Yesterday we had a mini-taikai, and while I did OK I went through a strange phase where I was suddenly unsure about tenouchi. Normally it’s just automatic, and that was the problem: I started thinking about it. It’s like the story of the centipede that’s sits paralysed because it’s trying to think of which leg to move first. After a while I figured it out again, but it was a strange feeling, and it brought up something I’d been wondering about, the role of conceptual thought in shooting. Many Kyudo texts seem to echo Dogen and the Genjokoan, “To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self.” This sounds reasonable. It reminds me as well of learning a language. At first you have to think about grammar and word equivalents, but over time you learn to think “in” the language, which really means not to think about it at all. Ideas just come out. I expect the same is true in Kyudo, while also of course, we can still take a look at our words and shooting and fix mistakes, make improvements.
I seem to shoot best when I don’t think about it.