Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 289-290

Day 289:

No class today since I am injured.

Day 290:

No class today since I am injured.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 287-288

Day 287:

No class today since I am injured.

Day 288:

No class today since I am injured.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 285-286

Day 285:

Our normal dojo suffered a structural problem and was closed for repairs. We moved our practice into the building next door into a dance hall. It seemed nice with a floating floor, mirrors on the wall, and a line taped into the floor.

In Iaido, I practiced 1-2-3-4-6-7-9-12. The third kata is hard to remember, but it is actually easier if you chain all of the individual motions into a fluid, slow movement from standing to chiburi. I noticed by standing on the line that my footwork for the sixth kata is not right. I’m stepping off the line to the left and ending up there. I should be staying on the line. An instructor corrected me. Secretly, I can’t wait to learn the fifth kata. Then at least I’ll be ready for a seminar when it happens.

In Kendo, we discovered the ceiling was not quite as tall as we would like. If we use a shinai, we are about an inch from striking the light fixtures. That’s not good. Instead, the instructors got the stash of several bokken and loaned them to students. I’ll have to remember to bring my bokken to practice from now on. We pretty much did all suri-ashi, fumi-komi, and suburi for all of class. It was good work and reinforcement of the basics. It was a good choice while the instructors did not know how well it would work with shinai in this ceiling.

We had a Guest Sensei show up. He gave a few comments for the basic class and then participated in the advanced class. My injuries were just finishing healing and I was tempted to stay and participate. However, logic won out and I went home instead. Guest Sensei said he would drop by for about a month or so. I think I’m going to try to stay for advanced practice next time or even next week.

Day 286:

Today I’m stiff from my injuries. I went to Iaido to practice my 1-2-3-4-6-7-9-12 in prep for Kendo. I was stiff on the third and fourth kata. The third is awkward, like all kata are at first. I think I should not draw on the first knee up. Perhaps I should draw on the second knee up as a single, fluid motion. The first knee up should simply torque the sword up, making it ready to draw.

In Kendo, we were in the gymnasium. We were slow to start, since others were late to show up. I was asked to start opening ceremony and warm-ups. As we did warm-ups, the instructors showed up, giving comments. We even did some suburi again the way they wanted. A sandan led the group for haya-suburi. At the end, we were told that we failed. At first I thought someone else must have messed up their stance, but it turns out I screwed up. I was louder than the instructor and ‘took over’ the pace. That’s wrong. The sandan should lead the pace. Man, was I embarrassed. I apologized and we started again. We did it right this time.

For class, we were lead in wind sprints, which reminded me of hockey drills. We charge in kamae and kiai all the way to a line, stop, then back to the start. Then start again and go further to another line, then all the way back. Finally, we do it again all the way down and all the way back. We are supposed to hold a single kiai for as long as we could and then take a breath and kiai again. After several ones over and over, my lungs were hurting. I had to stop and get some water. I participated in another set of wind sprints and then we stopped. We then did a drill I call the ‘tunnel’. Three kenshi lined up, facing the rest of the class one right after the other, holding their shinai out to the side. The first and third held to the right while the second held it towards the left. This meant we would charge through and strike men or kote only a single step apart until we reached the end.

At the end of the line, the last one joined the ‘tunnel’ to make four-kenshi long. Over and over until we had eight kenshi for a tunnel and the instructor giving the opening for doh at the end. It was the most fun in any drill we’ve ever had. Unfortunately, my back and legs were hurting by the time class was over. We did closing ceremony and I left. When I got home, I was in a lot of pain. I decided to skip class for a while until I’m healed. I’m not a teenager anymore so it might take a while to heal. These are the same injuries form the tournament and promotional when I tested for shodan while injured. I guess I never let them heal right.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 283-284

Day 283:

No class today because it is a holiday.

Day 284:

Against better judgment, I went to class. I’m still stiff and sore from the tournament, but not having the last class had made me antsy for exercise.

In Iaido, there were only myself and an instructor. I did 1-2-4-6-7-9-12 like usual. The instructor approached me and asked if I knew all twelve kata. I said no. He mentioned how he had taught the third kata to the others and would I like to learn it. I very enthusiastically said yes.

