On Monday things started off regularly, but after kirikaeshi and a few kihon drills we focused on hiki waza a bit. During this time Sensei explained a bit about hitting the left kote, as well as when it is considered a valid target. So, more for completeness sake rather than practical application, we did some work on hiki kote and striking the left kote. What a weird feeling that was! I'm so used to going for the right kote that it's my first reaction, so I really had to force myself to hit the other one. I don't think I did that well with it, but I tried my best. Being on the receiving end of this drill made me realize just how much of a tolerance to pain my right forearm has built up, because every little strike to the left side was pretty harsh. I toughed it out, though, although I now have a nice bruise on my left forearm.
Sinclair Sensei talked to us a bit about multiple strikes on Monday, as well. Not just kote-men or kote-do or strikes like that. What he talked to us about were the openings BEHIND the initial attack. Being able to see those openings that we create and capitalize on them. The example he gave was a curtain that has been blown open briefly. At first all you see is the curtain itself, but for the brief instant that the curtain moves you can see what's beyond it. Likewise, with our kendo we should be able to attack and immediately recognize the next opening and attack again. This is definitely a weak point for me, as I'm used to seeing the first opening and taking that one. I've also noticed that this is a big difference between myself and the nidans in our dojo. They tend to attack and then immediately follow-up afterward with another attack. Try as I might during jigeiko that night, I was pretty unsuccessful with trying to see and attack the opening that I created. But I'll continue to work on it.
Last night's practice was a lot of fun, although it seems that everyone was pretty tired out by the end. We warmed up a bit, went through kirikaeshi and a few kihon drills, and then immediately went into jigeiko for the rest of the time, which amounted to about a full hour of jigeiko. I was able to practice with most of my dojo mates at least two or three times, and as I went I really tried to focus on what Sensei told us about the curtain. Again I was not that successful but practice makes perfect, right?
As far as work outside the dojo, I've been doing a lot of running and core exercise to build up my stamina and endurance. I've also been focusing heavily on the footwork drills that I was given to help improve my explosiveness. It's a long road, but I'm starting to feel more and more comfortable using both of my legs during fumikomi, instead of just one like I had a tendency to do before. While this is all definitely beneficial for me, I'm also usually pretty tired afterward. But it seems that, little by little, I'm able to push myself a little farther each time. I'll hold onto this and use it as my motivation to keep going strong!