Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2010

High on Kiai

Last night was another endurance lesson.  I'm still fighting with this sore throat and stuff in my lungs (yuck).  It's hard to keep the pace up when you can't breathe very well to start.  Also last night I managed to cut my foot open, right on the ball of my left foot.  After some heavy tape application I was back on the floor, but it definitely affected my fumikomi.  So what did I do to counter-balance this?  I worked on having a high spirit every second that I was out there.  I think that I succeeded, for the most part.  I remember Sinclair Sensei telling us about how our kiai should be pushed out from our abdomen and "center", and I saw a video yesterday in which Sumi Sensei talks about the same thing.  Kiai isn't something that I've really focused my attention on before, it just sort of happened.  What I did last night was let it happen, but to make sure it was happening in the right way by pushing it up from my center.

We went over some new drills la…

One Thing at a Time

This past weekend I was sick.  Missed work on Friday, and carried on fighting it all through the weekend.  I hate being sick.  If I could eliminate one thing from my life it would be that.  I feel like it wastes so much time when I have to recover.  Time I could be using to do other things, like exercise, or Kendo...

Last night I was fighting off the last of my sickness.  Everything felt better, except for my throat and lungs.  I was still coughing and dealing with a dry/scratchy/sore throat and some other issues there, and I could tell my energy level wasn't up to where it usually is.  I took it easy, though.  Stepped out as needed, and made sure to not over-extend myself on the drills, and I was able to stay in the entire time.  Go me!  We also had another "guest" last night.  McNally Sensei, who left our dojo in September for college, is visiting his family right now and came to practice last night.  He will also be with us tomorrow night.  Having him there felt like …

Driving the Shinai

"Who is driving your shinai?"  This question was posed to us at the end of class last night by our sensei.  The answer, of course, is obvious; you are.  Simple as it is, though, it has many implications in our training.  I thought I would expand on my thoughts and feelings on this subject, since most of our drills last night involved controlling and "driving" the shinai in one way or another.

To me, the simplest manifestation of this idea is that you are in control of where your shinai lands, and you are responsible for the accuracy of your strikes.  It may seem simple, but it takes a lot of practice to be able to strike the same spot consistently at higher speeds.  In a nutshell, it's harder than it looks!  Digging down a little deeper, we come to how hard, or soft, we hit.  This is also a demonstration of shinai control, and one that many of our partners will appreciate.  Sensei went over a few drills that we can do on our own time to help develop better cont…

What Are You Working On?

This is a question that Sensei has been asking me a lot lately.  Usually after practice when I step up to bow to him.  The more I think about it, the more answers I can come up with, and the more I think about it, the higher my bar of standard for myself raises.  I've been told I have beautiful Kendo, and when I really think about it, I guess I do considering my level of experience and training (which isn't much).  But I always want to strive for more.  I never want to lose that hunger to keep progressing, keep learning and improving myself.  It's one of the things that drives me in Kendo.  I have a definite passion for it, that much I can say without hesitation, and even though I know nothing I continually push myself to take more steps along this path.

The first things that pop into my head, and the things I'm concentrating on most right now, are keeping a straight posture, and making my wrists more loose and flexible.  Now, straight posture, to me, doesn't mean …

Takado Sensei

This weekend we had a special "guest" with us.  Takado Sensei returned to train with us after being gone for a few months.  I say "guest" because a lot of us still consider her part of our dojo, myself included.  Having her back, even for a short time, was like filling a hole that was left in our training and I think that a lot of people felt it, judging by the level of Kendo and the high spirit that we all had on Saturday.

