Friday, November 26, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 220-221

Day 220:

Another day of stretching my injury back into shape. It’s almost fully healed but it still bothers me if I raise my arms high enough. Today there were not so many advanced students, so I was drafted to help the beginners learn again. We started out with stretches and suburi. We did thirty of each of okii-suburi, shomen-suburi, katate-suburi, and haya-suburi. Afterwards, we put on men and began the drills.

The point of practice today was kiri-kaeshi. Most of the students did not understand how to do kiri-kaeshi. It was not that they did it awkwardly; they just did not know all the steps. I found myself spending a lot of time explaining how to do it. Eventually, I found that just counting out loud the four steps forward, and then the five steps backwards seemed to help the most. Then the drill switched to one-step men strike and then one-step kote. Finally, the instructor wanted to move back to kiri-kaeshi practice. The students seemed to do better this time.

At the end of practice, the instructors mentioned to the class that the purpose is to keep the students moving from line to line quickly and not to spend too much time talking to them. I can see what they are saying. They also said that if a student is not doing the drill properly, then they should be correcting them. It seems to make sense. They are higher-ranking than me, so they have a keener eye for errors. Still, it is hard not to give advice when the cause is so obvious. I’ll have to remember just to give a word or two of encouragement and be done at that.

Day 221:

Today was the day before a holiday so not many students overall were present. I was asked to warm up the beginner class. We started out with stretches and suburi. We did thirty of each of okii-suburi, shomen-suburi, katate-suburi, and haya-suburi. Afterwards, we put on men and began the drills.

We broke up into four lines and put on men. The main focus of today was more kiri-kaeshi and one-step men. The beginner students were getting better at kir-kaeshi. I hardly had to count out loud for them. They still need to polish, especially with starting distance. However, that will come with time.

We did a kind of toned-down drill I like to call ‘Kenshi in the Middle’. There were two of us surrounded by other students. Each of the outside students would take turns attacking on a specified drill, such as kote-debana-men. After one student completes the drill, the kenshi in the middle turns around to face the other student right away. It’s fun, but better when there are two long lines of many students. After class, I led us in ending rei-hou. My arm was feeling better, so I stayed for advanced class.

There were only four of us for advanced class, but two of the beginner students stayed as well. We started off with several rounds of kiri-kaeshi and then aiouchi-men with many repetitions. I found myself losing my breath very fast. I guess I might be out of shape from all the rest from my arm injury. I’ll have to start coming to just advanced class from now on to build up stamina.

A short rest and I put man back on to practice. More shomen-waza and harai-kote drills. The harai-kote drills seemed easier and smoother than other drills. Maybe I just have talent for it or maybe I just simply do harai-kote naturally more often than other waza.

I had to stop again because the tightness in my chest was coming back again along with the lack of breath. I had to miss out on keiko but that was fine. No sense harming myself over practice.

The instructor decided to spend some time doing kata. I love kata. The two beginner students did not have bokken, so one of the instructors loaned one of them a bokken. The other student had to use a shinai, but I volunteered to use a shinai to match them. We reviewed kata number two, which he did fairly well. We then moved on and I taught him the shidachi role for kata number one. We did not have the time for me to teach him the uchidachi role, but that will be for another time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 218-219

Day 218:

My arm is mostly healed and I can move it without injury. It is still stiff, but it’s the kind of stiffness that can be worked out. Like my usual routine, I recover from injuries by going to beginner class. Sensei was glad to see me and asked me to lead the class in warm-ups. It’s been forever since I led the class, but I was not nervous. I just did what I was supposed to do and was glad for it. During the rei-hou for opening I made a mistake. I called out for ‘rei’ when I should have called out for ‘seiza’. I quickly corrected myself and Sensei made a comment that was familiar. He reminded people that in the future they would be taking turns to lead the class so they should be learning the rei-hou.

He separated the class into two lines and we began. I led the class in stretches. Even though I stretched before class, I did it again. I just made sure not to hurt myself. I made sure to call out the counting loudly, to show the class should also. They did not disappoint. Sensei asked that we do a lot of suburi. I decided that we would do three full counts of eight repetitions, with people taking turns counting out loud. We did okii-suburi, shomen-suburi, squat cuts, shomen-suburi again, haya-suburi, and breathing-suburi.

