Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 134-135

Day 134:

Today was the day sensei came back to class from healing his knee. So, he decided that he needed to work hard and we all worked alongside him. The big focus here was for endurance and timing. We only did a little kiri-kaeshi, and then went right into one-step men and one-step kote.

Afterwards, we did a series of drills to work up to reactive waza. At first we would hit men, then we would try to hit men while our partner did suriage and surige-men. Then we would try to hit men while our partner would do men-suriage-men and men-debana-men. Then came a freeform drill where we would do men strikes and our partner would choose any reactive drill they wanted, such as kote-debana-men, men-kaeshi-doh, or men-suriage-men.

After that it was keiko, a lot of keiko. I’m happy to say that after all of the drills, I did not have to sit down once. Of course, there were an odd number of us and therefore we had to rotate in and out, but I did not have to step out of line once. I may have come close, but not enough to do so.

We faced off in a series of practice matches where sensei would designate someone as a shinpan to decide who scores a point. We all had several keikos where one point won the match. Some matches between Dans lasted multiple minutes.

Day 135:

Today was another hard day. After kiri-kaeshi, we worked more on stepping up to oji-waza. We would do ten aiouchi-men, then one side would do men while the other would do doh strikes. Then we would rotate and start again with kote or maybe do debana strikes. Instead of five times for each drill, we did ten times for each drill. I found myself out of breath quickly, but I pushed onward to fight against my fatigue.

There was also a keiko where I tried to practice my one-step strikes. My partner would occasionally leave an opening. Sometimes I would recognize it and attack. Sometimes I would put up a defense, fearing a trap. Sometimes, I would strike a different target on reflex, seeing it open before anything else. Over and over I took time to catch my breath, but eventually, I had to sit down.

Afterwards, we did kata. I love kata. After rehearsing the first three kata (and trying to remember the footwork), sensei taught us the sixth kata. Both partners start in chudan. The shidachi moves into gaedon kamae and the pair take three sliding steps forward. The shidachi bends their wrists to bring the saki up a little and then steps forward once boldly, bringing their bokken up towards the uchidachi’s wrists. The uchidachi must step backwards into right jodan to avoid the attack, then they must come to chudan. The uchidachi then tries to attack the shidachi’s kote. The shidachi performs suriage-kote, a small move but deliberate. Then the shidachi moves into left jodan to threaten the uchidachi, who takes a step back. Afterwards, the pair relax and go back into chudan. That was a nice exercise.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 132-133

Day 132:

Today was a short class for me. I was feeling a little sluggish, so I went to the beginner class to start working off some of the holiday weight. I was huffing and puffing in no time. We put on men and began doing kiri-kaeshi, one-step men, and one-step kote with the beginner students.

It must be some of the first classes with full bogu for the beginner students because two of them were panicking during kiri-kaeshi. They would stay far away from me while receiving head strikes, making it hard for me to connect. Still, with some practice, they’ll do just fine.

Day 133:

Today was an extra-hard day of practice. We lined up and then just did drills over and over and over again to sharpen our skills. Kiri-kaeshi, one-step men, one-step kote, kote-men, and one-step doh. I had to stop and rest after that. After a few minutes, I went back in for more of the same.

One drill we did that was difficult was harai-men. You step in for men strike, but instead of just taking center you actually strike the opponent’s shinai diagonally upwards, making an opening. My first opponent was striking downward, which is a different tactic, so I did it. My next partner had to correct me so that I could do the drill properly.

A few more men and kote drills and then I was done for the night. My keiko-gi felt like it had 3 pounds of sweat in it. I should probably wash it this week. In fact, I was not out of breath so much that I was out of energy and sweat trickling into my eyes and burning. If I had the energy to continue, I would have just let them burn but I stopped.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 130-131

Tonight, Sensei could not teach the class. Also, two of the usual sempai had to leave early, leaving us without any Dans. So, the last sempai ordered that one of us be in charge. He chose someone I had trained with almost from the start. He’s higher ranking by one rank, so it makes sense. Instead of doing a drill a couple of times and then switching up, he decided that we do a full rotation of a drill through every station of the rotation (sometimes twice) before moving on to the next drill.

We did a lot of kiri-kaeshi, two rotations of it. Then we did two rotations of one-step men, two rotations of one-step kote, and then two rotations of kote-men. After that, I had to stop and rest. I was tired and out of breath. After some water and rest, I was back in. We repeated some of the men strikes and some doh strikes. I had to rest again afterwards. It makes me wonder if I put on some weight over the holidays. I should keep coming to class as long as my foot stays healthy.

We had a guest today. He is a Kumdo expert who sometimes comes to train. He was very nice and he carried himself with a lot of dignity. He did a few things differently than we did. When receiving kiri-kaeshi, he does not try to keep his shinai straight up and down, instead, he swaps between different angles, as if rotating around a point in the middle of the sword. He also passes on the opposite side when he strikes kote. Overall, he was very good at the art.

At the end, we did some keiko. I sparred with most everybody, including our visitor. I need to keep exercising to keep up my stamina for tournament. Still, keiko was a lot of fun.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 128-129

Day 128:

Today we had another Guest Sensei instead of our normal one. This Guest Sensei is a 6-Dan and came from Japan. He also brought his son, who was a 3-Dan. We asked him to teach the class and he was very honored to do so.

He took a lot of time to explain the drills he wanted us to do, including demonstrating them. We wound up doing a lot of oji-waza (advanced techniques), such as kote-suriage-men and men-kaeshi-doh. Guest Sensei seemed to be tireless as he would correct us when we did not do it right and he also was very patient as he was asking a lot of Kyu ranks to perform Dan-level waza.

One interesting drill he showed us was done a lot in Japan. A group of 4 or 5 students would form a group with one in the middle. The one in the middle would be doing the drill and each of the others would form into two lines, one on the left and one on the right. One of the students from the group on the left would step up and challenge the one in the middle, who would perform the requested drill. Then afterwards, the one in the middle turns to the line on the right and one of those would challenge the one in the middle, who performs the drill again. Over and over this is done until all students on the left and right lines have challenged the one in the middle. Then the last one would step up and the one in the middle would challenge them. The last one would perform the prescribed drill and now rotate position to be the one in the middle. This would go on over and over until all students in the group have taken a turn performing the drill on all other students in the group. We did this for many types of drills until the end of class.

Guest Sensei also had us do a few rounds of keiko and I was lucky enough to spar with him. He would push my limits by giving me smaller and smaller openings while counterattacking. I actually surprised him by taking a one-step-leap and extending my arms to their limits and striking his men before he could debana strike my kote. He was very pleased and complimented me. He also cautioned me not to lean forward too far while I did this so as to not look scared or throw myself off-balance.

Day 129:

I decided to skip this class to heal my foot. There’s a break in my skin where dead skin ripped away and exposed raw flesh to infection.