We had a taikai over the weekend and on one level it didn’t go well, but one another it was quite fascinating. My first three arrows hit, but I knew my teacher wasn’t happy. I’m not sure if I heard him or just felt his reaction, but it was obvious in any case. The release was coming way, way too fast. Trying to correct that, I missed the fourth arrow, then three out of the next four. Each time I resolved to forget about hitting the target, and if nothing else, just hold in kai for at least six seconds. That was my goal. Fix that first, then worry about the target. [Yes, seconds are not the point, but counting seconds is useful as a way of getting past the habit of an overly fast release]
But I couldn’t do it. I’m not sure I even got two seconds. It was like a war was taking place on some unconscious, or semi-conscious, plane, and that day, at least, I lost. This is pretty fascinating in its own right. I mean… I lost, but to whom? Normally with something like desire or anger it’s pretty obvious what is happening, and I’m familiar with those battles, but this was mostly hidden, perhaps body and subconscious conspiring in a more direct way than usual, and so quite interesting.
Yesterday I went back to practice with determination to get over this, and eventually was able to extend kai, maybe one second per shot, until now it seems normal to stay in that mode for 6-7 seconds. But of course, that’s practice. The next taikai will be the real test, and that’s on Sunday. Interestingly, when I do hold in kai that long, I end up hitting about 80% of the time, so there’s no reason to shoot quickly. But the whole thing on Sunday wasn’t about reason… it was something else, so I have no idea what to expect.
Meanwhile the makiwara stand is finished and I was practising outside today after lunch. This is going to be fun.