Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Other Sinclair Sensei

We had a special "guest" with us at last night's practice.  Mick Sinclair, Sensei's oldest son, came over to hang out with all of us lucky Spokane people for the week!  He is Sandan, and like all of the others I know, is not only good at what he does but he has good advice.  It was a real pleasure being able to see him again and to do keiko, and I hope that I get to hang out with him a bit before he leaves us.

Ando Sensei led the group again last night, and he put us through our paces, as is his custom.  I definitely appreciate the hard work he drives everyone to, especially with the breathing drills.  Lately I've been trying to learn to love the drills that I honestly don't care for that much (kakarigeiko), so this was a good exercise in that.  We started off the night with kata, and I was able to get a few more pointers on Sanbonme from Billy.  I will share what I learned:
  • After Uchidachi strikes Tsuki, Shidachi is, in a way, granted control for the next two steps.  When Shidachi retaliates with Tsuki and then steps through with the left foot, they should be separate, precise movements, not all bunched together.  The way Billy explained it reminded me of a clock ticking off the seconds.  Tick - Step forward and Tsuki, Tick-Step through with left foot while pressuring forward
  • Uchidachi takes control again for the 3 steps back while Shidachi pressures forward and lifts the kensen between their eyes.  The steps should be quick as Uchidachi succumbs and retreats and Shidachi pursues and continues to pressure with the kensen.
  • Billy also explained that the blocks that Uchidachi does after their missed Tsuki shouldn't be rushed or robotic/automatic.  In essence they are responding to Shidachi's Tsuki and advance with the left foot, so the block should represent this feeling.
  • Ando Sensei told me the other day that when Uchidachi blocks, the blade should face the ground and also be slightly pointed toward Shidachi's blade.  So the first block with be pointing down and the the right, and the next block will be down and to the left.  Small detail, but these are things I love to absorb so I know how to do them properly/what to expect later.
The meat of our training included distancing drills, hitting from to-ma and chika-ma, as well as the various breathing drills (5 Men strikes on one breath, or a combination of strikes on one breath).  I tried to work on not only snapping my left leg up after my strikes, but also pushing my body forward instead of up, as has been a bad habit with a few of my strikes lately. I've also been thinking about flexible wrists, although I think that one is pretty much cleaned up (for now).

After a short break we jumped into jigeiko, with a few final rounds of kakarigeiko.  I had a lot of fun with jigeiko tonight, as I have been lately.  Ever since I talked to Billy and he gave me a different mindset on jigeiko I've felt like my mind has been freed up to concentrate on distancing, connection, seme, and reading my partner.  I also enjoyed jigeiko because I fought Mick not once, but twice.  He's very, very good, with quick strikes, fast follow-through, and great seme, so it was a joy to fight with him.  And he was gracious enough to let me hit him a few times, so I took full advantage of those times to try and do my best Kendo that I knew.

Unfortunately I had to pull out after the first round of kakarigeiko, due to a stabbing pain in my side, but I cheered on the rest of my fellow kenshi as best I could.  I learned a lot last night, and I'm definitely looking forward to Wednesday trianing!

A few thoughts:

Men:  Ando Sensei gave me a piece of advice last night.  He said I have a beautiful Men strike, and that a lot of sensei consider the Men strike a mirror of the person's character.  He said that I should keep improving it how I am, and work to have a clean, precise, quick and true Men strike.  Very encouraging words to hear!

Kote:  We worked on a drill last night in which we brought the kensen underneath our partner's shinai and struck Kote from underneath.  Seth said that I had the speed and technique on it, but my aim was a bit off.  More times than not my kensen would keep going and I would end up hitting the tsuba instead of the Kote.  I'll have to work on my accuracy with this technique.

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