Kyudo Notebook: Overwork

Very strange phenomenon at the dojo on Friday. In the morning we had the annual o-soji, the big end-of-year clean-up where everything gets dusted, washed, renewed. Out with the old, ready for the new. It was a national holiday (the Emperor’s birthday) so we had about 60 people. I was mostly doing tall people stuff like sweeping the ceiling (broom taped to the end of a 6-meter bamboo pole), but also breaking up some of the frozen sand in the azuchi with a pointed iron bar.

All went well, and after three hours or so we finished, had a snack, and then settled in to do some practice. I felt fine but… when I drew the bow into daisan something was wrong. Although there was no pain or anything, it was like I couldn’t extend my wrist against the force of the bow, so it ended up collapsing inward, which meant I couldn’t get the force of my arm behind the bow as I drew from daisan into kai. I had to just give up.

At first my teacher thought the hazu had broken, but that wasn’t it at all. It was my arm/wrist. I tried a few more times (Apparently the tradition is that once you get to uchiokoshi you can’t stop. You must shoot. It’s the decisive moment, like drawing a sword: you’re committed.), but it was positively dangerous because I couldn’t control the left at all.

Switching back to my previous bow the effect wasn’t as pronounced but it was still there. Obviously somewhere in doing the clean-up work I’d fatigued a muscle or jarred a nerve, though I felt perfectly fine. So now a few days of rest before trying again. Some pain and maybe some weakness did develop in the flexor muscles of the left forearm and wrist, so I’m hoping it is just a matter of letting that recover.

Anyway the lesson is to avoid too much heavy work with the arms before practice!

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