That went pretty well. Everyone who went to the taikai seemed more intense than usual, trying to carry some of that energy and insight and ideas for experimentation forward. For me, it began by consciously calling to mind some of the people I watched over the weekend, trying to use the energy apparent in what they did to spark my own. The results seemed pretty good at first, then slackened as I got tired, then picked up again at the end thanks to some prodding from K-sensei.
I’ve begun to see the problem of the dropping arms as one of not really engaging in nobiai, or at least not enough. When you’ve extended your body as far as it will go along both the vertical and horizontal dimensions, what then? It occurs to me that, because of the forces involved, physically there is nothing more that really can be done. In the end it’s not like punching the target, where the momentum of your strike carries you through the paper and beyond (at last for people not trained… not sure about others). In kai you’re already stretched to the limit, and because you’re not physically moving, there is no momentum (p=mv). Obviously there is a lot of potential energy, but in a good release the forces balance and you don’t end up moving much (except the right hand).
So it seems like something else has to happen, and for lack of a better word perhaps it is something spiritual. It’s an overused term, but spirit, energy… the words are related, after all, and I think that’s what’s been missing in my shooting. I would expand physically but no more than that.
Still I think some care is also needed. There are various kinds of spiritual/emotional energy. You can, for example, arouse the energy of anger, making the target your enemy. Probably in the old days of battlefield archery that worked pretty well! But certainly it’s not what I want in the dojo. Likewise other negative forms of energy like fear or pride. What then?
More to ponder, from both the kyudo and Buddhist points of view.