Afterwards, Sensei asked a few of us, including myself, to put on men and receive strike from students. I spent the rest of class receiving one-step men, one-step kote, and one-step kote-men. Each time a new student would present themselves, I would watch their waza and comment on how to improve. At the beginning of class, I was giving out a lot of changes, such as louder kiai and raising the shinai higher. Similar mistakes to what I made at their level. By the end of class, I was shouting more comments like ‘good’ and ‘do it again’, showing that they were improving. It was very heartening.

At the end of class, Sensei had a surprise. I sat next to him on the Dan side for the ending rei-hou. Normally,I would expect to be on the Kyu side, leading the closing rei-hou, but Sensei said that whoever opens the class sits next to him. I wonder if that’s an actual rule or if it was just a one-time reward.

Day 219:

Here I am at beginner class again. My arm is a little stiff and sore, but not a problem. Sensei didn’t show up today, but the senior students took right over to teach the class. We did a lot of stretches before suburi. The stretches where you cross your arm over your chest and behind the back hurt a little. I guess my arm isn’t quite recovered.

We did lots of suburi over and over with very little breaks in between. We did okii-suburi, shomen-suburi, kote-suburi, and doh-suburi. I was aware of those cuts but never did them before in warm-ups. Then we did a new one. It is like doh-suburi, but instead of stopping at the waist level, we finish the cut much lower, almost to the ankles. We also would not cut directly in front of us. We would cut right while turning left, then cut left while turning right. Since we were standing very close to each other, it was tricky not to bump into each other. We did squat cuts and then haya-suburi.

We put on men and then a few of us were drafted into receiving for the class. At first I was part of the receivers, but then the senior student decided to only need four receivers. I went over to the student side. We started off by doing one-step men, one-step kote, and one-step doh. The doh strikes made my arm hurt.

It seems I’m not as healed as I thought. It didn’t feel reinjured, so I think maybe it’ll be wise to stay with the beginner class until it doesn’t hurt anymore. We then did what we were leading up to. It was a combination drill of two times men, then two times kote, and then two times doh. It was fun, but the doh strikes would tug on my arm and make it feel not right.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 216-217

Day 216:

No practice since my arm is still injured.

Day 217:

No practice since my arm is still injured.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Beginner's Point of View 214-215

Day 214:

At the end of the beginner class, Sensei put on a kind of haya-suburi contest to see groups of students compete to see who would finish first. Some of the students are coming along very nicely. In later groups, I filled in to finish a group of three. The final contest showed a senior student to be the winner. At the start of advanced class, we repeated the haya-suburi contest with advanced class. It was much faster and much closer a contest. Even Sensei participated. One of the nidans won. It was a lot of fun.

Today’s topic was all about pressuring your opponent. Every waza Sensei wanted us to pressure and force the opening. We did several drills of one-step men and one-step kote. Then we moved into men-kaeshi-doh. Each side took turns pressuring with men strike and the other side would do their best with kaeshi-doh. Kaeshi-doh is hard to do. You must block and then make enough space to step aside and move through. The striking makes it awkward, especially if your opponent is fast enough to close distance before you finish swinging.

We had another two mock shiais. In my first match I won 2-0 against a shodan, but in my second match I lost 2-0 against a nidan. It was very intense. Sensei asked me to keep score after each individual match and my team was constantly behind in points. We had a couple of keikos after shiai. My first keiko was against a jodan player. Without fear I stepped up and used different alternate kamae to get him to attack first. I would parry and strike men or kote. I did better striking men and an almost-good kaeshi-doh. I seem to like using the kamae where you make your shinai parallel to the jodan’s shinai. That one is easier to parry and open them up for men strike. The kamae where you cross shinais is good for kaeshi-doh.

My second keiko was intense. My opponent was trying to teach me and strike me at the same time. There was an exchange where I tried to strike doh while he struck men. We both missed, but in trying to pass by, he passed by my right side and his shinai hooked my shinai. We are both two of the faster chargers so my right arm got yanked a little too far backwards. Pain shot up my arm from the elbow to the shoulder. It was not the type of bending where the ‘inside surface’ was down, letting the elbow help. It was the opposite way where my arm seemed upside down and yank backwards so the elbow was twisted. It’s not bad, but it is sore. So, I stepped out of practice and let it rest. This feels like something that a couple of days of rest should fix.

Day 215:

No practice since my arm is still injured.