- Ceremonies and taihai formats are strictly and minutely choreographed, and yet they are infinitely varied. Most have at the least a standard style (seishiki) and a simplified style (ryakushiki). I am afraid that you will find those listed in this section and under Honda ceremonies (6.20, 6.30) very incomplete and unorganized; perhaps one day I will find a means of classifying them intelligibly.
- Greeting & farewell ceremonies vary from dojo to dojo. At Seisenkai, when we arrive individually, we bow to those present, saying 'konnichiwa', a casual greeting, then bow to targets & flag. (Municipal/public dojos hang hinomaru (Jp flag) over kamiza; private and shrine dojos have a kamidana as an object of reverence.) Akibadai is more formal, where each archer takes seiza & bows deeply to those present, always saying 'yoroshiku oneigaishimasu'. At monthly meetings we form into lines and do a group greeting, bowing twice to flag (rei then yu). At Katori Shrine dojo, there is a kamidana, & group greeting was (1) 3 successively deeper bows, (2) 2 slow claps with hands raised & extended in front of body, & (3) 2 successively deeper bows (yu then rei); group farewell was same (1.1.97).
- In Yawatashi (opening ceremony) = Nousha (closing ceremony), dai-ichi kaizoe bears (spare) weapon with L hand below nigiri & R hand cupped, thumb inside fingers, around lower tip. In giving weapon, he kneels behind & to L of kneeling archer & places nigiri into archer's L hand, which has its fingers extended to form a shelf against archer's hip in case he is exchanging weapons – fingers catch rejected weapon so kaizoe can remove it without fumbling (7.18.93)
HOW TO PERFORM DAINI-KAIZOE ROLE (After M. Arai, 5-dan, Akibadai Dojo)
1. Preparation: Preliminary discussion among 3 performers about positioning: where Ite (archer), Daiichi-kaizoe & Daini-kaizoe will sit in dojo. That is, they decide on location of sadamenoza. Daini should pre-set arrow-stand at kanteki-koya & his zori at DL corner of dojo.
2. Greeting: Beginning of yawatashi. Performers exchange seated greeting outside entrance, saying 'Yoroshiku onegaishimasu'.
3. Entrance & bow: a) Ite enters dojo first, Daini enters 2nd & Daiichi 3rd. Daini should enter, hands on fronts of upper thighs, L foot first, upon Ite's step away after his bow, & cross quickly to his position at far end of & one step behind sadamenoza. b) Turn R, assume seiza & perform slightly deep bow of 45° (takushurei?) together with Ite. During rei, keep back straight, chin down, elbows in, & bring closed hands to in front of knees. c) Performers rise simultaneously, & Daini-kaizoe turns to L, steps (L foot first) to corner of dojo, & dons zori.
4. Putting on zori: a) Close both feet together at corner of dojo. b) Slip L foot down into its zori first. c) Slip R foot into its zori & close feet again. d) Step off onto yamichi L foot first.
5. On yamichi: a) Walk briskly to azuchi. Be in position in time to squat at same time as Ite. b) When walking, hands are on front upper thighs (? Taniguchi-sensei says hakama seams), fingers straight & together, & thumbs held inside palms.
6. Passing curtain: Use L hand to push aside curtain, both coming & going.
7. Location of sonkyo: When you reach target area, turn R, walk forward 4 or 5 short steps, & squat in sonkyo position, preferably in front of 5th (last) target space. Squat onto toes, with back straight, knees 2 fist-lengths apart, & closed hands on upper thighs. Assume sonkyo simultaneously with Ite's kiza if possible, & face slightly (about 20 degrees) toward dojo, to enable you to monitor Ite's movements.
8. In sonkyo: Immediately assume shikenrei with R hand (fingers straight & together, hand is lowered until fingertips just touch ground beside R calf).
9. Yatori: After first arrow is shot, a) Return R hand to top of thigh, reassuming sonkyo. b) Rise, step out with L foot & cross to where arrow has struck. Re-assume sonkyo beside it. c) Make tegatana (hand-sword) gesture with L hand – hand is extended vertically to just over arrow shaft, & is then swept smoothly & into horizontal position toward tip end. At end of tegatana, arrowshaft should be between hand & its thumb. d) Perform hagoki (arranging feathers) with R hand, brushing from L to R: first from above (palm down), then from below (palm up), & finally from near side (palm forward). (Actual feather position is unimportant.) e) Move R hand left to mid-shaft & extract arrow in 3 strokes (miteguri). Carry arrow to midriff, keeping it parallel to ground, & with L hand remove sand attached to its tip (while removing sand, arrow must be kept motionless & horizontal). f) After tip cleaned, grasp arrow at itsukebushi (first bamboo joint) & carry it to R hip; return L hand to L upper thigh, stretch spine vertically, & stand.
10. Disposition of haya: Take 2½ steps back, L foot first, closing feet together. Then draw R foot behind L foot so that R instep is 90° to L heel. Close L foot to R foot so that you are now facing dojo. Now step out to the right with R foot & cross to kanteki-koya (L side of azuchi viewed from dojo) to place arrow against wall.
