What a busy weekend I had! Happiness and sorrow and good times and farewells and training and bowing and even a few tears here and there.
Saturday was Takado Sensei's last practice with us, for now. I say for now, because we are all hoping very much that she is able to at least come back and visit us when time and circumstances allow her to. I, for one, am very grateful I was able to meet and train under such a great sensei, and great person, and I know the rest of our dojo feels the same way. It's going to be hard to imagine training without her from now on, as she's been a big part of our dojo for the past few years (even before I came back), and she's been a big inspiration to myself and everyone else. I hope to keep her teaching and advice close and use it to flourish in my Kendo training.
I arrived early at the dojo on Saturday, not wanting to miss a thing that happened that day, and was honored to be part of another kenshi's testing that day. He is in the intermediate class, and was testing to move into the advanced/pre-bogu class. He passed, so it will be fun to have another person in our advanced class soon.
A LOT of people showed up for advanced class. Word went out to everyone that it was Takado Sensei's last day, so almost every member of our dojo showed up for a final chance to practice and do jigeiko with her. I was lucky enough to have a few rotations with her, including a few drills and one last round of jigeiko.
We started off with Sinclair Sensei leading us through exercises and suburi to warm up, and then moved into Kirikaeshi, Men, Kote, and Do drills. Men and Kote feel ok right now, Do is starting to feel better. I think taking the shorter step really helps. One of my big problems, I think, is that I was trying to over-extend the hit, so it made me do all kinds of weird things, including lifting my foot too high on my fumikomi. I will keep working on this and see what I can do to fix it.
We moved onto a few Kote drills, including Kote-Men, and Debana Kote, and a final Nuki Do, before settling in for a LOT of jigeiko. Sensei wanted to make sure and give everyone and opportunity to do jigeiko with Takado Sensei. My match with her was, well, enlightening! I tried to hit her, but the only times I was able to were when she gave me openings. She told me not to think, not to stop, not to hesitate, but to go and hit. I'll definitely have to work on that. Seeing the opening and taking it before it goes away. I second-guess myself a lot during jigeiko, and in that small hesitation I lose a lot of opportunities. I will continue to work on this. Another point to note was my jigeiko with Billy Joe. I actually tried and had a successful Nuki Do on him, except that I didn't think I was going to get it so my hit was super soft. I had everything else, though. The timing, the hit, the step, so next time I need to fully commit to it (sutemi).
We ended class with Kakarigeiko, and we all had a chance to say our goodbyes to Takado Sensei at the dojo. They had planned a going away party for her, as well, which most of us attended. It was fun to get together with my fellow kenshi for food, drinks, good company and conversations, and to wish Takado Sensei well on the next stage of her life. I, for one, will work hard with my training, and I know that we're all looking forward to seeing her again!
A few thoughts from the day:
Men: Again, be sure that I'm doing a straight cut, up and down.
Do: Remember to keep my fumikomi small, and make a small motion with the cut, much like the small Kote cut. Also against moving opponents, time it so that I'm hitting on the side instead of the front of the Do. Sensei pointed out that a lot of times we do less than what we practice, so if we practice hitting the front of the Do we'll get less than that when it counts. So be sure to practice correct form.
Fumikomi: I had a chance to watch one of my matches online, and from what I could see I did some weird things with fumikomi, including not doing fumikomi at all (more of a step forward with no force behind it), and also on one of my Kote strikes my left foot actually went back as I did fumikomi, which caused me to pause for a second before pushing forward. I need to see if I could work on this during practice and jigeiko.
I'm looking forward to more practice, although it will definitely be different without one of our best teachers there now.