Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 168-169

Day 168:

Tonight, Sensei gave the class over to the most senior student. Himself, he was not in bogu. He claimed not to want to further a small injury and was content to let others strike him and he would move the shinai to block whatever target. I frankly don’t like that idea. A couple of times I would clip him and feel badly. He would just smile and laugh. He said he learned not to underestimate students again. We worked extra hard again.

We did kiri-kaeshi, one-step men, one-step kote-one step doh. Over and over and over again. I felt my breath leave me. I felt my heart pound hard. I was tired, but I kept going. I know my limits. We practiced men-hiki-men several times to build up endurance. At the end of it all, I felt as if I were going to drop to the ground.

However, as luck would have it, we switched to tsuki practice. I do not like tsuki at all, however, it was a good chance to work on something that wouldn’t push my endurance. So I worked on tsuki while I recovered my breath and calmed my heart. My first tsuki I received was too hard and I felt like I was choking. After a moment, I was all right. My partner apologized and finished the drill softly. When I did the drill, he complimented me on how accurately I did tsuki.

After recovering, we did a few rounds of keiko. I felt as if I had no energy or water in my body. However, I knew that to be an illusion. I instead commanded my body to move faster and it obeyed. There was a kind of calmness and serenity as I moved and struck. My limbs seemed numb, but fluid. I actually hit several very good debana-kote over and over as well as hiki-men during keiko. We did one last round of kiri-kaeshi to finish class.

Day 169:

No class today as I am getting ready to fly out on vacation. I need to go to bed early to wake up on time.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 166-167

Day 166:

Today I was the highest ranking person in the class, so I led the entire class, not just in warm-ups. I did lead us in stretches and suburi. We did a ton of shomen-suburi because Sensei would go around to all of the newer students and give them a target to strike and practice on.

At the end of warm-ups, everyone in bogu would dress up and be targets for the class, except me. While the others would put on their bogu, I led the others in performing shomen strike across the floor, turn around and across the floor. We did this over and over. When the senior students put on their bogu, they allowed the newer students to strike them on the men as they advanced and once on the other side of the room, while they backed up.

We did this over and over until Sensei called for me to demonstrate a good men strike and pass through. I did this for the benefit of the others and then assigned everyone into lines for rotation. I watched the students as they went through drills, looking for anyone doing it completely wrongly. They seemed to slightly improve as I watched so I kept quiet. Once the class was over, I led the class in the bowing out ceremony.

I did not stick around for advanced class today because I worked all last weekend on midnight shifts and got very little sleep. I’m exhausted and need to rest. Maybe next time I’ll come for advanced class.

Day 167:

Today Sensei was content to work us to death. We did a near-endless routine of kiri-kaeshi. After that, we would work up to a complicated sequence again.

We would practice one-step men. Then we would practice hiki-kote. Then we strung them together into a men-hiki-kote-men drill. Sensei is a big fan of one-step drills. We kept doing one-step men and one-step kote over and over.

The new thing today was all of the tsuki practice. We drilled to try out two-handed tsuki and even one-handed tsuki. I really did not like performing tsuki, because so much can go wrong that would injure your partner. Still, I did the drill carefully. Doing one-handed tuski is like striking men from left jodan. You let go with your right hand and pull your right hand to your waist, covering doh target. This act makes the one-handed tsuki more accurate by rotating your shoulders in the counter-direction that they roll when you thrust your left arm forward. We finished class by having three rounds of keiko.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 164-165

Day 164:

Today was another day dedicated to hiki-waza. We did a few rounds of kiri-kaeshi slowly, concentrating on accuracy rather than speed. Then we did more hiki-waza drills.

We started off at tsuba-zeriai and performed hiki-men. Then after that we increased the drill to hiki-men-men. Then we switched to hiki-kote-men. This one was hard. The shifting balance on our feet kept throwing us off going from backwards to forwards. Occasionally, we would counterattack to keep our partners fresh and fluid.

At the end of class, we did kata. I love kata. My partner and I practiced the first three kata over and over, switching roles between uchidachi and shidachi. We walked through all of the steps over and over, getting better at the movements. This was another in hopefully a long series of kata practices to prepare us for our next promotional testing.

Day 165:

We kept practicing various hiki-waza. A visitor from Michigan was here. He says he’s moved to the area and wants to find a dojo to belong to. We did extra rounds of kiri-kaeshi and then moved into working up to an advanced waza.

First we would start in tsuba-zeriai and then strike hiki-men or hiki-kote. The next step to the drill is to do one-step men and then continue with hiki-kote. Finally, we would practice men-hiki-kote-men over and over. This lends itself to teaching us to keep attacking continuously rather than attack-stop-attack-stop-attack-stop.

By the end of class, my heart was pounding hard again. After a couple of keiko and drills of haya-suburi, I had to stop. I watched the others finish with more drills. I was exhausted.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 162-163

Day 162:

Today was a day of good, solid work. We did many round of kiri-kaeshi to get in shape. One of our students borrowed a set of bogu owned by the club. He was frustrated because he felt very clumsy. It was hard not to laugh because we all felt the same way when we first wore our bogu.

After kiri-kaeshi, Sensei gave us many lectures during the class. He would explain the proper technique for striking a target with the shinai. He explained the motions of raising and lowering the shinai for men, kote, and doh strike. We would then use two lines to practice various waza on each other. We included waza start from tsuba-zeriai, such as hiki-men and hiki-doh.

We also practiced harai-men and also a more subtle way to open up kote. Instead of striking the opponent’s shinai, you slide into it and nudge it aside. It sounds a lot easier than it is to do. Sensei encouraged us to experiment and try different techniques to open up our opponents.

We also had a short keiko where I faced off against a shodan. I got in a few good strikes against him. I just need to remember to keep taking center and not just look like I’m taking center.

At the end of class, that very shodan was part of a new drill. He pulled out his nito swords and gave us lessons on how nito players would strike us. It was just like fighting one of my old sempai before he moved away. Sensei also instructed us on how to strike a nito player on the kote. Left kote is a target in nito since it is a stance other than chudan-no-kamae. We also learned that yoko-men would be the best way to strike the men on a nito player.

Day 163:

The focus of today’s class was hiki strikes. We started off with a slightly different kiri-kaeshi drill. Sensei wanted us to do the strikes slowly, but snap our wrists at the end of the swing. This would give us the popping sound and flex our wrists to get our bodies to feel a good strike.

We did all sorts of different hiki drills today. We started with regular hiki strikes. From tsuba-zeriai, we practiced performing hiki-men, then hiki-kote, and then hiki-doh. Then we added an introduction step to the drill by striking men, and then performing the drill. We did men-hiki-men, then men-kiki-kote, and then men-hiki-doh. Then we added a finishing step to the basic drill. We did hiki-men-men, then kiki-kote-men, and then hiki-doh-men.

Sensei gave us lectures about not stopping our bodies or minds. Our minds have to keep moving no matter what. Then, finally we added all the steps together into an interesting combination. It was kote-hiki-doh-men. This drill is a lot harder than it sounds.

When doing hiki-doh, you tend to want to move back quickly, but when you need to strike men afterwards your balance is awkward. Every other time I performed the kote-hiki-doh-men drill, my feet were slipping on the floor. I need to find a balance between speed and control.