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Showing posts from 2015

Kent Taikai 2015 - The Bernice Special!

A couple of weekends ago we packed up and headed over to compete in the 19th Annual Kent Taikai.  This one is always one of my favorites, as I feel the atmosphere is very local and laid back.  I've told people before, for me, it feels like getting together with old friends, making new friends, hanging out and occasionally beating up on each other as we go through the matches together.  This year was no different and did not disappoint on the friends, the competition or the camaraderie.  We pulled up the morning of the tournament, helped set up a bit, changed and warmed up and got ready for a day of kendo.  There were ten of us total that were competing, across almost every division that they had this year (excluding the division for younger kids).  I not only was able to compete, but this year I also acted as shinpan, and was able to help in judging a lot of the matches for the kids and the kyu divisions before competing myself.  I have to say, shinpan work is tough!  But it'…

PNKF Taikai 2015

This past weekend our dojo participated in the 41st Annual PNKF Taikai, the biggest tournament in our region.  We attracted competitors from all over our federation, Canada and Mexico.  And, due to exchange students being present, we also had a few Japanese students fighting with us.  Our Spokane team actually had a couple of our own, which helped fill out our ranks and add to our team for the team division.

We started out the day early, getting to the venue to help set up and make sure everything was ready to go.  Afterward I actually got to lead our dojo warm-up before the opening ceremonies.  This was something usually reserved for Billy, but unfortunately for us (and fortunately for him) he has since moved onto to hopefully greener pastures in Japan.  My division, 3 Dan, wasn't up until about midday, so I helped out on the court we were assigned to and tried to take in some of the shake-ups that were happening in the 4 Dan+ division, and also root on our own guys when their d…

Boise

This past week I was in Boise for work.  It was a nice trip, made many times better by the fact that I was able to train with Stroud Sensei and the local members of the kendo club there.  For anyone that doesn't know, Stroud Sensei is Kyoshi 7 dan in kendo and Renshi 6 dan in iaido.  Since I don't practice iaido it was the kendo instruction I was most interested in.  And instruction I got...

Wednesday night was practice at BSU and there were about 6 of us there that night, ranging from brand new beginner up to 4 dan.  After warm-ups, we worked a lot on footwork, doing various drills up and down the dojo floor while adding in lots of kiai.  Afterward we went into basic striking drills, building on each one with lots of spirit, emphasis on good footwork and striking with our body, not just our hands (one of my weaknesses, as I found out).  We then suited up in full bogu and continued our drills, doing a drill that involved striking various targets in order, and adding more and …

The Other Side

Once again, it's been a while since I've posted anything.  That's ok, I've been busy with life and with kendo.  A few weeks ago I took over teaching the beginning class.  I've taught and lead classes in the past, but always on a as-needed basis.  I'd fill in when other people were gone, or if I was asked to for that day or week, but never on a regular basis.  Now, though, the beginning class is my responsibility.  I'll be leading them through two month of practice, laying the foundation of basics that they'll build on in later classes.  I feel a sense of achievement in this, as I look back on the years of my own training and see where I was and where I am now.  I also feel a lot of responsibility for the students I have.  It will be entirely up to me what they learn, and what they don't learn.  If there is an issue with the way they strike men, or how they move their feet, it will be squarely on my shoulders.  But I'm definitely up for the new …

Rose City Taikai 2015

Last weekend our dojo participated in the 2015 Rose City Taikai, hosted by our friends at the Obukan Kendo Club in Portland.  We had eight members, competing across five different individual divisions and the team division.  All in all, we did really well, and I was happy to see that our newer members were able to fight well while also keeping the excellent basics that they've been working on.  I also had my first chance to be an official shinpan.  I didn't get to do many matches, as we had a lot of the higher-ranks on our court and they kept changing me out for 4 Dan or up, but it was fun nonetheless.  This year I was also in the big boys' division - 3 Dan & Up.  It was quite the experience, and one that I'm about to share with anyone that wants to read it...