The third kata is tricky to learn. You turn to your right and sit in seiza. You imagine your opponent standing to your left. You put hands on the sword and come up on your knees and toes. Bring your left foot up to just behind your right knee and turn the toes outward. Pull the saya up and stand on your right foot, which has toes pointed into the arch of the left foot (very awkward). You draw up over your head and a little in front, blade pointed backwards. You imagine your opponent has over extended a cut downward, hitting your sword. The force swings your sword around up and you grip with two hands. Swing your left foot backwards and cut diagonally. Here’s where it gets weird. Rotate your left hand around to a straight-arm position, which rotates the saki to rest safely on your right knee. Reverse the grip of your right hand and grip the saya. Perform noto ‘backwards” and with blade out. Once it starts to go into the saya, rotate the saya to normal position and finish. Step to the left to end up where you start. I’ll have to practice this a lot. It’s actually harder to do in steps, but it’s necessary.

In Kendo, we did endless suri-ashi and fumi-komi exercises. Not good for my injuries but good for my Kendo. Eh, I’ll heal later. We finished by doing kiri-kaeshi several times. I was motodachi again. I decided not to push myself too hard.

Sensei was back, but he did not suit up. He just came to pick up supplies to loan to another dojo putting on a tournament. I talked to him for a while. He said he’s been to the doctor for lots of tests and to fix the injuries. I reminded him about the Iaito cleaning kit and a spare pair of men himo I’d like to order. He said he’ll put in the order when he gets the chance. He also says he’d like to come back to Kendo and Iaido when it’s possible.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 281-282

Day 281:

In Iaido, I practice my full regimen of 1-2-4-6-7-9-12. The fourth kata was painful for my foot, but I did it slowly and carefully. I’ll have to practice it more. The rest of the kata came naturally to me, even though my body was stiff. A couple of others got a lesson on doing the third kata. It was to round them out because they only knew the first two, or so I’m told. Since I was not asked to be included, I figured the lesson was not for me. So, I practiced my set. I did get some instruction. My tsuki in the sixth kata was too high. After the diagonal cut to the head, you must thrust under the sternum or else have the blade get caught. Imagine pushing downward as if severing the guts. I might ask for lessons on the third kata at a later date, after my sprains heal from the Kendo Tournament and Promotional.

In Basic Kendo class, I was asked to be motodachi again. It’s was kiri-kaeshi all throughout the class. We did it very slow. So slow that our strikes would ‘stick’ to the men before performing the next strike. At first, people didn’t get it, but after several reminders and demonstrations, they did it correctly. In fact, the lesson was a success as their strikes were getting more accurate. I got a correction from one of the instructors that my chudan-no-kamae was held out too far in front, exposing my kote. I never knew I did that. I wound up doing lots of kiri-kaeshi that day.

In Advanced Kendo, I decided to stay for the whole class. I drank some water and lined up. My wrist and ankle felt fine. We did a continuation of the kiri-kaeshi from Basic Class. Over and over, we did slow kiri-kaeshi. We also practiced menouchi and koteouchi. After the slow kiri-kaeshi, we found our strikes to be more accurate. There were several keikos to do. I felt tired and sluggish immediately, but I pushed myself. I wound up practicing my techiniques against jodan users. Dabana-kote (including a pair of really great debana-kote strikes), kaeshi doh, suriage men, and a failed attempt at nuki-men. I’ll work on that. I also did keiko with the beginners who stayed for Advanced Class. I remembered to show good form and loud kiai. I also remembered to allow them to strike openings on me for enthusiasm. On the down side, I think I twisted my wrist again and stressed my ankle. I may have to avoid advanced practice in the future.

Day 282:

In Iaido, I performed 1-2-4-6-7-9-12 again. I got some advice about keeping the tsuka in line with my forearm when thrusting behind myself in the fourth kata. It keeps the sword more stable when doing the thrust.

In Basic Kendo, we did lots of fumi-komi drills. Fumi-komi is my new weakness. We did the drill where two lines move across the floor, intersecting in the middle. You have to stagger when people cross the middle or else you’ll get hit. We worked fumi-komi and men strikes into it. When we finished, we did more of the slow kiri-kaeshi strikes. We started at half speed but worked up to a little faster to keep it flowing.

I did not stay for Advanced Class because of my wrist and ankle beginning to hurt.