11. Placing haya & returning to sonkyo: a) Close feet together next to kanteki-koya & place arrow vertically,feathers down, hazu in arrow-stand. (Either keep L hand on thigh, or use both hands to place arrow, but the same method must be used for both placing & retrieving arrows.) b) Return hands to thighs, then draw L foot back so that instep is at 90 degrees to R heel. Close R foot to L to face dojo. Step out to left, leading with L foot, & cross to location of original sonkyo. Re-assume sonkyo & then immediately perform shikenrei.
12. Yatori & disposition of otoya: a) After 2nd arrow (otoya) is shot, procedure is the same as in steps 9 & 10 above. b) Close feet together next to kanteki-koya &, holding otoya next to haya, pick both up at itsukebushi with R hand. (If both hands used to set down haya, then both must be used now to retrieve arrows). Carry 2 arrows to R waist, then turn L as before to face dojo. c) Do not leave azuchi immediately. Wait for a moment at matoba or just outside curtain & check Ite's progress: do not start walking toward dojo until his L elbow is inside kimono sleeve (or, in summer, until his L hand successfully emerges from sleeve cuff – a difficult task in the heat, because of perspiration). d) Walk to dojo, leading with R foot. Adjust speed to arrive at corner of dojo with Daiichi-kazoe; do not stop, continuing to walk with very short steps if necessary.
13. Handing arrows to Daiichi-kaizoe: a) Kaizoes come to face each other at corner of dojo, Daini assuming sonkyo posture while Daiichi assumes kiza. Daiichi gives short bow (yu). b) When Daiichi raises his head from bow, Daini should extend arrows vertically in front of himself with arms & hands straight, R hand at itsukebushi & L hand at midshaft. c) Then turn arrows to horizontal at eye level by executing hagoki: L hand, palm down, moves around nock end of arrows, brushing feathers; then, pausing thumb at hazu as a pivot, moves under arrows, palm up, until there is a hand's-breadth between it & feathering, where Daiichi can grasp them. d) After Daiichi has taken arrows, Daini should give a yu, timing it to begin as the Daiichi's L hand recrosses waist after setting arrows at R side.
14. Returning to dojo: a) Rise as Daiichi-kaizoe begins walking toward Ite. Remove zoris, R foot first, then enter dojo with R foot. L foot follows & is closed upon R. b) Step forward with R foot & cross to rear of sadamenoza; face L ('wakishouman', facing kamiza) & assume kiza on your own timing. c) Rise with Ite, lagging slightly behind in timing, & remain standing until he returns to sadamanoza. Then assume seiza & bow (rei) together with other performers as at opening of ceremony.
15. Departing dojo: Rise again with Ite, take one step back with R foot [Honda Ryu does not take this one step back], then close L foot to it. Step out together to R, Ite, Daiichi-kaizoe & Daini-kaizoe departing dojo in that order. Do not stop walking until your exit, but take very short steps if necessary to allow each performer to turn & give a yu to kamiza 3 steps before exit.
16. Greeting: Exchange seated greetings among 3 performers outside the exit, saying 'Gokurou samadeshita'.
HOW TO PERFORM DAIICHI-KAlZOE ROLE (12.16.00 Seisenkai, 12.21.00 Akibadai)
-Enter 3rd, hands cupped in front of hakama seam, bow & cross to sadamenoza, assume seiza & bow in unison as above.
- Rise & after ite (archer) passes in front of you, cross in an arc to his UL ('up left', a theatrical stage term, q.v.), assume kiza together facing him, move hands down to touch floor at sides of knees, always gazing at ite's waist level.
- When ite has turned to doff sleeve & stretches it 2nd time, rise, cross to behind ite, assume kiza & help him doff sleeve if problematic, & at least straighten back seam of kimono. (In some yawatashis, daiichi does not approach ite if ite is having no difficulty with kimono sleeve.) For female ite, when she begins to don her tasuki (sleeve-binding ribbon), cross to behind her and hold her weaponnext to her own grip in order to stabilize it.
- Rise (but do not stand erect), 3 steps back, then straighten & continue to walk backward to original position.
- Reassume kiza, straight hands by knees, facing ite.
- When ite crosses down to shai, shift to face him by opening L leg to the L (then drawing R knee to L knee).
- When ite backs to honza, shift again by opening R leg to the R and drawing L knee to it.
- Repeat these shifts for 2nd arrow.
- After 2nd shot, ite backs, sits & turns: rise as ite turns R, cross to close behind ite (knees touch his back), help him don sleeve by reaching under his L arm to open his lapels & guide his elbow in, while holding his obi firmly at his R kidney with your R hand, & as appropriate; then straighten back seam.
- Rise but do not stand erect, take 3 steps back, straighten, then step out with L foot toward approaching daini-kaizoe.
- Assume kiza together at dojo edge, bow.
- Take arrows underhand, each hand to immediate R of daini's hands.
