiences at kyudo all sound really interesting! I bet you all look really awesome shooting your arrows and everything. The hardest part about meditation I can agree is letting your mind become unattached and free from the world. But learning kyudo and meditation can be helpful in all aspects of your life!
    Hehe, naming your bow isn’t surprising to me, just really funny. I call my viola “burden” because I carry it on my shoulders.

    • …LOL. Well, that’s one way to make a viola feel welcomed. XD At any rate, since the two Taiwanese guys who do Kyudo with us are back from Taiwan, they’ve been practicing at the same time we do and using the bows we normally do, so I haven’t been using Jacob or Edward lately. XD Speaking of shooting arrows, we actually shot at actual targets sitting 28m away on monday, as opposed to the usual hay bale targets at a close distance. We didn’t hit the targets, but that was definitely a great feeling.