The other day K-sensei came over and said, “You have a lot of things to work on now, eh?” and just smiled. I guess he enjoys seeing us struggle. Really. It’s growth. But he’s right. As usual I’m trying to work on them one at a time. First is having the left arm straight at zanshin, by keeping it straight at hanare. This seems to be largely a matter of tenouchi and the exact direction of the force applied at tsunomi. It’s going pretty well in the sense of not deviating left or right. I still have this issue where the hand/arm drops straight down a bit, though, and I know it’s a fixable problem because it doesn’t happen at the makiwara.
What’s been more problematic is the bow sliding down through my otherwise nicely extended right hand. The last thing I tried yesterday was changing the way I hold my pointer (index) finger. In the past I’d had it extended, just because it was natural, but many people also flex it, curling it around, but not touching, the bow. When I was playing around with this I noticed that it does make a subtle change in the shape of the hand, and using the flexed method in actual shooting did seem to make a difference. The bow didn’t drop as much. Maybe just two finger widths. But it’s not so clear that I could rule out psychological factors. Still an open question.
The other things are more complete extension of the right arm, making that “sudden” and complete, yet “light,” and remembering to release from the centre. Of course I try to do this all the time, too, but I really want to fix that sliding bow problem before K-sensei gets back.
And then, just a note. After my trusty Haru Kaze broke I’m using a 1.8 monme Katsura. Normally I wouldn’t buy these — too expensive — but the shop offered me one at the same price as a Haru Kaze, so I decided to try it. I can see why people like them. It seems as fast as a synthetic string, but I’m not sure how durable it will be. It seems “drier,” in the sense of less kusune, than the Haru Kaze strings, but time will tell. I’m also adding a bit to it by using a waraji that’s been coated in kusune to begin with. So far so good…