Sunday, July 4, 2010

Back in Black, and Blue

I have missed training so much these past couple weeks. We had the dojo shut down for repairs on the floor. While it was for a good reason, the absence of training in my schedule was definitely leading to some withdrawals. In the off-time we did organize some outdoor training in the park. It was definitely a lot of fun, and it sounds like everyone enjoyed the time together to go over suburi and kata, but it did feel really good to get back to the dojo again.

The repaired floor was a lot better, but they did miss quite a few spots. We took a few minutes before class to mark as many of them as we could. I'm wondering if we'll have another period of downtime while they go back and repair all the spots they missed...

We started with warm-up exercises and suburi, then donned our Men and Kote and went into Kirikaeshi. I really emphasized slow, deliberate movements since it had been so long since I had done that drill. Large swings, good tenouchi and pauses on every hit. I still need to work the breathing pattern in a bit better, though.

Kihon (basic) Men, Kote, and Do drills were up next, and Sensei had us do three hits on each drill. I believe not only so we could concentrate on each hit more, but so that we could all work back into our normal practice routine. I'm sure that not all of us had kept up on the training while we were out, so this might have been a time to ease everyone back into the drills. Men and Kote felt good, Do felt ok. I didn't feel horrible with it, as I have so many other times, but I also didn't feel spectacular. If I were to give it a grade, it would have been a solid C.

Kote-Men and Kote-Do were up next. I thoroughly enjoyed Kote-Men, and while I was doing Kote-Do I actually felt pretty fast for it. I tried to concentrated on keeping my left hand centered and using it for the force while I direct my shinai around with my right hand. I was actually a little surprised at how fast I could hit Kote-Do and still feel in control. I guess all that extra suburi is paying off?

The final drills we did were a couple that we haven't done in a while. Kote-Nuki Men, Men-Debana Kote, and Kote-Kaeshi Men. For Kote-Nuki Men we stayed in place, and did fumikomi in place for the first few rounds, and then we moved during the fumikomi, either forward (at an angle) or backwards. For both Nuki Men and Debana Kote I had to focus on keeping my left foot from springing backwards when I went to hit. I'm still not really sure why I do this, but it's wasted movement and I've been working to get rid of it. Kaeshi Men, after a few rounds, felt pretty good. I've been doing the movement for some of my suburi drills, so incorporating it into this drill was a lot easier than I thought. Again, the first few drills were in place, and then we were allowed to move while hitting. I usually had to move backwards, since most of my partners were a lot faster than me and almost in my face by the time I was able to hit. I'll definitely work on being faster at this one.

The last of our training time was spent with waza-geiko drills, and one last round of Kirikaeshi. I used my time to work on Kaeshi Men a little more, and Do. I feel like my Do is getting stronger, and I think at this point I just need to let go of that mental block to allow me to hit it with more authority and commitment.

After class Sensei Sinclair made some comments on how we were going to be changing the way we approach waza this summer, and introduce a course of training that will hopefully be more efficient. I'm definitely looking forward to what's in store, and feel that my Kendo will be benefiting greatly from this.

A few thoughts:

Kirikaeshi: Keep up the work on the breathing, and learn to use it properly while going through this drill.

Kote: Look for that nice, solid popping sound from a good Kote strike.

Do: I think I'm going in the right direction as far as training, I just need to work on the mental block I mentioned above, and keep at it. It's a hard technique for me, but I feel the benefits will be worth it once I'm able to utilize it more effectively.

Kote-Men: Fumikomi in place on the first hit, and then explode forward. As Sensei pointed out, on this and others (such as Kote-Do), we want to be at about 30/70 on our hits. Light Kote, heavy Men.

Debana Kote: Hit my opponent on the way up, which I can do with some people, but others I will have to learn to anticipate the hit more.

Kaeshi Men: Remember to drive the left hand straight up and drop the shinai to my side, and when I rotate it around be sure to have it up in a strong position before I hit, not trying to bring it over my shoulder, which leads to too much right hand/elbow movement.

One more day off on Monday, and then back to our regular training schedule on Wednesday!

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