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Showing posts from 2011

"Train Like You Fight..."

We have a motto in our dojo, which I'm sure that some of you have heard in one form or another.  Our motto is "Train like you fight, fight like you train," and basically means that you should always gives 100% no matter what you are doing.  If you train and give it your all every time then you will always be ready to go out and do your best.  But if you are lazy and don't train as hard as you can or hold yourself back for some reason then that can also come out when you are in a match and you can end up being lazy there, as well.  I try to remember this motto each time I'm out there, not only for myself but for the people that I train with.  If I give my all there are obvious improvements that come from that for me, but if I give my all to everyone that I train with each time then they also benefit from that. 

I believe that this was the theme of last night's practice, which Billy led us through.  We didn't do too much in terms of variety, but he made sur…

Greetings To A New Decade

This past Wednesday, December 14th was my birthday.  I am now out of my twenties and taking my first steps into my thirties.  While this was, at first, a scary thought to me and actually kind of stressed me out quite a bit, I woke up on Wednesday morning and thought about it for a while.  And I decided to push all of that doubt and depression and everything that was trying to affect me out of my head and out of my life.  I made a decision that day that I was not going to go into my thirties with that kind of attitude.  I was going to have a positive outlook and go in on a high note and work to make this next decade even better than the last.  I have to admit that my twenties had their ups and downs, not unlike a rollercoaster.  I had a lot of big "life events" happen, some good and some bad, but despite all of that I've kept on.  I've stumbled and fallen and picked myself up, sometimes on my own and sometimes with the help of friends and family.  I have always tried …

Tsuki

I had a short break from practice on Monday, taking the night off to get some errands done and recharge a bit.  So when I went to practice last night I was definitely ready to go and give it my all.  I think I succeeded in that aspect.  The night started off with me teaching the intermediate class.  I went over some kirikaeshi, kihon drills, and hiki waza drills with them, and also tried to talk a little about keeping a connection with our partner while training.  Especially when we go through the drills and turn to face them again.  I tried to relay the importance of turning and being ready at that second, and I hope I got the point across.  Wendy said she touched on it with them on Monday and I tried to continue that theme last night, instructing them that when they turn they want to come back to kamae and have a good stance as soon as they turn, not after turning and shuffling backwards or turning and dropping their shinai down and then coming back to kamae.  All of th…

Immovable Mind

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday (Everyone that celebrates Thanksgiving, at least).  We had no official classes last week due to the holiday, but that didn't stop us from having some super intense "unofficial" classes.  Thank you to Ando Sensei for running us through some drills and giving us all some good, long jigeiko sessions!

Last night I had a bit of a revelation.  An epiphany, if you will.  One of those "Aha!" moments.  And it was just more proof that sometimes when we are taught certain things or given certain lessons they won't always make sense to us until much, much later down the road.  What, exactly, am I talking about?

Fudoshin is a Japanese term that means "Immovable mind."  This idea was explained to me probably about a year ago by my sensei and at the time I didn't do much with it.  Whether I didn't fully understand it or I was focusing on other issues that I had in Kendo I cannot say, but it was a conc…

Kent Taikai 2011

(All photos courtesy of T. Patana - Sno-King)

This past weekend our dojo made its way over the mountains and across the state to attend the 15th Annual Kent Taikai.  This time around we didn't train on Friday night, instead opting to have a relaxed trip over and an evening of hanging out at the hotel and relaxing so we were all fresh and ready for the tournament on Saturday.


