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Beginning Of The New Dojo

Finally!  We are finally moved in to our new dojo!  I think I speak for everyone when I say what a relief it is to have our own dojo, and also to be back to training regularly.  It's not 100% ready, but it's good enough for us to practice in for now.  We are all excited for the new potential that we have now with our own building and all the space that we have!  But, on to the subject at hand.

Training last night, while very tiring in the 90+ degree weather, was very satisfying and I'm feeling like a lot of things I've been working on over the past few weeks are starting to come together and make sense to me.  My left foot seems to be snapping up better than before.  My shoulders feel more relaxed.  I feel like I'm eliminating a lot of wasted movement in my strikes.  And apparently I'm getting faster, which is always good. 

We started the night with drills designed around small Kote strikes, first against our partner's shinai and then against their Kote directly.  Some of the points that Sensei highlighted, which are points that he's gone over with us before were:

  • Left hand chest high
  • Wrists back and relaxed
  • No bent elbows, they should be "naturally straight"
  • Shinai tip should be in front of you.  If not it's most likely due to bent elbows.
  • When striking the kensen should recoil forward, not up.
We not only work on a straight Kote strike, but took that into our next set of drills, which dealt with hitting Kote against kenshi using Nito and Jodan.  Since their hands are up and at different angles, it takes a little different approach to hitting Kote, but the fundamentals that we went over at first still apply.  After getting warmed up and into the strikes I felt that I was actually starting to hit it correctly.  We'll see if that practice sticks, though, the next few times I fight Billy or our Nito guys.

We grabbed our Men and Kote and after some slow rounds of Kirikaeshi we jumped into Men strikes and then into a few pursuit-style drills.  I used my time to focus on not leaning into my strikes, which I think I've gotten better at, and also snapping my left foot into place as soon as possibly after the strike.  The pursuit drills we did started with two Men strikes (in a row), 3x Men, and finally Men-Kote-Men in and out of tsubazeriai.  Sensei advised me to not pause between each hit and let them flow freely, like one fluid technique.  I tried this out and felt good about it, although I do have to remember to make my swing just a bit bigger.  The Men-Kote-Men drills were fun, as I've never done them before, and I concentrated on really making that last Men strike count.  Even if I missed the first two I tried to drive forward and land that last strike.  Many times it landed; sometimes it didn't.

We went did some jigeiko before ending things out with some extended Kirikaeshi at the end.  I was put into the Yudansha group and had a good time fighting with each of my partners.  I tried to concentrate on light footwork and on relaxed wrists.  Sometimes I feel like I have a lot of things hidden inside of me that come out at certain times.  Last night was one of those times and some of the ways that I moved or struck a target really surprised even myself.  Now if I can learn how to get myself to do that all the time!

After our Kirikaeshi rounds we got to enjoy some birthday Kakarigeiko (either watching or participating in) with Marek.  He had a birthday recently and our dojo traditionally gives members a "gift" of Kakarigeiko for their birthdays.  He chose to go five rounds with some of the fastest members that we have.  Very brave on his part.

I feel good, really good, about my training right now.  I know I have a lot to work on, and once I figure one things out it opens the door to fix other things, but at this moment I feel good.  And I plan on taking these feelings and using them to push myself to improve even more.

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