The main focus continued to be pressing in with our shinai before we strike, and we went over a lot of kihon drills to emphasize this.  First in place, with no Men or Kote on, and we continued from from there into our normal practice.  I, myself, also worked on keeping a straight posture and bending my wrists back and making them more flexible as I began my swing.  I've been too stiff, and I would like to eliminate it from my strikes as soon as possible.  It will add some much needed speed and (less needed) power.  I've also been working…

Back to the Dojo

Last night was our first practice downtown in over a week.  The Thanksgiving holiday plus a food drive at the gym we use kept us away from the downtown dojo since last Saturday, and even then a lot of us were off at the Kent Taikai.  We had a practice in the valley last week on Tuesday, which was great because a lot of downtown people showed up for that, but other than that there's been nothing Kendo-related going on.  It felt good getting back in the dojo, kinda like returning home and seeing all the familiar faces and getting that warm, comforting feeling all over.  That's the good side.  The bad side is that I was really busy last week and hardly got a chance to practice at home so I was definitely feeling my week off last night.  I felt really slow and really sloppy with my training, but in the back of my mind I know that it's just my body dusting itself off.  Give me another practice or two and I'll be back in gear and ready to improve.

We had a smaller group last…

Kent Taikai 2010

The annual Kent Taikai took place this past weekend, and I have so much that I could write about.  For the sake of space and not boring anyone that might read this I'll try to keep it as concise as I can while still painting a picture of the events that took place on our trip.

We left Friday from Spokane to make the trip to Seattle for training in Federal Way that night.  Of course along the way we busted into random games of tag, as is tradition.  Training in Federal Way was enlightening, in that it showed me that I have a long, long road ahead of me.  I knew this, and it's something I always consider in the back of my mind, but every once in a while I have a training session that reiterates that truth to me.  Also, Marsten Sensei is pretty cool (Curtis, although I'm sure Jeff is just as cool).  He's a great teacher, and I was grateful to be his punching bag during jigeiko.  The night ended with everyone in the hotel sharing dinner and a few laughs.

Saturday was the d…

Raindrops

By the time class ended last night I was broken and exhausted.  Not only did I train hard the night before in the valley, but I trained with the Yudansha last night, which is always a good lesson in endurance.  I also injured myself, a couple days before the next taikai.  We were performing Men-Nuki Men and when I went to hit my partner I brought my left hand right down on the tip of his shinai.  Let me tell you, at full speed that does NOT feel good!  I had to step out and let my hand recover a bit because every time I would strike after that incident the fingers on my left hand would start to throb and hurt bad.  That would have been bad enough if that were the only issue I ran into last night, but about the time we started jigeiko I got a bad ache in my side.  I had to basically remain stationary for the first couple rounds because anytime I moved too much the pain shot up my side.  I'm glad that only lasted a little while, but it sure didn't help me last night when I was a…

Aggression

You would think that after having a weekend full of Kendo I would be tired of it and want a break.  I don't.  I thoroughly enjoyed our practice last night, even though I had to step out a few times due to coughing.  It appears that my throat is not 100% healthy yet, and I forgot my water bottle, so each time I stepped out I had to take my Men off to get some water to try and calm down my coughing fits.  Still I did all I could and knew when to push and when to back off a bit.

I actually started my night by teaching the intermediate class.  Not only that, but my brother is now in the intermediate class so he was able to participate in one of my classes.  I kept things simple, going over kihon drills, kirikaeshi, and then getting into a bit of hiki waza at the end, which was new for him and the other new intermediate student.  I tried to break it down and explain as best I could, and I think I did a decent job since everyone was looking really good with their footwork and form.  Wit…

PNKF 2010 - Patience

It's Monday, and I'm reflecting on this weekend's events.  What a great weekend!  It was full of training and good friends and bonding with the team and lots and lots of Kendo!  Not much happened during our training in Bellevue on Friday since it was open floor training.  A group of us were selected to be receivers for the beginning class, which was fun.  They have a lot of kids that practice with them, so it was interesting to see some young people up and coming in their training.  During open floor I was able to get in a few jigeiko matches with some of the Bellevue locals, but I think the highlight was when Takado Sensei showed up and I was able to jigeiko with her.  She hit me, a lot, but I still enjoyed myself and enjoyed the time to practice with her.  Afterward we went back to the hotel to have dinner, clean up, and rest up for Saturday's taikai.

