How many times have I heard Sensei comment, “No kai!”, “You need more kai!”, or “Hold kai longer!” The other day we were also reminded that the eight stages of the hassetsu are the foundation that leads up to kai. All of the parts come together as a whole and culminate at kai.
How do we do this? We set up our vertical line (shoulders, hips and balls of the feet on a parallel plane, Sanju jumonji) at dozukuri, which was set up off of our proper footing at ashibumi. We continue through with uchiokoshi and daisan setting up the horizontal line.
“The horizontal line feeds off of the vertical line.”
“Harare is born of the vertical line.”
This balance of the vertical and horizontal line, Tate-Yoko Jumonji no Hanare, is set at kai.
Shihan Morisawa points out in one of his writings, “Unity of mind, body and breathing is expressed in kai. It is the perfect state one experiences just before shooting in Kyudo.”
He points out that “Kai is the most vital moment in the Kyudo hassetsu. It is an important level because the possibility of entering the Do can be determined through the trainee’s state of mind-whether one is ready to abandon dualistic thinking whereby the bow and the self or the target and arrows are two separate entities, or is incensed on external preoccupation of techniques and the desire to do well and hit the target.”
He stresses the importance of the extension at Kai and how this comes together to create the perfect cross. In following this train of thought, we need to return to the Kyohon.
The third paragraph of the Shaho-Kun states From the centre line of the chest, divide the left and right equally into release. The Kyohon later says, This refers to the dividing apart of the harmonious unity of the full draw (Kai).
It goes on to talk about the transition from full draw (kai), which we have learned is 80%, expanding (nobiai) through the remaining 20%. to release (hanare). If we are at 100% of our draw at kai, then there is nothing left for that explosive release at hanare. This final 20% need not be all physical, but mental as well. Every ounce of our being should be focused into this moment.
The Kyonon goes on to tell us on page 70 :
The full draw (kai) is, psychologically speaking, the continuity of an imperturbable spirit. Removing attachments, desire, and worldly thoughts towards the target, at the full draw you must wipe away negativity like doubt, anxiety, faintheartedness, fear, and self-depreciation and make the effort to fulfill the spirit with self-control, composure, endurance, and determination, founded on the right belief. This disciplining of oneself in this very precious way is connected to Shasoku- Jinsei-Shooting is Life.
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