For my CIP I chose to practice kyūdō, or Japanese archery, twice a week for an hour. I chose it mostly because of my previous experience with archery in the US. I practiced and competed in archery all throughout high school, but once I got to college I didn’t get the chance to keep up with it, and ended up dropping it completely. In my CIP, I wanted to try something uniquely Japanese, but also building off of my personal interests, so I ended up with kyūdō.
I was really interested in learning the differences between kyūdō and archery, as there are many. You draw back with your thumb, not your fingers, and wear this massive stiff glove on the hand you use to draw back the bowstring. You place the arrow on the outside of the bow, not the side closest to you. But overall the objectives of kyūdō and archery are very different. In archery, the goal is to hit the target dead center with precision and accuracy, so you can make the same shot over and over again. Every adjustment you make, and every time you change your form is just to better your score. But in kyūdō, the emphasis seems to be more on the act of shooting itself, and less on the results. There’s a formality to it that you find in martial arts and not so much in sports. Just a couple of months isn’t really enough to learn a great deal about practicing kyūdō, but I am thankful that I had the opportunity to try it.
Even so, I ended up quitting it a few weeks before the end of the semester, due to time constraints and stuff. Anyway, apparently it’s really important to Japanese people to have a proper formal farewell and apology if you ever decide to stop doing something, so the three of us who had continued doing kyūdō all had to go and explain our reasons for quitting and thank sensei profusely for all that she had taught us so far and for taking the time to teach us. Although to be frank, the teaching style for Japanese martial arts is very hands-off, so it didn’t particularly seem to take sensei much time at all. Still, it felt marginally better to have that closure than to just stop showing up, so I guess that’s a good thing.