Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Beginner's Point of View 417-418

Day 417:

We were in the gym again. It’s not a comfortable floor. Our other nidan came back from her break away to take care of private business. We had some more structure today. After a full set and then half of another set, we lined up for class.

We learned some points about the fourth kata. I learned that I should only thrust my arms forward in the initial tsuka thrust, not lean forward. Pushing the sword out of the saya may lean me forward but not until then. I also learned to not be in a hurry to rise up from tate-heiza. Rise up onto toes and then fumi-komi. Remember to turn your head before the backward thrust and before turning back around for the final cut.

We practiced the third and fourth kata for the rest of class. I tried to include more metsuke in everything. I also have started to try to do the stand-up and cut for the third kata all in one motion. It’s really tempting to move too fast.

Day 418:

There was another new student today. The instructor spent most of the day with him teaching about standing and basic cuts. I got to do two and half sets by myself until he squeezed in a lesson.

We learned about the fifth kata. The biggest thing was something we had already known. It was to turn over the saya at the last moment before drawing. One thing I did learn was that on the downswing, you only cut to the center, not all the way back to the left side. That’s hard to do if you’re trying to make both upswing and downswing look together as a single attack.

The tsuka should finish its travel in the center while the ki-saki should finish a little left of center. It is better to twist the sword a bit in hasso so all you do is push it along the plane down into chiburi. I wonder if that’s the way in all of the big chiburi, like in number seven and number ten.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Beginner's Point of View 415-416

Day 415:

Today was weird. When I showed up, the dojo was closed and dark. Usually it’s either just closed or one person ahead of me clearing the floor. Well, I turned the lights on, changed into my uniform, cleared the floor, and then swept up.

I began practicing my kata, trying to include vision into it. It seems that I can remember to either turn my head to look at the ‘opponent’ or I can lower my gaze during the final strike. I need to be able to do both.

I noticed that only one person showed up for Kendo during Iaido class. No other students, no instructors. I began to wonder if I had to offer a class to him to avoid him feeling cheated. I’ve only taught one class before and that was under the supervision of a nidan. I guess since I had neither shinai nor key to the equipment closet, I would have done warm-ups, footwork, wind sprints, and then shomen and kote suburi. After the fact, I hope that I would have remembered to show Kendo kata. What a thing to forget after doing so much Iaido.

I cleared the floor after deciding that there was to be no Kendo tonight. The student left before it was class time anyway. After I got home, I got the message about no practice tonight. Well, at least I got a free practice.

Day 416:

Today as well as next class will be in the gymnasium. I hate the gymnasium. It’s a concrete floor with thin artificial covering to look kinda like wood. It hurts to fumi-komi.

There was class, but our new student needed attention. So no structured class since we would have to start with the fourth kata. I made some progress with memorizing more vision. The vision is called ‘metsuke’, meaning more focus that just seeing. You keep your attention and focus on your ‘next’ opponent. You must look before you draw and attack.

I did two sets and then a couple of iterations of the first, fourth, and tenth kata to get the idea of metsuke down for those kata. It will take some time before it is all memorized.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Beginner's Point of View 413-414

Day 413:

Today was more structure. After about one and a half sets of kata, the instructor called for us to come together. We concentrated on the second and third kata.

I learned this time to draw the sword halfway before turning around. Try to drag your left foot so that when you perform the final draw, you snap the foot to the left slightly.

I learned for the third kata that you must twist your wrist slightly to cause the ki-saki to spring up to almost horizontal.

Day 414:

Today was no structured class. Sensei and I were here, but no other ‘advanced’ students. There was a newcomer who needed to be taught the kata from the start, so the instructor spent all his time with the new student.

I took the time to incorporate the new ways to do the kata, including jo-ha-kyu. Sensei offered advice for turning my head to establish eye contact before turning the rest of my body. It sounds simple enough, but in practice it’s a lot of things to remember, especially if you’re trying to have no-mind. Well, I suppose practice will eventually make perfect.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Beginner's Point of View 411-412

Day 411:

Today I slowed down and included slower cuts and great circle paths into my kata. I got to complete three sets and I feel much better.

Day 412:

Today, I tried to include eyesight (looking at your target) into my kata. I forgot during half of my kata. I got through two sets when the instructor actually called for a formal lesson! We talked about the first kata and its finer points. He added the next step in proper higher-level kata. We should rise up from seiza slowly, building tension and drawing slowly. Then at the last second before drawing fully, we flick our toes into the ‘live’ position. That’s harder to do than it looks.

After class, he talked to me about something that sounded like ‘jo-ha-kyu’, which basically means starting slow and then speeding up to finish. It’s something to do at the shodan/nidan level. It builds momentum.