Kyudo Notebook: Phenomena

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!

This entry was posted in daisan, hanare, kai, kyudo, kyudo notebook, mind, zanshin. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Kyudo Notebook: Phenomena

  1. ceterum censeo says:

    Interesting thoughts on hanare…

    If you think about it, kai is several seconds long, zanshin too is a few seconds, hanare is a matter of milliseconds…

    I do tend to find that the less room you give it the better it works somehow.
    The point maybe is to not think of hanare as a step in the process of shooting as this will cause you to “linger” there and that is what spoils it.
    I was once told in nobiai work towards zanshin not hanare… much the same idea I think.
    Allowing hanare to establish itself as a staging point will result in a break and a loss of energy there.
    It seems hanare can only be natural and sharp if it barely even exists.
    Hanare, as you mentioned, is ideally something that “happens” on the way form kai to zanshin not something you “do” like ashibumi, dozukuri,…kai, zanshin.
    It is rare that hanare happens rather than being the result of an active decision to release the arrow but I guess one way to practice it is to not give the idea of hanare any room to establish itself between kai and zanshin. Once you reach kai you work towards zanshin – hanare becomes the natural, almost incidental, result of nobiai having reached its limit.
    That seems to be the idea for heki to ryu anyway…

  2. karamatsu says:

    Yes, it sounds very much the same. It’s how I am planning to approach things at tomorrow’s practice. I have a sense of how I want to do that, but will have to play it by ear. Kind of exciting, though.

  3. karamatsu says:

    That worked out pretty well, though I’ll have to see how it goes as other pieces of the puzzle adjust.

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