Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Quiet Your Body, Quiet Your Mind

Here's a bit of good news; my foot is feeling better. I still had to step out of a few rounds of jigeiko last night, but my foot is feeling a lot better. Hopefully in another week the pain will be completely gone.

I was quite a bit early last night. I was downtown for a job interview and didn't want to drive all the way back to the valley and then all the way back out, so once 5 o'clock rolled around I headed to the dojo to get ready and to watch Iaido. I really wish I had the time and means to do Iaido, it is a very beautiful art. I enjoyed watching, and noting how fluid the movements were.

I jumped into intermediate class, as usual, and we went over Kihon Kata 1 and 3 in depth. I especially enjoyed the time spent on Harai Men, which is part of Kihon Kata 3. Sensei explained that the movements should stay within the "triangle" created by our shoulders and our head, and that that bokken/shinai tip shouldn't go outside of that triangle while performing Harai, which is a sudden sideways movement of the sword used to knock an opponent's sword out of the center, thus opening them up for a strike. Sensei had us do this drill with bokken, and then later on had a few of us suit up in bogu so that the intermediate kenshi could do the same drill on us with their shinai.

Advanced class started with Nihon Kata, and Sinclair Sensei had us do the set of kata that we were working on all in order, as if we were doing them for shinsa. We spent almost a whole hour on kata last night, which was very nice. At the end he had each of our pairs step out individually and demonstrate the kata we were working on. He then had a short question/answer session with us, and then had us point out some of the common mistakes throughout everyone's kata. The answers that came up were the speed/pace of the kata (we can always be slower with kata), the Shidachi leading instead of the Uchidachi leading, and the distance between partners. A couple of these are issues that have been mentioned to me individually, so they are points that I am actively working on at the moment (speed and distance).

With about half the class left, we grabbed our bogu and did a few variations on our normal drill routine. We started with Kirikaeshi, nice and slow since we hadn't done proper warm-ups, but in between each round of Kirikaeshi we did twenty Hayasuburi strikes. The first few were normal, but then we moved on to Kote Hayasuburi, and finally Do Hayasuburi. The Do Hayasuburi were definitely NOT easy, in my opinion. We also ended Kirikaeshi with a variation in which we hit Do instead of Men.

After splitting the Yudansha group out from ours, we continued on with Kote-Men drills. We did these for quite a while, leading into Jigeiko later on. During this time I worked on mixing small Kote, big Men strikes with small Kote, small Men strikes. Some of them I would do at a reasonably slow pace, so that I could really work on striking the targets correctly, and having my footwork match my strikes. Other times I tried for speed, tried to go as fast as I could. I noticed that my first fumikomi is very short on each of these strikes. Not quite in place, but very short. I should work on doing them with a Fumikomi in place next time, to see if I can speed it up even more.

I was able to do a few rounds of Jigeiko today before stepping out for a few to let my foot rest up. I concentrated on doing good Kendo, since we are still in our shinsa-geiko phase. I want to be able to have good movements and basics happen naturally in jigeiko, which will lead to it happening naturally in shiai and taikai settings. I tried to push through my opponent on each hit, and not get caught in tsubazeriai. I also worked on matching up my strikes with my Fumikomi, and having good follow-through. I threw in a few attempts at Do, as well. I've been trying to use it more and more, as I see the opportunity, too. Last night I was able to pull out a pretty good Kaeshi Do.

The last drill that we did was an endurance drill, and I stayed in for the first half of it. We did Kirikaeshi with thirty Sayu-Men, down and back across the dojo floor, and then did thirty Hayasuburi in place before switching and having the other person go.

After bowing out, Sensei talked to us about calming our minds and bodies, and explained that a lot of times we go from training hard straight to being still and sitting and being calm, and said that it's in exercise in learning how to control our bodies and minds. He said that Seiza is used because it's a positive position (once we get used to sitting in Seiza), and that Mokuso is not a time to meditate, but a time to sit and quiet our minds and get control of our bodies and our breathing. He said that we have to quiet our bodies first, by controlling our breathing and composing ourselves, and that will lead to quieting our minds. He explained it as a cyclical cycle, one influencing and helping the next part with it all coming back to together and starting over. Definitely some good thoughts and ideas to put into practice.

A few thoughts:

Kirikaeshi: Harvey pointed out that I was dropping my shinai tip a bit too far back. I should work on keeping it between parallel to the floor and at a forty-five degree angle. Also I'm still working on breathing. For some reason that is a very hard thing for me to do...

Kote-Men: Try doing the first Fumikomi step right in place, and then stepping for the next one. I haven't been doing this lately, but I felt like when I would do it before it was a lot faster, so I'll try to incorporate this footwork again and see how I do with it.

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