- Carry arrows toward R hip as L hand slips down to near points, then R hand brushes around feather ends to take arrows at first node.
- Return L hand to L hip.
- Rise onto knees, turn R with L leg, then step up with R foot (at L knee) & step out with L foot.
- Cross to about 1-2 meters behind ite, assume kiza.
- Rise onto knees, step out (toward ite's R side) with L foot at R knee while arrows are raised vertically at L knee & L hand slid down them. Move forward from hips. L hand reaches feather bases as L knee touches ground & R knee slides forward to draw even with L knee to form kiza.
- Rise onto knees & turn L in one or two steps as L hand 'rounds the hazu', bringing you to Ite's side.
- Assume kiza, arrows near you.
- By moving hands R, insert arrowtips into his glove down to 1st node, pushing arrows thru your R hand, butting your hand to his; tug to check his grip.
- Assume kiza, hands on thighs. Rise onto knees.
- Shuffle on knees to back behind ite, & assume kiza.
- Rise onto knees, then rise without standing fully erect, 3 steps (or as space allows) back then turn L & return to sadamenoza, moving ahead of ite (Always avoid ite's 'path').
- Assume seiza with others, bow, rise, back one step & leave 2nd (after ite)
HOW TO PERFORM ITE (ARCHER) ROLE IN YAWATASHI
- Before, prepare loosened L kimono sleeve while you dress
- Acknowledge kaizoes ('yoroshiku onegaishimasu')
- Enter, bow, walk directly to sadamenoza position
- Turn R, R foot first, assume kiza, then seiza
- Bow, moving R hand straight down side to floor, then along floor to beside kneecap
- Rise, drawing R hand along same path to hip
- Rise to feet, do not step back but turn R, R foot first & cross up sadamenoza to above honza
- Turn L, L foot first & walk along above honza to center
- Turn L, L foot first & cross to honza; assume kiza, bow to target
- Rise to knees & turn R, taking weapon with both hands at 45° (bowtip also at 45°)
- Finish turn & stand weapon at centerline, raise R knee, then L hand to thigh
- Remove L kimono sleeve: a) Look at thumb as it slides along inside of sleevetop; b) Keep thumb hidden; use four fingers to stretch sleeve [Honda uses two]; c) Eye follows hand as it bends to stretch sleeve; d) Look forward as hand enters sleeve; e) Reach behind to take top of sleeve cuff; f) Tuck cuff under hakama straps and sleeve into hakama slit; g) Finish with L hand to thigh.
- Raise onto knees, raising weapon vertically as well
- Turn L, as weapon is rapidly put into L hand (which remains on thigh)
- L hand takes weapon & R hand crosses to R hip as you finish turn & sit back in kiza
- Rise, cross to shai, assume kiza, turn R, string arrows (don't touch floor with 2nd arrow)
- Rise, perform hassetsu, shoot haya
- After zanshin, pivot on spread feet to face target & close feet, drawing L to R
- Take about 5 steps back, dependent on dojo depth, assume kiza
- Wait for daini kaizoe to return to position after retrieving arrow
- Rise as daini kaizoe assumes sonkyo
- Cross to shai, assume kiza, turn R, string 2nd arrow, rise, perform hassetsu & shoot
- After zanshin, pivot on spread feet to face target & close feet, drawing L to R
- Take about 5 steps back, dependent on dojo depth, assume kiza
- Turn R, taking weapon with both hands at 45°
- Finish turn & stand weapon at centerline; raise R knee, then L hand to thigh
- Replace kimono sleeve, finishing with L hand on thigh
- Raise onto knees, raising weapon vertically as well
- Turn L, carrying weapon rapidly to L hand at L hip
- L hand takes bowgrip & R hand moves to R hip as you sit back into kiza
- Wait for daiichi kaizoe to replace arrows in your opened R hand
- Grip arrows, bow to target
- Rise, take 2-3 steps back (dependent on dojo depth), R foot first
- Turn L, L foot first, cross to upper end of sadamenoza & turn R, R foot first
- Cross to center of sadamenoza & turn R, R foot first
- Assume kiza, then seiza & bow
- Rise & take 1 step back, R foot first
- Turn R, R foot first, cross to within a bow-length of exit
- Turn & bow, then leave. Thank kaizoes.
