It’s been a while! At one of the previous chuo-shinsa in Hokkaido where nobody passed, my teacher asked one of the shinsa-in why, and the answer was, “Everything up to uchiokoshi wasn’t good enough,” so we’re getting a lot of emphasis now on taihai. We had a tutorial yesterday and there were some interesting refinements that came up.
- When standing up from kiza while keeping the bow’s urahazu down (as when you stand up at the honza before moving forward to the sha-i), the urahazu should not move more than 3cm forward. Really what they’re after is maintaining the vertical line. What people usually do is rise up and move their body forward until they’re sort of “standing on their knees.” What the hanshi advised is to raise the torso straight up without moving the body forward. Then you use the power of your thighs to stand up from what is a much lower position. It’s hard, and in my case the main problem is that my left thigh hits the bow, so I have to figure a way to deal with it.
- During nyujo and taijo, before the rei or yu, you make eye contact with the object of your respect (this is different from what we were told at Nagoya, but ignore that for now) before the bow, but when coming up from the bow you do not bring your eyes back up to the object. Rather you let them settle where they’re supposed to be, on the floor, four metres ahead.
- Another interesting point was that when bringing the otoya back to your hip after lowering the bow and arrows to your knee, the way to get the arrow under the sleeve of your kimono is just to raise the right elbow a bit. One teacher described the other way, drawing the arrow along our body, as being like seppuku, and recommended against it.
- When you’re watching people shoot (midorigeiko) you should sit in seiza, with back straight and facing forward. It’s the equivalent of being at attention in the military. Several people got yelled at for sitting any other way. Naturally, the legs and feet don’t like this and go to sleep. Uozumi-sensei‘s technique of sitting in kiza (after you’re done watching) and then slowing raising and lowering you butt to put pressure on the feet works well to relieve the numbness, but I found I had to push and fold my feet into the proper kiza position with my hands first, because I couldn’t feel a thing.
We had a terrible time due to the heat and humidity (nearly 30C in Hokkaido!), somehow I managed hada-ire but it sure wasn’t smooth. Also my shooting has become erratic. I think it’s my left shoulder coming up and in again. Amazing how quickly, and unexpectedly, things can fall apart. On the positive side, I’ve been following Uozumi-sensei‘s advice and sitting in kiza each day (well, not each day, but that’s the ideal), adding two seconds each day, and the one happy thing during the tutorial was that I had no kiza troubles despite a bunch of sitting and an unexpected sharei.
My practice is to do three kiza sessions separated by about one minute of standing. It simulates the three times you sit in kiza during a shinsa: once at the honza waiting for the previous group to finish, then two while shooting. I guess I should add a fourth for hadanugi but that’s so busy that it doesn’t seem to be a problem!
Oh, also, they were replacing some of the makiwara at the dojo so I volunteered to adopt one of the old ones. I’m building a stand for it now and will soon open my own mini dojo beside the house so I can practice daily, or at least when it’s not raining.
Meanwhile I wonder what’s going on with Zen? From the GPS thing it looks like they’re headed back toward Mexico, but maybe that’s just where the wind is taking them? The message is still “All is well,” so I guess it is.