Leila Lin: Kyudo

This semester I continued to practice kyudo with Kawaguchi Sensei at the Budou

center one to two times per week. Unlike the first few months, the sensei does not
come to supervise me as often. What happens usually is I would practice by myself
for one or two sessions, and then Sensei comes over and corrects one small posture,
and then I continue to practice for a few sessions focusing on correcting that one
posture until Sensei comes to correct another small posture. This may sound
incredibly boring but for the archer herself every shot is a brand new cycle of self-
examination and so it was never boring for me.

Kyudo is not a group sport and people like to be left alone especially during practice,
which makes perfect sense, so I only rarely interact with people other than Sensei.
My interaction with Sensei, however, varies session to session but sometimes is
quite a lot. We have talked about everything from her family to knitting to my class
project related to kyudo. I definitely do not always understand 100% of what Sensei
says, but luckily kyudo is not something that requires one to understand 100%
verbally. I have, however, gotten involved in a few “Changing Room Chats” but never anything very deep because most of time I don’t understand what they are talking about. Instead I just made it an opportunity to observe the way female acquaintances communicate with one another.

As to advices, kyudo is definitely not a workout or a very social activity but what
you get out of it is a deep sense of connection to Japanese tradition. Many people
began practicing kyudo for its relationship with Zen. But what seems to be the
common consensus is that you don’t usually get to think about that until you’ve
perfected your skills, which takes years and years and years. At this early stage, you
just get used to simply follow the Sensei and not question. This sounds like a very
negative thing, and of course if you have a question the Sensei will always answer,
but the chance is that because your skill is so horrible at this point that even you
understand the idea of what she says you would not be able to put it into practice, so
you might as well focus on the actual skills first.

4 thoughts on “Leila Lin: Kyudo

  1. Sounds like a really interesting sport. If possible, would you continue Kyudo in America? More fundamentally, are there Kyudo clubs in America, given that the sport does not seem to enjoy the same popularity as other Japanese martial arts overseas?

    • Yeah, there is a good chance that I’ll be continuing it in the States. There are kyudo clubs in America, though obviously a lot fewer and more expensive. It probably does not enjoy as much popularity as kendo or judo, but that’s not my concern. Haha.

  2. Observation is a good opportunity to understand Japanese people. Same in Aikido, It is interesting to observe people talking and try to join in sometimes.

    • Yeah I guess the least I could do is to listen to what people are saying around me even if I can’t take a direct part in the conversation. It was more rewarding than I thought now that I think of it. ^^