Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Constant Improvement

I'm back.  Kinda.  I didn't really go anywhere, just busy last week and didn't have a chance to post.  But here I am, safe and sound and posting again!  I have a lot to work on, and it never ceases to amaze me that I always find more, and more, and more with each practice. Maybe that's why I love Kendo so much.  It's layer upon layer of refinement, each time you gain more, improve more and yet find more to improve upon.  It's definitely a life-long journey.

We are still in our kata phase, and we took the beginning half of the class to practice the kata that we are individually working on.  My buddy Matt and I worked on kata 1-3 again, and I took the opportunity to really work on my distancing and my connection with my partner.  I know the steps of the kata I was doing, now I want to do more.  I want to feel the kata.  To move with my partner as if we were reflections of each other.  To have as close to real emotions with each step, strike, and movement.  There were a few times where I really tried to project my feelings out into the movements, and honestly it felt really good.  Billy gave us both some advice on Sanbonme.  He said to really thrust the tsuki forward when we are Uchidachi.  There should be a real need for Shidachi to move out of the way to smother the strike and then a sense of urgency as he counters with his own tsuki.  I will remember this and try to work on it this next week before the shinsa.

We jumped straight into kirikaeshi after this, starting out slow and then successively working up through the three levels.  I still need to work on being more fluid and relaxed during the third level, in which we move as fast as we can.  We then moved into Men drills, and Ai-Men, in which kararite and motodachi would both attack Men, and then kakarite would turn and immediately attack Men again.  I noticed that my turn was a bit slow, and in some cases my follow through too far, so I wasn't able to catch my partner as they were turning.

Next we moved into a drill that we haven't done in a while.  Motodachi would attack Kote and close the distance, and kakarite would respond with Kote-Men.  For the most part I did ok with this drill, but I need to remember to strike soon enough so that I'm able to nullify their attack.  Also with some of the faster people I had to either fumikomi in place or do Hiki Men and go backwards after the strike.  It's always good to have a good mix of techniques at your disposal, and be comfortable striking forward or backward.  I do still need to work on Hiki Waza, but it's coming along.

The main portion of time was used on Debana Kote.  This is a technique that I thought I was familiar with and somewhat good at, but Billy re-iterated a point that he made months before, about striking at the exact moment that your partner commits to striking you.  I noticed that only every once in a while was I able to do this successfully; all the other times I was simply reacting and striking faster than my partner could.  But a few times I felt like I genuinely moved to strike at the moment that they decided to strike, and it felt great.  I'm pretty sure my kiai changed just a bit when I would land those strikes, as well.  Billy also pointed out that with Jodan and Nito players, Debana Waza is especially true, and he made it clear that the technique wouldn't work if you don't do it correctly.  Since they are already raised into a "ready" position with their kamae, to execute a correct Debana Kote on them means that we really have to read their intentions and strike at that moment that they decide to move.  Anything later and we're dead (figuratively speaking, of course).

After a quick break we did a little shinsa-geiko, with Billy Joe going first and me going second.  I had to match up with Matt, Andy, and Marek, and tried to remember to execute nice, big swings, limited Hiki Waza, and to strike and push through and not get stuck in tsubazeriai with my partners.  Wendy pointed out that I had a good sense of distance with each one, and on one of the matches she stopped us early, saying that it's not necessarily a bad thing.  If the judges see everything they need to they will sometimes stop the matches early, so we shouldn't get bummed out if that happens to us.

We split up for jigeiko to finish out that night, and I was placed in with the Mudansha.  My favorite match of the night, by far, was with Matt.  We straight up beat each other up, each of us not wanting to back down at all during our match.  It was only a couple minutes long, but it felt like so much longer than that, and I walked out of it feeling very satisfied.

I have my next shinsa in a little over a week, and I will be testing for Ikkyu.  Unlike last time, I know what to expect, and after the training tonight I feel like I'm ready to tackle it.  I will do my very best, and I have a good feeling I'll come out of it better than when I went in.


  1. Good luck with the shinsa! I am certain you will kick some butt! And remember to take some more videos!


  2. Thank you, I will definitely do my best. I feel good, though, I've been preparing for this one, but support is always appreciated!

  3. And remember to starch them pleats. :p