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Going Out In Style

Yesterday was a special time for the members of my dojo.  For the past school year we've had a nidan from Japan training with us.  He came over as part of an exchange program for school, and yesterday was his last practice with us before he heads home this week.  The energy and emotional levels were high, and we all did our best to give him a proper send-off.  I'm sure that he'll return home with some lasting memories, and I'm glad I got to be a part of all of it.

Sensei really emphasized having sharp footwork and sword work yesterday, and we spent much of our warm-up time working on these aspects.  Stepping forward and back, side-to-side while snapping our trailing foot into place quickly, as well as making our strikes all one quick motion, instead of two motions (bringing the sword up, pausing, and then swinging forward to strike).  Personally I feel like my swing is ok, it can always use more work, but the footwork is something that I can definitely pick up the pace on, and something that I've been working on recently.  Just not quite in the same way.  So all during practice I tried to keep that focus of sharp, crisp footwork and snapping up my trailing foot quickly. 

As an extension of the sharp, quick strikes we also worked a lot on kote and debana kote.  Except for a few hiccups I felt really good with them yesterday.  For the most part I was accurate, and quick.  Although when going against jodan I still have so many issues with the timing.  I feel like I'm either way too early and not actually doing the right timing, or I'm way too late (usually this) and the target is gone before I can hit it.  It's definitely frustrating, I don't feel like I'm getting any better at it when facing jodan.  But I'll keep on it.  Hopefully all of the advice that Billy gives me will start sinking in sooner or later.

After a few weeks of missing him in rotation, I finally had a chance to do jigeiko with Ando Sensei again.  I tried to focus on just hitting and not hesitating like I have been known to do with him.  It seemed to work pretty well, for the most part.  Even when he struck me (which was often), I felt like I was also pushing myself forward to strike.  So even though I maybe would have lost the point if it were a match, I felt like I won in overcoming myself.  These small steps might be just that, small steps, but they are encouraging nonetheless.

At the end of practice we had a going away event of sorts for our friend that was leaving.  All of the yudansha formed a big circle with him in the middle and he did tachikiri-geiko with all of us.  In other words he had to fight all of us, in a row, with no breaks.  We started with us at the shodan end of the spectrum, and worked up to Ando Sensei in the final round.  Each round lasted one minute, and we pushed our friend hard.  There were only about nine of us, but by the end I could tell that Shu could barely stand.  But he was still able to grab a burst of energy here and there and throw out some great strikes.

In the end we had a great practice, not only as far as training goes, but for the fact that we were able to send our friend off in style. And hopefully in the future we'll be able to practice with our friend once again!

Photo by W. Sinclair


  1. Looks like a great group! :)

    Funny that you should mention the sharpness required in footwork, because only recently have I also been made very aware of similar issues. I lack any snap, my coordination sucks and on fumikomi I even step through with left. Yikes! So that's what I'm practicing at home this week: footwork, footwork, footwork.

    1. I'm not stellar at being snappy, but I think I'm pretty decent at it most of the time. I have been working on really exploding with my fumikomi and follow-through lately, though, so this emphasis on being snappy with ALL of our footwork falls right into place with what I've already been focusing on.

      Someone told me once that "Kendo is 80% footwork, 20% sword work." I'd have to whole-heartedly agree!


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