Well, maybe I jumped to conclusions. What seems to happen when I turn the elbow joint is that it tenses the muscles on the upper side of the left arm, which apparently isn’t good, and makes it very difficult to get any kind of expansion in that direction. I noticed this myself early on, but one of the teachers last night confirmed it. So turning the elbow joint does solve the “bounce” problem, it turns out to be a solution with too many negative consequences once other things start adjusting to accommodate it, and I went through a period of several days of not hitting the target at all. The taikai didn’t go so well, either.
This was interesting on many levels, both in terms of technique and the mental/emotional/spiritual aspects. A while back I read (where was that?) a statement by a Zen teacher who said something to the effect of, “It’s easy to be happy when you’re happy. The challenge is to be happy when you’re sad.” I think it is likewise true that it’s easy to be unattached to hitting when you are hitting well; the challenge is to be unattached when you aren’t hitting — or even more, perhaps, when you expect to hit well but don’t.
And so the work continues on all fronts. But tomorrow I have to go to Tokyo. Practice of a different kind…
Something else I noticed was that the college students… although many of them hit well, some of them have developed some pretty strange habits and rituals that they go through. Maybe their coaches don’t mind as long as they hit, but it seems unfair to them. Undoing those habits will be hard if they decide to continue with kyudo after their student days.
Later: The quote was from Kushner’s One Arrow, One Life, pg. 92: “… it is easy for people to be happy when they are happy. The challenge of Zen is to be happy when you are sad.”