Mind / Body / Bow

Another long delay! Maybe this is how it will be for a while? Things are happening but slowly, and in a one step forward, one step in a totally random direction sort of way. I went through a period where things were very stable, but for reasons I cannot explain, it suddenly evaporated. Maybe part of it is the heat and humidity of the summer and rainy days affecting not just me but the bow, the kake, everything? These days the giriko can almost melt, and stick your fingers together like glue.

A funny thing is that I’m only now discovering how important the fundamentals are, especially the crosses, and of those, the sanju-jumonji. I find that I have to take great care to set that during dozukuri and maintain it all the way through. There are so many opportunities to twist the torso and the line of the shoulders, and I find that makes a huge difference as far as a balanced release and the arrow going where I want it to. It’s frankly amazed that I ever managed to hit the target at all, but by watching school competitions it’s clear that there are a lot of ways to shoot and hit. Some rely just on strength, some on a variety nonstandard techniques that compensate for each other. It’s interesting how creative we humans can be when faced with a target.

But of course, that’s not all we’re after, eh?

Another oddity is that sometimes, especially in taikai, I find myself getting into kai, but then suddenly feeling unsettled/unsure. It’s a sort of low-level panic feeling: “Hey! What am I doing here? What am I supposed to do now?” The answer seems to be that I don’t need to do anything. Just maintain the crosses, and expand physically/mentally/spiritually and see what happens. Unfortunately, because the feeling only arises at times of stress, when something related to me, my self-image, etc, is on the line, it’s not something that I can easily practice. So I have to seek times of stress. Hmmm…

Then the other day my teacher told me that my expression shouldn’t change at hanare. Ha! How do you control that? I’m thinking that rather than trying to do something physically I may need more mental/spiritual focus, so that when the “phenomenon” of hanare occurs, the thinking part of my mind is as though “not there.” After all there’s no reason for my expression to change unless I have expectations, desires, etc.

In fact that’s been a theme of some other reading that began with a book by the Dalai Lama, The Heart of Meditation, on the Nyingma practice called Dzogchen (Great Completeness). But I have to let all that simmer for a while before it’s clear enough to write something. I see connections there to mushin and the kind of practices that are discussed in Buddhist texts like Takuan Soho’s Fudouhishinmyouroku (The Unfettered Mind), as well as hinted at in the Kyudo Kyohon and some works by Awa Kenzo. Lots of work to be done there…

Anyway this weekend we have a two-day seminar to indoctrinate us into a lot of new ANKF lore. I’m not sure what it’s all about, to be honest, but there’s even a textbook. If it seems interesting/useful I’ll write something. Oh, and it’s a ways off yet, but the All-Japan tournament will be in Ise this year, 21-25 September. It’s worth the trip if you can make it, and a bunch of the Hokkaido crew will be there.

This entry was posted in buddhist practice, dozukuri, kai, kyudo, kyudo notebook, mind. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mind / Body / Bow

  1. Yuki says:

    Okazaki-sensei, at the New Zealand seminar, spent some time speaking of hanare as a phenomena; that it should not be “part of the hassetsu” as it shouldn’t be an action. Ever since April, every practice has been working on that thought. Oh the journey is long and hard.

  2. karamatsu says:

    Yes! In fact the reason I mentioned it as a “phenomenon” was because I belatedly read your comment from the NZ seminar. Thanks! Teachers here have said the same thing… that the others are actions but hanare is just a genshou (phenomenon, something that happens naturally). I think it must have been one of the annual themes a few years back. The way I try to realize this is, in kai, after the crosses are formed and there is “nothing left to do” I start to imagine going to the center of my body while visualizing/feeling of a kind of “infinite zanshin.” So… no thought of hanare. Just zanshin. Eventually it happens. Another way to think of it is, instead of seeing hanare as the moment of maximum power, make that be zanshin. Expand into that moment of maximum power. This was something Usami-sensei suggested at Nagoya several years back. The trick seems to be doing that without letting your fundamental bodily form get messed up. For me that usually means twisting my shoulders. That’s the bad habit I need to solve… Or one of them!

  3. Yuki says:

    I’ll have to apply that thought at the American Seminar next week in Sonoma, infinite zanshin…. One can’t just drop down into kai and stand there trying decide when is a goid time to go ahead and let go. Okazaki-sensei encouraged us to make observers engaged in our shooting and have them wondering what’s going to happen all the way through. ( At the risk of repeating myself again; they say the memory is the thing to go. ) I’m currently fighting a minor muscle strain in my mete from a few days of quite improper technique. I think it was mostly insufficient hineri of the yugake and I was attempting to compensate with pressure from the fingers. In speaking with a local teacher, he related a similar story of an event right before his roku-dan test. He had severely cut his middle finger ( of his right hand ) and couldn’t use it at all. His sensei in Japan basically said ( to quote loosely) “Good, you shouldn’t be using that finger anyway…( as part of keeping the string engaged in the tsurumakura )…” Live and learn…and relearn….

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