Last night was another endurance lesson. I'm still fighting with this sore throat and stuff in my lungs (yuck). It's hard to keep the pace up when you can't breathe very well to start. Also last night I managed to cut my foot open, right on the ball of my left foot. After some heavy tape application I was back on the floor, but it definitely affected my fumikomi. So what did I do to counter-balance this? I worked on having a high spirit every second that I was out there. I think that I succeeded, for the most part. I remember Sinclair Sensei telling us about how our kiai should be pushed out from our abdomen and "center", and I saw a video yesterday in which Sumi Sensei talks about the same thing. Kiai isn't something that I've really focused my attention on before, it just sort of happened. What I did last night was let it happen, but to make sure it was happening in the right way by pushing it up from my center.
We went over some new drills last night, and a couple that we haven't done in a while. The focus of the night seemed to be on Kote drills, including Kote, Hiki Kote, and Debana Kote. I felt pretty good with all three, and I remembered to pressure forward on the Kote strike and then push through as hard and fast as I could. I felt like I was pushing the Kote out more, instead of just bringing my shinai up and then down to strike. With Hiki Kote I think I still need more explosion there. Sensei has told me before that I need to eliminate the pause from between tsubazeriai and actually striking the target, and I think it's creeping back in. I'll remember to work on this later.
Debana Kote also felt ok. I was able to strike in a straight forward position like we have been going over lately, but Sensei advised me that I need to turn faster after striking so I am in a ready position more quickly. This will help me to set up to strike or counter as needed. So after the strike I should immediately turn to face my partner again.
We worked on Do a bit last night, too, going over Kote-Do and Men-Taiatari-Hiki Do drills. I have to say, when I look back over the past few months up until now I can see how drastically my Do strike has changed. My speed and power behind it (not too much power, hopefully), as well as accuracy. More often than not I hear the satisfying cracking sound of shinai on Do contact and I smile a bit on the inside each time. It was such a problem for me before, and now I feel comfortable using it. I even threw it out in jigeiko a few times last night, one notable time against McNally Sensei when he went for Men.
I can feel the emphasis I put on flexible wrists coming into play more and more, and it's starting to feel like something I'm doing without any thought, so I think I can safely check that issue off of my list and move onto something else. Also I do feel like my posture is straighter while I move and strike, but I'll have to ask Sensei or someone else about it so I can tell for sure. Both of these issues I've been working on pretty solidly for the past couple of weeks. I'm hoping that I'm working on these issues in an effective manner, especially after Sensei talked to me about the primary basics theory. I want to train smarter, not harder. Hard training will get me results in the end, but smart and efficient training will get me results in less time.
I was able to do jigeiko with the Yudansha again last night, and I gave it my all. Despite that, though, I felt slow, sluggish, and like I was a bit out of it. Not sure why. I kept getting distracted by things outside of the practice. I'm usually pretty good at focusing on what's going on in front of me when I train, but last night I was off in space most of the time it seemed. I'm going to chalk that one up to a one-off issue, since I don't normally do it, but I would love to try and figure out why I was doing it in the first place. I was still able to train and I got in a few hits here and there (although Andy and Dan seemed to dance around my hits pretty effectively). Sensei gave me some advice about jigeiko, and said that after I strike I should try to move through on the side instead of moving straight through my partner, so I don't "punch" them in the face as I more forward. I think I did this to Ando Sensei accidentally a couple of times, so I'll try to remember that for the future.
There were good times and bad times last night, but I feel that despite the bad and my own health and other issues I still did well. My exhaustion was a sign that I, yet again, pushed hard during practice, and I feel like I reached another level with my spirit.
A few thoughts:
Kamae: McNally Sensei told me that I have a great kamae, perfectly straight and centered, but he said that for people at a higher rank than me that leaves my Kote wide open. He said that I should try moving my kamae just a bit. He suggested moving the kensen over towards my partner's left eye, instead of right at their throat. This subtle movement will help to shield my kote from strikes. I might play with this in the future to see how effective it is for me.
Kote: Again, that feeling of pushing the Kote out instead of just down was good last night. I think I got the nod (or grunt) of approval from McNally Sensei on the Kote drills. I just need to make sure my left hand is coming up high enough for the strike before driving the shinai down and forward.
Jigeiko: I'm doing good with keeping my hands lower now during my follow-through, but I need to make sure that I'm moving to the side of my partner during jigeiko, instead of going straight through them.