Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Positive Spirit

Hello 2015!  We're a few weeks in and I can already tell that this year is going to be great, kendo-wise.  I feel solid and more confident, and I'm excited for the improvements I'm working on and the opportunities that I have before me this year.  There's a lot of exciting events coming down the pipe!

One thing that was brought up this weekend was keeping up a positive spirit throughout practice.  This is something we've talked about over the years, but it really came to light for me recently.  Partly because this is going to be a main focus of mine this year.  I decided that instead of working on mastering this technique, or working on that with my footwork/bodywork etc, I'm going to focus on having a positive spirit this year.  It can make all the difference during practice, and can help to not only raise yourself up and improve your own training, but also raise the room and its members up and help them give their best.  Sinclair Sensei is correct in saying that if you have a positive spirit it will help to improve everything else about your kendo.  So, this year will be the year that I have a positive spirit throughout!

We've been working on kata a lot lately, as we do semi-annually.  I love the in-depth study that we do during these times, and no matter how many times I perform a kata or study it on my own I always end up learning something new.  This time, with my upcoming sandan test next month, I've been focusing a lot on the kodachi kata.  I'd learned the steps to them before, but it's been fun really diving into the meat of what they are and what makes them work.  I'd been struggling with kodachi kata three, in particular, over the past couple months, but lately it's been clicking in my mind.  Now I'm having troubles with the counter in kodachi kata one.  From one end to the other!  But I feel like my problem is two-fold:  I move too soon, and I also step too far to the side.  I need to remember that I need to move only enough to slip past uchidachi's strike so that I can get inside their space and deliver a strike of my own.  And I need to be confident in the block and counter, so that I don't move too early.  This will be my focus during the next month.

Training has been great lately.  It seems that whether we have a big turnout or small, the spirit and intensity in the room is huge.   Must be something in the water, but everyone seems to be bringing their best to the table.  What's awesome for me is it has motivated me to step things up a bit and give my best.  I did have a nasty tumble last week which slowed me down a bit, but this week I feel good as new again.  I've been focusing on having a purpose in my strikes, and being more picky and choosy about when and what I strike.  I believe I've mentioned it before, as I get struck more, but I also feel like my seme, sutemi and zanshin have all been heightened by attacking on purpose.  In addition to that I've been playing with some different "styles" of play.  As a constant student of kendo, I watch a lot of videos.  Of my own dojo members.  Of others in our federation, and even of others around the world.  I've seen all kinds of styles, all of which have been affected, and I've been inserting those into my own practice, to see what works for me and what doesn't, and what I like and don't like.  For example, Saturday practice I tried to have the mindset of being a wall.  Never backing up, always pressuring forward and trying not to give in to my opponents.  Monday night I switched it up a bit, made my footwork more active and tried to move more fluidly.  I likened my mindsets during those two practices to a tidal wave (Saturday) and a river (Monday).  The "tidal wave" mindset was definitely more in line with how I usually fight, but adding more fluidity to my footwork and movement is something I'd like to incorporate.

I was made aware of a pattern that I fall into with my movement, which has definitely been something I've done unwittingly.  Instead of eliminating it, though, I want to work on doing it on purpose, if I do it at all.  It's something that I'll want to incorporate for different situations, so being mindful of it is the first step.  I'm thankful I was made aware of it, though.  Now that I'm aware of it I can definitely start using it to my advantage.  And use it to my advantage, I will!  At least to the best of my ability.

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