Apr 2, 2009

Pay attention to what you are doing

No matter how many times we have done temae, it is always good to pay attention to what we are doing. One of the things Christy sensei emphasized in koshukai is the precision with which we do temae. First of all make sure that the orientation of your body is correct. Especially in the winter season, there is a difference in centering your body with the outside corner of the hearth frame and the inside corner. There may be less than an inch in difference, but it changes the position of all the utensils as you use them. Your left knee should also come up to be even with the corner of the hearth frame, and the space of 16 tatami weaves should be in front of you. Also make sure that your body is centered with the outside line of the hearth frame when speaking with guests and putting out the haiken utensils.

One thing many students become sloppy with is picking up and moving utensils. When the left hand or the right hand picks up or puts down the bowl make sure it is precisely at 9 o’clock or three o’clock on the bowl. There are certain times to pick up the bowl or set it down at 5 o’clock or 7 o’clock. Know when to use these different handling techniques and why. When transferring the bowl or the hishaku (water scoop) make sure that changing hands occurs in the center of the body. A lot of students tend to transfer the utensils from one hand to another on the way to where ever it is traveling.

After purifying natsume or chaire, the fukusa is squeezed in the right hand, but then it comes just over the right knee. If you pull your hand up your leg near your body, you get this chicken wing effect as you put down the tea container that looks awkward and funny.

Finally, make sure you have good posture. Not only do you look better in kimono if you have good posture, but also when making tea, sit with a straight back and not too close to the bowl. Bow with a straight back and do not put your weight on your hands while you are doing it.

We all learned these things as basics, but it is always a good reminder to pay attention to what we are doing in temae, even if we have done them a hundred times before.

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