Yesterday was interesting. With the students on summer vacation, the people coming to the dojo are mainly the hard core, and we get more time with the teachers. The main thing I’m being told to work on is zanshin, which is kind of interesting since I’ve always thought of it as being the distilled result of all that came before, rather than something to be worked on, exactly. And even then, it turns out to be a peculiar kind of work because of hanare.
The way K先生 put it, everything you do from the moment you enter the dojo, all through the hassetsu up to kai is sagyou (作業), work, and zanshin, too, is sagyou. But hanare is a genshou (現象), a phenomenon. If you focus on hanare, and try to turn that into work, you’ll most likely spoil it somehow, some kind of slack will appear, the “timing” will be off, etc. And so there is this gap in the “work” between kai and zanshin that reminds me very much of the way Nagarjuna deconstructed the notion of cause and effect.
From a practical point of view, what I’m finding helpful is to visualize zanshin while in kai, or really even sooner. That seems to have an effect that carries through the “phenomenon” of hanare even though I can’t point to anything that actually connects kai to zanshin. Hanare must occur, of course, but it’s like I’m not there.
I had a rather vivid demonstration of this when I was shooting my last arrow of the day, and still in kai when someone pushed the “all clear” buzzer to alert the people in the kanteki room that they could go out and collect the arrows. It was a little weird. Normally I should have stopped, but to me the sound seemed, far, far away, and no “meaning” for it appeared in my mind. There was no actual danger because the people in the kanteki room could see that I was not finished, so they didn’t open the door, and opening the door would set off a different alarm which I hope would have triggered a “meaning” in my mind and stopped me. But as it was, hanare “happened”, the arrow hit the target, and I only became consciously aware of what had occurred once the whole process was over.
So, interesting, if a little worrisome.
Otherwise, I was doing really well at first. I think I hit 9/10 or 11/12, but then, as is his habit whenever I seem to have stabilized, my teacher changed some bad habit I’d developed (left was too low at daisan) and I don’t think I hit the target again all evening except for that last one. Ha! Tomorrow I’ll try to combine the zanshin imagery with a more balanced daisan, and see if I can pull the two together somehow.
Meanwhile good luck to the people testing in Minnesota!