Form is emptyness…emptyness is form

It is late, I can not sleep as I have been napping on and off a couple of times today. I knew it would be a bad move, but oh well.

I have formally started my first book. “The lost of Zen… A sailing odyssey” I think I have the first chapter done. I got inspired to really start after reading two books recently. One is about a couple with no sailing background voyage around the world. I am actually still reading it. They were giving away free e-copies of it I found out via another sailing couple. Not really exciting, sort just their trip long/blog. I can see why it was being given away, at least so far I see. The other book is called Blowing Zen by a guy named Ray Brooks. His was a very interesting story. About his stay in Japan and learning Shakuhachi and in an off hand way Zen. It covers how all that shaped his life now as a concert Shakuhachi player. He did not really plan on this path, he was sort of lead to it. 
So those books, coupled with a recent question from the son of an old girlfriend asking if I was doing a book and he would buy it, got me started. Even though I have a good deal of it already written on my old sailing blog it will take some time to bring it all together, so I figured I might as well start. I am not going to think about who would buy it, want to read it, a target, for now I am just going to work on the form, putting all the pieces in the right place then just as in Kyudo release the arrow.
Speaking of Kyudo…great segway or what?
I went to the Dojo the other day, I passed on the Weds night Taihai intensive. It was pour pour pouring rain. I figured, why go through the pain? So yeah I went in for the regular Thursday class. The same Sensei is there along with the Kaicho, so I just work on my shooting form, as I am still considering next year as my target for Shinsa.
I make it in , there are the regulars, after greetings I start my practice. The first 6 shoots all hit the floor before the Mato and bounced into the dirt below. Ehhhhhh, WTFukushima! I did manage to it one, the other was way high. I thought, OMG I am falling part here, I know everyday is different but this is silly. I made some adjustments, but still my shooting sucked. Ok I thought i am not going to trip on it, and just continue to work on what I was doing, the left arm twist in Dai-san and Kai and the right forearm twist in Kai.
My planned workout these days is hour at the mato and one hour at the Makiwara. I was ready to switch to the Mato when a Sempai says, you are not holding your arrow level. Ok i thought that explains why all my shots are hitting well below the Mato. It was kind of funny to see almost a perfect line of arrows just below the target. I went to mirror and looked at my draw seeking to see the right level so i could reprogram the feeling in my body./mind. 
I questioned the Kacho, where my arrow should be hitting on the Makiwara. I recall Nogami Sensei saying something about that to me before. So the Kaicho explained it to me from my being in Ashibumi. Ok that helped. He also said I was holding/ tilting my head down I need raise my chin more. Ok, all good info. I practiced more just at the Makiwara.
While there that day my. sempai who did the Yon-dan Shinsa was there. I had not seen him since then as i have been coming in later after he has gone. He was watching my shooting and said, think more expansion and more elegant. Ok, thanks i said. I asked him why he thought he did not pass the Yondan shinsa even though he hit both arrows. He said not elegant enough. I thought back about watching him shoot at the shinsa. I could see where that would be a point dropper in his case. He did hit, but did not look good doing it. Not elegant. Funny thing is I was told by several I looked good, but I did not hit. He hit but did not look good. He did not look wrong, just not good.
I have about four week to decide about the summer/fall Shinsa. There is a winter one, but it is near Nara. A fair distance away, I already for sure decided that one is out. So it is the upcoming one in Sept or next year March/April…Banpaku or Nagoya. I am leaning towards Nagoya, thinking an intense few days under the eyes of masters can only help. Also there was something in the Blowing Zen book about intensive training. Deciding factor will be money, if I can make enough this summer to swing it. So far work at the silver center is slow, with all the rain as of late. Meanwhile I will persevere with training here. I have over-hauled my home Makiwara and will get back to working on that more since the Kaicho has given me some pointers that part. 
Ganbrimasho ne!

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