Beside the path was a small cave. The size of the hand at the height of my knee, from this black hole blew cold and constant wind.
I put a leaf in front of this cave, and the leaf blew out.
I dropped another leaf in front of the cave, and that one blew out just the same.
I stopped and put my face before the cave, and that wind didn’t stop.
I did nothing and just looked at the cave, and still it blew cool.
From seemingly nowhere, in a darkness I cannot see, this perfect wind blows consistent.
In kyudo, this is just like our breathing, ikiai.
From the dark cave of our tanden, (area located inside of us just below our belly bottons) we expand it. This is the image, and also physically what happens, our bellies expanding like balloons with air and whatever else comes with the image. With each phase of our shooting, from uchiokoshi, to dai-san, through hikiwake, throughout our kai, throughout the release, and throughout our zanshin, our bellies only move outward, only expanding.
This expansion is like the wind pushed out from the cave. It blows the leaf only outwards. This happens not because the wind strains to push the leaf, but simply because the leaf is pushed by the wind.
The wind expands from our bellies, flows up through our spine and sinews, throughout our arms, and on one side to our left elbow. The wind pushes our left elbow out and out and out so at the release there is nothing but the simple movement of “out” … this keeps us from letting up our pressure and realizing our full release. On the other side is our hand the holds the bow, especially at the point of the inside of our thumb joint that touches the top right part of the grip. The breath in our belly pushes out and out and out towards the target so at the release, our arm expands from our shoulder, and from our belly making great tsunomi (working of the tenouchi) and preventing yurumu (letting up of pressure from the bow).
The wind does not strain to push the leaf, the leaf is blown because the wind is present.
We concentrate on expanding our bellies like there’s a little ball of energy there … nothing more.
Doing so takes pressure out of our red heads and bunched up upper bodies, allows our spine to expand up and down, allows the backs of our legs to be taut and used properly, allows our pelvis to point upwards, allows our shoulder blades and back muscles to be activated, and allows our chest to be open and empty.
There is cave wind in my belly. Only blowing outwards, the bow and string split from my empty chest atop the fountain in my belly. A fountain of breath.
The wind is quiet and cool.
The wind’s eyes see everything they blow.