For my CIP, I chose to do Kyuudo, or Japanese Archery. I had no experience with archery before, so I was certainly expecting a challenge. However, Kyuudo is so distinct from other forms of archery that I did not feel disadvantaged compared to those who had archery experience.
Practicing archery allowed me to get a glimpse of Japan’s hierarchical dojo community. I was expecting it to be somehow more rigid in structure, but my first lesson illustrated quite the opposite. The other KCJS students and I were mostly left to practice on our own, with occasional feedback. Moreover, the sensei even left when to end of the lesson up to us. We practiced for an extra half and hour waiting for her to signal the end of the lesson until we finally realized that it was our duty to do so.
Practicing kyuudo was a very rewarding experience. I learned a lot about proper patterns of speech when addressing one’s sensei. I noticed that even women who seemed to be around the same age as the sensei spoke to her in keigo, indicating that she was their superior within the dojo. Although I did not get to know anyone in the dojo very well, the other members were very welcoming and always greeting us warmly. This atmosphere, as well as the actual act of practicing kyuudo are very unique to Japan, and thus this experience has become an important aspect of my time here.