Saturday came pretty quickly, and I felt like I had no sleep at all.  But sleep or no sleep I was determined to do my…

Body and Mind

So life blessed me with sickness at the beginning of this week, proving once again that Murphy's Laws do exist.  One of these days that Murphy guy is going to get what's coming to him.  I am, however, recovering smoothly, and should be back to 100% by Saturday, just in time for the PNKF taikai.  I've been looking forward to this one for a while, and I'm am going to relish the opportunity to demonstrate good quality Kendo (hopefully, in my opinion it is) with others from around our region.  I'll be sure to keep notes so I can give a good playback of what went on when I return.  But for now, onward!

During our warmups Sensei talked about how we should be performing suburi.  The way I understand is that we shouldn't go full force, 100% with each strike.  But we should definitely not be lazy about it, either.  He demonstrated the difference to us.  He was able to strike at the same time as his son, even though he started later. We should have quick, crisp strikes, …

The Yudansha Group

Saturday's practice was downright awesome, and I feel that I pushed myself and did exceptionally well.  Not because I did perfect Kendo (that'll be the day), or because I picked off everyone in jigeiko (I didn't, not even close), but because Sensei gave me a challenge and I rose to it and pushed past my limits.  He invited me to practice with the Yudansha group, which usually contains the 1 Kyu and up kenshi (I'm currently 4 Kyu).  Yesterday we had a great mix:  a lot of Ikkyus and Shodans, a few Nidans, and Ando Sensei (Yondan).  It's definitely a different experience there.  Everything is faster, with purpose and intent, and I had to be at the top of my game, both physically and mentally, to keep up.

When Sensei asked me to join the group, I was almost at the end of my stamina, physically, but I took up his offer and jumped in with them, knowing that I wouldn't be able to step out at all for the rest of class.  I really didn't want to be that guy, the on…

Kiai!!!

I was trying to think of a title for my post today.  Most of the time I like to have a title that represents what I got out of the training, and sometimes it isn't necessarily what we focused on.  Last night we focused a lot on our kiai and spirit, but there was another topic that I almost named this post after, and I'd like to share a bit of it here. 

Warm-ups are a big part of our Kendo training.  Sensei pointed out, and I'm sure everyone would agree, that warm-ups are integral to being able to release our full potential for training sooner.  If we properly warm up, we're able to push ourselves early on, instead of using half of the class to get warmed up, as he put it.  I'm not sure how other clubs do it, but we have a three-stage process with our exercises.  We do exercises with the wrists and upper extremities, the legs and lower extremities, and the spine, and we do three levels of each which increase in intensity.  The physical exercise is only half of what …

Setting the Trap

I practiced on a Wednesday this week!  Not something that I have done for a while since I've been taking Wednesdays off as my self-appointed "rest day from Kendo," but last night I decided to go, and I'm really glad I did.  I only caught about half the class (I was helping out a kenshi with their brand new uniform), but that last hour was pretty intense.  They kept our group mixed the whole time, so I was able to practice with the higher Mudansha and Yudansha the whole time, including jigeiko at the end with a few of them.  There were some good times, some bad times, and I definitely pushed with all I had.

I jumped into the last hour of class, after helpiing out my fellow kenshi, so I didn't get a chance to do warm-ups or suburi. I'm not sure if this helped or hindered me, as I still felt just as exhausted after class as I do on any other day.  We were already in full swing with the training, and Ando Sensei was teaching.  He went over a lot of drills that ha…

Tighten Your Men Himo

Sensei talked a bit about the Tacoma taikai before class started, and the fact that everyone that went over did so well.  I'm sure that if you look around you can find results, and most of the people from our dojo that read this already know the results, but we did pretty well, to put it lightly.  In light of that fact, he wanted to remind everyone that we shouldn't relax at all because we won.  We should strive to work even harder, and those that competed should have a mindset as if they had lost each and every match.  He mentioned a saying that goes, "When you win, tighten your men himo."  So we should all be pushing even harder after a victory, not relaxing, and putting everything that we can into our practice.  On the flip side of that, though, he also wanted to advise us about pacing ourselves throughout practice.  We should always work hard and put everything we have into our training, but we should also be able to stretch ourselves out over the entire time, in…