Oh boy. Just one week before the UW Taikai I end up pulling my leg muscle. I don't think it's anything serious, but I'm definitely in some pain today. Sensei advised me to get some good ol' R&R and let it mend itself naturally. This is one time that I'm kind of glad that I don't have practice again until Monday, so I have a few days to let my leg recover. Also, come next week, I might take it easy and not push myself too hard so that I can be as close to 100% for the taikai as possible. The funny this is that I wasn't doing anything extreme when it happened, either. I was just going through one of the drills, and I was concentrating on snapping my left leg up quickly after my fumikomi. Things happen, and it definitely could've been worse.
Despite my injury, which took place early on in the night, I pushed myself as hard as I could. I had to modify my fumikomi so it was basically in place, and also take baby steps on my follow-through, but I made it through and was able to spend some time with some kihon drills and with Kaeshi Do, which I definitely need some work on. Both my Kaeshi and Suriaga waza seem to put me too close to my partner, and I end up hitting too deep with the shinai. I think I'll talk to Sensei about this sometime and see what advice he has for correcting this issue.
I was able to practice a lot of Men strikes last night, specifically pressing in before the hit. Pressuring towards the Tsuki, as if I'm going to stab my partner right in the throat, and then lifting up for small Men at the last minute. This is definitely what I want my Men to become. I also observed Sean (McNally Sensei) a lot, as he was back in town and came out to train with us last night. His Men strike is very fast and powerful, and I noticed that it goes forward as one motion, instead of the up/back swing and then down and forward. I've been working on this myself lately, trying to move more forward and not bounce up and down with my center, and also to eliminate the wasted movement in my small Men strike that I've seen in videos lately.
We divided up towards the end of class and did motodachi-geiko, with the Yudansha standing in as motodachi. I had matches with almost all of the Yudansha, but by that point I was pretty much reduced to standing in place and striking with non-existent fumikomi. Every once in a while I bounded forward with a strike, but I tried to stay very light on my feet so that I wouldn't injure myself even more. Even with that I had to step out a few times to stretch and rest. The night ended for me after we had split into Yudansha/Mudansha groups to continue jigeiko. I had a few rounds there and decided that I should quit while I'm ahead and not injure myself further by over-extending myself. I'm ok with giving up some practice time now to ensure that I'm good for the taikai next weekend.
Jigeiko: Ando Sensei said that he noticed that sometimes I will make up my mind to strike, and then about halfway through the motion I'll stop myself. He says that I shouldn't do this, that I should make my decision and follow-through with it (he used the "closing the eyes" example again, saying I should make up my mind and just close my eyes and strike with everything I have). He also said that my Men is becoming stronger, and that Ai-Men is something I should shoot for. I have a strong Men and can keep the center and win in Ai-Men if I keep working on it.
Fumikomi: McNally Sensei said that I should try pressuring forward with my foot first, and then doing fumikomi at the last minute. He said this might help with bringing my left foot up quickly, and will help make my strikes faster and my fumikomi smaller and more efficient. I will keep this advice for later on when I am feeling better with everything.