STANDING (TATTE) YAWATASHI (from Chimura-san 3.07, 4.07)
- Enter, bow (rei), cross to sadamenoza, turn R and one step forward
- Standing bow (rei)
- Turn & cross up to above honza, cross to center position, turn to face target, bow (yu)
- 2-3 steps toward target, then turn R while setting L foot in ashibumi
- Finish assuming ashibumi and turn head to kamidana
- Raise weapon and set bowstring on centerline of body
- R hand grasps it at upper curve, so that when upright, R arm will curve slightly down from shoulder to hand ('mizunari' – so a drop of water will run off)
- L hand to L hip, then doff kimono sleeve, then L hand returns to hip
- With R hand, twist weapon clockwise to 45° and raise it until the string (which is uppermost) is at eye level
- Take weapon at grip with L hand, then loosen grip so that weapon swivels and string is downward
- R hand to R hip
- W/o lowering weapon more than necessary, L hand turns it counter-clockwise to vertical
- String arrows, set bowtip on knee, R hand to R hip
- After 1st zanshin, hands to hips, let weapon pivot to string down position
- Both hands raised to in front from hips simultaneously to string otoya (whose tip has remained covered by R little finger)
- After zanshin, hands to hips, but do not let weapon pivot
- Raise weapon in front and set it on centerline of body
- R hand takes it at upper curve as before; don kimono sleeve, L hand to hip
- Using lower bowtip on floor as a fulcrum, tilt weapon 45° away from target as R hand slips down to above grip
- Pivot L on both heels to face target as you carry weapon to L hip
- Use L hand to place kimono sleeve inside bowstring, then take weapon at its grip with the L hand
- R hand to hip and draw L foot back to R
- 3 steps back, bow (yu), 2 more steps back, turn L and cross to sadamenoza
- Facing kamidana, yu, one step back, turn R and cross to exit, turn and bow (rei) and exit.
SHAREI, a more formal style of shooting:
- (1) Archers enter & bow, but cross to make a line (sadamenoza) at L side of dojo, facing kamidana; (2) kneel then sit; (3) bow to kamiza; (4) rise, then turn R & file to honza; (5) turn to face mato & kneel; (6) archers without kimonos wait in this position while those with kimonos prepare their shooting arms – this involves turning R, raising weapon, doffing L sleeve (for men) or tying back sleeve (for women) then turning back L to face mato; (7) when all are back kneeling & facing matos, they bow, rise, cross to shai, kneel & turn as usual, raise L knee; (8) rise when archer in front of you starts to make torikake; (9) make torikake at sound of his tsurune; (10) perform hassetsu as usual; (11) after zanshin, drop fists to hips & pivot 90° so you face mato, without moving locations of feet; pivot on heels. (12) draw L foot back to R; (13) step backward, R foot first, to honza; (14) kneel, with raised L knee; (15) after last archer releases, rise, cross to shai, kneel & turn; (16) repeat steps 8 thru 13; (17) kneel & wait for last shot; (18) wait for kimonoed archers to replace sleeves; (19) all rise, then take one step back with R foot, turn L & file to make row at L end of dojo facing kamiza again; (20) kneel then sit & bow to kamidana; (21) rise, one step back with R foot then turn L, cross to exit, turn to bow then leave; & (22) bow & thank each other after all have left (1.9.94)
- In sharei, each archer reaches for his hazu & rises from knees upon hanare of 2nd archer in front of him; he begins yugamae upon yudaoshi of archer immediately in front of him. This timing also applies to 3-nin hitotsumato (3-man, 1 target) ceremony (8.25.94). After his first shot, each archer returns to honza & kneels. When 5th has shot his first arrow, he stays in place while first 4 return to shai for 2nd shots (4.29.92)
- In 5-man sharei, 2nd archer reaches for his hazu to stand up when 1st archer lowers his hands from hanare; thus both archers' feet (the one rising, the other turning 90° to back up) come together at same time. (10.6.94)
ENBU (3-archer, 1-target)
There is a similar form called 'Kurioh Ohmae' in Honda Ryu (q.v.) The single target is preset to R of center on the azuchi.
- Three archers each bow to kamidana on entering, then cross to the sadamenoza, assume seiza, bow, rise, and then cross to honza where the 1st archer stops at the target line.
- They assume kiza and bow to the azuchi, then turn R & remove their kimono sleeves. Then they turn left to face the azuchi again, rise and cross down to shai.
- They assume kiza, turn R and string their arrows.
- The 1st archer rises, performs the hassetsu & shoots his 1st arrow.
- The 1st archer swivels to face the target as 2nd archer rises (3rd archer remains in kiza).
- First archer backs to honza & assumes kiza as 2nd steps forward to the target line at shai (1st archer assumes kiza on 2nd's ashibumi); 2nd performs hassetsu and shoots his 1st arrow.
- As 2nd archer swivels to face target, 1st & 3rd archers rise.
- 2nd archer backs to honza, 3rd archer steps forward to target line, and 1st archer crosses diagonally L to 3rd's original position at shai.
- 2nd archer assumes kiza at honza, 1st assumes kiza at shai, and 3rd performs ashibumi.
- 1st archer strings his 2nd arrow, and 3rd archer performs hassetsu & shoots his 1st arrow.
- As 3rd archer swivels to face the target, 1st & 2nd rise, and they all rotate positions as before; 2nd & 3rd archers assume seiza as 1st sets his ashibumi. The 1st archer shoots his 2nd arrow.
- As archer 1 swivels, archers 2 and 3 rise and all rotate positions again. The 1st takes kiza at honza, the 3rd takes kiza at shai & strings his 2nd arrow, and archer 2 performs hassetsu and shoots his 2nd arrow.
