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Friday, June 10, 2005

Zen archer, not.


Last week Miyuki and me started taking kyudo lessons, a form of Japanese archery. It's offered twice a week, through the month of June at the local keikakan (sports hall/gymnasium) with each class being 2 hours in length, for the astoundingly cheap price of 1000 yen (which is basically 10 dollars, US). We don't need to bring any special gear, everything is provided. We're taking the afternoon class (evening classes are also offered) and the class size is small. It's just me, Miyuki and 4 other ladies; plus the sensei and his 2 assistants.


We've taken 3 classes already and so far I've been loving it. It's an elegant and contemplative sport, with proper form being of paramount importance. Normally I tend to be a bit impatient with ritualized behavior (not a good temperament for life in Japan, I know... but, hey, I'm trying here), but in the case of kyudo, so far it's all been comprehensible. I mean, I can understand why things are done the way they are.


Of course, my completely rudimentary grasp of Japanese parallels the English ability of our sensei; which has led to a fair amount of confusion on my part, followed by allot of patient explaining from Miyuki. Although during our first lesson, sensei, in trying to explain proper stance, had me grip his butt and then his inner thigh. Apparently,to achieve the proper kyudo stance, not only must your feet be kept at 60 degrees to each other, you must also lean slightly forward while clenching your ass cheeks and turning your inner thighs out slightly. Seeing as how I have no idea how to say "clench your ass cheeks together like your trying to crack a walnut" in Japanese, an object lesson was in order.


So far, everyone in class has been very nice and supportive and I feel like I've been doing pretty well. Until today. Today we had to actually shoot arrows... and all my carefully studied forms just fell apart. I wasn't so terrible. At least not much worse than anyone else. Still it was kinda disheartening.

One thing though... at least I didn't have to grip sensei's ass.