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What's the best way to relax? Ask McNally Sensei!

I feel good today! I was up a bit late last night, but I dragged myself out of bed regardless to go jogging this morning. I'm able to jog! A little bit, but still it's a LOT better than before when I couldn't jog or hardly even walk long distances without any pain. Yes, go me!!

As the title implies, Sean (McNally Sensei) led class last night, and he wanted to make sure that we were all very relaxed during class. So what did he do? After warm-up exercises he had us do suburi. A LOT of suburi. 50 sets of Jogeburi (swings using full range of motion behind our back and forward), Men, Kote, Sayu-Men (Tai-a sabaki), Katate Men (Only 20 for each hand). We then partnered up to do a hitting drill down and back across the dojo floor. One person would hold Kote height, and the other would fumikomi with each step and hit Kote with each step, as fast as we could. Finally we did 5x5's, down and back. If you don't know what 5x5's are...well, you're lucky!

After donning our Men, we proceeded to do some modified Kirikaeshi. we did 10, 20, or 30, depending on what level we thought we could do. I did two sets of 20 and a 10 to finish it out. By this time I think most people were very, VERY tired, and so Sean decided to start class properly =).

Next up were some basic Men, Kote, and Do drills. We were instructed to take our time, and do 3 instead of the usual 5. Sean focused on keeping the relaxed feeling, the feeling of letting our shinai slip through our hands, but able to apply proper Tenouchi when needed (i.e. when striking or when someone tries to knock our shinai out of the way). Being so relaxed made my hits feel really good, especially on Do. I tried to remember to do small steps, which I think I succeeded at, but I noticed that my hits were a little's a see-saw, back and forth with me!

We moved onto some Debana Kote drills, and again emphasis was on staying relaxed. We were not supposed to be concerned with getting hit (as the Kakarite) but instead of having relaxed, proper movement. As the Motodachi we were supposed to try and hit Men, but also to keep it relaxed. Interesting enough, we hit faster when relaxed than when our muscles are all tightened up, but keeping ourselves relaxed through the strike is a very hard task, indeed.

A couple of drills that I haven't done in a while finished out our time before we moved onto waza-geiko. The first was a "tap" drill. Motodachi held up their hand so that their Kote was flat in front of them, and Kakarite did a hopping motion like we do in jigeiko, and hit Men going forward, and Kote going back. We started out slow, and then built up our speed, while keeping our shoulders and muscles relaxed. We were instructed to go as fast as we could while remaining relaxed, and at that point to strike 10 times and then push through to finish. I actually enjoyed this drill very much, it was a nice change of pace. The last drill we did involved Kakarite hitting Men and going through, then turning around and immediately trying for an opening to hit again. Motodachi was instructed to chase the Kakarite after the initial Men strike, and then to try and find their own opening when the Kakarite turned around. I had a lot of fun with this drill, I hope we do more like it in the future.

During Waza-geiko I worked on Nuki Do. Trying to get the correct timing, the correct body movement, the correct hand position...basically everything. I feel like I'm getting better at it, but at the same time I find more and more to work on.

After a short break, we finished our night with jigeiko. I was able to practice with a few people before I had to step out due to my heel. I'm putting way too much weight on my right heel when I do fumikomi, so I'll have to work on distributing my weight more evenly over my foot. Some ice should help get me back into practice on Wednesday night, though.

A few thoughts:

Men: Make sure that on small Men strikes I'm lifting my hands up high enough, but not too high. I'm trying to cut out the wasted movement. Also I need to make sure that I'm hitting as my hands are coming down, not on the way up.

Kote: I think I can take a much smaller step on this strike. It seems that when I'm at the proper distance I can reach my opponent's Kote without much forward movement at all. Also on small strikes here make sure my hand is coming far enough up to be valid.

Do: Still a lot of work to be done, but I think I'm getting it. Slowly but surely. Still focus on bringing my left hand to center, and focus on a smaller fumikomi step.


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