Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Kent Taikai 2018: How to Deal with Disappointment

A sobering entry today, but hopefully a valuable lesson for me and anyone reading.

Last weekend my dojo mates and I participated in the Kent Taikai in Kent, WA.  I look forward to this tournament as it's a little smaller and more intimate than the PNKF Taikai we attended last month, and it's a chance to catch up with my kendo friends in the area as well as participate in some good matches.  This year delivered in that regard.

We had six competitors this year, ranging from 1-3 kyu up to the 3-4 dan divisions.  One of our new-to-us members participated, as well, so that was fun to welcome him to our crazy taikai weekend trips.  The trip itself went well, and the pass was clear for us so we had a smooth ride to the Seattle area and to training at the Bellevue Kendo Club on Friday night.  It was a good night, and I was able to have a lot of quality keiko with the kodansha over there, as well as received some helpful feedback and advice that I'll be putting into practice soon.

PNKF Taikai 2018

Last weekend a few of my dojo mates and I loaded up and headed to Seattle for the 44th Annual PNKF Taikai.  This is the biggest tournament in our region and sees many, many people from not only around our federation but also from Canada, Hawaii and beyond.  This year I heard we had around 300 participants and welcomed a couple of new participating dojos, including a new dojo from Canada and from as far away as New Jersey.

Our trip to the tournament began the day before.  Friday three of us headed over for training at Bellevue Kendo Club.  J Marsten Sensei welcomed us with greetings and a good, hard practice.  I picked up some new things to try for my own improvement, and after warm-ups and some basic drills we broke into open floor.  I was able to practice with some of my long time friends before I was grabbed by one of the members and pulled over to own line.  I relished the chance to practice with her, since I haven't had a chance throughout all of these years, and she did not …

Active Teaching, Active Learning

Most of my kendo life I've been happy and content being a student.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still very much a student and I don't think that will ever change.  That's part of the beauty of kendo; there's always more to learn and more to improve.  Three yeas ago, though, I started teaching the beginning class as their main instructor.  That mantle has only recently been (mostly) passed onto another member.  Here and there I would lead the other classes, as well, including our main class, where the bulk of our members come to train.  I never thought much of it, though, and would either follow a set plan or I would run basic drills and our basic format.  Most of the time I tried to follow a coherent plan of drills that would build on top of each other, i.e. kote, kote-men, then using kote-men as a counter to kote.  I also liked to build drills around a theme, such as kote drills, or counters effective for men, or other things of that nature.

Lately I've been …