Kyudo Notebook: Tenouchi

So after a few oddities, things seem to be going better with the new position at daisan. What I find is that I need to sort of press down on the bow part way from uchiokoshi into daisan to keep it from turning too far in my hand, then continue to stretch out a little further to the daisan position. Then by drawing high and keeping the left/right balance, things seem to go well into kai. At that point another refinement seems to be a bit of pressure that some of the teachers describe as squeezing the root of the thumb and the root of the little finger together. It’s not a lot of pressure, but somehow it seems to make a difference.

After that the big thing is not to get so caught up monitoring what’s going on to the left that I forget about the right. Make sure to expand in a balanced way so that the release is from the center.

What I’m trying to do now is get in enough practice that this becomes second nature. Then I can fix the next thing…

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3 Responses to Kyudo Notebook: Tenouchi

  1. ceterum censeo says:


    I was thinking about your post at the gym this morning…

    “…like trying to get into a tight glove…” is a picture I was once told about tenouchi.
    Suits shamen more than shomen but the “squeezing” idea is similar…

    So,… ” …somehow seems to…”
    True to my name… grumpy old ceterum censeo…
    Inagaki sensei once said something like: spirit (kokoro) begins when all doubt has gone from the shooting.
    Clarity as a prerequisite to spirituality…?
    Don’t really want to get into that again… however, clarity is an important idea.
    Clarity of form, of spirit,… all are borne from a clear understanding of the technique.
    There is no “seems to” in kyudo and the arrow does not get to the mato “somehow”.
    Technique is absolute.
    That is why I made the point before to put correctness above all else.
    Nothing is done because it looks nice or “just because” or indeed “somehow”.

    Tenouchi is all about channelling and concentrating forces in the direction of the mato.
    Like pushing the edge of the bow just below the arrow concentrates the forces at the most effective point. It imparts energy to that arrow as directly and accurately as is possible to do.
    The ten-mon-kin line is the fulcrum, the anchor, for that action and as such needs to be stable to make the work of the tsunomi possible.
    Squeezing the two points together adds some “attention”, some definition maybe, to two critical areas that need to work together in shooting.
    Nothing happens “somehow”, it either contributes to maximizing effectiveness or it doesn’t.
    If it doesn’t it is either wrong or superfluous – either way it should not be there.
    If it does contribute you need to refine it until you have control and an innate understanding of it.
    This may all be semantics to you, me picking on a little word like “somehow”. And perhaps I am just stating the obvious to you again here, trying to explain the point of studying technique. Still, “somehow” is the antithesis to clarity. “Somehow” is chance and hope rather than technique. “Somehow it works” in not a stage of learning I am going to let you be content with – either you know what you are doing or you don’t.

    So… specifically, in case it is not all obvious… squeezing the hand together… what are you doing…?

    Hold your left hand stretched out completely flat in front of you, thumb pointing up.
    Imagine the ten-mon-kin line extended to meet the upper edge of your hand.
    What is the distance from the ten-mon-kin line to the root of your thumb?
    4 cm or so…?
    Now touch your thumb to your little finger.
    Now what is the distance to the ten-mon-kin?
    2 cm… 2.5?
    How deep is the grip of your bow?
    2 cm… 2.5?

    “Squeezing your hand together” lines up the bones so the geometry of the hand is correct for shooting.
    If your thumb is too far back the front left edge of the bow can not possibly be on the ten-mon-kin line (- and the root of the thumb won’t be where it should be either).

    If the bone at the root of the thumb points forward pressure travels straight through it into the arm and torso (and out from there in hanare) without much holding being necessary. If it does not point forward it points up (…where else) and is further back. The pressure of the bow will then be directed into the palm. You loose both the anchor for the bow and you’ll feel the weight of the draw pushing your wrist up and you’ll have to hold against it.
    If the “anchor” at the ten-mon-kin is lost the lower part of the bow kicks forward. Arrows will fly high.
    If thumb position is lost an unstable wrist and loss of a clear directed forward push of the bow will result. There will be little “torque” in the action and yugaeri will only occur through letting go of the bow.
    You see this a fair bit, the bow kicks forward from below, drops through the hand and then, in a kind of rebound, the top is swung forward again (usually too far).
    Like so… (almost any clip in that series will show the same)
    now compare…
    First clip… the arm is bent, the bone at the root of the thumb points up, the bow drops through the hand, swings forward, … just for the fun of it put your cursor in line with the bottom of the bow but in front of the bow hand and watch… focus on the cursor, you’ll see the bow shooting past it. The moto-hazu shoots to about 8″ in front of the hand before swaying back.
    By contrast the 2nd clip… arm straight, bone at the root of the thumb points forward, the bow does not sway, hardly drops, the angle of the bow in zanshin is exactly as it was in kai – effective technique, all forces working in the direction they are supposed to.

    I am trying not to get too specific in telling you what to do as you have people for that and I practice a shamen style anyway.
    I just want you to look beyond how the form is meant to look and find out how it is meant to work.
    The form extrapolates from the effect it is designed to have not the other way round.
    If someone says “do this” don’t just do it “somehow” but try to extract a principle from it and become clear in your mind why it works.


    …needs to be “in nobis” before it can manifest “sine nobis”

    technique before spirit …”scientia” before “gracia” ; )

  2. karamatsu says:

    Wow. Thank you. On the one hand, when I use phrases like “kind of” or “somehow” or “I guess” I’m really just “softening” the language, translating the sense of not wanting to be too presumptuous. But on the other, I have to admit, I have never thought through any of what I’m doing through to this extent. It’s a bit of an eye opener. “You can do this?” I imagine this is because I’ve never been asked to explain in that way, or even told. My teachers usually prefer to demonstrate how the correct technique should feel (by moving my fingers, wrist, elbow, etc), or by having me watch, rather than by telling me the “whats” and “whys.” Maybe that’s because they know I already conceptualize too much. But the conceptual part of my mind thanks you! Really.

  3. Pingback: Kyudo Notebook: Ups, Downs, Notes | Mu

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