In slightly more technical terms, the tatesen (vertical line) is in your ashibumi (stance).
I’ve been having trouble with my tatesen lately, trying to raise my uchiokoshi high enough, stretch my spine upwards, and effectively use my feet.
So how do you use your feet in kyudo?
A long time ago a teacher once told me to shoot with my feet.
I said OK and tried …
and just by thinking about my feet, my next shot was one of my best ever.
I was shocked and amazed, and so tried to repeat it again and again, but somehow lost it.
A little while later I noticed that when I shot I felt myself riding on the outsides of my feet, which felt weird and went contrary to what many teachers told me is proper use of the feet, which is having them turn slightly outwards like you’re fanning out from your toes and bringing your heels together. This isn’t an actual large movement you make with your feet during shooting, but the internal feeling.
Just yesterday I was playing around with my empty hands and experimented with old feelings of riding on the outsides of my feet.
By doing so I felt only the yoko-sen (horizontal line) expanding from my left hand and right elbow, which is good for the yoko-sen, but it totally crumbles the tate-sen (vertical line)!
So when my teachers tell me to focus on the ya-suji (line of the arrow) that expands to the left and right, I’m being a good student by doing so, but I totally forget about the tate-sen (vertical line) and hunch over sending the arrows either in front of or behind the target.
On the other hand, when I remember my feet and concentrate on turning my feet outwards like a fan, I feel a proper tension running up the backs of my legs, my butt scrunches up pushing my lower back forwards, stretching my spine, opening my chest, expanding my elbows without effort, allowing me to turn my head easily (kao-muke), and relax my hands.
The success of our tate-sen (vertical line) lies in our feet (ashibumi)!!!
This is also spoken from an empty handed stance in my living room.
Tomorrow when I go and try to put this into practice I’m sure it’ll be less than perfect.
But that’s not the point.
We practice with a perfect image.
In our empty hands and our free time we construct the proper mentalities and images that are like the invisible energy in the ground that support seeds that grow into giant trees.
We make that perfect image, be that perfect image, and when we go to shoot we become that perfect image.
If we fail, then we search out the weak points, try again … searching for our best and most perfect shot.
Anything less and we’re just playing in the dirt.
Every tournament my teacher asks me how many arrows I’m going to hit,
and I answer “All of them” every time.
Haven’t done it yet, but I promise I will one day.
Onward and upward, stretching towards the sky and down through the ground with our proper stances and use of the feet.