Skip to main content

Tsuki

I had a short break from practice on Monday, taking the night off to get some errands done and recharge a bit.  So when I went to practice last night I was definitely ready to go and give it my all.  I think I succeeded in that aspect.  The night started off with me teaching the intermediate class.  I went over some kirikaeshi, kihon drills, and hiki waza drills with them, and also tried to talk a little about keeping a connection with our partner while training.  Especially when we go through the drills and turn to face them again.  I tried to relay the importance of turning and being ready at that second, and I hope I got the point across.  Wendy said she touched on it with them on Monday and I tried to continue that theme last night, instructing them that when they turn they want to come back to kamae and have a good stance as soon as they turn, not after turning and shuffling backwards or turning and dropping their shinai down and then coming back to kamae.  All of this, as I see it, is wasted movement and during jigeiko or a taikai can lead to an observant opponent taking advantage of the lack of focus and connection.

During our class we had quite the mixed bag of drills that we went over, starting out with a few receivers in a line and doing continuous Men strikes and then Kote-Men strikes.  I concentrated on keeping my kiai going, strong and level, and also a strong fumikomi and snap of my left foot back into place.  I believe that I'm getting better at it but I'll continue to work on it so that I can snap my feet up lightning fast to be ready to strike again.

One of the drills that we did last night was Ai-Men, a drill where both partners try to strike Men at the same time.  The point, at least as I see it, is to take control by taking center and strike first.  When I do this drill I try to take into account my partner and their distance and speed and go from there.  If they are shorter then I try to use the distance to my advantage by striking as they step into my hitting range.  If they are taller I try to pressure in and start my swing first so that I catch them as they enter into my range with their own strike.  No matter what I do, though, I always try to have a strong strike that takes and keeps the center.  Sometimes I lose at this and get hit first.  Sometimes I face someone that has the same focus and we usually end up bouncing each other's shinai off to the side with no one hitting the target.  But sometimes I am able to deflect their shinai while keeping mine in the center for the strike.  Ando Sensei has talked to me about this before, about having a nice, strong Men strike and he constantly reminds me to keep using it because it's one of my strong points.  Wendy also reminded us to not turn our hips when we strike.  Sometimes people have a tendency to hit while turning their hips to the side, to try and avoid crashing into someone and to try and get around them.  She said that we should concentrate on striking with our hips squared and facing forward, with the idea that we're going to run right through our partner.  After the strike occurs then we can step around them, but for that moment up to and during the strike we should focus on moving straight ahead only.

We also got to work on Tsuki a bit last night.  I haven't had much practice with Tsuki because it's not a technique that we concentrate on so it's always nice to have some practice on it.  She explained that when we thrust forward into the Tsuki-Dare (the protective flap on the Men that is the target for Tsuki, it hangs down in front of our throat), that we should not have a feeling of pushing the hands up because this can be dangerous.  Instead it should feel almost as if we are pressing the shinai down/straight ahead as we strike.  We went over the basic Tsuki strike and also Tsuki-Men, where we were instructed to hit either Tsuki or Munezuki, which is a thrust to the upper portion of the Do (the Mune).  The Tsuki is used to disrupt our partner, with the follow-up strike on their Men.  I actually felt pretty good with this technique, although I was going pretty slow so as not to miss the target.  I definitely need a LOT more practice with Tsuki before I can even think of using it effectively, but again it's nice to be able to have some exposure to it now so that later on down the road I know the fundamentals of it.

We went over a few oji waza drills next, focusing on Debana Kote, Nuki Men and Nuki Do.  Nuki Do, in particular, felt really good last night.  I was able to do a good job of reading my opponent and striking before they were able to so that I was well out of the way of their shinai, and I also felt pretty good about my accuracy.  More often than not I heard the satisfying "CRACK!" of my shinai on their Do while going through these drills.  I also tried to make the drill a bit more realistic by pressuring in a bit and giving an opening to my partner to strike for.  I hope to be able to use Do more in the future, as I'm starting to feel more and more comfortable with it.

We finished out the night with jigeiko, as we usually do, and I was able to go with most of the juniors that were there.  I used to almost dread fighting the juniors because they are so good and really fast, but now I actually look forward to it.  It forces me to step up my own Kendo, because if I don't they're just going to leave me in the dust in our rounds.  They all still do a great job of thoroughly beating me up, but these days I feel like I can keep up with them fairly well.  I'm able to move and counter and strike more effectively and every once in a while I'm able to get in that Men or Kote or Do strike that I was looking for, which makes me feel great.  Once again I tried to focus on continuously pressuring forward and not moving back when I didn't have to.  It was a little more challenging this time than last week, but I still feel like I did a pretty good job with it.

All in all, it was a great night.  A good variety of drills and things to consider, and great jigeiko sessions with everyone I went with.  I'm looking forward to more training on Saturday!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Ups and Downs of Kendo

Anyone that knows me knows that I love kendo.  I don't think I could do as much as I do with it if I didn't.  But loving kendo doesn't mean that it's easy.  Far from it, in fact!  If anyone says otherwise I would honestly question if they're doing it right.  From the first day where everything is brand new, to years down the road where you're trying to figure out the mental side of things, it's a challenge.

I've often had times when I just wasn't getting something.  Whether it was a new waza, or a new timing for an existing waza, or any other number of things that came up during training, sometimes things didn't click with me, and I would have many, many practices that felt fruitless.  It seems that every time that happened, though, If I kept at it and practiced, it would eventually click with me.  I'd wake up one day and "get it".  Not to say I'd be perfect at it, but the overall shape or timing would suddenly be there.  It r…

Kent Taikai 2018: How to Deal with Disappointment

A sobering entry today, but hopefully a valuable lesson for me and anyone reading.

Last weekend my dojo mates and I participated in the Kent Taikai in Kent, WA.  I look forward to this tournament as it's a little smaller and more intimate than the PNKF Taikai we attended last month, and it's a chance to catch up with my kendo friends in the area as well as participate in some good matches.  This year delivered in that regard.

We had six competitors this year, ranging from 1-3 kyu up to the 3-4 dan divisions.  One of our new-to-us members participated, as well, so that was fun to welcome him to our crazy taikai weekend trips.  The trip itself went well, and the pass was clear for us so we had a smooth ride to the Seattle area and to training at the Bellevue Kendo Club on Friday night.  It was a good night, and I was able to have a lot of quality keiko with the kodansha over there, as well as received some helpful feedback and advice that I'll be putting into practice soon.

Training Through Adversity

We are officially out of the old dojo and into our new (temporary) location in the valley.  Fortunately we were able to keep the same schedule in the same location, instead of having to change the training days and/or locations throughout the week.  We were also able to continue training from the old dojo to the new location without missing a beat, as we only took a day off for Independence Day last week before we were back at it that weekend. 

All is not fun and games, though, depending on how you look at it.  The new location comes with its own challenges and we're all going to go through some growing pains as we adjust and learn to use the space effectively.  This change has made me think about the way I train and how to put a positive spin on it and use it to continue to improve, hence the reason for this post!  Hopefully this will shed some light on my thought process when it comes to training in conditions that aren't ideal or optimal. 

Two of the biggest issues that I&…