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Kendo, Straight Up


 I have a problem.  It's not a huge problem anymore, as I've worked to improve it, but it is a lasting problem that I've had since about the time I started kendo.  I lean.  I'm not talking about the Fat Joe kind; I'm talking about leaning my upper body into my strikes. 

Since I'm a firm believer in proper technique over getting points or strikes, I want to fix this in myself as soon as I can.  I can go back and watch videos of old matches and see just how bad it used to be.  It was terrible!  Especially in my kote strikes.  I can say that it's gotten a lot better and I'm usually able to carry myself fairly properly, but in the heat of a match or jigeiko I still tend to lean in just a bit.  Luckily Monday night this was the focus of our training, and Billy presented some points that I'd never thought about and ways to fix it.  The main idea that came up was that people tend to lean when they try to strike from too far away.  When we come up short from our body movement, we (guilt as charged) break posture and try to lean the upper body forward to get that extra distance.  How do we fix it?  By striking from a distance that is comfortable for us, of course!  The idea was so simple, but one that I hadn't thought about.  I'd fallen into the thought that if I just kept trying it, it would eventually get better.  This was all wrong and I'm glad it was brought to my attention.  I'll definitely be looking at that as I practice from now on, and focusing on it here for the next few weeks to see what other improvements I can make.

Since I started the new year, I've been doing some super secret (or not so super secret) training at lunch.  I mentioned in the last post that I was going to be doing this more, and I've stayed true to my word.  I've been going three times a week for the past three weeks, and I can already see improvements.  My hips no longer feel like they're sore and ready to give out at any moment.  My legs feel stronger and are able to move me into position a lot quicker and solidly, and they don't feel tired as soon.  Also my men strikes are feeling a lot better these days.  This might be due to the extra time I've been putting in, or it might be due to some words of encouragement that Sinclair Sensei gave me.  I'm guessing it's a little of both.  No longer do I feel so hesitant to use it, and even when I get hit I've been trying my best to finish my cut and push through, as though I did land a good strike.  These little changes in my physical ability and mental state are definitely helping me, and I'm hoping that I'm building good habits through the continued practice that I've been putting in.

So, to anyone out there that's struggling with "the lean,"  I would say the simplest, and most effective, advice is to move in a bit and shorten your distance.  I tried it and even for the one class it helped a lot, and I'm confident I'll see some good improvements and changes as I work on it myself.

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