Last night's practice was a bit different. We started off with a local shinsa, in which a lot of our newer members were able to test. We had both kids and adults, men and women, testing for ranks from 10 kyu up to 5 kyu. Kyu, for anyone that might not know, are ranks below the black belt level (dan ranks). One big thing that I noticed is that everyone had great spirit and kiai, and all of them did great with the basics. Full swings, keeping the left hand in the center, etc. Even the kids were doing great with these points, which was awesome to see. Oh, and I also got to be on the judging panel, which was new for me. I noticed as we went up through the ranks that the level of kendo presented rose. Timing became more synchronized. Swings were faster, cuts were sharper, footwork was a bit more refined. Again, very refreshing to see, and great job to everyone last night because they all ended up passing.
After the shinsa we had open floor, and we used the time for jigeiko. We grabbed partners and did over an hour of jigeiko, and in that time I had many great rounds with my friends and partners, and learned a lot during that time. I tried to just focus on doing the best kendo that I had, because that's what I'm planning on doing at the shinsa on Saturday. I worked on making my own strikes sharp and defined, and making my timing as perfect as I could, and keeping my footwork crisp and snappy. I had a few good hits, and a few misses, but all throughout I never gave up and kept my focus. I still have a ton to work on, but for now I feel good about where I'm at with my training.
I can feel the sun setting on this chapter of my kendo journey. I had a great year at shodan, but the end of this chapter marks the beginning of a new one. I am hopeful and positive and will work to make this new chapter the best that I can. I'm looking forward for what's in store for me in the future.