When writing crosses with kyudo

Often I find myself discovering something in writing which resonates in my kyudo practice, and vice versa. Such was the case this week when reading Barbara O’Neal’s post So you want to be a professional writer on Writer Unboxed.

For those that haven’t read my About page, I practice Kyudo, which, in Japanese, literally means “The Way of the Bow.” Kyudo is a difficult practice to explain. It’s not a sport, yet it is. It’s considered a martial art. It’s strongly influenced by both Zen and Shintoism, but it’s not a religious practice per se.

In short, I’m still trying to understand it myself.

To help you along, I refer you to the What is Kyudo? page on Dan and Jackie DeProspero’s Kyudo.com site. DeProspero-sensei is the sensei of my sensei (the teacher of my teacher), Cindy Shannon, and I’ve visited his dojo in the past to study kyudo. My regular study is conducted here in Decatur, GA at Cindy’s dojo, Shingetsu Kyudo Kai. You may also wish to view this video about kyudo produced by Empty Mind films. The What is Kyudo? page and the video should give you a basic understanding of kyudo.

Go ahead, read the page and watch the video. I’ll wait.

Done? Good.

The piece written by Barbara that struck me was this:

But the biggest rewards are intrinsic. For the curious, questing, intelligent minds that turn to writing, there is nothing more thrilling than eternally tackling a pursuit that cannot ever be fully mastered. There is the chortling joy of learning something new, every single book. There is the pleasure of research and world-building and story design; there is detail enough for any geek of any ilk.

The emphasis is mine. I was reminded of the cross between kyudo and writing with her comment about “there is nothing more thrilling than eternally tackling a pursuit that cannot ever be fully mastered.” It struck me that this is true of both writing and kyudo, probably many other things as well.

Though there are definitely “masters” of Kyudo, even they would tell you that they are still continuing to learn each day, as, certainly, am I.

Kyudo is an interesting practice, because each time you reach a plateau of understanding, it’s time to deepen that understanding. This often results in taking one step back in order to take two steps forward (or sometimes, three or four steps back, at least in my case), a process that can be extremely frustrating if you’re not mentally prepared for it.

But also, rewarding and even, as Barbara says, “thrilling”. Because when you begin to take those steps forward, passing the point you had attained before and increasing your knowledge of such a complex practice, it truly is a joy.

Keep this in mind as you continue to perfect your own craft, whatever it may be.

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