Saturday arrived and I felt pretty good.  I tried to remember to have a relaxed, carefree attitude about the day's events, instead just focusing on doing my best throughout the day.  I was able to compete not only in the individual matches in the 1-3 Kyu division, but Sinclair Sensei also decided to put me on the Spokane A team for the Senior Team division.  That not only meant more matches for me, but also matches against people that could range from 0 Kyu up to 3 Dan (I believe 3 Dan was the highest we had people competing at that tournament).  The juniors and junior teams came and went and I got to see…

A Time To Reflect

Recently I had a short hiatus from Kendo practice.  I had real-world things to take care of (errands, etc) that needed to get done, but during that time I was able to take a step back to reflect on my current standing with Kendo.  One thing I realized is that sometimes I push myself too far.  I try to do too much too often and it wears me out.  Not only physically but mentally, as well, and when I'm in that kind of position it's impossible to practice at full spirit and energy.  I started practicing Kendo, and continue to do so, because I love Kendo.  I love the physical and mental aspects.  I love the people, both at my home dojo and the friends that I've made abroad.  I love the culture and heritage and I love that the more I practice the more those qualities from Kendo that I learn start to reflect in my everyday life.  I need to remember these points and keep them at the forefront of my mind, and I think sometimes a break is good for me, maybe even necessary, so that I…

PNKF Taikai 2011

This weekend we had our annual PNKF Taikai in Seattle, WA.  For us Spokane member is meant not only the tournament itself, but a full weekend of travel and Kendo.  We left Friday afternoon from Spokane and arrived in time for practice with our friends at the Bellevue dojo.  Jeff Marsten Sensei gave us the time for open floor that night and I was able to do jigeiko with some old friends as well as some new friends.  We also had a special treat; the Hawaiian team joined us all at Bellevue, as well.  They were impressive, to say the least, and all had very fast, very strong Kendo.  Seeing skill like that in person is always inspiring and gives me goals to shoot for in my own development.  Afterward we all headed back to our hotel for a night of rest and relaxation (and dinner!).

The next day was tournament time.  We headed out and arrived early to the site so that we could change and warm-up before everything started.  This year was my first time in the 3-1 Kyu division at this taikai, b…

Small But Effective

We had a small, intimate class last night, with only 8 of us training, but having small classes can be advantageous for those of us that are able to attend.  A lot of times we're able to do different drills, or focus on different things that we wouldn't normally focus on, or even get different instruction on different area of Kendo or techniques or things of that nature.  Last night we were able to do a whole mixed bag of drills that focused mainly on breathing correctly while striking and on keeping our centers underneath us and moving from there. 

After warm-ups and Kirikaeshi we got into Men drills, with the emphasis on breathing.  Ideally we should be able to take a big breath in and then let it out slowly before we attack so that we don't get into a habit of "Breathe in, lift shinai.  Breathe out, strike."  This is very inefficient and slow, so we should work to take a big breath in and then slowly let it out so that we always have that breath to strike with…

A Little Something Extra

Oh how I love new ideas.  Or going over old ideas again in a new light.  Or applying those ideas to techniques that I already know to give them a bit of a different focus.  Know what I mean?  Last night was all about spirit.  Spirit in our kiai.  Spirit in our strikes.  Spirit in our follow-through and zanshin.  Billy led the group and wanted us to focus on this sometimes overlooked but VERY important part of Kendo training.

After warm-ups and Kirikaeshi we jumped into Men strikes, which we focused on for most of the night.  Not only just the basic strikes (Hit and go through, repeat), but also on Ai-Men and on Debana Men.  Billy brought up a couple of terms that he says are often used when talking about someone's technique (please excuse me if these are misspelled).  The terms were Umae and Tsuyo.  Umae, as I understood it, was used to refer to someone with a lot of technical prowess; someone who knows lot of different techniques and is very skilled with them.  Tsuyo, on the othe…

Student And Teacher

I believe that I will always be a Kendo student.  There's always going to be someone that can teach me more about my chosen art.  But lately I've also been fulfilling the role of teacher to the newer members that we have.  Not that I haven't ever done this before, but it's been more frequent lately.  If I'm not helping out with the beginning or intermediate classes I'm filling in for Sensei or Wendy while they attend to other responsibilities that they have.  I am always willing to help in this way as I enjoy exploring the teaching side of Kendo, and it's a great way for me to see how much I know and don't know.  How much I understand and how many questions I still have.  And also how effective I am at relaying what I have learned to others in a way that makes sense.  I'm definitely at that stage where I teach what I know and how I was taught.  I don't try to put my own spin on things, I just try to remember how I was taught and the general feel…

Spokane Kendo and SWAT?!

