Green Leaves Forest. It's a blog about kyudo
I never really thought about it before, but in practice a kyudoka doesn't stand there with a whole quiver of arrows, loosing them at the target. He only has a few. There's a reason for this, which is what the post is about.
I look at my practicing my taijiquan form once each day as my "one arrow."
The full post may be read here. Enjoy.
How many arrows should we shoot in one standing?
By “one standing” I mean when we go to the mark to shoot, and so the
question I pose is, how many arrows should we bring at once to shoot at
This is actually an interesting question I’d like to ask some archers outside of the kyudo realm.
But since kyudo is all I know and that’s what we’re talking about here, I’ll just stick with kyudo.
When I first learned kyudo my teacher told me to bring two arrows.
After I while I started training for my first tournament. In most
tournaments you shoot four arrows in one standing, so my teacher told me
to practice shooting four arrows.
After the tournament I wonder if I continued to shoot four arrows and
my teacher told me to return to two, or if I just returned on my own.
Interesting thing, our memory.
Soon I moved across the country to a new dojo, before which I was
told to take the utmost care and humility in learning the ways of the
new dojo and adhering to them. To this end, I only shot two arrows at
each standing, because that’s the standard.
I got comfortable with the new dojo and especially those I trained
with in the morning. It’s a relaxed atmosphere with few members and when
I first joined, rarely visited by teachers. After one sitting zassha
form in the beginning of training, it was all four arrows at one
standing after that. Now I sometimes only go with two, but the norm is
four, and I haven’t received any heat for that.
Sometimes when I’m all alone, I’ll take six arrows at one standing,
which is almost always frowned upon in my experience. But when you’re
alone … well … there’s no one to frown at you.
For the past few months I’ve been training with a guy who will shoot
6, 8, or even more arrows before going and retrieving them from the
shooting bank (though he usually only takes four at one standing).
Sometimes I join him in this. If you’re having fun with a partner … well
… that’s fun.
The other day it was a normal morning practice. My teacher showed up
and watched my practice while dealing with some dojo business printing
things. Everyone else left and it was just us, me shooting and him
printing. It was about time to go to work, but I wasn’t satisfied with
my shooting. I thought, “Just a little more”, and I’ll have it.
So I shot four arrows.
Fine, nobody else around, I’ll shoot four more.
This is shit, I can’t leave like this. I’ll shoot my last four.
I had dug myself into a little hole, and there I was, already running
late for the rest of my day and nowhere near close to happy with my
“You just shot twelve arrows, didn’t you?”
Fuck. Now he decides to say something. I figured this was going to
happen. But he didn’t say anything before, or partway. There’s nobody
else here. Who cares how many arrows that I shoot?
In my mind I know it goes against some rules in kyudo to shoot like
this, but I’ve got a plan. I’m trying to forget everything else and
condition my body to shooting. The immediate results might seem ugly,
but I’m sowing seeds for the future. After rest, my body which has
soaked up all this time in the bow will grow to great heights.
That’s what I thought, anyway.
“Yeah, I did.”
“I wouldn’t recommend that.”
Wow. He’s taking care not bark at me. Probably because he knows I’ll
hate it and not listen. I appreciate that. I still thought I was right
and dreading his long speech about how many arrows I should shoot, all
when I’m trying to get out of the dojo and off to work.
“Bad habits get worse when shooting so much. The brain stops
thinking and your body finds the easy way to shoot, which makes for lazy
and improper form.”
He’s explaining this. This makes me happy. I don’t really want to
hear what he has to say in my current state, but explaining the reasons
is a hell of a lot better than just saying “No”.
“By shooting only two or maybe four arrows, it gives you the time
to focus on each arrow. This allows you to improve your technique and
make each arrow better than the rest. It’s very difficult to remember to
do everything you’re supposed to in shooting, which is why the body
won’t just do it alone by habit.”
Starting to make more sense than my theory.
“Also, it gives the body time to rest while you retrieve your
arrows. Your shoulder and hand have been hurting lately, right? Your
body and mind need the break, not more arrows.”
Why is it that the more my shoulder hurts, the more I want to shoot? Strange thing, our minds.
“When you start kyudo, and during shodan and nidan (first and second ranks) you
are told to shoot lots of arrows to get your body used to shooting, but
after that it’s time to start putting more time into each arrow. For a
godan test (fifth rank), one would be much better off putting more time into each arrow than simply shooting a lot.”
This was the end. I was free to go. I nodded my head and said hai hai
in all the right spots. I was pissed. But to be fair, I was pissed at
myself, for whatever reasons. That’s nobody else’s fault. I retrieved my
arrows, got changed, and got to work on time.
Afterwards though, I was very affected by what my teacher had told me.