Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Be Like Water

Another fine article at Green Leaves Forest. An excerpt is below. The full article may be read here.

Bruce Lee was right when he said, “Be water.”
I love this commentary by Bruce Lee, and while water can become a cup, bottle, or teapot, it can also be a great analogy for our kyudo practice. Recently I thought of two analogies using water that can help with nobiai (expansion) allowing our body to open up and allow flow to move throughout our form, and to help with ikiai (breathing).
The last post on “Deeper Understanding of the Shaho-Kun and Raiki-Shagi Part VI: The Latter Parts of the Shaho-Kun” really got me thinking about the 5 element theory in our shooting, especially that of water.
I’ve been thinking of a lot of separate techniques to use in my form lately. They have been difficult and so I’ve spent about 6 months in this phase, putting all of my effort to do certain things with my body while not caring about how I hit the target. Put my hand here, my shoulders there, my waist here, my feet like this, etc. Well, one result is that I haven’t been hitting the target much, and another is I’ve become really rigid. Looking at my form, I can see that I’m trying, and that I’m getting a little success on those disparate parts I’m working on, but the overall picture is stiff and disconnected. I’ve lost the connecting tissues that bring my entire body, spirit, and bow together. This is where water can help.
Or how about beer.
When you pour beer into a glass, you start by tilting it diagonally to keep it from over foaming. So when you pour that beer into the glass, does it stay right where you poured it? Or does it instantly go to the bottom flat of the glass, which isn’t parallel with the ground because you’re tilting it? No. It simply finds the very bottom of the glass held at that moment and accumulates there. No hesitation, no waiting, just simple obedience to gravity and physics.
This is how we should accept the pressure of the bow. Imagine ourselves in the uchiokoshi or daisan phase holding the bow above ourselves. At that point, should we squeeze our hands and let all of the focus and pressure of our bodies rise to our hands? Or how about our elbows? Or maybe our chest? Or how about our waist? Or only our feet? The answer is no. That energy is not stuck in one place, but like water flows downward from the bow, through our hands, our arms, our shoulders, our torso, our waist, our feet, and down through the ground to the lowest point. Since the pressure of the bow doesn’t stop, or start, it is constantly pressing on our bodies, so that flow should constantly flow from our hands to our feet, or rather from the bow to the ground … just like a flowing waterfall. Does a waterfall stop or start or wait on its own accord? No, it honestly and simply obeys the forces of physics.
Does the waterfall stop if a bird flies under, “Oh no, don’t hit that bird! Hold on a sec water droplets!“?
Or does the waterfall say, “Oh shit, hitting that rock is really going to hurt! Let’s move to the side.“?
Or does the water say, “Well, since it’s so rainy today, I think I’ll slow down my flow a little bit to make up for all the extra water.“?
Well, I’ve never asked a waterfall these questions, but I’m pretty sure it just keeps on flowing, naturally, and normally.
Be like a waterfall, naturally finding the lowest point, regardless of how you feel, wherever you are, or what certain technique you’re working on at the moment. Be ego less. Simply react to your situation. Your body flowing with the bow as it moves throughout the stages of shooting. Flow from the entrance of the shajo shooting area, to the honza where you sit in kiza, to the shai where you shoot, and out the exit of the shajo shooting area.
If we can do this, and feel the flow of energy running down throughout our bodies, what is different than before?
We have eliminated blockages in our form. How did we accomplish that? By consciously focusing on eliminating the blockage in our tenouchi, and then the one in our shoulder, and then the one in our chest? No. We simply held onto this one image of water, and our body naturally fixed these blockages instantly and at the same time.
Just like water perfectly filling in the uneven ground in a puddle.

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