What I really need to work on right now, inside and outside of the dojo, is my endurance. I know that this has always been the one biggest weakness that I have, and so far my willingness to correct it has been sporadic. I will dive headlong into fixing it for a while (weeks, even months sometimes) but then I let the daily grind get to me. I get "busy" and I "don't have time" to properly run or work out, and it's perfectly justified to me, even though I know deep down it's just an excuse. Or I will injure something that will cause me to have to slow down, at which point I kind of fall off the bandwagon again. This time, though, I want to make a determined effort that won't fade away in a few weeks. This time I'm serious about improving, more so than I have been before. I'm writing it all down here to keep myself accountable, so that I can see it every time I look at this page. I started running again, after a few weeks of not doing so, so I have a good feeling that I'll be able to ramp that up to where I was before fairly quickly. Also I will be doing more core exercises at home, as well as more hayasuburi. In practice I will be pushing my limits, as I did yesterday. During yesterday's training I stepped out once, briefly, to stretch my hips and let them relax for a bit, but I was back in as soon as I felt I was ready. I want to push myself hard, but I also have to watch out for injuries that I might have or that I'm just getting over so I have to be able to recognize when to keep going and when to step back because I'm not doing my body any good.
Wednesday I had an interesting experience. Before class our sensei came and asked if I could lead the advanced class in kaeshi do drills. This was a big first for me. First time I've taken control of the advanced class. I kept things simple, first breaking down the strike the way that I've seen and been taught and I tried to have people focus on making on smooth, quick movement with the shinai from block to strike, and making a very small step. I built up from there until a few drills later we were doing the full kaeshi do drill, where both sides would hit and go through. It was pretty fun, and a bit nerve-wracking, to lead the advanced class, but in a lot of ways it was way easier than the beginner or intermediate classes. The advanced members have all been around long enough that a lot of explanation is not necessary. I was able to just point out a couple of points that I thought were important and they followed suit. Still, I enjoyed the experience and look forward to hopefully doing it again in the future.
I've been concentrating a lot on kaeshi do myself, as I've written about recently, but I've also been working on kote. I seem to do a fine job of using debana kote when the opportunity is present, but when I step in to hit just a straight, simple kote I am not very successful. I'd like to change this, so I've been working on just stepping in and striking kote. My main problem seems to be that I don't get in deep enough and I end up hitting the tsuba or the wrist a lot. Ando Sensei gave me some good advice on this, advice which I will be sure to use the next time I have a chance to practice.
Lately in jigeiko I've had a lot of time and gained a lot of experience fighting against nito. This is due in part to the return of Jeff, one of our members that had been away from the dojo for a few months due to work. It is also due in part to Sensei's son, Dan. He has started using nito in jigeiko, after practicing with it for months and months during our regular drills. So now we have three consistent nito players at our dojo. It's interesting to see the similarities in all of their styles, but also the vast differences in the way they all fight, and it keeps me on my toes to try and adapt to all of them while also fighting against two swords. It's definitely a challenge that I look forward to, though.
So, to wrap things up, I'm hoping that over these next few months, and into the future, I'll be able to make a change and vastly improve my conditioning and my endurance. Stay tuned to see how I'm doing with it!