Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 323-324

Day 323:

In Iaido, I started out doing my regular routine. I’m refining my second kata to show off the final draw and adjust of the body at the beginning when you spin.

The sensei decided it was time to teach me the tenth kata since we had the room on the floor for it. You start off standing and take two steps forward. Place your hands on the sword. With the third step, you lift up the tsuka still inside the saya and then slam it down on the first opponent’s hands at the position ‘northeast’ of the start. You then draw the saya off the sword and then point it horizontally to the ‘southwest’ with the blunt edge against your body. You slide sideways into the second opponent and thrust to the abdomen. You face the first opponent and step into a shomen cut. You then turn to step into a third opponent to the ‘southeast’ for a shomen strike. Then you bring it down into a stance like waki-game while turning to face the last opponent to the ‘northwest’. You bring the sword up over your head and then step big into the final opponent for a shomen cut. You step back into left jodan, chiburi, and then step back to the start. It’s complicated, but you get into the flow of it with practice.

In Kendo, the instructors decided to give my role to the nikyu who is planning to test for ikkyu. This will give him a bigger sense of responsibility for future ranks and roles. Good for him. He led the class in rei-hou and warm-ups.

We had a guest today. I’m not sure if he’ll be a regular, but he is a Kumdo fighter. He has a different stance and different motions after the strikes, but he is really good and judging distance and keeping his energy up. He also has a very sideways motion when doing kiri-kaeshi.

The class did lots of footwork and shomen drills to work up our spirit. We then did kiri-kaeshi, menouchi, and koteouchi drills. We had a short set of two ji-geiko drills at the end. I had lower-ranking students to encourage, so I let them hit me a couple of times before I tried to hit them.

Day 324:

Today, I started off with my routine, adding the tenth kata to my list. However, the instructor offered to teach me the eleventh kata. I said yes and we started learning it.

You start off taking two steps and grip the sword. You draw forward, but then you step back and raise it upwards in a nuki move. You then strike the right side of the opponent’s head down to the chin. Carve backwards up and then strike the left shoulder down to the sternum. Carve backwards up and then strike the right ribs under the arm down to the hip. Carve back up and then swing around to level with the hips and slash horizontally across the doh, making sure to turn your upper torso to follow the sword. Raise up and then slash downward down the middle. Chiburi to the right and noto. Step back about seven steps (nine of you took big steps) back to the start.

It’s been fourteen months since I started Iaido and now I know all of the kata. Still, I don’t have a rank yet. I’m not frustrated. I’m saying it feels weird to know so much and yet not have had the chance to test. I guess I’ll just be ready to test soon.

In Kendo, I led the class in rei-hou, but the instructor led the warm-ups. After footwork drills, we did a lot of waza. We separated into ordered groups and rotated through after each attack was finished. A couple of people were not doing it safely, so the instructor halted the class to lecture them about safety. Then we started up again. We moved into keiko (or ji-geiko for those not in bogu) and kept going. The same line had an accident. Apparently, someone hooked a keikogi with a ki-saki whoch resulted in the arms being tugged and the opposing shinai bonking the back of the student’s head. I can’t even imagine how that would work but apparently it worked.

After I led the class in ending rei-hou, the instructor gave us a big lecture about taking responsibility for your line if you are highest-ranking. It was a good lecture.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 321-322

Day 321:

In Iaido, my toe is better. I am beginning to see how I should keep my weight backwards to stabilize myself. As long as I do this, I should not wobble on my legs coming up. I’m wondering if my posture in the fourth kata is good enough. Others hold their right legs differently. Also, I was hasty is drawing today. The sword rattled in the saya coming out. Darn that misshapen interior.

In Kendo, my breath was shallow and my voice crackled a lot. After warm-ups and suburi, we had a few rounds of suri-ashi and fumi-komi. After adding in menouchi, we put on men. We did seemingly endless rounds of kiri-kaeshi and menouchi.

Day 322:

No class today as there is a holiday tomorrow. I would have preferred to practice.

A Beginner's Point of View 319-320

Day 319:

Yesterday, I hurt my left big toe to the point where it was bleeding. I hope it won’t bother me today.

In Iaido, I practiced my kata over and over. I’m getting smoother on turning around in the second kata. My toe didn’t hurt me if I moved slowly. I need to practice moving my weight back onto my rear foot to avoid being unstable when standing.

In Kendo, Head Sensei showed up again. I led the class in rei-hou, warm-ups, and suburi. We did lots of footwork drills with kiai and fumi-komi. Then we put on men and I was motodachi for endless kiri-kaeshi and menouchi.

Day 320:

My toe is better, but the skin is stiff. It gives me excuse to slow down and do the leg movements correctly.

In Iaido, I really am putting much emphasis on the sixth and seventh katas.

In Kendo, we did a lot of footwork drills. The endless kiai with every drill left me out of breath. Still, I stayed in line. Kiri-kaeshi and menouchi was the order of the day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 317-318

Day 317:

No class today. I had a prior engagement that I could not get out of.

Day 318:

In Iaido, my iaito was freshly polished and oiled. It slid in and out of the saya nicely. I practiced my kata under the gaze of the instructor. He said nothing, so I guess that means I’m doing well.

In Kendo, who should show up but Head Sensei!!! It’s been forever since I’ve seen him! I decided to do my best. I lead the class in rei-hou and suburi. We did a lot of footwork drills leading up to striking. We did better than usual. I was motodachi with three others as we received kiri-kaeshi, menouchi, and koteouchi from the students. Head Sensei did not have any comments for the class. A few of the students were pulling their arms back after a strike, so I had to correct them.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Beginner's Point of View 315-316

Day 315:

In Iaido class, I arrived early to set up the dojo floor. Then I worked on my kata. The second kata is still a little awkward, but at least I’m coming closer to the answer. I’m still having trouble with the sageo. When I asked for some help, the instructor showed me how he uses his sageo. He explained that the beginning to-rei has you letting go of the sageo as you push it into your right hand, and then push it to the ki-saki. Allowing a small loop in the sageo is acceptable as long as you don’t fuss too much.

In Kendo, we did our warm-ups in a circle, like at tournament. After suburi, we got our men and dove right into a lot of kiri-kaeshi, men, and kote drills. Many of the students did not have bogu, but we taught them to receive kiri-kaeshi, men strikes, and kote strikes.

Day 316:

In Iaido, we had a full class. I squeezed in and did my kata without getting too close to the others. I remembered to place my left hand about midpoint on the iaito instead of close to the tsuba. It does make the tsuki motion easier and straighter.

In Kendo, our instructor didn’t show up until about too late. It turns out that he forgot to pack his bogu and uniform. Instead, he took video of the class during waza. I led the class in warm-ups and suburi. The instructor asked me to repeat a few suburi to make sure the class did it right. Then we broke into groups for suri-ashi drills with lots of kiai practice. We gave our loudest kiai, sometimes with our mouths closed to build up our lungs. During kiai and even suburi, I found my voice deepening and being louder. I wonder if I’m improving my kiai. We put on men and did a lot of kiri-kaeshi and menouchi drills. We finished by having a couple of keikos.