Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 246-247

Day 246:

I started off with 1-2-6-7-12 like usual. Today Sensei taught me a new kata. He decided to teach me the fourth kata before moving to the third. The fourth kata is a kneeling one, like the first, only you sit in an alternate position. Your left leg sits as normal, but your right leg is up on the foot, tilted sideways to the right. You sit somewhere in the vicinity of your left foot. I haven’t found a good position to sit in because it hurts when you put your weight on the ankle. Your hands are fists near the places to grip the sword at about even height with each other. When you sense your opponent moving, you grip your sword and saya, and thrust forward with it into the solar plexus, on top of the opponent’s tsuka. You use a fumi-komi for power and use the momentum to push your opponent with your tsuka, drawing your saya backwards. Look behind you to see your opponent behind you and rotate your left leg to beat ninety degrees to its original position, your foot sliding to your right. Place the blunt edge of the sword across your chest and slide it to tsuki into your opponent behind you while pushing the saya forward. You bring the tsuka of your sword above your head and look forward, turning your left leg to its original position. Raise your right hand up to grip with two hands and cut downward vertically down low. To finish, you bring your hands up a tad to above your right knee and perform chiburi to the right. Noto and slide your right foot forward a tad and stand up. Take one step back.

In Kendo class, the class was smaller. We learned mostly about etiquette. When to bring the sword to the hip, when not to lower the sword, when to draw, reminders of sonkyo and bowing. We did a few men and kote strikes while doing the manners. Sensei even gave a demonstration of the sixth Iaido kata to show why we do the motions with the shinai. After putting on bogu, I gave strikes and then received rei-hou and uchi-komi.

Day 247:

No class today because I’m expecting to work late and my wrist is a little sprained.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 244-245

Day 244:

Today is a holiday and most people are home. Still, there are a few of us here. I am the only Iaido student present. So I took the floor and bowed in. Then I performed 1-2-6-7-12 over and over, repeating a kata as necessary to sharpen my technique.

In Kendo, we had a big class. So suburi was confined. We started with more suri-ashi drills such as men, men-men, and constant men going down. We then broke up into a serpentine striking men along five senior students. After I put on my bogu, I helped receive kiri-kaeshi, men strike, and kote strike.

Tonight was a rare night. I worked over the weekend, so I could stay late tonight because I’ll be going into work late tomorrow. We worked on a lot of different waza tonight. We started off doing kiri-kaeshi, men, kote, and kote-men. We then moved into more advanced waza such as kote-suriage-men, kote-suriage-doh, kote-nuki-men, and men-debana-kote. I had to stop for thirst. At first, I thought I could keep men on, but I realized that I had to dry out my men and forehead or else keep having it slip on my sweat. So, after a short break of water and breathing, I put men back on. The others were taking a break and were discussing techniques.

When we started up again, I started doing a round of kiri-kaeshi, and then moved into three keikos. My first keiko was against a nidan to pushed me to improve my speed. My second keiko was against a nidan who loved using alternate kamae such as jodan. I practiced my kamae-defeating techniques against him. Sometimes I won, sometimes he won. My third keiko was against a shodan. However, I was so tired and dehydrated, that I was slow and clumsy. I pushed myself and pushed myself, but he was still faster and more accurate than I was. Finally, I couldn’t keep breath in me, so I had to stop.

Day 245:

In Iaido, I started practicing my routine. Sensei was back from a trip to a tournament and promotional. He promised to teach me a new kata when I felt ready. Today I wanted to ask about the seventh kata and second kata. He said to keep my hands off the saya for the seventh to start, also to slide my left foot to the left when drawing the sword to help stabilize me.

In Kendo, we all congratulated of our own who had passed his sandan. We had a large class, so we spaced out wide for warm-ups and suburi. After practicing men strike a few times while charging, I put on my bogu and helped to receive. I learned that my fumi-komi works better if I imagine charging up steps instead of straight forward. If I imagine straight forward, my toes curl up and that shows the bottom of my foot. It's not only unstable, but apparently rude, too.

Sensei talked to me about testing for shodan. Before he wanted me to not think about it and enjoy my time as an ikkyu. Now he says he may pull enough yandans together to form a panel to test for shodan during our own tournament. I’d really like that since the other time this year will be very far away. Last fall the place to test for ikkyu was an all-day trip and it made me sick. This time it would be even farther.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 242-243

Day 242-243:

In Iaido class, we spent the time practicing anything we wanted. I went through my usual 1-2-6-7-12 formation. I repeated number six and number twelve several times, trying to get the motions just right. I keep seeming to rub my iaito up against my saya for the twelth kata and I can’t seem to get a consistent initial draw for the sixth kata. I need to remember to pull the saya up and twist the upper surface outward to draw correctly. Sensei said he’d teach me a new kata next week.

