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Seminar Reflection by Kunitake Aoki, Washington Kyudo Kai (NCKF)

Kunitake Aoki (Ni-dan) 
NCKF - Washington Kyudo Club
About American Kyudo Seminar 2013

As soon as I heard that this year's American Kyudo Seminar was going to be held in South Carolina, I scheduled my days off from work and started to prepare for the seminar. It has been about two and a half years since I started practicing Kyudo and this was my second time attending the seminar. At my first seminar, which I attended last year, everything seemed new and fresh and I learned Kyudo from a lot of different perspectives. During these seminars, I hoped to learn as much as possible from the Hanshi Senseis and all the other Kyudo members. Attending a seminar gives individuals a great opportunity to increase Kyudo knowledge by communicating with different people with unique viewpoints; especially individuals like myself, whom usually practice within small groups.

On the first day, I reunited with many faces I had remembered from the previous seminar held in Davis, California. I instantly recognized the people whom I had taken the Shinsa exam with last year. I was amazed by how quickly I was able to flash back to the memories from the last Shinsa exam.

A typical day during the seminar starts with a morning assembly and observing the Senseis' Sharei. The rest of the day consisted of shooting practice, Taihai practice, a lunch break, and right back to more Kyudo practice. Three days were packed with Kyudo. We individually received direct advices about shooting techniques and Taihai from the different Senseis each day. In the evening on the first day, I participated in the Taikai competition, and got to experience competitive Kyudo. At the banquet the next day, people were dressed up nicely and it was unusual to see everyone in clothes so different from regular Dougi. After dinner, our Seattle Kyudo club members had time to meet the Senseis. It was an honor to have the opportunity to talk with the Senseis amongst our Seattle group. Also during the seminar, we had the chance to practice shooting at the official length of 28m, almost every night. The seminar ended, followed by the exam, and we left South Carolina. I slept well on the plane ride home, after such a wonderful experience.

I learned a lot about Kyudo from various Hanshi Senseis and felt very glad that I participated in the seminar. I will try to apply everything I learned at the seminar to my daily Kyudo practice. An example of something I thought was very important was to think about spreading both arms instead of just rotating the bow when in the Kiza posture right after standing the bow. Also, Sensei explained to separate the Yatsugae motion into four single motions. I realized that these thoughts that I had not paid attention to during daily practice really matter for one to shoot cleanly and accurately. Although I currently have a non-Yugaeri Tenouchi, Sensei told me that Tsunomi is already there so I will eventually have a Yugaeri. Now I try not to care as much. I also was concerned about bruising myself on my left arm because I did not know many who did that at my Dojo. However, I found several people with the same issue and gave me some relief.

I heard that the next seminar will possibly be held in Paris, and I would love to go but it may be difficult to travel so far. I plan to work hard to practice Kyudo with Seattle Kyudo club members until then.

I would like to thank all the Hanshi Senseis, Kyudo people from all around the world, friends who were in the same Tachi during the exam, and members of Seattle Kyudo club. I was able to enjoy the seminar this year, thanks to all the people there to support each other.