We started out with warm-ups, which I led, and then immediately grabbed our bogu and went into rounds of kirikaeshi, both the first rhythm (stopping with each strike), and the second rhythm (continuous motion while keeping good form). I'm happy to say that it seems that all my work on snapping my left foot is paying off; I noticed that I hardly even thought about it last night, but when I did it was snapping into place after my fumikomi step.
We moved on to Men strikes (pressure in towards the Tsuki area as the right foot pushes in, then raise up and strike Men quickly), Kote (strike Kote and then move in to close the distance), and Do, and then went into some drills that focused on hiki waza. Again I was reminded of how much work I need to hiki waza. We started with Hiki Men from tsubazeriai, trying to create an opening to strike, and then moved into striking Men or Kote while moving into taiatari and then doing Hiki Men or Kote coming back out. I really need to work on changing directions so that I can do this technique more smoothly. I have a habit of putting too much force into going forward and I have an awful lot of dead time when I go to change directions.
After a few other Hiki Waza drills we moved into Debana Kote, where I had a hard time hitting the actual target. For some reason I kept wanting to hit my partners' knuckles, instead of the actual Kote area. We finished out the drills with waza geiko, where I worked on Kote-Men. I'm still working on making the two strikes as close together as possible, but I do think I'm making some progress on it. I feel more comfortable with it these days, but I also don't want to get into a pattern that people can read, so I also try to mix this up when I use it in jigeiko.
I was able to have the first jigeiko round with our visitor, a guy by the name of Yuma that came from EWU to practice with us. He is Nidan and has been practicing for about ten years, if I remember right. He was very quiet, but his Kendo spoke volumes. He had one of the fastest Men strikes I've seen, and I was barely able to move, let alone try to counter, when I saw it coming. It was definitely inspiring to see, and I hope to reach that level someday in my training. I just have to keep at it. As for the rest of my jigeiko rounds, I didn't do too bad at all, all things considered. I got hit a lot, but I also tried to really commit to my strikes and to follow up if my initial attack didn't land. I was also in with the Yudansha group last night, so I had an uphill battle with each of my partners. I get beat up a lot, but I also learn a lot which I'll hopefully be able to apply it to my own Kendo. We then ended the night out on 5x5s, after some confusion with a prior endurance drill.
Definitely not the best night of training for me, but I understand that it can't all be sunshine and rainbows. There are hard days, just like there are good days, and you have to take both during the course of your training. This weekend I'll be out of town so I won't be able to practice, and hopefully this will give me a chance to heal up and recuperate for next week.
A few thoughts:
Billy - Make sure that I come straight in at my partner when that is what the drill calls for. I've had a tendency to try and move to the side at the last moment, which I need to fix.
Ando Sensei - He says that I have a beautiful kamae and beautiful, powerful Men strike, but that I still hesitate sometimes in jigeiko. I need to trust in myself and my techniques and attack without question or hesitation.