My walks for the past couple days have been rained out, but I was able to get in a nice long walk and suburi Tuesday evening. I find that I'm actually kind of enjoying walking now. It gives me a chance to relax, be relatively alone, listen to music, and think about everything that happens to cross my mind (which is mostly Kendo, since I walk to get better at Kendo).
Practice last night, in a nutshell, was tiring, but very satisfying. I had a couple of opportunities to work on my Do strikes with Takado Sensei, who gave me some really good advice on how to approach it. It's all about going back to the basics and starting from there. She had me step in and strike while my back foot came forward, being sure to put a lot of power into the hit and using my hips to drive forward and to the side, thus putting even more power in. By the time she was done helping I was able to get a very solid hit. Hopefully if I keep working on this I can translate it into my normal hit, complete with Fumikomi.
As usual, we started with warm-up drills and a few rounds of Kirikaeshi. I've really been working on using left hand for power and being more accurate and snapping my hits lately, and bringing the shinai all the way over my hit for nice big hits. I think that all the at-home suburi helps with this, as I feel that I'm controlling the kensen a lot more now. At least when I'm fresh and not tired =). Still need to have more speed for later, but that will come in time.
Takado Sensei had us all together as a big group (except for the Nito Kenshi, they are off doing their own training now. On a side note, it will be interesting to start incorporating Nito into our practices, and being able to face Nito players to get a feel for that). We went over basic hits (kihon), including Men, Kote, Do, Kote-Men, and Kote-Taiatari. I appreciate all the Taiatari drills we've had lately, since I'm a bigger guy and feel I can use this to my advantage, not only to drive opponents back but also to stand my ground when someone else runs into me. I've been trying to practice what Sean (McNally Sensei) and Takado Sensei have told me, about using my whole body for power and being sure to not stop myself but act as if I'm going through the opponent when I do Taiatari. It's going to take some getting used to.
Men strikes felt good. I did a few big Men before moving to doing small Men strikes, and again all the at-home practice feels like it's starting to show through. Kote also felt pretty, good, but still I need to remember to step across at the opponent's right foot when I strike. Every once in a while I still hit people's Shinai because I'm not stepping over while striking. It's a subtle movement, I just need to remember to do it.
Do. Where to begin. Still my big problem area at the moment. I'm glad for Takado's advice on this strike, and I'll be working a lot on it. I still feel very weak with it, but I guess one good thing is I feel that my follow through is pretty good. Or after I hit I move out of the way pretty fast, lol.
We had a couple of rounds of Uchikomi, in which we did 2x each Men, Kote-Taiatari-Hiki Men, Do, Kote-Men, and finally a good strong Men to finish out. I was actually pretty tired by this point already, but I gave it my all. Afterward Sean talked to me and said that my basics are so good he's starting to get picky, and that I should make sure that when I turn around immediately ready to go again. I know this is hard for me to do when I'm really tired, but I'll do my best from here on to practice it. I know that in taikai it will probably be a lifesaver.
After a short break we jumped into Kakari-geiko and then some jigeiko to finish things out. I was able to get through a couple of rounds of Kakari-geiko before I had to step out for just a while to catch my breath. I definitely need more endurance...
Jigeiko was very good tonight, even though I was very, very tired. I tried not to let it show but I'm sure that I was a bit slow. I tried some Oji Waza today, and I think I did ok. Some Nuki Men and Debana Kote mostly, but also some Suriage Men. I wonder, if I do Nuki Men and do the Fumikomi in place, will it still count as a valid hit? I tend to do this with people that are faster than me (Marek, I'm thinking about you buddy!). Right now I feel that I am still very new to all of this, but I'm starting to get in a few good hits here and there, and I'm happy for that. If I can get in a few now, and a few more later, and keep building on that then I'll be satisfied. As long as I can do my best Kendo than that's all I can ask for.
Some things to note:
Men: I don't know if I'm leaning or not. I kinda feel sometimes that I am, and that I have to try and sneak forward a bit before launching a Men strike, especially against taller people. Will have to check with a sempai to see if this is the case.
Do: Still working on it. Takado Sensei suggested breaking it down to the basics and working up from there, which I think I will do whenever I get the chance to do waza-geiko with people.
Kote-Men: Make my feet match my Kiai on this. Also the Men hit is the most important, so I should concentrate on getting their Shinai out of the center with the Kote hit. Right now I'm trying to hit both Kote and Men, and I think I'm missing the point of this drill a little bit.
Hiki Waza: I don't have to bring my hands up on a Hiki Kote, because they are already in a "loaded" position. By this I imagine a spring that is compressed and ready to strike. I just need to Fumikomi back and hit. Also for Hiki Men, I still need to lift my hands a little more.
Tsubazeriai: While here I need to do something to open people up. I wait too long for them to do a Hiki Waza or to back down and I try to launch an attack from there. I need to get in, try to find/create the opening and get out, and not spend so much time waiting.
That's all for today! This weekend is Saturday practice/team training, and then our Kendo demo during Bloomsday on Sunday!