Things are becoming more stable now, but there are a lot of points I need to explore and work on. Occasionally everything feels “just right” and I’m confident that the arrow will go well. Most of the time, though, it’s more of a struggle, but maybe those are the important ones? Things to keep in mind:
- Need a slightly wider (lower) ashibumi in order to get the arrows through the diamond shaped cut-outs in the windows. This means the ashibumi is technically wrong, but you do what you have to do. Need to bring the aim down a tiny bit to compensate.
- Keep the rounded enso form in uchiokoshi. My arms had been getting too straight, especially the right, since it needs to be a bit higher than the left in order for the arrow to be level. To help with that, be sure to keep the motohazu in line with the middle of the body. Need to rediscover the correct point to sight the target here.
- High daisan. Left needs to be much higher than it had been. Need to find the correct point to sight the target here, too. Check tenouchi here. The high daisan allows a more even draw because, when daisan was lower, I had to compensate more for the forward position of the right hand. Speaking of which, need to figure out the correct position for the right hand (both forward/backward and left/right).
- Draw high. However moving into kai there is a problem where the arrow is not touching my cheek at the same moment that the left reaches the aim point and the string touches my chest. So, probably the right hand is too far out to begin with, or I’m not bringing it back at the same rate. Need to get back in sync there.
- Once in kai, take your time, check the crosses, especially (these days) tenouchi and the angle of attack on the bow.
- Tenouchi itself needs some attention. It’s better than before — the bow is staying vertical and the left hand/arm is no longer casting to the left at hanare. But it is dropping straight down somewhat, and worse, the bow itself is sliding down within my hand, so at zanshin I end up gripping the yasurito above the grip. Not clear if tenouchi is too large to begin with or if I’m unconsciously relaxing the left hand just at the moment of release. I’m trying different things. There’s a tension here because the point isn’t so much to grip the bow as to support it, yet you don’t want it slipping downward. Maybe the problem is the shape of the hand?
- Anyway these days maybe half of my shooting is at the makiwara so I can test these things more easily. One thing I notice, though, is that at the makiwara my left hand doesn’t drop at all, which is very nice, but then if I shift to the targets, it does. A few years ago my teacher told me that this was a sign of “dishonesty,” so I need to fix that soon. I’ve wondered it this isn’t just because, at the makiwara I’m aiming at something level with my eyes, while the targets are actually placed at my feet. It seems to make sense that I would unconsciously be pushing the bow downward toward the target.
- We had a mini-taikai yesterday, and since I have so much in flux I didn’t expect to do well and used it for practice. I find that if I follow the ideas above, particularly the high daisan and drawing while high, I can usually hit OK as long as I get a good expansion at kai and do, in fact, release from the centre. It’s when the mind starts spinning stories and attachments that the release is too fast and/or from the hands. At times like that the right hand tends to fly forward at release, so the arrow goes behind the target.
It’s a lot to remember. My plan is to try to deal with things one by one, in hassetsu order.