Skip to main content

Same Window, Different Visual

Photo courtesy of J. Fugitt
Well, I hadn't realized it had been so long since I posted.  To anyone that is a regular reader, I am sorry for the delay.  July proved to be a very busy month in my personal life.  But hopefully I'll get back on my regularly scheduled updates.  I had no lack of training, though!

We're just about to finish up our semi-annual kata study, and I've learned quite a bit.  Nothing that I didn't already know about, but I learned a lot about the way I approach it.  The feeling behind the kata.  The subtle changes in tempo, rhythm and movements.  Kata is becoming less of a step-by-step guide and more of an actual dance.  I'm able to concentrate on things beyond the physical movements, because I have practiced the movements themselves for years and years.  Now I can make kata personal.  Wendy made a good point last week, stating that we must always try to learn something new when we do kata, or find news ways to look at it, even though it's the same movements over and over.  In this way we can keep kata fresh and exciting.  If we let our minds become lazy then we will not be able to progress, and kata will become a boring exercise that is only required for shinsa.  There is much to be learned through kata, if we only take the time to focus and study.

The same idea can be applied to the rest of our kendo.  Same window, different visual.  How many times during practice do we perform a men strike?  20?  50?  I'm guessing at least a couple of hundred times.  Each of those is an opportunity to make our strike better than before and to examine and contemplate our strengths and weaknesses.  Yet a lot of times I find myself just going through the motions.  Sometimes it's on purpose and I just want to let my technique be what it is and do kendo at that time, but other times I'm blindly doing the drills and my mind isn't on anything in particular.  I need to tighten that up a bit and work to always be mindful.  In this way, with this kind of focus, I can continue to find new and interesting aspects of my techniques and can better work to fix them.

Lately I've been working a lot on my footwork, trying to keep my feet in a good position so I can attack at any time, and trying to keep myself alert, especially during jigeiko.  Sinclair Sensei touched on some points last night about being alert and ready, especially physically.  Your posture and balance play into this a lot, and he emphasized the need to turn and be ready after a strike so that you can attack or counter as necessary.  We should turn and be ready immediately, which means one step back into kamae while keeping good balance.  We should also turn and not lose focus, bringing our shinai around into a good position while keeping our mind open to look for an opening or opportunity to strike.  His words, as always, helped me a lot since I'd been doing a little bit of that myself lately, especially the turning and immediately being ready.

I've really felt solid during jigeiko these past few weeks.  I don't know if it's from the extra team training I've been doing or my emphasis and bringing everything together and trying to attack with purpose, but whatever it is I feel like it's been working for me.  I have a lot more confidence when I fight, and I'm able to pick up on openings a bit better than before.  Plus I'm making my own openings, even on people at my own level, which is a great feeling.  I hope to continue this and break it down even more so I can see what is the catalyst behind this improvement.

Kata and keiko go hand-in-hand, and each can benefit from the other.  If we are willing to put in the time and effort, there's and endless array of things to learn and interpretations to be had from each one.  Same window, different visual.


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 …