Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 160-161

Day 160:

There were only five of us in class today, so the size was small. After a quick round of kiri-kaeshi, we got an instruction on proper distance and taking center. Then Sensei had us separate into two lines and did repeated variations of one-step men and one-step kote.

Over and over, each side would do five men or five kote, taking care to line up our opponents, take center, and then strike from the proper distance. We spent just about the entire class performing these two drills. After a few more lectures and demonstrations, we did a couple rounds of one-step doh and a final round of kiri-kaeshi.

Day 161:

Today the focus was on big swings. We did lots of kiri-kaeshi drills, and then lots of one-step men. Sensei gave a lecture on making sure swings were big, like bringing the saki to just behind your head.

We also performed a new drill. We would start in tsuba-zeriai, then strike men going backwards (nuki-men). Once we did that a lot of times, we would practice tsuba-zeriai and then nuki-doh. After a few times of this, we enhanced the drill more. We would start at tsuba-zeriai, then strike nuki-men, and then once we are at one-step distance, we strike men and pass through. It teaches us to not “give up” or feel like “it’s time to stop”. We keep going. We keep fighting until the shinpan tells us to stop.

We even did a drill that was not our usual go-hon and then switch partner roles. I did five nuki-men strikes, then five nuki-doh strikes, then five nuki-men-men strikes, and then finished with five nuki-doh-men strikes. We finished class with several more rounds of kiri-kaeshi.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 158-159

Day 158:

Today is two practices before a tournament. This means Sensei wanted us to work extra hard (i.e. work to death). We had lots of students here today. We were actually full to capacity or so with very little side-to-side movement available.

We had a visitor who was from Ottawa. He walked on one of those metal canes in each hand because he had only one leg. It turns out that he was a sandan! He must be very dedicated.

We did endless rotations of kiri-kaeshi, over and over. Sensei wanted us to get lots of practice in since we would be expected to be able to show it in any promotional. I cannot go to the tournament because of my job. I have had many odd-hours shifts and I have missed lots of sleep. I need to rest and relax this weekend.

After kiri-kaeshi, we would do a lot of one-step men and one-step kote strikes. It was not one-sided, though. Any student who was shodan or above was expected to perform oji-waza on some of the strikes to practice counterattacks. We also did a few one-step kote-men.

After that, we vacated the middle of the floor and paired off for a lot of practice matches. It was only for one point and Sensei was the only shinpan. However, the beginner students who were going to their first tournament were given a lot of matches.

After that was done, we separated into two lines again slowly practiced one-step doh. One we had done this with every other student, we did more kiri-kaeshi drills.

Our visitor stayed with us the entire class, including a couple of practice matches where his opponent would only receive. It was a good lesson in seeing his very crisp, accurate strikes. He could not move very fast while hopping on his one foot, but he made up for it with his striking.

Day 159:

Today was more hard work. Sensei doesn’t believe in working us to death on the practice before tournament, but today we did not coast at all. We had a much smaller class, so we had room. Our one-legged visitor returned again.

We did a structured class of one-step men and one-step kote. We did not work on speed today, we worked on accuracy. Taking center before attacking is vital. Without it, you will miss. The dans again practiced oji-waza to sharpen their defenses.

Our beginner students also got in several practices matches to prepare them for tournament. At the end of class, Sensei asked our visitor to take turns striking all of us in kote, men, and kote-men. It was really interesting to see his crisp strikes from the receiving end.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 156-157

Day 156:

No class today since I am working at my job.

Day 157:

Today I came to the beginner class to get some practice in. My schedule at work has been chaotic and I need to keep practicing my Kendo. I showed up for the beginner class so I could be on time for work later.

When I showed up, Sensei asked me to lead the class in warm-ups. He especially wanted the class to perform the squat cuts. I led the class through some basic stretches and then some suburi. It was okii-suburi, shomen suburi, and haya-suburi. Sensei was giving some instruction to a student who would be taking his test for ni-dan this coming weekend. They were practicing a lot of kata while we were warming up.

After a short set of breathing, the students lined up and knelt in seiza. Then Sensei called for attention so that he and the student could demonstrate kata for the class. It was enjoyable to watch the kata done. Even though the student made a big, obvious mistake on the fourth kata, he kept going and finished. Then Sensei put on bogu so the class could hit him. During that, I lead the class in lots of sets of squat cuts. We did ten of them for practice, then rested for a moment. Then we did another ten and then I told them a tip about tenouchi at the end of the cut. Then as Sensei finished, we did a set of twenty fast squat cuts. Sensei joked that I was too soft with not going fast enough and too many breaks.

Then we separated into two lines and rotated through both Sensei and the student to be tested. We practiced our one-step men, one-step kote, and then kote-men.

We had a new student who had never been to a Kendo class before. I would have preferred to take him aside to teach him suri-ashi first, but Sensei wanted him in with the other students. I think that eventually someone should take him off to the side and teach him from the start soon so he can learn proper kamae right away.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 154-155

Day 154:

No class today since I am working at my job.

Day 155:

Today was a day to work hard. The weather is warming up a lot, so we have to be careful not to dehydrate. We did endless drills of one-step men, one-step kote, and one-step doh. We did this to increase our speed while keeping our accuracy. We also did this to increase our endurance.

Two of the senior students are recent promotions to shodan, so Sensei was taking them off one by one to give them private one-on-one instruction. The three of us who were in a group did an endless rotation as we alternated between sharpening our skills and helping the junior student learn the proper height of men strike. We did that trick where the odd one out held their shinai above the student’s head so their backswing would strike the shinai and show them the right place to stop the backswing. It went well.

We took a break as a group to rest and hydrate about two-thirds of the way through class. The dojo felt hot, but it was just us exercising a lot.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 152-153

Day 152:

No class today since I am working at my job.

Day 153:

Today was all about tenouchi. We started off practicing a 4-step men strike back and forth across the room. Then we narrowed it down to a 2-step men strike. Then we paired off and began using tenouchi to augment our one-step men and one-step kote strikes.

We would repeat this drill for each of our classmates before moving on to the next drill. Then we had two rounds of keiko using tenouchi.