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Prepared Body, Prepared Mind

Photo by T. Patana
Last night felt great.  Better than great!  For the first time in a while I was able to practice without anything slowing me down.  No pain or injuries or anything.  The only thing that was bothering me was the heat, but that's typical during this time of the year and it's something that I'll get used to, like I have every other year.  I also, for once, felt like a true nidan at practice, which tied in well with what Sinclair Sensei focused on throughout the evening.  About halfway through practice he brought us all together and talked a bit about being not only physically prepared, but mentally prepared.  

Sensei brought up a lot of good points and gave us all really good advice, and I am going to take it to heart and really focus on it.  Basically he said that we can be physically talented in kendo, having done hours and hours and hours of training to develop our technique, but if we are not mentally ready and confident then all that training will be for nothing.  Our body and our mind need to work together to bring about successes throughout our kendo lives; they form a symbiotic relationship with each other, just like in all facets of our lives.  He talked for quite a while on this subject, giving us advice on how to prepare our mind so that it can utilize all of the training that our body has gone through.

We didn't do anything too crazy as far as drills.  Ran through some uchikomi, then waza-geiko and finished with jigeiko and a last round of kirikaeshi.  It felt really good to cut loose again, and I felt like I was flying around the dojo once more.  I noticed that some of the higher kyus have really been stepping it up lately, and it was really good to be pushed by all of them during jigeiko.  The more they improve, the more I have to push to improve myself, and in the end everyone benefits from it.

I still have a lean during certain attacks and techniques (fighting against jodan and nito, in particular), but I have also worked on eliminating it in other areas (hiki waza).  I'm glad that Kuster Sensei is there to point out my flaws and give me constructive criticism that I can use to improve.  Besides working on my body carriage and trying to keep a strong, straight posture when I attack I have also been working on my footwork.  Trying to use not only big but short steps and making them snappier to get me into an attacking position faster.  Technique-wise I'm trying to be explosive with all of my attacks and eliminate the wasted movement in my swings.  It's a slow process, but all throughout practice and our drills I try to remember to make each attack count.  Make each attack a serious effort and remember to not only move with confidence, but think with confidence.

It's good to see such high spirits from everyone lately, and seeing them all stepping it up.  I'm not sure what the future holds, but I have a really good feeling that we're on track for big improvements overall.

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