In Kendo class, we got a lot of instruction on how to do rei-hou well. Apparently, I don’t do it as well as I thought I was doing. You must wait for ‘taito’ before bringing the sword to the hip. When going down into seiza for Kendo, you do not do the parting of the hakama like in Iaido. You put the leather-bound saki on the floor with your left knee and then slide it backwards silently to put the shinai on the floor quietly. Mokuso is not performed by putting your hands in your lap and resting them. You keep then raised in front of your navel and hold them there.

There were a lot of people in class, so suburi was very crowded. We did more charging drills, including one where you charge and strike men half way through, repeating it backward and then do it forwards again. That was a very good drill. Afterwards, I put on men and did men strikes and kote strikes against senior students. Later, I stood in the receiving line to receive men and kiri-kaeshi. Finally, we did uchikomi-geiko. I would make openings for students for about four strikes while they hit me. We had a visitor from a university in another state. I had no idea what rank he is, but he seems confident enough to be at least my rank.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 240-241

Day 240:

In Iaido class, we did some refinement of the sixth kata. For the thrust to tsuki, Sensei said I was aiming too high. From Kendo class, I am taught to thrust to the throat for tsuki. In Iaido, I am taught to thrust for the sternum or just below in the fleshy part. Another thing I was doing wrong was in the turning around parts, I was dipping my sword down, twisting it, then raising it up. The sword should never come down after it has already cut. I need to practice only raising up instead of any other motions.

In Kendo class, we had a new person. He is a yandan who says he is joining the dojo. Well, we’ll see. Others have joined before and then not come back. In any case, he participated in warm-ups with us as well as suburi. Today’s lesson was about simple men strikes, including making them smoother. I helped receive men from the unranked students for a while until one of them came over with bogu. She rotated me out while I put on bogu, then got into line to practice. I noticed guest sensei watching me a lot during waza. At first, I thought he was scrutinizing me for advice on making shodan. We did some kiri-kaeshi as well for more shomen practice. At first I received, but then I gave as well. At the end of class, I introduced myself to the guest sensei. He gave me a lot of advice. He was mentioning that I was using sashi-men for kiri-kaeshi and that was not correct. I was also using too big of a fumi-kommi to the point where I was partially showing my foot-bottom as I go forward. Not only is that dangerous for myself, it’s also somewhat rude. I need to fix that, but I can’t seem to find a proper way to move in a keiko situation where I am excited and not thinking too deeply. Maybe if I just imagine charging up stairs that will work. I’m also certain I must be twisting my left foot still as I walk.

Day 241:

I opened Iaido class by practicing rei-hou and then 1-2-6-12 over and over. Sensei offered to teach a new kata and I accepted. He taught me the seventh kata, which demonstrates the act of stepping through a gate into an ambush. You take three normal steps forward. On the fourth step, you put your right hand upon the sword. The fifth step you slide your right foot forward and to the right, turning your foot diagonally to the right, ready to swing. You draw the sword and cut vertically to the right. Then you turn on your feet where they are and cut vertically to the left. Then you use your right foot to step to the original forward direction and cut vertically. You step backwards into left jodan. You do chiburi while sliding your left foot backwards into normal stance and then noto. You step backwards to your original starting point. I was a little awkward at first, getting the footwork right is key. By the end of class, I was doing it smoothly and quickly. I’m not saying it was perfect, I’m just saying that I got the steps down. Now I just need to refine it. The seventh kata is really fun. It’s my favorite so far.

In Kendo class, I led the opening ceremony. After warm-ups and suburi, we started class by putting on bogu and doing suri-ashi and fumi-komi drills. I tried to pay attention to my fumi-komi to make sure my foot did not curl up while doing it. We divided into two lines and faced each other. We did men strikes, kote-strikes, kote-men strikes, and kiri-kaeshi. The students without bogu had to block with their shinais, so those of us in bogu slowed down for them. While doing men strikes and kiri-kaeshi, I tried to remember to always do oh-men strike and not sashi-men like guest sensei said to do. He didn’t show up today, but I expect him back another time.