Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 313-314

Day 313:

In Iaido, I used the time to practice my kata. I’m getting better at turning around in the second kata. I just keep my weight on my right knee and pivot with my left foot. I just gotta remember to draw back my saya a lot just before the cut.

In basic Kendo, we did stretches, suburi, and footwork drills. Then we put on men to receive for menouchi and koteouchi. The final drill was for the motodachi to do kiri-kaeshi on the students for a single time.

In advanced Kendo, I was not feeling well. My heart was racing and my breath was shallow. I don’t understand what was wrong. There were only four of us for advanced Kendo. We did a couple rounds of kiri-kaeshi and then practiced doh-kiri-kaeshi and kote-kiri-kaeshi. Those drills can get dangerous if you move too fast. We did several drills of three waza switching attackers for four sets. That was a single drill. We did a few drills like that. I was out of breath and I had to stop and sit out. I watched the others do three-square before they took a break.

During the break, I learned they were not feeling well also. Maybe it was the weather. We went back in and did three rounds of jigeiko and a full ninety seconds each. I was in good form with nuki waza and debana-kote.

We then broke for kata. I love kata. I actually learned the seventh kata. Both come out three spaces in chudan. The uchidachi steps forward with a tsuki, which the shidachi parries and steps back. The uchidachi swings for oh-men strike while the shidachi strikes doh and steps forward and to the side. The shidachi crosses left over right and then kneels on the right knee. Both look at each other and pass through waki-game into chudan. The uchidachi steps back and the shidachi stand up with a forward step. Then both circle around each other while crossing their feet over each other until they are back to the start. The shidachi takes small steps while the uchidachi takes big steps. This brings both back to start. I got to learn both sides tonight.

Day 314:

In Iaido, I’m beginning to establish a pattern for turning around in the second kata. If I use the turning around to draw back the saya it works. Then the final adjust of the left foot coincides with the actual draw of the sword. Class was very crowded today, so I held off on practicing the seventh and ninth kata mostly unless the way was clear. The air was very humid so the floor was kinda sticky.

In Kendo, I led the class in rei-hou, warm-ups, and suburi. The instructor joined us for the second half of suburi with a few comments. We did several footwork drills involving men, kote, and doh strikes across the floor. I tried to make my fumi-komi smaller but more deliberate. We then put on men and received many, many, men and kote strikes form the students.

In advanced Kendo, we did a lot of waza drills. Menouchi and koteouchi with several ji-geiko inbetween for extra hard work. I almost made it to the end of waza practice without stopping but I did have to stop. There was no hotseat or four-square today, so I stood by and called out ‘yame’ when the time for ji-geiko was over.

We then broke up for kata. I love kata. I spent the time teaching the third kata to my friend who is two ranks lower than me. Eventually, he’ll need the first three kata for his ikkyu test. He kept not getting the footwork right. So, I walked him through both uchidachi and shidachi sides over and over for the rest of class.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 311-312

Day 311:

I did not go to class because I was buying a new car. I thought I had scheduled plenty of time, but the sales staff kept me at the dealership all afternoon and into the night. Business just does not respect dojo class times.

Day 312:

In Iaido class, I worked on my kata again. A couple of instructors watched me, but did not comment. I noticed the sharp edge of the iaito was turned inward a couple of times when practicing the eighth kata. That didn’t seem quite right, so I asked the instructor. He confirmed that the sharp edge should be outward. I also practiced turning in the second kata. It’s awkward, but getting better. I’m putting my weight on my right knee and using my left toe to provide the leverage. After turning, I’m practicing getting the left leg right with the horizontal cut.

In Kendo class, we had extra sandans show up. Apparently, they’re going to be joining us from now on when they can show up. We did stretches and suburi. We then did footwork drills and men strikes in bogu. At the end of class, a sandan made comments about posture and breathing to the class.

In advanced Kendo, we did lots of kiri-kaeshi, men, kote, and ji-geiko. I had to sit out for a while until they started organizing for three-square. I stepped in for that, getting the same group as the new sandan. Afterwards, he commented on how I was doing well but I should relax my shoulders. Apparently, I have that old problem again. He also complimented the other student with us on his accuracy and balance.

Then we took a water break and split up into groups for shiai. We did it informally, without shinpan, but we did it with the attitude of being tested. The lower-ranking students were rebuked for their lax attitude towards the opening rei-hou. After that, they sharpened up. I had my shiai against a ni-kyu. We pushed each other well. I pushed him to speed up and attack. He pushed me to slow down and take control.

After class, then new sandan commented amongst us dans about how the moksuo for rei-hou was too short. Our instructor explained that we were advised not to moksuo or at least make it short. I told him about how I measure the three breaths with two heartbeats for each part of breath. It’s something that we’ll have to nail down definitively.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 309-310

Day 309:

I was not feeling very well, so I went to class to fix myself. In Iaido, I did my full set over and over. I tried more to perfect the spin on the second kata. It was difficult. The instructor came over to give me advice, and it sounds like I need to put my weight on my right knee. Use my left toe to provide the spin and when it finishes, slide my left foot aside. Easier said than done. Still, Iaido cured my headache.

In Kendo, we had a lot of students again. The instructor had us put our swords aside. After putting our palms together we went through a series of exercises to feel our range of motion up and down for men, kote, and doh. After that, we did kiri-kaeshi and menouchi. My nausea was half-cured by the end of class.

In advanced Kendo, we started off doing kiri-kaeshi, menouchi, and choice-of-waza drills. Then we went right into hot-seat drill for aiouchi-men, kote-suriage-men, and keiko. Afterwards, we did kata. I love kata. Myself and another student taught the first kata to another student who is not long into wearing his bogu. Over and over, we taught it to him until he seemed to understand the principles involved. My nausea was completely cured by the end of class. I guess this proves that Kendo is good for you.

Day 310:

I was late for Iaido class because of a huge traffic back-up on the roads. Class was half over by the time I arrived. The instructor was busy teaching other students so I didn’t get a lesson on the special Iaido knot. I’ll have to practice at home with those illustrated guides. I practiced a full set and then practiced the second kata over and over to get the spinning part right. I’m coming along. I’ll just keep my weight on my right knee and use my left toe to provide the power to spin.

In Kendo class the normal instructor did not show up until only ten minutes before the end of class. This is because of the bad traffic back-up and it was not his fault. I led the class in warm-ups while another instructor would teach the class in elementary footwork and kihon. The normal instructor showed up by the time we were in bogu.

In advanced Kendo, we started off with a hard practice of lots of kiri-kaeshi, waza, and ji-geiko. The previous Guest Sensei came back. I learned that he is a sandan and he’s thinking of joining the dojo. I had to step out right before the class separated into two groups of three-man-four-square. I did come back in time for keiko. We lined up in two lines and picked our partners. I had three keikos before becoming exhausted. Then we broke for kata. I love kata. I naturally paired up with a lower-ranking student who only knew the first four kata. I helped him smooth over his fourth kata over and over by going through the roles with him. Maybe next time I’ll teach him the fifth kata.