For anyone, like me, who was wondering how a Japanese saw (ryoba in this case) dealt with hardwood (red oak in this case): The answer is very, very well.
I struggled at first with the feeling that I needed to be strong to get through a harder wood. But when I let that go and lightened my grip almost to the point of it slipping, the saw really began to shine.
As you've all heard before, let the saw do the work. Be the guide and trust the saw to get you there.