I think I did a little too much last night. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and I paid for that with a small blister on my foot. Not a big one, which is good, but still. I think on Wednesday night I'll skip intermediate practice so I can heal up a bit. Intermediate last night was good, and tiring, but all of the extra footwork got to me, and I had to sit out during jigeiko in the advanced class because I could feel the blister starting.
Class last night started with Nihon Kata. I partnered up with my buddy Billy Joe, and we went through kata 1 - 3. We each took our time, and went through both Uchidachi and Shidachi sides many times over. I focused on keeping that connection with him, and doing each movement precisely and deliberately. Trying to make each movement stand out as I performed them. Afterward we were told to pick one kata with our partner to demonstrate in front of the class. We decided on Ipponme, and I was Shidachi for it. Ando Sensei gave us some advice on Ipponme when we were done, pointing out that it wasn't anything that we would find in a book or in the "rules" of kata. He said that the Uchidachi, when they step back after striking Men, should take one small step and then one bigger step to get proper distance. That way there is less fumbling around trying to find the distance when coming back to kamae. I'll remember this for later on...
We put our bokken away, grabbed on Men, Kote, and shinai, and started uchikomi drills right off the bat. We did a few rounds of Kirikaeshi, and then did Kirikaeshi Do and Kirikaeshi Kote. If anyone is not sure what these are, please see my previous post here. We then moved into a variation of Kirikaeshi that I've never done. I will try to explain the best I can, but it's something that has to be seen more than written about. We hit Men and came to taiatari, like normal, but then we would do a "tap, tap, hit" rhythm. We would tap Sayu-Men on the right side of our partner's Men twice, and then hit Sayu-Men on the left side of their Men. We repeated this twice going forward, and twice going back. Having never done this drill before, I took my time with it.
The next couple drills were brand new to me, too. The first was Kote-Kote-Men. Again we used the "tap, tap, hit" rhythm, but we added in footwork for this one. Fumikomi steps for each hit. I'm pretty sure that while I did it I missed a fumikomi here and there, so some of my strikes involved three strikes, but only two steps. The way I approached this drill was to use my first hit to knock my partner's shinai out of the way. Then I would follow up with a Kote strike and Men strike.
The next drill was similar. We performed Kote-Kote-Do. Again, I used the first strike to disrupt my partner's shinai, and then struck Kote and Do. And again I'm pretty sure a few of them involved only two steps. I might take some time before class in the future to work on this. Basically, the two steps for Kote should be in place or very, VERY short, and then a short fumikomi step for the Men/Do/whatever the target is at the end.
We moved onto some more familiar drills at this point. Kote-Do, and finally Do. Kote-Do, after doing the previous drills, felt a lot better, as did Do. I feel like I'm a lot more accurate with my Do strikes these days. Most likely due to having done hundreds of them by this point in time. I look forward to hundreds, and thousands, more to help refine my technique. I'm still a bit close on Do, which is helping me to take a shorter fumikomi step. After I get comfortable there I'll start backing up to hit from further out. Also I feel like I'm whipping my shinai around a bit better these days. Doing the proper "C" or "half-heart" shape that Sensei talks about. Now I need to be sure I'm hitting the side of the Do and not the front.
We did a full-class drill next. We all lined up on one side of the dojo and had one attacker in the middle. Everyone else would go through and try to hit Men, while the attacker countered with Kaeshi Do. I did my best to hit Men, changing it up a bit depending on which kenshi I was going against. When it was my turn I focused on blocking and pivoting my shinai around, like McNally Sensei showed us on Saturday. I'm not sure how accurate I was with the Do strike itself. I'd like to say that I was very accurate, but I'm not sure. The few people I asked, though, did say that I hit their Do. On the very last person I thought I was done so I started to bow to her and she nailed me right in the head! That's what I get for spacing off...
Waza-geiko was up next, and was the last set of drills I was able to do last night. I decided to use my time to concentrate on Nuki Do, with fairly positive results. On a few people I was able to tell when they were about to hit, so I moved almost exactly as they did. Others, the faster ones (Marek), I was still able to hit Do, but I was VERY close to being hit myself.
As I mentioned earlier, I had to step out and skip jigeiko last night due to my foot, but hopefully on Wednesday night I'll be back for more, with our without sports tape.
A few thoughts:
San-dan Waza: Be sure that I'm actually doing fumikomi for each hit. First couple should be in place (or relative to where my partner/opponent is). Last one should be pushing me forward.
Do: Make sure I'm hitting the side of the Do, not the front. Also concentrate on the footwork, to make sure that I'm not popping my foot up on the Do strike. I can still feel myself doing that here and there.
Nuki Waza: For Do, with faster opponents, I should step more to the side instead of forward. It doesn't have to be a big step, just enough to get out of their way. I think my shinai speed is pretty good at this point, so I can concentrate more on the footwork.