Wednesday, August 24, 2011


We are taught that there are 3 kinds of practice or keiko.
1. Mitori Geiko = Taking with the eyes; observation; watching
2. Kufu(u) Geiko = Experimentation; to work it out...
3. Kazu Geiko = Repeat with the body; to emobdy the practice.

Also I think there is a place for Jiyu Keiko; free practice or open practice.

Keiko is an interesting word to me. 'Kei' is To Think or Study, and 'ko' is the past. Keiko is then to study the past, or think of the past... the ways of the past, of olden times... of those who came before. For me, I begin to appreciate all those who came before and all they did to prepare the way for us today.

Shugyo too, is usually used for an austere practice or training. 'Shu' is often translated as 'to conduct oneself well'. The 'gyo(u)' is action, activity, going, walking depending on the circumstances it is used (I've even seen it translated as karma). But in our school we say the kanji came from a phrase 'to sweep the dust balls from the corner of the room'. It means to me to find the last remenents of our attachment hidden in the corners and dust them away, brush or sweep them away as needed. I suppose this could sometimes take some austere measures, but I just brush them away and let the wind carry them from there.

There are other good words used for practice. Renshu is a favorite of mine. The 'ren' means to knead or polish, and 'shu' means to learn or study. Renshu is actually a Buddhist term we use for a repetitive ritual... we knead our study or polish our practice by repeating it until we embody it. We repeat it mindfully until the movements become unconscious in their execution even though we are still quite conscious of what is happening, but we no longer do it, we just experience it. To shoot unconsciously doesn't mean we are unconscious of what is happening, it means we are not consciously deciding how to execute the shot, but letting the bow, arrow, and target teach us what to do and where to go; they point the way.

In kyudo it is the minds job to learn, the body already knows what to do; the way of shooting is in everyone's DNA; there is not a culture in the world that didn't have a bow and arrow 2000 years ago; our bodies already know how to shoot. The bow, glove and arrow too, though they have no brain have been constructed by master craftsman for generations, and they have embued the way of shooting into the equipment for us; we have but to pay attention, very very close attention... attention to every detail and subtlety (including our heartbeat and breath) of our relationship with the equipment... and our alignment to the target and space around us... and those in the space around us... and on and on and on... when there is no distinction between all these things... when the stars align, kyudo is truely beautiful. ["... and there is the Golden Body, shining white, and the Half Moon positioned in the West" an excerpt from the end of the 'Shaho(u)-Kun by Master Yoshimi Junsei; a shingon priest and founder of the Kishu Clan and Kishu Chikurin-ha Heki-ryu Kyudo]

Either way I wish you a good practice.
Gambatte ne.
Thank you,