Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 537-538

Day 537:

Tonight was only myself and the instructor. We had a short, but intense practice. We started a hard practice of kiri-kaeshi and men-ouchi. Suddenly, the instructor stopped us and commented how I’m leaning on my forward foot.

We had a nice, long discussion on the body and how shifting your center of gravity makes a difference. We then adjusted our footwork and practiced with the new footwork. It made me slower but my attacks were smoother. My fumi-komi also seemed to improve. I didn’t have to raise my front foot up high anymore. After some men-ouchi, kote-suriage-men, and ji-geiko. The instructor commented about how I no longer telegraph my moves.

Day 538:

I showed up to Iaido practice. From now on, I need to go back to Iaido practice and get back into shape for the upcoming seminar in the spring. I did all of the kata three times. My muscle memory kicked in and reminded me of each move. I may have remembered the moves, but I was really wobbly no my feet. Gotta get back into shape, I guess.

In basic Kendo practice, we did suburi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and doh-ouchi. Then we lined up for hotseat. I started in the hotseat and fought everyone using the new footwork. I was doing very well. After rotating through the entire line, we had a final 3-minute ji-geiko. I fought against my fellow shodan. With the new footwork, I dominated him. By the end of the ji-geiko we were evenly matched. I should really remember to stay on my back foot.

Next two weeks practice is cancelled because of the holiday. The week afterwards we will be back to normal.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 535-536

Day 535:

Today we had only three people: myself, the instructor, and sensei. We did practice three-man style. This means you rotate in three positions of attack, receive, and rest. In the end, it seemed easier to catch your breath but your heart rate stayed up with no rest for it.

We went through drills of kiri-kaeshi, kote-kiri-kaeshi with tsuki, doh-kiri-kaeshi with tsuki, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi, kote-suriage-men-ouchi, kote-debana-men-ouchi, kakari-geiko, and ji-geiko. By the time we were doing kakari-geiko, my men started to feel loose. I didn’t understand why, so I kept going. When we finished, I discovered that my men-himo had started to come undone. So that’s what that feels like.

We ended practice with performing all ten kata. I was really awkward and stiff with my movement because I couldn’t remember half of them. I had to fulfill the role of both shidachi and uchidachi. Several times I had to repeat performances as uchidachi because I was just learning the shidachi’s role. However, the instructor also had to repeat performances because he was still trying to master the kata. Sensei did well, though. He’s had more practice.

Day 536:

Today was a special day. It was our annual holiday party. I showed up early to try some Iaido to see how much I’ve backslid. However, the traffic was dense and cleaning up the dojo took longer than expected. By the time I was finished, there was only 15 minutes until Kendo time and Sensei did not show up until afterwards.

However, Head Sensei showed up. It’s been two years since I’ve fought with him. He decided that we would have half an hour of rotating keiko while we are split into two lines. Every person rotates through Head Sensei to fight him. I was lucky enough to be last in line, again. I was able to fight Head Sensei and be more or less even with him. It’s probably because he was tired from fighting everyone who showed up. We finished with an ippon with the entire dojo watching. It was energetic from all of the cheering. Still, after several exchanges Head sensei snuck in a kote and men. He was kind enough not to claim them and let me fight some more. I did not let up until he called an end to the match.

Afterwards, we had our potluck dinner. I was the only one to sign up to being a dessert so I made some chocolate chip cookies.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 533-534

Day 533:

Today was unique. It was only myself and Sensei. Nobody else showed up. I’m sure he was looking forward to cancelling advanced class and going home early. Not for me, though. He planned for a ‘shorter class’ but still wanted to work on some kata, though. Good for me.

We practiced kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and ji-geiko. We did a few types of kiri-kaeshi such as men only, man and kote only, men and kote with oji-waza, and then full ji-geiko.

We broke for kata. We practiced all seven kata as if testing. Sensei gave a few pointers, but he said I should be good enough to pass.

He then looked at the clock and realized that we had lots of time left. So he offered to teach me the three short sword kata. He loaned me his kodachi.

In the eighth kata, the shidachi must switch swords to the kodachi, making sure to bend the knee nearest the shodan. The uchidachi steps into left jodan. The shidachi starts with the kodachi in chudan and his hand on his left hip. He then reaches forward with the kodachi and raise to aim for the chin. Both take three steps forward. The uchidachi attempts to strike men, but the shidachi parries like in Iaido using uke-nagasu to the left. The shidachi steps forward and right and strike the shidachi’s men. You then step back into left jodan and the uchidachi turns to take chudan. Both step back into line and finish.

In the ninth kata, both the shidachi and uchidachi move into gedan and step forward three times. The uchidachi tries to raiser up but fails and moves into waki-gamae. The shidachi takes chudan. The uchidachi raises into squared jodan and tries to strike men. The shidachi parries to the right and then steps left and strike the uchidachi’s men. The shidachi then brings the kodachi to the right hip and grabs the uchidachi’s right arm above the elbow to pin the arm. The shidachi must be very, very close to do this properly. Almost face-to-face. The shidachi steps back to the start position and both finish.

