This period of feeling a bit lost has been really long. I think it’s mostly because work has been so intensive, and I notice a distinct difference when I go to the dojo. It’s as if my mind is focused outward during work, solving problems, and somehow that isn’t a good fit for the way my mind needs to be in the dojo. My teacher seems to have noticed this as well… that even when my body is there, my mind is distracted or not in the right mode. Nothing to do but keep at it. Perhaps some extra meditation time over the holidays will help.
One thing I wanted to write about was nerai, aiming. Not exactly the matter of where you “see” the target but aiming with your body/bow. We had a tutorial last month with a really impressive teacher (hanshi, 8-dan) and one of the things he pointed out was that it’s important to have a friend or teacher check to make sure that when you are in kai, the arrow is indeed pointed straight at the target. What happens with a lot of people is that they’ll aim behind or in front of the target and then compensate with some unnecessary movement at the release. This way of aiming with the body, and the compensating movements, can take hold and become an unconscious habit that will really get in your way later, but people become attached to their “system” because they hit the target. So he recommends checking now and then, making sure that, when you’re in kai, especially, your body/bow is aiming the arrow straight.
Another thing he pointed out to me was that, perhaps because I’m kind of tall and the target is down at my feet, I have a habit of aiming down at the target. It’s slight but there, so lately I’ve been trying to “note” when the target appears to be about right but then let that sort of soften, and focus instead on expanding out straight left/right (no doubt I need to have more up/down as well).
There were lots of other changes at the November tutorial, so much of the past six weeks or so has been practicing to incorporate them. This teacher has been at my last couple of shinsa so I want to make sure I’m following his advice by the time for the next one!
Speaking of which, has anyone heard anything about the 2020 Asia-Oceania Seminar? I heard that it would be in Japan, maybe split between Nagoya and Tokyo, but don’t know when, or if people in Japan will be able to attend. Meanwhile if you’re thinking of going to Kyoto in May, it’s probably good to make hotel reservations now. Things are already filling up.