Sometimes the members of Spokane Kendo Club enjoy things other than hitting each other in the head with large bamboo swords.  We get together for barbecues and outings and parties and all kinds of other things that are not Kendo-related.  Including, yesterday, an awesome opportunity to "play" with the Spokane SWAT team!

About a dozen members of our club, including myself, volunteered to be "suspects" so that the new SWAT members could have some real training.  They split us up into two groups and used two different buildings, one of them being our new dojo.  Our group had seven people in it and they hid us in various places throughout different areas of the building and then let the SWAT team come and clear the areas and find all of us.  It was great fun, and when they found us they would detain us (usually with actual handcuffs), possibly interrogate us a bit for information and then escort us out of the building.  We did a few different rounds with them, each tim…

Working Through Sickness

This week I've been sick.  It's been a rollercoaster for the last few days; better at times, worse at others, but I've been able to make practice on Monday and Wednesday night and I'm glad I was able to do it.  It definitely helped me feel better and also accomplished as I was still able to give everything I had at the time.  I had to cut down on some drills, do a little less than I normally do, and take a couple of breaks for water due to my dry/sore throat, but I made it.  One of the good things about practicing while under the weather, though, is that I felt relaxed.  Really relaxed, so even though I had less energy than normal I was able to keep up with everything going on because of it.  I have a bad habit of tensing up but this has helped me to relax and just let me body flow with the drills.

Last night was a good night.  Even though I was tired I felt like I could have gone for another practice.  Or at least half of one.  We started with Kirikaeshi, as we normal…

Feeling Old

Last night's practice was tough.  Not necessarily because the drills were tough or we did a lot of endurance stuff, but because I was fighting with myself last night.  As hard as it is to fight against the younger, faster guys in the dojo, my biggest challenge last night was my own body.  I was definitely feeling like an old man, and I'm only 29!  I was dealing with a sore right shoulder going into class, and partway through my hips, especially the right side, began hurting and getting sore.  Also about partway through class I started getting heartburn and that was not helping anything.  So I did have to step out for a couple rounds to stretch my legs and let my hip rest a bit, but I jumped back in as soon as I felt ready and finished out as strong as I could.

We started out with warm-ups, which I led, and then immediately grabbed our bogu and went into rounds of kirikaeshi, both the first rhythm (stopping with each strike), and the second rhythm (continuous motion while keepi…

And Now For A Different Angle

This last week we have really be practicing a lot on using various angles to strike.  First we started out with just Kote, about a month or two ago, and now we have included Men into the equation.  We've been taking about half an hour at the beginning of each class (after warm-ups) to go over striking the left and right Kote and Men on an angled plane.  First warm-ups to loosen up our wrists and get our arms used to the motions, and then controlled strikes, usually on a count, to the target of the current drill.  Sensei explained to us that they are very valid targets but that we usually don't use them or even think of them because most of our time has been spent striking straight down the center.  But being able to strike a good straight Men or Kote is the basis of being able to do the other variations that we have been practicing, so there's no overlooking their importance.  Just like our basics, they form a solid foundation from which the rest of our practice has built …

Beginning Of The New Dojo

Finally!  We are finally moved in to our new dojo!  I think I speak for everyone when I say what a relief it is to have our own dojo, and also to be back to training regularly.  It's not 100% ready, but it's good enough for us to practice in for now.  We are all excited for the new potential that we have now with our own building and all the space that we have!  But, on to the subject at hand.

Training last night, while very tiring in the 90+ degree weather, was very satisfying and I'm feeling like a lot of things I've been working on over the past few weeks are starting to come together and make sense to me.  My left foot seems to be snapping up better than before.  My shoulders feel more relaxed.  I feel like I'm eliminating a lot of wasted movement in my strikes.  And apparently I'm getting faster, which is always good. 

We started the night with drills designed around small Kote strikes, first against our partner's shinai and then against their Kote di…

Changes Are Coming

This short post is to anyone that stops in and checks on my blog regularly.  This week we have no practice so I won't have any proper posts, but that doesn't mean that good things aren't happening.