- The 2nd archer swivels and the 3rd archer rises (the first archer remains seated at honza on the target line).
- The 2nd archer backs to honza to the L of the 1st archer as the 3rd archer steps forward to the target line; as he takes ashibumi, the 2nd archer assumes kiza.
- The 3rd archer performs hassetsu & shoots his 2nd arrow; he then swivels to face the target & backs to honza to the L of the 2nd archer, then takes kiza.
- All three archers now turn R and replace their kimono sleeves.
- They turn back L and bow (yu) to the azuchi, then they rise, turn L and cross to sadamenoza.
- They turn R to face the kamidana, take seiza, bow deeply, rise, take one step back, turn R and exit, each bowing (yu) in turn before he leaves.
WARIHIZA or TSUKUBAI (shooting from kneeling position). Single arrow case:
- Nock arrow in kiza as usual
- Drop L knee & place motohazu against it
- Lean weapon 45° toward target & 45° away from body
- Making torikake, don't lean toward target but keep torso on centerline
- Put R foot out in line opposite target, inside of foot lined up with L knee & target, R knee in same plane, calf vertical
- Check body centered
- (NZKR) shomen, i.e. from yugamae move weapon to front of body first, then into uchiokoshi
- (Honda) shamen, i.e. raise weapon high & forward, then swing back into daisan position
- After shot, perform zanshin, close R knee into L, and assume kiza
- Raise L knee, (then sonkyo for Honda), then stand.
- A MEMORIAL CEREMONY for a death consisted of (1) yawatashi ceremony & (2) hitote shooting by all members. The target frames were pasted over in plain white. After lining up at honza, each five archers first knelt & bowed at 45° to R, to photo of the deceased (Suzuki-sensei) on kamidana, then turned in kiza to face matos & bowed again (12.25.93). Short black ribbons had been affixed to urahazu of each weapon.
- LAST SHOOTING (Nokai) of year includes yawatashi & games – shooting at large target with different points for nearness to center, shooting at many small targets picturing e.g. a dog (Year of the Dog), & shooting at 3-size composite target, each team having to hit largest first, then middle-sized, then smallest target (12.25.93). Last shooting at Katori Shrine consisted of (1) 10 individual arrows shot 2 by 2, the first two rounds with full taihai & rest with standing taihai; (2) 3 balloons; (3) red and white teams with a single large target, half red & half white,with a small circle of opposite color in middle of each half – teams shot at the other's color with high points for small circle & lost points for missing mato completely.
- FIRST SHOOTING of year includes yawatashi also (1.8.94). When target is the prize (as in the case of small goldfoil 'kinteki' target at New Year's), the arrow is kept in target until it is brought back to dojo house & presented to its shooter, who then withdraws arrow through target, not back out (2.1.94). The kinteki target is 9 cm in diameter, while seasonal targets (dog, cherry blossoms, etc.) are 18 cm diameter. First shooting at Katori Shrine consisted of (1) a single, small gold-foiled wooden diamond full of confetti; (2) 2 gold kintekis.
- Do not move to adjust a poorly-set position; you will lose points (7.7.97).
- 5-man examination timing: (1) stand up on release of 2nd archer in front of you (2nd archer rises as 1st removes otoya, but 3rd rises on 1st's hanare & 2nd's torikake, 4th rises on 2nd's hanare & 3rd's torikake, 5th rises on 3rd's hanare & 4th's torikake); (2) start making torikake on release of archer in front of you; (3) for second shot, first 3 set up weapons on 4th archer's release, while 4th sets up weapon on 5th's hanare, & 5th sets up weapon on 1st's hanare; (4) then, 1st archer stands up on 5th archer's release & steps (1) & (2) are repeated (10.28.95, 6.1.97, 8.12.97 & video).
- Sekine-sensei, however, says that 4th & 5th archers raise weapons for 2nd arrow at same time (11.24.97). See also 2.70.
- One difference between 3-dan & 4-dan test is importance of length of kai (7.13.99)
- 4th-dan test requires good yugaeri, even with 2 hits (2.21.98)
- 5th-dan test requires kimono; oops, effective 2003, kimono is required from 4th-dan test (kimono had not been required for 4th-dan only in the Kanto area of Japan, because there are so many candidates, and it takes longer if they are wearing kimono) (5.17.03)
EXAMINATION QUESTIONS (12.29.04)
Taking the dan tests has been so traumatic that I have failed to remember, much less record, the questions asked for the written portion of the examinations. Finally, with my first trial (failed, 6/04) at 4-dan, I have had the sense to write down the questions, to wit:
Choose one of the following to answer:
(1) What are the three principles of shitsu [making an error, e.g. dropping one's weapon]? Describe how to perform.
(2)What is the most important point of shooting style/form?
As far as being unable to read or write Japanese, I have always had success by getting someone to write me a note, in Japanese, reading 'I am very sorry, but I do not read or write Japanese. If someone will kindly tell me the questions in English, I will write my response in English.' This note I hand in at the check-in counter on the test day, and it has always been honoured.
