My recent downward spiral has continued further. No matter how hard I try to apply certain techniques and balance everything with my breathing, it’s all fallen apart and my mind darts around my body amid shooting, sending my arrows every which way.
But I think I’ve found a way out of this pit.
At today’s reikai (local monthly in-house tournament) I revealed my faults before all, and one of my helpful sempai mentioned something about me being off.
“Yeah, I know I can’t do anything at all today.”
“Like nothing’s working at all?”
“Yeah man, nothing at all.”
“That’s what I thought. It’s probably your ashibumi (use of the feet and stance). You’re pulling the bow with just your arms and so there’s no balance.”
“Wow, I didn’t even think of that.”
“Try just standing there.”
From there he pushed at my waist, but I didn’t move because I was relaxed and stable.
“See? Just stand normally and relax your body.”
I then stood like I would pulling the bow and I could feel my energy rise and take me off balance.
Crazy! The answer is in the very first of the eight stages of shooting, setting the feet (ashibumi), a place where I have never really looked for answers. And here it is.
Set your feet in line with the target.
Be mindful of your feet as they are the only point of contact with the ground. Those two small surfaces are responsible for transferring all of your energy into the ground. Plant them safely and set your waist atop them. From there let your spine hang upwards. Let your belly, lats, and your chest expand to push the string and bow apart. Relax the hands and arms and let them push out to the sides. Conscious of this all throughout the release. From here we can finally see what we’re doing with clear calm open eyes.
I wonder how many tens of times I’ve fallen apart like this. I have never recovered by concentrating on the hands. We must go back to the basics, the dark beginnings which lie inside our bodies, not our hands and minds.
Let’s go back to our basic connection with the ground.
“Hello ground, I am feet. Nice to meet you. I’m going to do ashibumi now, so maybe we can get to know each other better.”