Seems I’ve opened the proverbial gift box with the exploration of the index finger. Tenouchi appears to be one of those topics on which everyone has a different opinion. Many of the ryuha seem to be divided on the basis of their tenouchi so I suppose it’s no surprise, and as often happens, the only way forward is to think and experiment with them.
There was, in fact, a great article in Kyudo a few years back with photos of the tenouchi used by a group of teachers. I’ll have to find that again. There were many variations. Meanwhile we have a two-day “autumn” (it’s already snowing) tutorial this weekend. I think I will focus particularly on tenouchi and breathing.
I’ve been reading Yumi no Michi: Shobo-ryu Nyumon. It’s quite good and comes down firmly in the camp of exhaling during expansion moves like uchiokoshi and, of course, hikiwake. I think this is because it has the same effect that one of the people commenting mentioned, naturally settling you down into the tanden, at least if you’re breathing abdominally. The book also has some very precise instructions on the index finger: you curl it lightly and “graft” it onto the thumb, but then also push the index finger up somewhat, which (try it!) creates increased pressure at the contact point between thumb and middle finger. So, something else to try!
It’s very subtle but I know I need to do something to prevent the tenouchi form from being ruined at hanare (which I think is what leads to the “falling bow syndrome”), but finding the right “something,” one that doesn’t have other negative effects, interfering with yugaeri, or leading the left hand off in some direction or other, has been a challenge so far. I’m doing more makiwara practice than ever before.
Oh, the Katsura string is turning out to be very durable. But since I’ll be needing 6-sun nobi hemp strings for the new bow, I’ve been thinking again about whether I could either make my own and/or find a direct connection to the string-makers. Ordering through the usual places can take months. When the Katsura does break I think I will take it apart and figure out how it was made. Do the fibres run the entire length or is the string composed of shorter ones? Things like that. If anyone has any hints, please let me know!
LATER: Ah, the Internet. Here are images of tenouchi from Kyudo magazine, March and April, 2007:
I need to go back and figure out who’s who but the variation and what, to my untrained eye, looks like maybe not the best form, is surprising. I suppose I’m partial to C.