- Arrow which slips off L thumb during hassetsu should not be replaced with tongue, mouth or anything else except cheek (2.13.93). If arrow drops, shot is finished.
- If weapon drops, let it – don't grab for it (2.21.95)
- If you drop your weapon or arrow, step toward it if distance makes that necessary, glancing behind you at same time: if next archer has begun yugamae, kneel in kiza & wait for his shot; if he hasn't yet, then kneel & retrieve your equipment, & return to shai on knees (9.17.93)
- Dropped first arrow:
a) assume kiza, bowtip down, toward arrow
b) place otoya in L hand with weapon
c) pick up haya & place it also in bowhand
d) take both arrows together with R hand
e) shuffle on knees if necessary to shai
f) place spent arrow at R to be taken away
- A dropped arrow, once retrieved, is placed in front of you with tip on your midline & feathers away from target (8.29.93). Others say, feathers should be toward target (5.7.94)
- If string breaks, step toward it (if it is on shooting platform) & kneel. If there is still an arrow in R hand, shift it to L hand. Pick up an end, grasp loop between L thumb & forefinger & wind string around other 3 spread fingers; remove it with R hand & tuck it into shirtfront, then return to place (2.11.95); if you're wearing a kimono, tuck the string into your kimono sleeve (4.5.03). It can also be tucked into obi R front (Honda 12.14.03).
3.0 CARE and MAINTENANCE
- Clean arrows in pairs, not singly, held tip upward, to avoid bending them (1.25.92)
- Loosened hazu can be replaced easily because aluminum arrow shafts incorporate a little twist-and-lock mechanism. If hazu is loose, a little white glue and/or a bit of hemp can be placed around it before reinsertion (4.4.92)
- Bamboo arrows should be oiled monthly with sesame or walnut oil (4.9.93)
- Arrow shaft number system: of the 4-digit number, first two digits are outside diameter, & 2nd two digits are either inside diameter or the difference between outside & inside diameters (my informant was not sure). Standard men's size is 2015; standard women's is 1913. Enteki arrows are lighter.
- String weapon by bracing it from the R, just below nigiri, on the L knee, then pull up just above lower rattan (3.24.98)
- A deki weapon (string lies to L of centerline of weapon) can be helped by habitually stringing from L instead, & upper loop can be placed on urahazu with windings to L instead of R, while lower loop goes opposite (2.20.99)
- In a properly strung weapon, neck of each bowstring loop is in center of sekiita & string runs parallel to weapon for length of urasekiita. If string too slack, it will touch weapon near tips; too taut, & it will angle away from bowtip too soon (3.21.92)
- An iriki weapon is good (string to R of center) but be sure that tsuru is always inside plane of weapon (3.27.93)
- Reversal of string on weapon during shooting could be caused by (1) string too tight, (2) tenouchi too tight, or (3) string loop too loose (6.20.92)
- Yumizuka, or distance of tsuru from nigiri at point where arrow lies, should be 14-15 cm, or breadth of your fist with thumb extended (6.20.92); 15 cm is official spread, but variations for different hand sizes are accepted (2.13.93)
- A new weapon gradually softens to about a kilogram less in drawing power (NB: my 15.5 kg bamboo bow softened to 13.5 kg in exactly two years – 7.17.92 to 7.2.94; and it was a used bow). A weapon longer than 2-sunnobi is not recommended because, although it may look better & give a better kai to a taller, long-armed archer, it is too fragile. Humid summer is the time to buy a weapon, not the dry & cold winter, when bamboo is brittle. Weapon should be broken in over 36 months by drawing stringed bow without arrow a number of times before going to makiwara. A good weapon's string when plucked should give out a resonant, musical tone, not the dull thud of a fibreglass one, & string should slap slightly against the urosekiita. In general, the more laminations the weapon has, the higher quality – & the more expensive – it is. (6.27.92)
- Beware of leaving weapon strung too long when e.g. leaving it to shape; this contributes to weakening it (11.3.93)
- Nigiri should be as wide as the rattan above it, & much thicker; there should be 7 mm between tip of middle finger & base of thumb in tenouchi at end of daisan (2.6.98)
- Nigiri leather is laid on counter-clockwise (L to R) from top, so that diagonals of seam go with flow of twisting in daisan; seam should be slightly lapped (book says 3 mm but that's too much) to anticipate shrinkage (4.9, 8.29.93). Work leather tight, then tuck overlapped edges so that edges butt each other (8.29.93)
- Most archers now use white bond glue to attach nigirigawa, but kusune (string resin) can also be used, rubbing it thickly on both weapon & deerskin (8.29.93)
- Yazurido (rattan above nigiri) should be 6 cm long (6.14.97)
- When stringing weapon, string may be turned a time or two clockwise to keep fibres twisted properly (1.25.92)
- Length of nakajikake below nocking point should be slightly more than distance glove hand travels up string in making torikake (7.18.92)
- Nakajikake is wrapped counter-clockwise around string because arrow twists string that same direction when it is shot (7.27.93)
- Nakajikake may be built thicker at top to keep arrow notch from tipping out (8.29.93)
- It is 'dangerous' for beginners to vary nocking point, but some archers' nakajikakes taper to accommodate slightly different-sized hazus (10.24.93)
- Kusune (string resin) is a mixture of matsuyane (pine sap) & sotetsu oil. Summer mixture (natsu no kusune) has less oil, which makes it less greasy. Winter mixture (fuyu no kusune) has more oil to keep it flexible in the cold. You can't just warm up summer mixture to apply it in the winter because it becomes brittle & ineffective once on the string. The oil is from sotetsu tree, a cycad. Giriko is also made from sotetsu resin. (3.13.93)
- In high humidity, glove resin becomes sticky, & you may have to use alcohol to remove it from glove (8.15.92). Clean glove thumb of resin with cotton cloth & a little alcohol. Inside of thumb can be waxed with candle wax to prevent resin from adhering or to facilitate release (be careful: it strongly affects torikake!) (5.28.96, 12.6.98)
3.50 Facilities and Tasks
- On a 5-mato range, the targets are spaced 2 meters apart, & centered; 4 matos are spaced 2.3 m apart & centered (5.4.97)
- Shai is 28 meters from target, but there is no standard for honza. It is 3 steps behind shai for competitions; there is none for yawatashi – Ite sets it himself (5.4.97).
