Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Beginner's Point of View 64-65

Day 64:

No class because of the holiday.

Day 65:

I don’t know how, but I must have slightly sprained by left foot at the base of the big toe during last class. It’s been stiff for days and I’ve still had to walk on it. It’s been getting better slowly, but I still had to go to class with it stiff.

This should be the last time I have to stick to the beginner class exclusively to get back into the swing of things. I seemed to do fine, although halfway through class I seemed to limp from the pain of working my toe. It’s on the left foot so I use it for propelling myself forward and balancing myself going backward.

We did a lot of drills to strike, then pass on through today. It was men and pass on through, men and pass on through, and kote and pass on through. In the end, we took turns striking an advanced student on his men and passing through. Good drills.

By the end of class, my toe felt better. I guess it needed to be flexed and the lack of class on the holiday let it stiffen up. I should be fine by next week. This weekend, I need to maintain my shinai and rotate the staves.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Beginner's Point of View 54-63

Day 54-61:

No class since I am injured. I feel really guilty about missing class, but I learned my lesson. Never practice Kendo with sprained wrists. Also, most definitely never go to tournament with sprained wrists. Just because you can’t feel the pain immediately does not mean you won’t suffer later.

Day 62:

Today is my first day back from being injured. My wrists have healed since last week, but I gave them an extra week to be sure. My arms are sore, but not for any reason I can figure. Maybe they were just stiff from not exercising. However, when I showed up, only sensei was present. He was performing his Iaido kata by himself. I didn’t figure it out until after I was dressed in my uniform that the other students were off taking final exams for their college degrees. When class started, it was sensei, myself, and one other student from the regular class. The rest were young beginners, not even wearing keikogi or hakama.

Sensei led us through basic warm-ups and then we would practice simple men and kote strikes. Sensei would receive kote strikes using a special wrist guard that was made of a hard plastic shell over his kote. Afterwards, he asked me to put on men and kote and receive strikes from the class. First, they strike men. Then they strike kote. Then they strike kote-men. Eventually, there would be a single, constant line of students striking kote-men over and over. My right wrist developed a slight bruise because of the repeated strikes, but that’s okay. I’m just glad my wrists are no longer sprained.

I’m also glad that class let out after the beginner class was over. I had planned to make excuses to leave the advanced class, but there was no need. I think I’ll show up for the beginner class for this week and next week to get back into the swing of things and then show up for advanced class after that. I do not plan to re-hurt myself before the next event, which should be a Kendo seminar and maybe more.

Day 63:

Sempai was back and running the beginner class. We went through the usual warm-ups and drills. We used the large mirrors so everyone could observe themselves using the Kendo walk across the room and back. We then added swinging to build up to the next drill. Once that was done, we would line up and practice basic strikes of men and kote against one of the other advanced students in full bogu. Some of the beginners were very clumsy and not confident, but that’s okay. I’m sure I was like that at the start. We would strike men and the later strike kote. A few times we struck kote-man to push ourselves further.

The important lesson today was the etiquette of the strikes. By the end of class, Sempai was insisting that we start at taito, then advance three steps, draw the shinai, kiai, strike, pass through, then turn around for chudan, put the shinai away, back up, than bow to the student we struck. This adds a little culture and proper respect to our fellow student who lets us hit them to learn. It was a good lesson.

My wrists were sore before class, so I took some over-the-counter painkiller before class and made sure to stretch out well. By the end of class, my wrists were only a little sore. I expect they will be better soon. Meanwhile, I think I’ll show up for the beginner class for the next week to keep getting back into form. I’m thinking of buying one of those stretchy wrist protectors that fit underneath the right kote to prevent bruising. I’ll do some research and think about it.