National Seminar in Brussels

On June 19 and 20 the belgian federation’s yearly seminar took place at the central dojo of the Zen Belgian Kyudo Renmei in Brussels. About 50 Kyudoka from the dojos of Brussels, Liège, Wavre, Antwerp and Luxembourg gathered for a weekend with the aim to deepen their understanding of the way of the Japanese bow under the supervision of Vlasselaer Jean-Pierre Sensei, Renshi 6th Dan, and Christiane Roulez, 5th Dan.

After the opening Rei, the seminar started with Ya Watashi, a ceremony usually completed by one archer and two assistants. In this case, the archer (Ite) was Vlasselaer Jean-Pierre Sensei, Renshi 6th Dan, the first assistant (Daichi Kaezoe) was Jose Maria Riaza, 5th Dan and the second assistant (Daini Kaezoe) was Robert Vrydagh, 4th Dan. The ceremony was a good opportunity fort he participants to the seminar to both enter the atmosphere of the seminar and study the technical details of this particular form of shooting.

During the rest of the morning, the participants studied Taihai and Kihon. The Kihon are the basic movements and postures that have to be executed correctly in order to learn the shooting technique in the right way. After lunch was the time to practice Shaho-Shagi, shooting training under the supervision of Vlasselaer Jean-Pierre Sensei and Christiane Roulez. A great deal of attention during this session was paid to Tenouchi, the way to grip the bow with the left hand. Tenouchi is one of the things that differentiates Kyudo from other forms of archery.

The second day of the seminar also started with a ceremony, called Mochi Mato Sharei, performed by 4 archers. These were Alain Dubois, 4th Dan, Luc Albert, 4th Dan, Michel Pilz, 4th Dan, Jose Maria Riaza, 5th Dan. As for other ceremonies, it was very important here for the archers to create harmony among them. This is as important during the ceremony as the correct shooting technique. After the ceremony, it was time again for Shaho-Shagi, supervised shooting practice.

At the beginning of the afternoon session, a question and answer time gave the Kyudoka the opportunity to ask personal questions while the whole audience could benefit from the answers given by the sensei. Shitsu training took place after this, as every student from a certain level upwards is supposed to be able to recover from shitsu in the correct way. Students from 4th Dan upwards then had special Kaezoe training. Kaezoe is the assistant to the archer during the Ya Watashi ceremony. Kaezoe has to perform special movements and postures in order to take this role. The aim of the Kaezoe is to support the archer during the ceremony.

After a special teaching to dojo supervisors in the correct way of assisting beginning students, came the time for the whole group to practice Kyogi no Maai, the competition timing, which is slightly faster then Shinsa no Maai, the examination timing more frequently practiced during seminars. The seminar was closed by the opportunity for every archer to perform Sharei.

The Zen Belgian Renmei Kyudo federal seminar, besides being a not-to-be-missed opportunity for the archers of the different dojos to gather, was also a weekend of intense study of the way of the Japanese bow, more intense then what is usually possible during weekly practice.

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