- YATORI is the task of retrieving arrows from the azuchi, and it is everyone's responsibility to take regular turns at this. There are several things to remember: (1) The decision to stop the shooting and retrieve all arrows is made by someone in the dojo, not those doing yatori, so wait for the call of 'Onegaishimasu' from the dojo before turning on the red light or extending the red flag to initiate yatori; (2) Arrows are retrieved from left to right across the azuchi, and with the retriever to the left of each target. If there are two retrievers, then one starts at the leftmost target ('ochi') and the other begins at the middle target ('naka'); (3) Don't forget to withdraw the red flag and/or turn off the red light when you have cleared the azuchi. Clean the arrowtips carefully of dirt before returning the arrows to the dojo.
- In competitions, the yatori (i.e. those who perform the yatori) are also the scorekeepers. The first two archers in the previous line of shooters become the yatori for the next line of shooters.
-KIMONO & juban (under-kimono):
- DONNING: Pick it up from center of collar, carry it to above head, & slip arms up into it. R lapel goes under L; both edges go to shirt-tie knots. Juban is completed first, then kimono (though other style of folding over both R lapels then both L lapels is also acceptable). Put on obi, tuck lower remaining end up behind so both protrude from top. (Tuck back of a full-length kimono up under obi.) Put on hakama front & wrap obi ends down around hakama bow-knot. Finish hakama, wrapping strap ends several times around themselves at sides. The left strap end tucks from under the bight while the right strap end tucks from over the bight — this is to avoid accidentally untying the hakama when the kimono sleeve is tucked under the L strap (Yukishima-san 7.16.11).
- Folding Kimono: Lay it on its back. There are several popular ways of folding the kimono; this is one of them:
a) Fold both fronts in on arm's-eye seams
- Folding hakama formally (one way):
b) Fold R lapel back on lapel seam
c) Draw L lapel over to overlap R lapel
d) Fold back of collar neck inward
e) Fold kimono in half lengthwise
f) Fold upper sleeve back & lower sleeve under
g) Fold in thirds
a) fold in thirds (backboard extended)
b) make a cross of the long straps folded twice
c) short strap goes under both long straps near crossing point, then over, then under free end of cross only
d) slip-knot short strap under overloop of opposite short strap.
DOFFING SLEEVE (Shima-sensei, Honda Ryu 11.20.99):
- Weapon in R hand & raise R knee slightly
- Curve L hand down & into sleeve then up to top crease at shoulder, & run hand out along seam
- Pinch sleeve at top crease (2 fingertips show grasping – 3 fingertips for ZNKR) & pull out
- Bend elbow, bringing hand down toward lower side (don't move upper arm), loosening kimono out of back of obi
- Straighten arm again & pull, loosening kimono out of front of obi
- Tuck wrist & hand down through arm's-eye (or if necessary, try getting elbow through arm's-eye first just as stretched sleeve is released)
- When fingers come out between lapels & belly, push out slightly
- Put thumb behind R lapel & slide hand up lapel to collar beside R ear, until L elbow emerges
- Shrug kimono off shoulder
- Stretch sleeve from upper crease again & give it a slight shake to straighten, then tuck upper crease into hakama straps at L front; slide tuck to L side; tuck rest of sleeve into hakama sideslit
-neaten at belly & collar
-draw L hand across belly to L hip to finish; take weapon.
