Image Training · Kai - the Full Draw · Kyudo · Tournaments

Reducing Nervousness and Building Consistency

8 second zanshin. 8 second zanshin. 8 second zanshin …”

Hold the full draw for eight seconds, and focus on the final zanshin posture to ensure complete release of the arrow.

This is my mantra, and it helps to reduce nervousness and build consistency.

I decided to repeat and focus on this mantra in my head for tournaments when things get crazy inside. In all the tournaments I have participated in you sit in chairs just outside the shooting area to be sure everyone is ready and on time for their turn. Usually there’s two rows of chairs, one for the next in line, and one for the next after. One usually spends about 5 to 10 minutes here sitting, listening to the twangs of the strings shot before them.

Sitting there I wondered, “What should I be thinking about?”

I’ve gone through lots of phases of thoughts. Sometimes thinking about whatever technical aspect I’ve been recently working on, some image I read about or was told about, or I’ve even tried thinking about nothing at all. No matter what I try, it seems that it all drops away to the nervousness of the shooting area and I’m all alone, or I latch on too hard to a particular image and it holds me back from my best shooting. But now I feel like I’ve found a really helpful image, and that’s “8 second zanshin.”

For me, 8 seconds works best holding the draw. If I don’t count my draw during tournaments, or even regular shooting, my draw will get continually shorter and my shot will get increasingly inconsistent. Only by counting can I keep the consistency, and it also helps me to focus on the physical checks I want to do in my form before I release instead of imagining delusions of grandeur. 6 seconds feels natural to me, but pushing myself for that extra two seconds makes sure I’m putting 110% into the shot, which makes it the best shot I can possibly do. I’ve tried to do 10 seconds, but that’s just too long for me now.

Then there’s zanshin, the final posture after we release the arrow. This is the one ultimate image that has helped me make sure I have a big open release since I first started. If I don’t focus on this then I usually emphasize one part of my shooting too much, which generally makes my shot small and unbalanced. I’ll spend half of my thought on things I’ve been working on lately in order to link my shot to what I’ve been doing lately, and then I spend the other half on the image of zanshin to open me up to whatever treasures from the unknown it can give me.

But what I’m talking about isn’t actually putting these into affect, but meditating on them before we shoot. I sit in the chair before my shot, and I quietly repeat this mantra in my head,

“8 second zanshin. 8 second zanshin. 8 second zanshin …”

Because I do it every time, I feel comfortable when entering this space. It allows me to relax while also positively focusing on my shot. When I enter the shooting area I keep this image in my head. When I shoot, I keep this image in my head. This is my best shooting. This is my trick.

What’s yours?

 

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