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Slow And Steady

Last night wasn't a super-notable night as far as training went, but there was one great thing that happened - Ando Sensei returned!  He had been in Japan over the holidays with his family and last night was his first practice back.  I definitely appreciate his instruction and spirit in our dojo so I was glad to see his return.  I didn't get to do jigeiko with him, unfortunately, but I did get in a few drills with him.

Last week we had our new pre-bogu students join us, and we have a couple of them that have been showing up pretty regularly.  I'm hoping that the rest of the pre-bogu students are able to come and join us, as well.  I always enjoy new students.  The potential that they bring and the added spirit is always interesting and encouraging.  They've had their own group that they rotate around in, but Sensei has a couple of the experienced members in bogu rotate in so that they can be receivers on each drill, which has been working out pretty well.  They get a chance to do drills with different people and actually get used to hitting people in bogu, and we get to be good receivers for them.

As far as our training went, we had a pretty basic class as far as drills went.  The first half of class was dedicated to kata, and Sinclair Sensei brought our group to the side (mostly Kyus working on Kata 1-5) and went over some fine points of kata 3 (Sanbonme).  He showed us that each movement that we do (the Tsuki from both Uchidachi and Shidachi, the pressure forward by Shidachi, and the blocking by Uchidachi while backing up) are all variants of Chudan Kamae.  The left hand shouldn't leave the center during any of these movement, especialling while blocking on Uchidachi's side.  Now that I read that to myself I see it's kinda of tricky to explain in writing, but when I saw the movements and explanation in person it made sense.   He also explained that when stepping back and blocking on either side of Shidachi's bokken, Uchidachi's bokken should be pointed just outside of the shoulder so that if we were to step forward we would slide the blade along our partner's shoulder and "cut" them with it.  Next time I practice this kata I will be sure to check and see if I am doing this.

After warm-ups and suiting up in full bogu we went over Kirikaeshi, Men drills, and then Nuki Dou, which took up most of the rest of our time.  Personally I have been working on moving from my center lately and not leaning into the strike.  Using more leg and hip to move me forward and keeping my body straight and upright.  Sensei did note that he saw me lean a couple of times during Nuki Dou but I caught it pretty fast and then smoothed it out again.  To me, it's starting to feel more natural, like what I'm trying to do is finally starting to click into place.  I'll keep working on it but for now I feel like I'm on the right track.  I also noted to Sensei that I am working on keeping my shoulders down and relaxed and getting rid of the tension that I'm holding.  I'm not only trying to do this at Kendo but everywhere, whenever I notice it.

Jigeiko was ok.  Nothing special, although I was able to land a lot of good Men strikes.  Well, at least I thought they were good :-).  I've been trying to use my Men strike more so that I can not only improve it (I want to have a terrifying Men strike), but so that I can also use it to open up other targets.  If someone is scared of my Men strike then it will be easier for me to cause a reaction and open up their Kote, or Dou, if I want.  But that's still a long road to walk.  A road full of improvement and refinement.

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