Kyudo Notebook: Pointer

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…

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2 Responses to Kyudo Notebook: Pointer

  1. Me says:

    By flex, do you mean point straight?

    Here’s an exercise I do with people when thinking about the yunde index finger. Hold the bow in your right hand and have your left hand slightly open but limp in a tenouchi position, index finger extended but limp. Push the nigiri into the yunde hand as if making tenouchi. If your yunde hand is limp you’ll notice that the index finger moves towards the right, closing towards body. If, from that position, you super point your left finger, you’ll notice that the bow rotates in the opposite direction of yugaeri.

    Gakusei kyudo like to super point, as if, to borrow aikido terminology, “I am sending my ki to the mato!”

    Just some random thoughts that probably don’t help much….

    • karamatsu says:

      Thank you for your note, and for the experiment! I’ll try that tomorrow. Normally in the past I’ve sort of “naturally pointed” (not super pointed) with the index finger, so what I’ve been trying instead is to curl it around. I suppose that would have the bow more slightly in the opposite direction. But it also seems to slightly change the shape of the cavity in which the bow rests. Anyway, I’m still working on this. When I look at the students they tend to keep their left hand/arm straight all the time. It’s us (somewhat) older people who have trouble. Not sure what I’m doing wrong but my teacher seems content to let me struggle with it, so I do that.

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