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Martijn Meerts

Spare time

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Martijn Meerts

My spare time will be taking a nose dive starting next monday (2008-10-20), so I will have quite a bit less time for trains (not that I've been doing much recently on account that I have to spend more time setting up and taking down track/tools/soldering station/etc than actually work on things.)

 

Anyway, the reason is that I've started kyudo, better known as traditional Japanese archery. Training is right after work on Mondays, Thursday and Fridays, and the occasional Sunday afternoon as well. It's something I've been wanting to do for years, and I finally managed to get it started (I've already had 3 Saturdays of 4 hours of training each.)

 

Hopefully I'll be able to move out of my tiny room soon-ish (still several months at the very least), which will mean I'll be able to have some dedicated train space. Untill then however, it'll be mostly buying trains, talking about them, and planning things for me ;)

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CaptOblivious

Awesome! You'll have to tell us more about it. I've know absolutely nothing about it. I practice Kendo myself (although not just now: my baby girl takes precedence over that), which is Japanese fencing.

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Bernard

Sounds like you're having a lot of fun, enjoy it. Is it that much different from regular archer?

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Martijn Meerts

The only similarity is that you have a bow and an arrow, and that you use the bow to shoot the arrow ;)

 

The bows are unique to Japan. They're asymetric bows, a combination of recurve and long bow, and there's proof they've been used pretty much unchanged to their current design since around 300 AD. The handle is around 1/3d away from the bottom and of the bow. The thing is about 2.20 meters long. Arrows are easily over 1 meter long.

 

The school I practice dates back to around 1400, and none of the techniques have really changed since then. Obviously the bow is traditional, with no guides for the arrow or anything. To get the arrow to fly straight you actually need to twist the bow out of the way of the arrow.

 

Like anything Japanese, there's an awful lot of small little things to keep in mind, and there's a lot of traditional things involved. Specific ways of standing, sitting, kneeling, bowing, how to carry the bow, how to nock the arrow, how to draw the bow, even your position after you've shot. It's been a lot of fun so far, but it's really difficult. My teacher compares it to learning to play the violin, and if you're really serious about it, you'll be training the rest of your life really.

 

My teacher's been doing it for 22 years, he's a certified teacher, used to train under a Japanese master (the one who brought this specific school to Europe), practices almost daily etc. etc. During our first introduction, he took 2 shots in very formal style (like you would shoot when the emperor is watching), and he missed 1 of them ;)

 

There's some good info here: http://www.japanese-archery.org.uk/ .. It's the site of a dojo in London, it's one of the more known clubs in Europe.

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Masioka

This is very interesting, and there is a club not far from me in Thundersley. Hmmm. ;)

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Martijn Meerts

Here's a picture that shows a drawn bow, and clearly shows the asymetry of the bow and how plain they are compared to modern western bows.

 

The man in the picture is Inagaki sensei, who is the one that brought the style of kyudo I practice outside of Japan. He was also my teacher's teacher for many years.

 

inagaki.jpg

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Bernard

Jeepers! That is one large bow. It must be some job getting that into a car just to get to the archery range. ;)

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Guest ___

I can take out the mail truck with a thing like that  ;D

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Martijn Meerts

Well, for now I'm using a bow owned by the club, and when I buy one myself, I can store it at the club as well. That said, I don't have a car, so I'll have to bring it on the bus/train, but it's really not much different from all the people with skis and snowboards etc.

 

Obviously, you don't carry the bow while it's stringed, and if you unstring it, it sort of becomes a 2.3 meter long pole which isn't so bad to carry around =)

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Martijn Meerts

Well, I'm now shooting at 14 meters, hitting around 25-30% of my shots. My technique seems to be improving, since my right hand (the one that draws the bow) doesn't hurt as much as it used to, but my left hand hurts like hell, but in the right spots (no pain no gain I guess ;))

 

It's fun to see how your state of mind affects shooting though. Last thursday was a stressy day at work, lots to do, no one helping out with anything, barely made it to training on time, and I hit maybe once out of about 20 shots. The next day, with the weekend (and some no-stress days) ahead, I actually hit several times in a row, and in the end hit about half my shots.

 

Now, a lot of people will say that whether you hit or not in kyudo doesn't matter, but those are generally also the people that seem to claim kyudo is all about zen and religion and whatnot (aka, they haven't a clue ;)) Of course, hitting is important, but only when you do it with the right technique. Of course, when using the right technique, hitting the target will be a direct result of that =)

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Martijn Meerts

Oh, and another thing, I'll be busy with work until mid december, at which point I'm visiting my parents for 2.5 weeks and work on my father's layout (adding a 2nd shadow station.)

 

After that I'll probably still be busy with some work stuff, as well as possibly preparing to move into a new place around march/april (hopefully.)

 

So for the next few months I'll not be doing much train stuff other than buy new things on occasionally work on some diorama's, but after that I should be able to actually set up temporary layouts of reasonable size that I can leave up for weeks, and try out (and report on) various computer control programs and how to set things up and such =)

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Bernard

Martijn - I have worked with Olympic archers and getting to a relaxed state is extremely important plus getting their heart rates down. So I'm not surprised that after a stressful day you might shoot poorly.

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