Last night was a pretty good night of training. I worked myself to exhaustion and then I pushed a little bit more to squeeze out all of the energy I had. Sean was back with us and will be here for the next couple weeks, so we will have the pleasure of his company at training for a while. It's always excited to have our old members back to visit, and Sean brings a lot of experience and skill to the table when he comes.
We started out the night, as we have been doing lately, with kata practice. I jumped into the group that was going over Ipponme and Nihonme so I could refine some of my movements and my timing. I also seem to have a problem with distance. Namely ending up back in the middle of the floor after completing the kata, especially on Ipponme. I don't know if my steps are too big or too small. Judging from the way I also seemed to end up on the shidachi's side of the floor I would say my first step in to strike is too big (as uchidachi) and my steps back are too small. But I also think I need an outside opinion on it. Maybe I can grab one of the higher ups or Sensei to take a look and see where my distancing issues lie.
I was given some advice on Ipponme, which can be applied to both sides. I was told when I bring my bokken up to Jodan I should make a bigger movement. What I mean is that my hands should bring the bokken high and then settle down into Jodan. I read somewhere else (I wish I could remember where) that the movement should be "like the rising sun." I was also told that when I disengage I should lower my tip more, so that it sits just a few centimeters above my partner's knee. I've been kinda spotty with this, sometimes dropping the tip low enough and other times not dropping it very low at all so I need to work on being more consistent.
We passed up warm-ups and jumped straight into practice with full bogu, starting out with some good ol' Kirikaeshi. We went through the first and second rhythms, doing many rounds to get our bodies warmed up and then went into the main focus of the night, Men strikes. Not just any Men strike, but specifically pressuring in and then striking Men. The feeling that we were to focus on was sliding forward as if we were going to tsuki our partner, and then at the last minute making a small Men strike. This was the first step, and one that I feel a bit better with these days. We've been doing this kind of drill off and on for a few months now and I don't feel as clumsy with it as I first did, although I still feel a bit clumsy and off with my strike and timing, and I know that I can always be faster with it.
The next few drills we did focused on smothering our partner's shinai. While keeping contact with their shinai, we would bring ours over the top of theirs and pressure them down and to their right. This was accomplished by coming up over their shinai, turning our shinai so the it was sideways and pressing down towards their right hip. We did this both from a stand-still and while stepping in. The main focus here was to "gently" pressure them down and not to strike their shinai out of the way. If you can pressure them down in this way it's a lot more subtle and some people don't realize that they're being pushed out of center until it's too late. That's not to say that Harai waza and the like have no place, I'm just saying that was the drill we were doing last night and what we were focusing on at the moment
The third drill, and the one that brought these two techniques together, involved sliding forward, and as we did we would smother our partner's shinai and then come up to strike Men when it was open. I can get the smother and the strike in one step, but again it feels just a bit off and needs more work. I was able to do this drill with Sean so I had a good example of what I'm shooting for and what it should look like when done correctly.
Next up was waza-geiko, and I used my time to work on Kote-Men. Specifically the footwork and the timing of the steps. I was concentrating on really snapping my foot back into place so that I could strike Men immediately after striking Kote. I am hoping to improve on this even further later by developing multiple steps/strikes, but I do have to get the timing and the footwork down first. Once I'm there and I feel comfortable with it I can add in more steps and more strikes. I tried not to worry about my shinai or my speed with it, although I did try to stay nice and relaxed as I stepped in to strike. I didn't do too bad with it, although there's ALWAYS room for improvement!
We ended out the night with a rather lengthy jigeiko session, and I got to fight quite a few people, including Sean. I forgot how fast he is! Every time I came in for an attack it seemed like he'd beat me there and was gone before I was done. I still tried my best, though. I do feel a bit sorry for Andy, the guy I fought afterward, because I was pretty dead tired at that point and was reduced to a mere pinata. Afterward I stepped out for just a bit to catch my breath, stretch my legs and get a second wind so I could jump back in for a few final rounds.
All in all it was a great night. Good practice, good gathering afterward with a few people. Although today I am pretty tired, it was well worth it!
A few thoughts:
Kote: It was pointed out to me during jigeiko that I have a rather obvious "tell" when going for Kote. I will do my best to get rid of this issue. Obviously it's a big disadvantage for me if people are able to pick up on it.