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Kent Taikai 2016 - Relaxation: Not a Myth

It's been a couple weeks since our dojo competed at the 20th (20th!) Annual Kent Taikai in Kent, WA, but the matches I had there and the lessons I learned continue to stay fresh in my mind.  It was an awesome tournament experience, and even though I didn't place in anything this time around I feel like I had some of the best matches of my kendo life so far.  Let's get into it!

This taikai showed my return to shinpan duty.  I missed Obukan this past summer and they only used 4 Dan and up for shinpan at PNKF.  I did my best and received some good advice from the sensei floating around and my court judge.  Overall I think I did a good job of "keeping the triangle" between the three of us, moving to position quickly and efficiently and always being aware, but I was told that I may be setting my bar a bit too high for ippon for some of the matches.  This is one area that will just take more practice to really get a feel for.  At the same time I am confident that each…

Returning to Kendo - An Insider's View

It's been a while.  I seem to write that a lot.  Not for lack of thought, though.  I've been doing the "kendo grind" lately, as I call it (The Kendo Grind).  A lot of it!  I have some big plans that are in motion right now that I'll post about later on.  But for now I wanted to look back on something that is near and dear to my heart, mainly because I went through it myself.

I recently read an article about returning to kendo written by Zoe Hinis.  It was a well-written article and touched on a lot of points that I had considered myself.  But I wanted to write this and put it out there as a look at it from the viewpoint of someone that went through it.  A little backstory, to start.  The first time I stepped into a kendo dojo was WAY back in 2004.  I had heard of this "kendo" thing and wanted to check it out.  I had always wanted to take up a martial art, and I had always loved swords, so when I heard that there was a martial art out there involving s…

2016 US Nito Seminar

Boise! Boise! Boise!  I've been there before on work-related trips, where I was able to enjoy training with the local clubs, but nothing in this capacity before.  This past weekend Boise played host to the 2016 US Nito Seminar, a yearly weekend-long seminar dedicated to the pursuit and practice of the unique two-sword style of kendo.  I was lucky enough to be able to participate this year and it was an experience that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my training life.

This year there were over 80 participants hailing from all over the US and Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Japan, Italy and Malaysia (and a host of others I may have missed)!  We all gathered together at the Boise State University campus to participate in this 3-day long seminar, which provided plenty of lecture, practice, keiko and even a bit of shiai at the end.  I had never done nito before and I played with the idea of practicing it before I went, but decided against it.  This year we would …

UW Taikai 2016

The 40th Annual UW Taikai.  Forty years of competition at the University of Washington.  I've competed in five previous tournaments here and always had a challenging (although fulfilling) time.  This tournament would be no exception.

My division started in the afternoon, so after warming up in the morning I was able to cheer on my teammates in the Women's and 1-2 Dan divisions before going out and fighting my own battles.  There seemed to a lot of drops and changes to the line-up this year, so I ended up fighting C. Marsten in my first match.  I'd fought him before at the Kent Taikai a few months prior so I knew I could win if I fought smart enough.  But even with that past experience I knew I was in for a tough fight.  H is definitely a force to be reckoned with and would take advantage of anything I gave him.  It's funny, too, since we'd already been on the court together that day, as shinpan (judges).  Now instead of working together we'd be fighting each o…

California (Kendo) Love

California!  Last week I had the chance to travel to Los Angeles for business, and while there I, of course, took advantage of the excellent kendo culture and training.  This was my first trip to the area and I didn't actually know anyone down there, but I took a chance and visited both Butokuden with Ariga Sensei and Gardena Kendo Club, with Mamiya Sensei.  Both were very welcoming of me joining their training, and both gave me a good look into SoCal kendo and some ideas and advice to take home and work into my own training.

Tuesday night was training at Butokuden.  Bad news was that Ariga Sensei couldn't be there himself as he left that day for the European Kendo Championships.  Good news was that they were celebrating a new member and were having a potluck after practice, so I came at a good time!  The dojo itself was very nice, having been built right next to the E-Bogu warehouse.  The floor was very nice, and plenty of room for movement, although I'd say that the tot…

The Kendo Grind

Lately I've been wanting to write a new post, but I just have had no real inspiration.  Since the last time I wrote, about the Kent Taikai, I've pretty much just had my nose down to the grindstone at my local dojo.  So, why not write about that?  So here we go.  Apologies in advance to anyone else reading this, I might start rambling.

Ever since I passed sandan last year, I've been thinking "what's next?"  I'm always trying to look forward and see what I have to improve, what I have to do, to get to the next level.  I believe that kendo is a lifelong journey; one that never ends.  So I try to reflect that in my training.  I can find small victories in breakthroughs I make, or fixing problems that I had, but I always want to keep looking forward and looking how to improve even more.  My thoughts since the sandan shinsa have revolved around "what do I need for yondan," or, more specifically, "What do I need to be the best yondan I can be, so…