Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Beginner's Point of View 339-340

Day 339:

No class today as I am sick.

Day 340:

No class today as I am sick.

Day 340.5

No class today as I am sick.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Beginner's Point of View 337-338

Day 337:

In Iaido class, we had free practice for all twelve kata. I really need to try not to swing the sword so hard. It’s hard to stop that steel when it comes down fast. For the first four kata, the saki must be a couple of inches below horizontal. For the standing kata, the saki must be horizontal.

I did not attend Kendo class as I was feeling bad all weekend. I’m going to rest.

Day 338:

In Iaido class, we practiced all twelve kata freely again. The instructor would walk around and give personal comments. I need to slow down and do it better. I get so excited that I often rush. This makes me lean forward too much and be off-balance.

In Kendo, I led the class in warm-ups. I tried hard not to forget anything, but I forgot the neck stretches. Darn it. I keep showing myself to be incompetent. That and it’s embarrassing. We did lots of suri-ashi drills today. We had a new drill where the instructor brought out long stretches of elastic. We would loop it around someone who would fumi-komi and charge as hard as they could for a few paces. Then the person behind would allow themselves to be dragged forward. All the way down we did this and then back, then we switched partners. That was fun and interesting. I had the strongest person in the dojo and I could resist the elastic until I chose to move. Then I had to resist flying into him from behind. We finished the basic class with renzoku-men and somen charges.

Then we put on bogu. Today I was not motodachi because we had an extra sensei show up. That’s okay. I wanted to work harder anyhow. We did kiri-kaeshi, menouchi, koteouchi, and keiko. I had a keiko with our extra sensei, who did a stunning yaku-doh upon me. It shattered my mind when he did it because it looked so wrong and yet struck so true. I complimented him on it afterwards.

At the end of class, I had an extra keiko with my fellow shodan, trying to see if my stamina was better. It was better, but something was wrong.

After class, the instructor showed me video of my feet. They looked bad. No fumi-komi at all, short strides, and my back foot was up almost sixty degrees. This pushes my hips too far forward and puts my weight on my front foot. This requires me to give huge fumi-komi which is wrong. I need to learn to lean my hips back and lower my back foot. Trying out one fumi-komi like that improved my stride greatly. I’ll have to practice that like when I started Kendo.

I really think I’ve been feeling better this week. The only thing different is that I’ve been eating more and resting. Maybe I’ve been overtaxing myself.

Day 338.5

This time I made it to the extra Iaido session. I was sick the last couple of days from work and I was upset that I might miss class today.

We started with some stretching in freeform. I just did some men and kote suburi for warm-ups. Then we did some drills we might see in a seminar, like lunges. That’s where you take chudan, raise up and strike down vertical while leaning forward on one knee. Then you raise up and do the same strike with the other knee. You travel this way all the way down the floor and back.

We also did other exercises where you kinda do the first kata forward, with little chiburi to the side. Then you do it to the right, then you do it to the rear using the left foot, then to the left with the left foot. You do the whole thing again and you wind up back where you started.

We also did matoburi-suburi except when you come up, you rotate the sword horizontal as if using uke to save your life. First pointing the blade to the left and then to the right.

Then we spent most of the time doing all twelve kata one at a time as a class. The instructor would give us pointers to follow and we would do it a couple of times. This took up most of the class.

We finished with a practice test. I felt like I was too slow on rei-hou so I did not breathe between kata. My time was 4:50 or so. I need to breathe between kata to slow down. The instructors also got 5:15 or so, so they need to slow down.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Beginner's Point of View 335-336

Day 335:

Iaido, 1-12, going faster, more effort, should slow, but going from swing to swing should be more emphasized, instructor commented that cuts in standing kata should be horizontal, not down

Kendo, new warm-ups, run around circle of bokken, many ashi drills, partners back and forth, men, kote, kote-men, then break into men-nuki-men and kiri-kaeshi, instructor tells me after class that my stamina is not improving, should walk on days not in class, try to incorporate

Day 336:

Iaido, free practice until half-way through class, practice test, nervous, forget to clear right side of hakama for 1st kata, toes down for 2nd kata, ki-saki not high enough for 3rd kata, tsuka too high for 4th kata, cut up too high on 5th kata, final time 6:06, need 1 breath, not two

No kendo, chest still sore from last class

Day 336.5

I missed the extra Iaido class today. It wasn’t at the same time as last week so it was over by the time I remembered it. I went for a walk instead.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Beginner's Point of View 333-334

Day 333:

In Iaido, we had free practice. I practiced my full set of kata. During number eleven, I accidentally did zanshin in jodan like I was finishing the seventh kata. It can be awkward to remember. We had a practice test at the end of class. I got 5:30 for a time, very nice. The instructor told me that 5:45 is an ideal time to try for.

In Kendo, I led the class in warm-ups and did not forget any stretches this time. Very good. I should try to remember the sequence to avoid embarrassment like that. For class, we did Kendo bokken waza kata. The drills of men-kote-doh-tsuki, kote-men, harai-kote, and men-keashi-doh were a nice change of pace. Then we put on men for kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and finally kakari-geiko for the students.

At the end of class, the instructor confided in me that the motion I used with my left arm when I rei after a drill is wrong. I was just imitating Sensei when he bows out of a match. I guess I’m not supposed to do that. However, I really would have liked to have known that a lot sooner. Now I’ve got about three years of muscle memory to unlearn.

Day 334:

In Iaido, we started with some free practice, but then went into practice tests. We learned about the set-up and commands for the test. On the first test, I messed up the act of putting the saya in my obi. It just wouldn’t go in. I rushed it and had to speed through my kata. I got a time of 5:45, but it didn’t look good. The instructor commented about how I might be marked down in score even though I got a good time. The second test, I nailed it the first time and slowed down. I got 5:50 without any errors. Much better.

We had a discussion at the end of Iaido practice about the upcoming seminar, so we missed Kendo opening rei-hou. I put on doh and tare and stepped into line at the end of the student line. I did not miss warm-ups or suburi. The instructor went through the exercises at double the pace. If I was a beginner, I would have had to stop and catch my breath. I’m used to the exercises and I’m in better shape than when I had started taking Kendo, I was able to finish. Some of the mudansha were really suffering from lack of breath. One had to stop outright twice to avoid having her breathing stop all together.

Today we had more of the bokken waza. We practiced men-kote-doh-tsuki, kote-men, and men-nuki-men. We kept extra spacing for safety, of course. After practicing those waza with bokken, we switched into full bogu and repeated the drills with shinai and full striking. Very nice way to practice.

Day 334.5

Today we had a special day of Iaido. Normally, we have 45 minutes for a class. We had 2 hours of uninterrupted Iaido. It was like a mini-seminar. We had about a half-hour of free practice and then we went into deep discussion and practice of individual kata. We would practice each kata without interruption, and then we would do them by stopping our motion and posture with each significant sword motion, like a cut, chiburi, or thrust. The instructor would come by each of us and give minor corrections. Then we would repeat the kata with the adjusted motions. We practiced 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. We were supposed to save some time for practice tests, but time ran out. Next week, we’ll finish up the kata and save perhaps half an hour or so for practice tests.