Kyudo Notebook: More Connections

Change, change, change. Since last week I noticed that my tenouchi had become strange. It wasn’t something particularly noticeable to someone watching but I could feel the difference and it bothered me even though the results weren’t so bad. Initially I attributed it to differences in the way I’d built up the grip on the 6-sun nobi bow. The width is the same as my trusty 4-sun, but there was some original rubber padding on the front of the bow that I left on there as an experiment. It makes the grip about 3mm thicker. Could that have been it? I resolved to take that padding out next time I change the nigirikawa.

But then during practice my teacher came over and told me that the line of my shoulders was way off, with the left shoulder up higher than the right. I think this is in part due to the differences I mentioned in the way the 6-sun draws. Anyway when I made the effort to lower the left shoulder from daisan into kai, the tenouchi problem completely disappeared, and I’d been so accustomed to struggling with it that I was left standing there in kai thinking, “What do I do now?” It felt good.

So as before, where uchiokoshi seemed to affect both daisan and kai, now the left shoulder is doing the same thing, and it’s fascinating to see how these changes in one place create echoes later on, and in ways I’d never noticed before. I really feel like I’ve circled back to the start of it all, with many directions to choose from at each point in the hassetsu, and unsure of which way to go, so I have to try them. I suppose the logical thing is to start from ashibumi and take them in order. Sort of “rebuild” the way I shoot from the ground up.

Even with the left shoulder there are options. Keep it down all the time or lower it somewhere in the the process? If somewhere in the process, then quickly or gradually? and when? Yesterday I tried just keeping it down all the time. It felt awkward, but from a “no unnecessary movements” perspective it seems like the best choice. The other attractive option is to use the shoulder as usual into daisan and then lower it gradually, along with the bow, into kai.

At the same time I need to make sure the arms don’t drop at the release. Need to keep them straight, though there remains that paradox that in the midst of all that effort the release needs to be “light” and “sharp,” yet lead to full extension in all directions. Once again I find myself appreciating points in the Kyudo Kyohon that I guess I’d merely glossed over before. So much in there…

Three more practice days before heading to Tokyo.

This entry was posted in ashibumi, daisan, hikiwake, kai, kyudo, kyudo notebook, tenouchi, uchiokoshi, zanshin. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Kyudo Notebook: More Connections

  1. Me says:

    How does one know when the shoulders are absolutely even? When they are relaxed. Even if you can’t see them in a mirror, they are even when relaxed (unless one has a physical deformity of course). If one believes that there should be minimum movement during the hassetsu–as you note–, or, as I teach, that the body is essentially in kai even at yugamae, then the shoulders have no reason for coming up in the first place.
    –On a side note, some teachers (and I’m talking about hanshi level) teach to breath out during uchiokoshi, while others will teach to breath in. I like the breathing out because that helps you drag the breath (and shoulders) down into the hara even while your arms are rising, thus helping prevent the shoulders from rising….just some thoughts.

  2. karamatsu says:

    Thanks for your note. Sorry I didn’t see it before I left home. I agree that that shoulders should be relaxed and level throughout. I think the reason my left shoulder rises is in an unconscious effort to brace the left side during hikiwake, bringing the left shoulder not just up but forward, so there is more of a straight line from the left hand to the centre of the torso. I’m pretty sure this is misguided and leads to ill effects but haven’t worked out exactly how to deal with it yet. It’s probably a bad habit that needs to be broken… one of many! Anyway I need to find the balance between my primary teacher’s emphasis on the higher daisan and this shoulder thing.

    That’s interesting about breathing in uchiokoshi. In the past I’ve always inhaled but will try reversing that. I’m particularly curious because sometimes I find it difficult to really get a full inhalation during that movement. My two main teachers don’t always agree on whether a given movement should be integrated with an inhalation or an exhalation. And then, more and more, they’re telling me to work these things out for myself rather than rely on them.

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