- Weapon in R hand & raise R knee slightly
- Untuck sleeve end from hakama; take upper crease & stretch sleeve over elbow once
- Place L hand into R lapel & under armpit & turn hand palm upward, until L elbow can slip under lower L lapel
- Work elbow & hand up & along top crease of sleeve until hand emerges; don't tug sleeve – straighten lapels & re-tuck front of kimono
- Draw L hand across belly to position at hip; tilt weapon with R hand & turn back left to face target as you carry weapon to L hand at L hip; as you bring weapon to L side, grasp sleeve bottom in L hand & place it between weapon & string
- After weapon is in place at L hip, use little finger of R hand to brush 'mon' at each lapel, then grasp upper crease of sleeve & draw it forward to 'display mon'; then run up lapel between little and ring finger
NB: In hot weather, it is quite common for the kimono to stick to the body, making it very difficult to replace the sleeve after shooting. In yawatashi and other ceremonies, it is the task of the daichi kaizoe to lend a hand to the archer in donning his sleeve.
In other situations, if the archer finds himself unable to complete the task, he should place his weapon across his L thigh (as female archers do when tying back their sleeve) and use both hands to get the kimono sleeve on. Then re-stand the weapon at the R knee before the next move.
4.0 PRACTICE AND PROCEDURES
- As a warm-up, sitting: lock fingers in lap, raise straightened arms over head, then release & extend them to side & down. Relax, relax shoulders, sit straight (4.24.93)
- Use the gomiyumi to practice a correct release (6.20.92)
- Makiwara practice should be 30-40 percent of your practice (4.18.93)
- If shot at makiwara is correct, arrow should enter it at a slight upward angle (point higher than hazu) (6.13.92)
- You can practice against dropping arrow in draw with this exercise: at makiwara, nock arrow on bare string above nakajikake & draw (6.25.94)
- L forefinger can be wiggled slightly to feel full extension of arm muscles in hikiwake & kai (7.18.93)
4.50 FRIENDLY COMPETITIONS
DETERMINING THE SHOOTING ORDER
A common method of determining the shooting order is for a member to gather one arrow from each of the participants. He holds them in a bundle behind his back with his left hand, the feather ends toward his right. He chooses arrows one by one without looking at them, calls out the name of the arrow's owner (which of course should be written on the arrow at the feather binding), and then places each arrow in a column on the floor in front of him, the feathers to the right.
- Hits and misses are usually scored on a display board at the azuchi and/or in the dojo, and also recorded in a record book, usually on preprinted paper containing rows of blank squares in which the shots are entered. 'X' represents a hit and 'O' represents a miss.
- Results are always recorded by pairs, but depending on the available writing space, 4 shots may be recorded in four squares (as for instance 'X, X, O, O'), or in only two squares (where the same shots would be recorded as 'backslash, slash' in the first square and concentric 'large O, small o' in the second square. For misses, it is important that if the first of a pair of shots is a miss, it be recorded as a backslash, not a slash, and as a slash if the second shot is a miss. The small o is used only for the second hit of a pair.
- In addition to a scoreboard at the azuchi, further methods of indicating hits and misses include:
- After each shot, an attendant displays (1) an unused target, face toward the dojo for a hit and back toward the dojo for a miss, or (2) a fan with 'X' printed on one side and 'O' printed on the other. Occasionally, a talented attendant will keen out 'Ata-a-a-a-ri-i-i !' at each hit.
- Alternatively, azuchi attendants may wait until the (usually) 4 arrows for the tachi (row of archers) have been spent and then carry onto the azuchi a large square signboard that has been divided into quarters with a diagonal cross; within the four sections are the numbers '1', '2', '3', and '4', each of which is painted so that it will be displayed upright when the appropriate side of the sign is set downward.
- The common competitions in our dojo:
'Inuki' or one-arrow competition. Each archer shoots one arrow and those who hit advance to the next round.
Two-arrow competition. To advance, those at 3-dan and below must hit with at least one of the two arrows; 4-dan and above must hit with both arrows. A second round or more are played until a winner remains.
Eight- or ten-arrow competition. The winner is the archer with the most hits.
When rounds extend too long, playoffs may be held in which the winner is the one whose single arrow hits closest to the center of a single target. In this case, the azuchi attendants carefully collect the shot arrows from the target and carry them to the dojo in a bundle (feathers up) with the winning arrow highest in the bundle, the #2 second-highest, etc.
5.0 ZEN & KYUDO
- Those who have searched here first will be disappointed: there is little Zen in most kyudo training. Almost all Japanese archers know of Eugen Herrigel, have read him in translation, and have gotten their ideas of the connection between Zen and archery from Herrigel, not from their own tradition. Some have taken up the spirit of Zen with enthusiasm and expanded upon Herrigel's ideas; most consider kyudo a very complicated technique which teaches posture, patience, and good fellowship.
- Archer should work to develop 'sumashi', calm spirit, a calmness within like a lake without ripples, which nevertheless contains in its depths (the tanden) power & dynamism. It is physically evidenced in calm aspect of archer & 'butsugan', eyes half-closed like Buddha (3.2.97).
- Archer should also possess 'fudoshin', unmoveable heart, which Takuan writes about to Yagyu – it means not letting your mind move to each step of shooting, but keeping it focussed & apart (3.2.97).