Sometimes I write so much about kyudo stuff that I forget the other things this blog was supposed to be about. Hmmm… On Monday we went to a student kendo competition, and as the impressive thing for me, more than technique (it all happens so fast) was the spirit that the kids brought to it. Talking about that this morning, a friend pointed out that the same sort of courage was needed in all of the Japanese arts, even calligraphy. “You have to sit up straight, focusing all your energy (ki). You’re faced with this blank sheet of paper and must have the courage to reach out and write with no hesitation, no fear. If you are afraid, or have desire, or second-guess yourself, it will show in the work, so you have to do it fully.”
So naturally I thought about kyudo, too. We’re faced with this empty target, just sitting there, and we have to do what we do fully, with no hesitation, no desire, no fear. Of course before that must come technique, but sometimes you see kyudoka, especially older people, who have considerable amounts of shaking or dramatic gyrating as they draw into kai, so much that it seems positively dangerous, yet their faces remain utterly calm, even if, in the end, they don’t hit the target (or if they do). Perhaps smooth technique is something they can no longer rely on as they once did, but they still have the necessary courage and freedom of spirit. It’s something to aim for. And from what I’ve been told I’m sure the teachers can see that just as well as a calligraphy teacher can look at the lines of a work and see the spirit of the person who wrote them.
Kind of makes me want to get out that old brush again, too.
Also a note, it seems I’ve solved the opening of the left hand at hanare not by doing anything special to harden my tenouchi but simply by making an effort to maintain the empty space below the thumb. The bounce to the right at hanare, which seems to have returned at times, may be solved by stronger tsumeai and nobiai, both of which imply giving kai time to develop properly. Courage is needed for that, too.