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.