So life blessed me with sickness at the beginning of this week, proving once again that Murphy's Laws do exist. One of these days that Murphy guy is going to get what's coming to him. I am, however, recovering smoothly, and should be back to 100% by Saturday, just in time for the PNKF taikai. I've been looking forward to this one for a while, and I'm am going to relish the opportunity to demonstrate good quality Kendo (hopefully, in my opinion it is) with others from around our region. I'll be sure to keep notes so I can give a good playback of what went on when I return. But for now, onward!
During our warmups Sensei talked about how we should be performing suburi. The way I understand is that we shouldn't go full force, 100% with each strike. But we should definitely not be lazy about it, either. He demonstrated the difference to us. He was able to strike at the same time as his son, even though he started later. We should have quick, crisp strikes, good footwork, and not be lazy about any of our movements. This helps us to get into the right mindset for training, as well. If we are lazy, we'll have a lazy mindset. I've mentioned this concept before when speaking about mokuso and breathing, and that we use it to calm the body down and the mind will follow. Same concept for warmups, so we should be active and focused to help us warm up both our bodies and our minds.
After Kirikaeshi and some kihon drills (Men, Kote-Men, Do), our focus shifted to Oji Waza. We went over Nuki Men and Nuki Do, Kaeshi Do, Debana Kote, and using Kote-Men to neutralize our partner's strike and counter attack.
Nuki Men and Nuku Do both felt pretty good tonight. I can still work on my timing and my speed, but I felt that I was better at reading my opponent so I could see that moment that they began to move to strike. Sensei made a point to let us know that with Nuki Men our movements should be fairly big, so we can move our Kote out of the way of our partner's strikes. Some people try to do a small movement with their hands and end up not getting out of the way in time, so we should be sure to bring our hands above our heads, like we are performing a medium strike (and remember to not let the tip drop, this is wasted movement). With Nuki Do a small movement is preferred, the small "heart" or "C" shape that Sensei has used as examples before. Fumikomi should be short, as I've mentioned before, due to the Motodachi closing distance with their strike as well. Sensei also pointed out that hips and body should be turned to the side as you strike, but your eyes still be on your opponent until you move past them. Eyes should always be level and not looking down, because this tends to bring the head down and then the body will begin to lean forward. So much to think about!
I still need to work on my timing for Kaeshi Do, as well. I can get the block, but bringing my shinai down to strike is a bit awkward still. Sensei said to catch the other person's shinai early so that you have time to bring your own shinai around for the counter-strike. Most of my opponents were too fast for me to get the proper strike in after blocking, so I might need to try stepping even further to the side after I block.
We worked a little on Hiki Waza before we went into jigeiko. One of the drills we did focused on multiple hits. the Motodachi was instructed to try and not get hit, while the Kakarite was told to try and get a good hit, and try to go for multiple hits to throw the other person off. I landed a very nice Men strike on one of my opponents after missing with Hiki Men and drawing their shinai down with a Kote strike. I'd love to put in some good practice time with this sometime in the future, but I was only able to get in a few rotations with it.
Jigeiko was, well, it was jigeiko. Nothing really special to report on it. I was doing my best to not push myself too hard so that I could last the entire time, but I did feel like I'm still learning, little by little, to capitalize on openings that I see and/or create. This will serve me well as I advance in my Kendo life. I say life, because it's something that I hope to hold onto for the rest of my life.
A few thoughts:
Nuki: As I stated before, when going for Men make I need to make sure my hands are up and clear of my partner's strike. With Do I should work on a shorter fumikomi to the side, but still keep my eyes on my opponent. And don't lean into the hit!
Kaeshi: Still needs a lot of work. Maybe more shinai speed will help. I know I was holding back a little bit last night, so next time I'll be sure to put 100% effort into the shinai speed. Also I can step more to the side to compensate for my opponent closing distance, and turn my hips when I strike.
I can't wait to return from this weekend with pictures, maybe some video, and a nice story to tell!