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Little Things

Lately I've been shifting my attention to try and focus on the little things that need improvement in my kendo.  Not necessarily any big things like trying to master new techniques, but small changes in my current techniques, and also in my body carriage and footwork.  While the improvements may not be as noticeable by themselves, together they will make for better, stronger kendo.

In the footwork department I've noticed (and been told) that I not only carry my back heel a bit high, but also a bit too far out.  So I've taken steps to correct this issue, including turning my foot in a bit during drills and keeping my heel down low.  I try to make it a habit to "feel" where the floor is as I step into the correct stance, so that I don't get in the habit of raising my heel too high.  After I get used to knowing how far down to keep my back heel I'll be able to step into it naturally.  While these changes are fairly easy to implement during drills, I still have a tough time with them during jigeiko and end up falling back on bad habits.  I'll continue to work on it, though, so that it becomes habit to keep my heel lower and my foot a bit straighter.

With my body I've really been focusing on keeping my upper body straight and leading with my center instead of my arms and shoulders.  I've had to shorten up my fumikomi to work on this properly, but after I get into the habit of moving and striking from my center I'll be able to expand my fumikomi out again.  Sensei also has me working on more explosive movement, as was my request from him a few weeks ago, so I'm doing some specialized drills on my days off and before practice to help with that.   The process is, honestly, very tiring because I end up engaging both of my legs more than I was before, but it's starting to feel a bit better compared to when I first started, so that tells me that improvement is being made (slowly but surely!). 

With my kamae and sword work I've been working on keeping a good center, no matter what my partners/opponents do.  This one is tough, as a lot of times I end up giving up center prematurely which leads to me getting hit a lot.  But it's still a work in progress.  I've also been trying to eliminate the wasted movement in my swings, which is an ongoing focus, and also to work on various multiple hits, including kote-men and kote-do, and trying to make them as smooth and quick as I can while still keeping my proper technique.  And with my spirit I've been trying to not only keep my spirit high throughout training, but to also remember to carry my kiai as part of zanshin as I follow-through after an attack, and trying to work on keeping that mental alertness that follows an attack, so that I can attack or counter as necessary afterward.  Again, very much a work in progress.

So that's me right now in a nutshell.  Submitted to the wide world of my blog as both a mile marker and a source of motivation to improve these issues.  I'm constantly tweaking and trying to improve my kendo, and with it out in the open for me to see (and anyone else that reads through here), I'm able to better visualize where I'm at and what still needs work. 

On a side note, our dojo welcomed a host of new people into our advance/pre-bogu class on Wednesday night.  We had about 8-10 people that moved up into our class from the intermediate class, and it was so good to see such a large class stick with practice and join us.  I've had the privilege of helping out and even leading their classes quite a bit through the past few months, and I hope that they all continue to practice hard so that they can all be ready for bogu in the (hopefully near) future.  From personal experience it can be quite a shock in our dojo to jump up, because there's so much going on and so many new techniques thrown at them, so I'll be sure to make myself as available as I can for them, and I know that the other dojo members are just as eager to help as I am.  I'm definitely excited to see their progress and their contributions to our dojo over the course of training.

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