I apologize for the long delay, but I can assure you it has not been spent procrastinating. Instead I have been digging deep in the jungles of Peru, the shores of the Nile and the snow banks of Russia, all searching for a sport with that unique quality that makes it more obscure than the rest.
And no, that sport is not UR Club Quidditch.
What I came up with was a sport so interesting it just might make WRT 105 look like a trip to an amusement park where they give out free candy all day. Free candy. For the whole day.
I proudly present the Japanese soy sauce-flavored version of archery: Kyudo.
Part meditation and part, well, archery, Kyudo (literally translated “the way of the bow”) is more about the metaphysical then the physical, as the sport aims to help people in their pursuits of truth, beauty and goodness.
Unlike the archery we all know and love, hitting the target is not all that matters here. Grace, style and personal spiritual state of being are equally, if not more so, important.
For example, www.Kyudo.com describes a true Kyudo shot as the following: “A true shot in Kyudo is not just one that hits the center of the target, but one where the arrow can be said to exist in the target before its release.”
It’s a shame that William Tell didn’t just make the arrow exist in the apple before he shot it, I suppose.
Different schools of thought and training of the sport exist. Each has an emphasis put on different aspects and rituals.
Most have a strong influence from Zen Buddhism, with the focus on concentrating and personal development in the sport rather than actual competition.
Training schools can also include written tests aside from the already rigorous demands of a sport designed for perfectionists.
That’s not to say that competitions don’t happen, but I can imagine that it must be hard to judge and score for personal development and mediation.
It’s not exactly something that is as easy to judge as yards traveled or number of round orange balls that made it through that net-looking thing.
But schools of thought are divided on the actual value of competition, with some feeling that competition lessens the spiritual and personal development of the sport.
The competitions that do happen include elaborate entrance performances, with the other archers kneeling in between shots for the utmost signs of sportsmanship and respect.
This slow moving sport is divided into eight different steps, each one which must be perfected and honed in order to help the archer achieve the best balance of spiritualism and marksmanship.
And unlike other bow sports, in Kyudo the bow string is actually pulled behind the ear, and doesn’t rest near the chin like Western based archery.
While I never know exactly how many of you will be running out to try your hand at this sport, you can rest assured that you won’t have to travel all the way to the land of the Rising Sun.
If this sport sounds like just the thing you were looking for to help bring yourself closer to personal Nirvana and the bull’s eye of life, Kyudo has organizations operational in at least 13 states, with the closest being New Jersey.
And while I’m sure there isn’t a lot of overlap between the New Jersey chapter and the “Jersey Shore” characters that we all know and love, at least it might give you a chance to try out this sport somewhere on our side of the ocean.
I mean, sure, Kyudo might not be quite as entertaining to watch as the new Burger King breakfast food commercials, at least the people competing come out with their souls a little more rested.
And we all know sports aren’t really about winning, but competing for the further development of the self, anyway.
Clark is a member of the class of 2012.