It was an incredible and blazing hot week in Northfield, Minnesota. Over a hundred people from all over the United States and other countries participated in this year’s IKYF American seminar. For many of us, it was a heartwarming reunion. There were also a lot new faces but we all quickly introduced each other and got along. Together, we walked down from our dorms to the dojo in our hakama uniforms, a yumi bow in one hand and case of arrows in the other. I’m sure the other people that stayed in the same campus as us were very curious as to what we were practicing.
2016 IKYF American Seminar was hosted by the Minnesota Kyudo Renmei on July 18-20th. They prepared a large, beautiful space for practice, comfortable dorms, and access to a dining hall with delicious foods! We were absolutely honored to have three highly experienced Hanshi instructors to lead us. Chief Instructor Hayashi Fumio, Instructor Kubota Kiyoshi, Instructor Ogura Masaki, traveled all the way from Japan to lecture and judge us for the Shinsa that was held on July 21st.
After the opening ceremony, the seminar began with everyone being split in three groups to practice on one of the Shajos. Chief Instructor Hayashi Fumio led the high ranking group. Instructor Kubota Kiyoshi led Ni-dan and San-dan. Mudan and Shodan group was led by Instructor Ogura Masaki. We all stepped onto our assigned Shajo spaces to perform Taihai as the instructor closely observed each and every one of us. They pointed out and fixed all the details. With the help of our translators that made sure everyone was able to communicate with each other, the Hanshi Instructors proceeded with a critique of their group’s overall performance.
For the people in Mudan/Shodan, Ogura Sensei broke down everything we needed to work on. “Zenbu (Everything).” he said at the end. We needed to fix everything. We all started laughing out of pure humbleness and slight nervousness. We felt that it was a going to be a very intensive seminar for the next few days.
And so, following our Kyudo packed schedule from 9:30 to 5:30, each day the instructors gave their lectures passionately. They continued to observe and critique as we practiced and vigorously took down notes. Three days of in-depth instruction was both physically and mentally exhausting, however, we were healed by the occasional bursts of laughter coming from each Shajo. We were all having a great time! The Taihai competition and open practice further prepared us for the big day, Shinsa Day.
There were a hundred testers for the Shinsa. Chief Instructor Hayashi Fumio was our main judge. It was amazing how quiet a gymnasium full of people could get, we could almost hear our heartbeats. Observers watched intently as they felt like they were being sucked into the heightened atmosphere. Everyone did an amazing job taking in everything they learned from the
seminar and applying to their performance.
It is not easy to perform, there is always so much to learn and overcome. And with the help of our teachers, peers, friends, and family, this process of learning and overcoming in Kyudo is always rewarding. Every seminar, we are reminded that we all gather for the same passion. It is something to always look forward to no matter the outcome.
We are very excited for the next event and hope to see everyone again!