The reason that we have no practice this week is because we are in the process of moving into a new dojo and getting it cleaned up and ready for use.  And this new dojo is the biggest one that we've had since I've been training.  It's HUGE!  The floorspace is massive and the floor looks, feels, and sounds great.  We are all very excited to be able to do this and we are all working to get the dojo ready for use as soon as possible.  Right now it looks like our first practice will be this Saturday.

Personally I'm having a bout of Kendo withdrawals.  I've been keeping myself busy at home, but I miss practicing with all my friends and my Kendo family.  It will be a happy day for all when we finally pick up practice again, in our new dojo. 

Hopefully regular post…

Rollercoaster

Kendo is a funny thing to me sometimes.  It's a constant battle with myself, and I tend to fluctuate wildly with my training.  Some days I'm on top of the world, and other days I'm at the bottom of the barrel.  I think the only consistent piece throughout it all is my ability to keep going.  Last night I didn't have any super highs or lows, but I did have quite a few fluctuations between the start and end of class.  Some things I did great, others not so much, but I kept pressing on and kept giving all that I had.

After helping out with the beginning class we started into our advanced class.  Warm-ups were the usual, and I tried to focus on keeping my connection with the group and making each strike a good strike during suburi as well as during Hayasuburi drills.  After warm-ups, we worked on flexible wrists and took that into work on Kote, specifically hitting from an angle like we've been going over lately.  I can feel the potential with this vari…

A Little Bit Of Everything

Seems like a while since I've posted on here, even though it really hasn't been that long.  But there's been quite a bit going on in the world of Spokane Kendo.  First off, we had our annual Spokane Kendo Camp last weekend (yay!).  This year we had about twice as many people come out for the weekend, or just for training, and even a few people from the Seattle, WA and Moscow, ID areas.  Good times were had by all and our game of War this year turned into a 3-round battle of battles.  Unfortunately I was only able to make it out for Saturday but I spent the whole day with my Kendo family and had a wonderful time.  Also in Spokane news, on a sad note, our Valley dojo is closing.  Word is that it may resume in the future, but for now the doors will be closed indefinitely.  We had a good run, and learned a lot, but unfortunately life happens and it doesn't always happen the way we want it to, so we're forced to do the best we can with what we have.  It sounds like mos…

Homecoming

Last night marked the return of our members that competed at the AUSKF National Championships, which are held every three years.  This year we had five guys from Spokane that went and competed. Results can be found here, butt they definitely don't tell the whole story.  I heard that our guys, and PNKF as a whole, fought with a lot of energy and courage, and definitely turned some heads and made people take notice.  I'm proud to be a part of such a strong area and I plan on doing everything I can to make it to the next championship tournament, in 2014.

The energy was high in the dojo, and I think everyone could tell.  The team guys were on fire and were getting everyone else pumped up during practice, and I really felt the Kendo bar raise last night.  After warm-ups we worked a bit on Kote, specifically on striking on different "planes."  Instead of striking Kote by coming straight up and down and moving our bodies into position, we worked on stepping straight forward…

PNKF Summer Shinsa 2011

Hey hey everyone!  We had our PNKF summer shinsa this past weekend, and if I had one word to  describe it all it would be "prepared."  Not only myself but all of our guys that went to test.  We had quite a few people in tow on this trip, since the PNKF team members went for their final team training and to head out today for Atlanta and the AUSKF Championships this weekend.  But only five of us were testing; three for Nidan, one for Sankyu, and myself for Ikkyu.

We left on Friday, but due to work and other things we left late in the afternoon so we didn't get into Seattle and our home for the night until late, around 10pm.  Which meant no training for us on Friday night.  But the good thing was that it meant we would all be fresh for the shinsa the next morning.  The team guys left early for their last training, and a couple of us relaxed and prepared before going and arriving around 10:30am to get dressed and ready.  We all signed in, and the Ikkyu and up candidates tur…