It’s been quite a struggle since the taikai on July 1st, when something seemed “wrong” about the way my right hand was working from torikake all the way to zanshin. It’s not the hand itself that is the problem but somehow the placement, or position, or… something. It just didn’t feel right, compared to what I was accustomed to. Over the past few weeks I’ve tried a lot of different ways to fix that, but with little success. Worse, as time has gone by, other aspects of the shooting form have started to be affected by whatever changed in the right hand, so three weeks later, at yesterday’s practice I felt like everything was falling apart.
I have a pretty good idea how all this started, but it wouldn’t be a good idea to write about that. Ultimately it comes down to my own mind, being affected by circumstances and some surprise criticism by people who are not my teachers. I need to work that through on my own, I think… decide what’s most important to me.
What is? Well, that search for truth. But that, in turn, requires treating every arrow issha zetsumei, like the last shot of my life. One time I asked a teacher (7-dan kyoushi) if she changed her way of shooting depending on whether she was at practice, at a shinsa, in a taikai, or when shooting in an enkin final, where the arrow closest to the centre wins. She emphatically said no: she tries to shoot the same way all the time. I think that’s going to be my guide.
Fortunately things looked up a bit on the last two arrows of yesterday’s practice. I changed the angle of the glove ever so slightly, maybe tilting right hand so that the wrist is no more than one millimetre higher than I’d been holding it, and suddenly all seemed well, rock solid and stable. The arrows liked it, too, and both hit the centre. Can it really be that subtle?
I suppose so. But I have no idea if this is the real solution. Only time will tell.
The interesting thing, and the real reason I sat down to write this, is the pace of changes and the way that one tiny change in the right hand has rippled out to affect the left hand, daisan, my left elbow, the draw, and even the position of my right hand at zanshin. The other interesting thing is that it didn’t happen all at once, but slowly over a period of weeks, one thing affecting the other in a kind of slow-motion cascade. I think this is how change in kyudo must go: you pull on one corner of the spider’s web, and the rest does move, but there’s a delay, some inertia that has to be factored in. I expect that, even if the 1mm change mentioned above is the solution, it will take time and more cascading cause-and-effect before it becomes stable. And if it’s not the solution, then, well… just keep going.
My teachers seem content to let me struggle, and as long as I’m learning from the struggles I think that’s good. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.