Yesterday we had our practice in kimono. One thing I discovered is that, because my left arm is bare when shooting that way, I need to adjust the way I sight the target at uchiokoshi/daisan slightly otherwise I go too far up/left. The reason is that, when I’m wearing the usual white dogi, the fabric and the way it bunches makes my arm look thicker than it really is. I wasn’t sure this would have an effect, but it seemed to. Also bringing the shoulders forward somewhat seemed to help prevent or reduce the degree to which the string hits/brushes my chest at release. I still need to work on that because it seems to be a sensitive point with one of the likely shinsa judges.
Also kiza, still my nemesis. The teachers were clear that you’re not supposed to rest your weight on your heels but rather use your quadriceps to keep your self raised just slightly above them. Obviously this requires a lot of endurance in those muscles, so I’m doing this kind of squatting exercise now, following the example of my teacher. One teacher also suggested that, from a practical point of view, you can raise up and then lower yourself slightly down to rest now and then if you have to. But again my real problem is that the flexor halucis longus muscle (長母趾屈筋) starts to contract involuntarily after a while, pulling my centre of gravity forward until I fall off my toes. The only answer seems to be to keep trying, gradually extending the time, though I found that concentrating hard on breathing helps some, as does a good hot bath!
Also two detail notes. First, when you first do the hirakiashi turn, moving the bow to the right hand, there needs to be a slight pause there while you raise the right knee (ikasu) and also bring the left hand to the top of the thigh, resting it there for a beat before you move on to free the sleeve tucked inside the hakama. I’d just gone straight into releasing the sleeve, and of course, it was noticed. Second, when you do the rei at the sademenoza before and after a sharei you must raise up your gaze to the kamiza. If there are people there (like shinsa-in), don’t move the gaze up to the point where you make eye contact, but rather bring the gaze up to about the level of the chest.