Compared to the last couple of practices, I felt really good last night. Saturday and Monday I was really off my game and exhausted so I didn't feel that I practiced up to the level I normally do. I made sure to get a lot of sleep the night before last, though, so that when I went to practice last night I could get back into my normal groove. I think I did well. Plus my leg felt a lot better so I felt like I could move a bit more, but I also didn't want to push it too much so I played it safe and took a break later on in the practice to rest and stretch it out a bit before jumping back in.
After our usual warm-ups last night we did a striking drill that emphasized a few points for faster strike. The four points that were mentioned were: relaxation, no wasted time, no wasted movement, and anticipation of speed. All of these things were brought together through this drill to culminate in a strike that was quick and efficient, whether we launched from a standstill or took a step forward and then launched our strike (we practiced both). The theme of the night was keeping this feeling all throughout the rest of practice. Relaxed shoulders and bodies, no wasted time or movement with our shinai swings, and anticipation of speed. Think faster, be faster.
During kirikaeshi I tried to remember to be quick and snappy with each of my strikes, and to not let my shinai lag behind on the swings. For the most part I did ok with this, but by the end of the drills I was pretty tired. We've been concentrating on doing three different levels with our kirikaeshi lately, and by the end we are always going as fast as we can. I admit I need to be faster, and Sensei gave me some good advice on this. He pointed out that my steps backwards are too big, and also that my steps forward have a kind of stop-and-go feel to them, and I need to make them smoother.
Our only kihon drill that we really focused on last night were Men strikes, first from one-step out to our target, in our normal hitting distance, and then from to-maai. Again, the emphasis was on speed and the drill that we had done at the beginning, but also on keeping the shinai in the kamae position until the very last moment. This was especially true when striking from to-maai. We had to take one step in to get into our proper striking distance, and then launch our attack. I need to work on keping my shinai in kamae until that very last step, as I was told that I raise my shinai a bit early.
We had a bit of waza-geiko before going into jigeiko. I used the time to work on Kote strikes, as I have been doing for the past week or so whenever I've had a chance. There are a lot of things I want to fix with that strike, and I think I'm making some progress with it. We'll see next time I'm able to get video of myself. I had quite a time in jigeiko, fighting all kinds of people and learning a lot. I am still hesitating when I go in to hit, and I'm thinking too much. My two biggest mental faults at this point, I think. On the other hand, I believe I'm learning to use my Do strike more effectively, by drawing people out of kamae and then using it. Also I've been trying to develop Harai Waza a bit. It's a slow process but I can see the value in having a really good Harai Men or Kote. I'll definitely keep working on it.
We ended the night with kakarigeiko. A lot of kakarigeiko. Despite the fact that I was exhausted and ready to fall over at this point, I kept going, and going, and going. I honestly don't know how many rounds we did, but I didn't give up and I kept going and giving my best. It's true that your best Kendo comes out when you're exhausted, because I noticed that most of my hits were landing spot on, especially my Do strikes. I also tried to remember to push through on the hits and finish with strong zanshin and to not drop my shinai down after striking. All good points that my buddy Billy advised me to do before.
A few thoughts:
Ando Sensei: Ando Sensei pointed out that I am hesitating during jigeiko, saying that he can see a lot of energy inside of me, but sometimes it seems to just stop, and at those moments he finds it easy to strike me once or even twice in a row. I've noticed this myself and will work to eliminate it. I need to remember, no matter my partner, to give it my all and not let up and keep my high intensity and energy throughout practice. He also told me that sometimes my hits are too light and to try striking all the way down to the nose, or middle of the face, to help create a solid hit.
Sinclair Sensei: Since I'm still nursing my leg until it's fully healed, Sensei advised me to shorten up my striking distance a bit. I know he's told me this before, but it's always good to hear again and to have as a reminder to help me with my recovery. I'll be sure to try and work on this until my leg is fully healed.