This is Part I of a series of posts called, “Hanshi Teachings” about things I’ve learned from the hanshi level teacher in my dojo.
One time I was practicing with the hanshi sensei and he noticed that my kai, full draw, was really short. Not in space, but time. Instead of 6 to 8 seconds like it should, it was probably something more like 2 to 3. He told me I need to hold my kai, full draw, longer. He said that if I got used to short kai, then it would be a problem that wouldn’t easily go away in the future. This short kai is often called hayake. You’ll see it a lot at tournaments or with older archers who will hold their draw for maybe only one or two seconds and then release.
“Take a look at so-and-so sensei, he has excellent technique but he’s also got hayake so his hits are going to be much more inconsistent. Plus he’ll probably never fix it. You see, you aren’t doing kyudo if you are doing hayake (short full draw), or if you yurumu.”
It hit me like lightening there, bright and simple.
We don’t have kyudo if we hayake (short full draw), or yurumu. Yurumu means to slacken the tension in your structure just before or during hanare, the release; kind of a difficult thing to explain if you haven’t ever handled a bow, but by slackening the tension in your shot you lose the great momentum and tension you’ve created thus far.
Golden Rule #1: Long full draw.
Golden Rule #2: Don’t let up before or during the release.
There are a million other small details going on, but as far as technique goes, I feel comfortable calling these two the most important. At some point, or all throughout the time we practice with the bow these are two issues most everyone will have trouble with. If we can focus on doing these two things fully, I’d say that’s a great base to move on from in kyudo. You can have a short full draw and let up the tension all you want, but I’m not sure you can call it kyudo.
Tune in next time for Part II: Big Thumb Tenouchi.