Well, something has changed, but I’m not quite sure what. One possibility is that uchiokoshi is too low. A couple of weeks ago it was suggested that my arms weren’t rounded enough, so I changed that, but as a result, the arrow is naturally lower at the top of uchiokoshi, and therefore at daisan. This has been troublesome because, at kai, I always feel like I’m not quite “inside” the drawn bow enough, which is to say, the line of tension created by the draw feels like it is a bit in front of my body, rather than being to either side. It’s subtle — I don’t notice any particular strain — but as a result I think I’m only getting the tate-yoko cross in two dimensions instead of three.
I think next time I will seek the “middle way,” and raise the bow a bit more in uchiokoshi. This will make it higher than the canonical 45 degrees, but after all that is only a guideline.
Interesting to watch my mind at work, though. For the first six or eight arrows (all of which missed, but just barely) I was relaxed, but I think I started tensing up after a while, and even though I don’t recall consciously trying, I think I started aiming. Usually when that happens I find myself planting arrows right at the edges of the target: they hit the azuchi, but whip sideways on impact and so give the target a little tap. It’s really kind of funny, but then I find myself in Herrigel’s position. “So I must become purposeless — on purpose?”
I’ve always been puzzled by Awa-sensei’s reply to that, but perhaps it’s just as well… something to figure out on my own.