Our division started after lunch, so I was able to watch some amazing kendo before my matches.  I was quite a ways in, too, and saw some surprises within our division.  My match was up at the end of the seco…

From Practice To Application

We're running into the warmer months around here, and with that comes the time of year where our dojo typically dives into all kinds of fun drills for practicing all manner of techniques.  We usually go through many, many different techniques and situations for using them, encouraging people to grab a couple of waza that they really like and want to develop.  Lately at practice I've been hitting men, dou, and kote from all manner of position and distances, and using various forms of footwork, body movement, and shinai manipulation to get to my target.  I love this time for the dojo because I get to do a lot of drills that I don't normally get to do, as well as practice techniques that I'm both fairly strong at, and I also am terribly, well, terrible at! 

Ando Sensei has been leading a lot of the practices lately, having us go over various situations.  It seems that he's especially fond of having us hit from to-ma (far out, more than one step away from the target)…

UW Taikai 2015 - New Division?!

Last weekend my dojo and I participated in the 39th Annual UW Taikai, hosted by our friends at (where else?) the UW Kendo Club.  The weekend started off great, with a great practice at the Bellevue Dojo the night before, and with me getting some great practice and advice from my friends and sensei over on the coast.  One thing I need to remember is to be a better actor, courtesy of Goh Sensei!  Since I recently bumped up a rank, I would be fighting, for the first time, in the sandan division.  I've fought that level of people before in other tournaments but now I was officially there myself and I was excited, and a little nervous, to see how I'd do throughout the tournament.

Our division started fairly early, going just after the women's division finished up.  I had a bye into the second round so I got a chance to check out the competition that day, namely the person I would be fighting first off.  I personally don't like byes and would rather fight first round out, b…

PNKF Winter Shinsa 2015 - Sandan

Last weekend was the PNKF's Winter shinsa.  I was fortunate enough to be able to participate, going over to Seattle to test for the rank of sandan (3 Dan, the "black belt" ranks).  I've been training hard for the past couple years since I tested for nidan, and I was about to put it all to the test again in front of five judges that would deem me ready or not for the new rank I was challenging.  I felt confident, and was hoping I could relay to the judges once my time came.  Before the test, though, we had a chance to train with our friend at the UW Kendo Club, as well as a chance to give their college team some good practice before their big event at the Harvard collegiate taikai next month. 

Elizabeth Marsten Sensei put together a team and team lineup for us, and we would face off against the UW team in a couple of practice team matches.  Without going into too much detail, we gave them a good fight, stressed them a bit, and enjoyed some great matches together.  Pe…

Steveston Taikai 2015 - No Expectations

This past weekend I finally, after many years, was able to travel to and compete at the Steveston Taikai, in British Columbia, Canada.  This was the 53rd year for this event, and I was glad that the stars finally aligned and I was able to make the journey.  It was a long one from Spokane up to Vancouver, but it was well worth it.  I had a great weekend filled with friends, adventures, road-tripping in our van, and lots of action at the taikai! I went to the taikai with no expectations of how I would do, or even who I would face.  Since it was the first time I was there all I wanted to do was exhibit good kendo in all of my matches, whether that ended up being one match or ten.  I think I accomplished that...

We arrived at the site early Saturday morning, and the first thing I noticed was how big the venue was.  There was the main gym, with four courts, and two auxiliary gyms.  One was being used for housing equipment and bags, and for warming up ,and one was used as an extra courts. …

Welcome Back!

I've said it before, but I'd like to say it again - I'm extremely happy to see Ando Sensei back at our dojo!  We got the news that he would be returning to our city for work, but we weren't sure if he'd have the time to come and train with us.  Turns out he does, and he seems to be back in full force!  We were lucky to have him not only for all of our regular practices last week, but also for our Friday night team training (name pending!).  He brought so much to our dojo last time he was here, just over two years ago, and it will be good to have his experience and leadership again. 

These last few weeks for me have been about tightening everything up.  Getting out the screwdriver and making sure all of the nuts and bolts are secured properly, so to speak.  I've been putting a lot of feeling, for lack of better word, into my kata lately, treating each go at it with my partners as if we were at the shinsa and had a panel of judges and spectators watching us.  Th…