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Learning to Fly

Photo by G. Hoover
 These past couple weeks have been pretty rough.  Not in a bad way, but in a very good way.  I've been pushing myself hard at practice and I think it's starting to show.  I'm still dealing with my sore hips, but I'm working with Sinclair Sensei to resolve that issue.  As far as technique goes, I feel like all of the little improvements I've been working on are starting to come together pretty nicely.  I'm feeling things start to "click" for me.  I'm pushing through to that next level and it's an awesome feeling, if somewhat difficult. 

We've been working a lot on footwork lately.  Building speed, starting with an explosive movement that happens all at once, and making that movement continue through with our follow-through.  I, personally, have also been working on some more aggressive footwork and being to able to set my left foot when I move and launch immediately, so putting all that together has put more stress on my hips.  Also the fact that I've been turning my hips as I strike has caused some pain and soreness.  This is a new issue that I wasn't aware of before, so I've been taking small steps to try and fix it, and also being more mindful of it during practice so I can catch it early and eliminate it quickly. 

I went to the dojo on Friday night to work with Billy on some different footwork drills and what not, and afterward I stayed and watched the team training.  Sinclair Sensei brought up some points that go along with his motto of  "Train like you fight, fight like you train."  The points that he brought up I've heard before, but they were good to hear again because they really resounded with me.  So Saturday before class I tried working on them on my own.  I have to say that they helped, a lot!  I might not have made any major leaps in skill or technique that day, but I did make a chance in my mindset that I feel showed on the floor during the rest of practice that day.  One of the main things I did was to treat each strike in our drills as a real situation, and to make each strike count.  It helped get me out of the "practice" and "drill" mentality and into a more serious mentality.  Not that I don't take practice seriously, but even making that small change in the way I was thinking about things changed the way I moved, the way I attacked, even the way I did my kiai.  I tried to make each strike count on its own, not only during jigeiko but during each of our drills. 

In addition to the footwork and the new mindset, I've also been working on making my kote better.  It's pretty quick as is, but there is still wasted movement in there, so Billy went over some things I can do to change that and make my kote strike more efficient.  I don't want to necessarily build more speed, I just want to be more accurate and eliminate the wasted movement, so when I have time to work on that I've been breaking it down into it's pieces and going from there.  I'm hoping that here in a few weeks I'll have shown some real improvement with it.  The few times I was able to strike the way Billy showed me it definitely felt better.  Practice practice practice!

All in all, a great couple of weeks.  And even greater because we're leading up to our big PNKF taikai in a couple more weeks.  I hope that I do well since I'll be in the 1-2 Dan division this year, but even more so I hope to continue to show beautiful kendo.  I'm sure that the changes I'm making and I'm seeing develop with my technique will accomplish that goal for me.

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