There’s a lot going on but it’s hard to write about because things aren’t settled. The shoulder injury remains a factor but is improving. The takeyumi seems to be coming along nicely and I’m very thankful to have this rather than the fibreglass bow to work with. The recoil shock with bamboo is reduced, and should be even more comfortable once I can switch to hemp strings around the start of February.
But the big issue is hanare, and getting that properly set up from daisan through hikiwake. Some of the challenge is physical, some is mental/spiritual. The physical issue starts to become apparent around daisan, or maybe even uchiokoshi, getting the correct height, position, keeping the vertical line while moving my head enough not to get whacked, the slight twisting of the right, position of the right elbow… Then in hikiwake there is this matter of remaining relaxed yet making effort… the right effort in the right way. I’m still working on this.
The mental/spiritual aspect arises as a “loss of faith” at the critical moment. I draw in to kai, expand into tsumeai, but then when I feel like I can’t expand any more physically, it’s like my mind says, “Well, that’s it! If you don’t let go now, you’ll just be standing here all day,” and I release with the right hand. Worse, the opening of the right hand seems to call forth an unconscious opening of the left hand, which my teacher can see in real time but is also evident to me from the dropping of the bow through the “tube” created by tenouchi. For the time being I just have to fight through this urge.
A third problem that occurs, and may be both physical and mental/spiritual, is that the left hand still sometimes pushes to the right at hanare before recoiling back to the left. Clearly I’m generating some sort of force vector pointing off to the right of (in front of) the target, but why? how? I’ve watched a lot of other people, hoping to catch someone else doing it, but it’s quite rare. I suspect it is tied to the left shoulder and the precise way I’m expanding in tsumeai, but I suppose I’ll just have to make video of myself.
Meanwhile, we had an unwelcome visitor, a burglar, in our house the other night. He (I assume it was a he) was a professional, highly disciplined, and apparently specializing in rural houses. Nothing was taken because there was nothing worth taking! But it’s still a creepy feeling to know some guy was in here, looking to take whatever he could find, and he did break a window getting in. The police response was fast and overwhelming… 6-8 people for hours, and the whole “CSI” treatment. If he left anything at all behind, they should catch him, or at least be prepared to tie this to other burglaries when he is finally snagged. It makes me uneasy, going to the dojo when nobody is home. Maybe I’ll have to start varying my schedule more. Or get a big dog.