Well, for me the taikai was a bit of a comedy of errors. Things that were planned and even discussed/rehearsed beforehand didn’t materialize, while many unplanned things did… and often! But since it was a local thing we could all laugh and enjoy it. Afterwards we had our new year party and I got some good advice. One important point was for each of us to remember why we started practising kyudo in the first place. It’s useful to remember both when things are going well (so you’re not satisfied with accomplishing less than what you started out to do), and when things aren’t going well (to renew and direct your motivation). Another thing was to stay open to the advice of different teachers. Especially in Hokkaido, where the system of teachers and deshi doesn’t stretch back for centuries and social relationships are generally more fluid, there is freedom to do that, to honestly try different things and see for yourself.
Another topic was attachment, whether attachment to hitting or attachment to shooting well. With the latter I think there are many levels or aspects. Those which Buddhists would consider manifestations of self-cherishing or self-grasping are probably negative, things to be overcome, but I think there are other aspects that are not and so may not deserve to be called attachment at all, but more like a wish to fulfil. Dunno… I have to think about that more, or better still, gain more experience. In any case, combined with the sho-dan question of why I started practising kyudo in the first place, it’s food for thought.
I’m also thinking about drawing the new bow. On Saturday I found that by once again re-orienting the bones in my forearm I was able to draw the bow much more easily. I think the physics here may be on the right track but I need to experiment more, and make sure the left shoulder doesn’t go up. Funny how the same things recur. And then when I got home today I went back to some of the older books. I was thinking in particular of Herrigel (Zen in the Art of Archery) and that first year spent learning to draw the bow while keeping his body relaxed. Kushner (One Arrow, One Life) also talks about this and the role of breathing. The approaches are different (Kushner seems confused about cause and effect), but that helps illuminate things. So I’m thinking that I will experiment with this some more as well. It is possible that my earlier experiments with both points didn’t bear much fruit because I could just overpower the bow, but now, with more resistance, maybe I’ll have to dig deeper for the resources I need, which is good.
In any case, there is no stopping! As all the links show, I’ve been circling around these questions for a while now. Oh yeah, and I still need more kiza practice.