We started the night with kata practice, as we have been doing the past couple of months. I paired up with my friend Billy Joe and we went over 1-4 and I led him through the steps for 5. We've received a lot of good info on the revisions from the AUSKF on the various Nihon Kata so I've been doing my best to incorporate them into my training. I've been working, in particular, on making a smaller strike in Nihonme, Shidachi side (as Ando Sensei tells me, my strike is too big). I've also been focusing on Yonhonme, Shidachi side, and holding a proper Wakigamae by not letting my body turn while stepping in and keeping my sword blade entirely hidden behind me. Sounds easy but it's actually kind of tricky without a lot of practice. All in all it was a great kata session, nothing went wrong and I was able to get in some valuable time with each of them.
Our regular practice commenced after warm-ups and suburi and we worked on our basics, going over multiple-strike drills for Men, Kote, and Do, as well as some work with Taiatari and Hiki Waza. I still notice that I tend to be kind of slow at shifting my momentum when changing directions, so I need to try and work on that a bit more later on. I think that if I really concentrate on moving from my center (which I've been working on a lot lately) that will help me with this issue, as well. With the other drills I tried to concentrate on not only moving from my center, but having a strong and synchronized fumikomi with my strikes, and keeping my hands down during Men and pushing forward. Ando Sensei describes it as punching someone in the face after you strike, so I try to keep either my right or left hand down at about face/mouth height as I push through.
Jigeiko was, in a word, awesome! I didn't get to practice with everyone (a lot of people showed up last night!) but the partners that I did have I hope that I pushed hard. I took a lot of hits but I didn't back down at all and I feel like I was at 100% with each and every one of them. I tried to concentrate on creating openings and taking advantage of any openings that they created themselves. I've also been watching my distance a lot lately, trying to control that a bit better, too. So many things to think about! I try not to overwhelm myself at any one time by trying to do it all, but that in itself is a skill.
We ended the night with kakarigeiko, as we usually do when Ando Sensei is leading. Lately I've been keeping my spirit really high, even when I'm about to fall over, and last night was no different. I did a couple rounds of kakarigeiko before going in and being a receiver myself, and even as my body slowed down and started refusing to move when I wanted it, I kept my spirit high and tried to finish each strike strongly. I hope to continue this trend throughout this year, because it definitely helps me and I really hope that it helps my dojo mates!