I've been working a lot on some new things this past month, but last week I decided to do something that I don't think I've ever done before. I decided to let it all go and just focus on kendo. We have a tournament coming up, and instead of polluting the waters with new things that I'm not used to or proficient with, I wanted to take a step back and just work on what I know and focus on strengthening what I've already got. For as long as I can remember, I've always been working on something. They say that kendo is easy to learn, but takes a lifetime to master, and this is so true. I see it more and more every day that I practice. Kendo is definitely a multi-layered beast, and just when you think you've perfected a certain technique or movement or theory, you peel back to reveal even more beneath. It can be the most frustrating and yet most rewarding feeling ever, sometimes.
Sinclair Sensei has been gone a lot this past month, focusing on his own training with his teacher, so I've found myself in a teaching position a lot lately. When I would take the reins, I wanted to focus on things that were important to me, or things that I was actively working on in my own training. I focused on practicing pressuring in and hitting, physical pressure with the body and the shinai, as well as keeping a relaxed yet controlled grip, and using proper tenouchi to add the power and the snap of the strike at the end. I also had a little fun, bringing back some old kote drills that Ando Sensei used to have us do when he was at our dojo.
I've actually felt pretty good this week with my training, besides the usual physical issues that arise here and there. Even though I haven't been focusing on anything in particular, and just working on enjoying my kendo and strengthening it, I feel like my strikes have been snappier, and that my small men strikes have been small, without as much wasted movement as I've had before. I also feel that my movement from my center has developed quite nicely, and that I'm not leaning as much as I used to. I know there's still a bit there, but hopefully with continued practice it'll soon fade away.
So, will this new focus help me at Obukan next weekend? I can't say for sure at this point. I guess I'll have to wait and see what happens. But I do believe that it's nice to just step back sometimes, clear your mind, and just let it all go. Remember the reasons that you started kendo. Remember the reasons you've grown to love the continued practice. Remember the reason you tighten those men himo.