Well, I hope everyone did well at their testing. The one we had here over the weekend was pretty strict. Nobody passed 4-dan or 5-dan at all, and only two passed 3-dan. Everyone seemed to be having an off day. But that’s the shinsa world: Two arrows. One day. Go home.
A couple of things things surprised me. First was that they had the 4-dan people do not just haganugi but hada-ire as well. It was obvious that a few of the people had never practiced that, and it was excruciating to watch them try and try and try. When the situation became clear someone showed them what to do. Lessons learned: (1) be ready for anything, (2) always practice what to do if things go wrong, because someday it will.
The second was the choreography after people finished. Instead of walking backwards and waiting at the honza for everyone to finish, then doing hada-ire/tasuki-sabaki together (like in sharei), people would walk back behind the honza, then do hada-ire/tasuki-sabaki individually. The way it worked was that the o-mae person would finish shooting, do yudaoshi, then walk toward the exit, but then instead of turning to do the yu, he would turn right and walk behind the honza to a position behind where the fourth person sat at the honza when they came in. Then turn to face the targets, sit, turn wakishomen and do hada-ire or tasuki-sabaki. When finished, he’d turn back to face the targets, yu, then stand, take a step backward, turn right, and walk back again to the exit, do the yu to the kamiza, and then out.
So… a lot going on. And then, because of the timing involved, usually the next person or two would also be finishing while o-mae was doing his or her thing. The way they avoided collision was that the second person did their hada-ire/tasuki-sabaki at the spot behind where the third person had sat. The third person goes to the place where the second person sat, and the fourth person goes to the place were o-mae sat. The fifth person, since he has to move backwards after finishing, goes to the place where he sat. Quite a circus!
Add to this that, of course, the next group is already there, sitting at the honza (which is why you can’t follow the sharei procedure). I imagine you could get quite a traffic jam if there wasn’t enough space at the back of the shajo!
So… worth remembering. Another variation on the theme.