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And Now For A Different Angle

This last week we have really be practicing a lot on using various angles to strike.  First we started out with just Kote, about a month or two ago, and now we have included Men into the equation.  We've been taking about half an hour at the beginning of each class (after warm-ups) to go over striking the left and right Kote and Men on an angled plane.  First warm-ups to loosen up our wrists and get our arms used to the motions, and then controlled strikes, usually on a count, to the target of the current drill.  Sensei explained to us that they are very valid targets but that we usually don't use them or even think of them because most of our time has been spent striking straight down the center.  But being able to strike a good straight Men or Kote is the basis of being able to do the other variations that we have been practicing, so there's no overlooking their importance.  Just like our basics, they form a solid foundation from which the rest of our practice has built upon.  Without that foundation, our advanced techniques would quickly fail.

After grabbing all of our bogu we went into Kirikaeshi drills and then Men strikes to the left (hidari) and right (migi) side of center on our partner.  I tried to relax and keep my shoulders square and straight, as I've been having problems with letting my shoulders, specifically my right shoulder, rise up as I step in to strike (especially on Kote).  NOT a good habit to get into, so I'm glad that Sensei caught it early and brought it to my attention.  Also I tried to remember to keep my head from leaning back or to the side, as has been pointed out to me recently.  When I thought about it I corrected it, but it's those times that I'm not thinking about it when I want to be able to do it, as well.  Practice, practice, practice.

We took most of the night and continued to practice striking Kote and Men on an angle, in various situations, before going into waza-geiko for a bit.  I used that time to continue to work on striking Kote and closing the distance, where I strike and move to meet my partner as quickly as possible to not give them time or space to counter.  It went pretty well, although I still catch myself hitting their tsuba or their wrist joint every once in a while.  I've also been trying to get myself out of a "training" mindset.  "Train like you fight, fight like you train," is a wonderful motto that Sensei has passed on to us, and I want to continue to try and have that mindset and make it grow and become personal to me.

We ended the night out with jigeiko and 5x5s (an endurance drill).  I felt really good during jigeiko.  I felt that I was a bit quicker than last time and a bit more keen on spotting openings and creating them.  I think that is one of the toughest things for me, personally, is creating the opening, so I always try to keep an attacking mindset.  One that doesn't just react to what my partner does, but one that is actively searching for and trying to create openings to strike.  Last night felt like a good night for that, but I have other times where I feel like a complete failure at it.  I just have to tell myself to dig in and keep at it.  All of this practice pays off, even if I don't immediately see the changes.

A few thoughts:

Sinclair Sensei - He pointed out to me on Monday that I had a head lean and a should lean when I step in to strike Kote, so last night I really tried to focus on that by keeping my shoulders relaxed and trying to keep them square and my head straight.  He said that he noticed an improvement but that I should continue to work on it to eliminate that "tell" that I have.

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