Sometimes after a while away from the dojo I come back and it feels like everything has settled calmly into place, and I shoot better, and more consistently, and with less physical effort than before I left. This hasn’t been one of those times. It feels like everything is out of balance. It may be that I’m focusing too much on the wrong things. I resolved after the Zen-Nihon that I’d try to work on only one change at a time, but it’s hard. Maybe I’m greedy. Yesterday I had to stop shooting at the targets and go back to the makiwara to see if I could work things out.
Eventually K-sensei came over and told me that problem was my tenouchi, something I hadn’t even been thinking about. Apparently at hanare the left hand was contorting into the beta form, with nigiri twisting in my hand so that the bottom of the grip ends up back below the root of the thumb, rather than staying on the ten-mon line. I suppose the hand was twisting out of shape while I focused on other things, but by making the correction he suggested (angling the hand just slightly more forward), suddenly most things did fall into place, and it was surprising. Both arrows (I could only shoot twice before leaving to catch the bus home) flew straight and true, the left hand looked good at hanare. The only thing is that I didn’t get full yugaeri, so I probably just need to relax the hand more. It’s a balance I’ll have to find.
Naturally this weekend there is a taikai so further experiments will have to be made “live” and on the spot. Not exactly the best arrangement, but there’s nothing I can do about it now.
Meanwhile I’m closer to ordering a 6-sun nobi bamboo bow. Or really two of them. The recommendation is to have one for summer and one for winter, with the summer bow (16kg) stronger than the winter one (15kg) in order to even out the changes that occur due to seasonal differences in temperature and humidity. Switching bows also gives one a chance to get some rest. So t’s turning into quite an investment, but when I talk to the teachers about the difference between shooting with fibreglass and shooting with bamboo their eyes just light up. Seems like a good thing to explore.
Actually the yumi-shi originally suggested a larger gap between the summer and winter bows, as much as 3kg, but my teachers here use his bows and felt that 1kg was enough. Maybe it’s something about the climate in Hokkaido, which has wide temperature differences but pretty stable humidity, plus the shajo is heated and humidified in winter so the differences aren’t as great as the natural weather pattern suggests. I’m a little tempted to split the difference and go with a 2kg gap, but maybe I should let wiser heads prevail the first time around? These things are too expensive to make mistakes.