First off, injuries suck. A lot. I'm currently dealing with a jammed thumb, which I just touched up a bit last night (by running into another opponent during jigeiko), a bruised heel, and a bruised elbow from a missed Do strike. Not the best week for me, so I will definitely keep it light on Saturday if I go. I'm thinking about missing that practice so that I can let my body heal up a bit more. As much as I hate the thought of missing practice, I'd rather be able to give it my all then have to be overly careful and cautious due to injuries that I sustained. Plus I'm hoping if I have more time to heal than I'll be able to recover more quickly.
Last night I really didn't feel like myself, either. I felt distracted and a bit down, due to outside circumstances, but I continued to practice as best I could. I could definitely tell, though, that I didn't have my whole heart into it. But when you do Kendo for any amount of time, I guess it's unavoidable that you will have days where you just feel off.
Since we're done with Shinsa for the moment, we've gone back to our normal routine, which includes warm-ups at the beginning, so after we finished with those we moved into Kirikaeshi. I was a bit faster on my strikes this time, since I had warmed up in the intermediate class earlier, but I still tried to focus on snapping my shinai and having a solid hit at the end with a pause. I'm also still working on my breathing for this exercise, trying to get it down to 5 breaths. It seems to be a losing battle, so I hope that I'm making progress, even minor improvements each time.
Men-uchi drills were up next, and I used a combination of medium and small strikes throughout my rotations. I also played with striking from to-ma and uchi-ma, and tried to carry my kiai throughout the whole movement, as Stroud Sensei pointed out on Monday. Sean also reiterated for us, explaining that we should have a nice long kiai that flows into our strike so that we can avoid the habit of breathing in right before we strike. If we pick up this habit, then a perceptive opponent can use that to their advantage, and strike while we are breathing in. Breathing in is not a "ready" position, and it's hard to strike effectively while doing it.
We moved into Kote-Men next, and again I used a combination of small/big, and small/small strikes throughout. I'm trying hard to shorten up my Kote step, so that I don't end up burying my shinai in my partner's face, and I'm also trying to focus on hitting while my shinai is coming down, instead of popping the hit while the shinai is traveling up. I felt pretty good with the Men strike at the end, I just have to concentrate on getting that Kote strike down.
We moved into waza-geiko at this point, and I stepped out briefly to tape up my foot. Oh yes, I'm still working with blister, as well... After jumping back in, I worked, briefly, on Shomen strikes. I tried to have a good flow to my strike, and worked on pressuring forward during the strike, again as Stroud Sensei pointed out to us on Monday. He definitely had a lot of good advice and information for us, and I'm doing my best to apply that to my Kendo.
The next drill was Ai-Men, which I haven't done much before, but I went over during Saturday's practice and post. My partners for this drill were Billy and Jordan. Billy gave me some really good advice, as well. He said that I was moving to the side before I even started to strike, and that was causing my strike to miss and his to miss, as well (I kept getting hit in the shoulder). He said that I need to hit right down the center and not deviate from that until after I strike. I can then position myself to move to the side of my partner/opponent and follow-through that way, but everything up to the strike should be done down the center, as straight as possible. I focused on this with Jordan, and was able to get a few good hits on him, although I have a feeling it was because I have a reach advantage over him.
After a short break, and some kakari-geiko between a couple people, we did one last endurance drill (Kirikaeshi x60, yikes), and then finished out our training time with jigeiko. I was only able to do a few drills, because I ended up jamming my thumb again, but I received some good advice during a few of my matches. While fighting Jeff, he pointed out that I tend to lean when I strike, and it telegraphs my intentions. He said that I should work to eliminate that and hit from a perfectly straight position. The second piece of info I received was while fighting Harvey. He said that I had really good timing with my hits, but that I need to work on being more explosive after the hit. I took this info, and hit a really good Kote on my final strike with him. After striking his Kote, I tried to move as fast as I could past him, while keeping a good kiai going. It worked rather well, and I'll try to incorporate that into future jigeiko.
A few thoughts:
Jigeiko: Just a few general thoughts and pieces of advice that can be used throughout my Kendo. I should make sure to not lean during my strikes, and instead strike from a straight position. I should also be more explosive on my follow-through.
Men: Continue to work on pressuring forward during this strike, which I can then use in my other strikes.
Kote: As it relates to Kote-Men, I should work on shortening up my fumikomi step for this strike, and also be sure that on the small Kote my hands are coming up to my chest height, and not just striking from the kamae position.
Ai-Men: Work to hit Shomen, keep the center until I strike, and then move past my opponent.