The tenth kata starts with the shidachi taking gedan. Both step forward for three steps, however the uchidachi raises up on the second step and strike men on the third step. The uchidachi should raise up to parry the bokken using a suriage and toss the blade to the left and behind the uchidachi’s side. The uchidachi uses the momentum to swing the sword up and around to the shidachi’s doh. The shidachi must parry sideways to the right to block the doh strike. The shidachi must step forward while sliding up to the tsuba with your tsuba and grab the right arm of the uchidachi. The shidahci steps forwards, carrying the uchidachi with them for three steps. The shidachi returns the kodachi to the hip for zanshin and then return to start. Both the finish and bow out.

We wound up going over time limit with instruction.

Day 534:

This was a hard practice. We did kiri-kseshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and kote-suriage-men. Each were multiple repetitions, draining my breath. We then did a few rounds of ji-geiko.

We then broke for kata. The other instructor then took his turn teaching me the three kodachi kata. These kata are complicated to do. I’ll need a lot of practice. Good thing I won’t need them for years to come when testing for sandan.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 531-532

Day 531:

Today was a hard practice as one of the instructors are going away on a trip before next class. We did several rounds of kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, ji-geiko with only men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, ji-geiko with men-ouchi and kote-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi, harai-men, ji-geiko with kote-men-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and 4-man kakari-geiko.

Afterwards, both instructors gave me advice on my progress towards nidan. Sensei told me that I need to keep my arms and shoulder loose so I don’t tense my right arm before a strike. The instructor had a nice, long lecture with me with metaphysics. I like those discussions since I like to consider the philosophical side of things. He said that now I need to stop looking for new things. Instead, I need to take all the pieces that I have and make them connect more smoothly. I also need to understand the ‘why’ side of things. Why do I strike? Why do I strike now? Why did I not strike over there? Why did I not strike sooner or later? It’s starting to come together.

I’m also not doing fumi-komi right. Apparently, the example of ‘charging up stairs’ is not quite correct. I need to ‘step over a puddle’ instead. Now I need to unlearn fumi-komi and learn it all over again.

Day 532:

Today is the day before a holiday. Only Sensei is there. He sent a message to all of us in the advanced class to try to show up early so the beginner class is not empty. All of us showed up for a big class.

Sensei asked me to lead the class. I had to rely on memory to lead the class. Rei-hou, stretching, and suburi came naturally. I had to make sure to give every stretch because it was cold.

Sensei had us put on men right away. We practiced men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and men-debana-kote-ouchi. Afterwards, we did a few rounds of ji-geiko. The last ji-geiko I fought Sensei. I’m not sure if he was taking it easy on me or if I was really fighting him evenly matched. Maybe it’s just because I know his patterns well.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 529-530

Day 529:

No class today as I have a previously-made appointment.

Day 530:

No class today as I am ill.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 527-528

Day 527:

We had one of our regular Guest Sensei practice with us. It was fun seeing him again. Today we did a lot of conditioning exercises. Several iterations of the same drill over and over. Kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, ai-ouchi-men, kote-suriage-men, and men-suriage-men. We finished with a few rounds of ji-geiko. It was interesting fighting against Guest Sensei. If I push myself to the limit, I could match him in the short term. I was able to speed my sword to hit his kote to beat his defense to make him smile.

Day 528:

Today was more conditioning. At the end of practice, Sensei said the drills were the shinai versions of the bokutou kihon kata being pushed by the Kendo Federation. We started with kiri-kaeshi and then did the sequence of men, kote, doh, tsuki, kote-men, kote-suriage-men, men-debana-kote, and men-nuki-men. There were a few more but I don’t remember the entire series. We finished with some ji-geiko and moved into kata.

I love kata. I teamed with a student to sharpen our first five kata. He’s really coming along. I took the time to demonstrate my seme in kata.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 525-526

Day 525:

Today we worked on getting maai for men strike down well. Drills included kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, okuri-ashi-men, seme-men, seme-men-men, and then ai-ouchi-men. We finished with an invigorating round of four-person-kakari-geiko.

We did some kata afterwards. I practiced the first five kata with a student. He did well. I think he would have passed. I had forgotten which type of jodan was needed for the fifth kata on the uchidachi side. It turns out to be left jodan. The uchidachi needs to be careful in attacking to straighten the attack for the shidachi.

Day 526:

Today was more instructional for form and techinique. We did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, and then ji-geiko using only men strikes. That’s new. Then we did kote-ouchi and then ji-geiko using only men or kote. We then did doh-ouchi and then ji-geiko like normal. We then concentrated on oji-waza. Kote-men-ouchi, seme-men, seme-men-debana-kote, and seme-kote-suriage-men. We finished with some three-person-kakari-geiko.

We finished with some kata. I practiced the first seven kata with another shodan. I learned that we need some precision work. For myself, I have two errors. First, I need to not jump back as uchidachi. That just makes the shidachi too far away. Also, my footwork as uchidachi in the seventh kata is wrong. It’s two steps forward for the initial cut and then slide the left foot back as you aim for the shidachi and a Kendo step backwards to pull the shidachi up.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 523-524

Day 523:

Today we had class in the gym as the dojo was being used for other functions. We used the long dimensions of the gym for stamina training. We started with kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and doh-ouchi. We worked on some advanced drills that teach you to react to your opponent’s seme. Men-debana-kote and kote-suriage-men.

We finished with some kakari-geiko and ji-geiko. I think I’m really improving my stamina little by little. I never even felt like sitting out once.

Day 524:

Today we were back in our dojo. Those springy hardwood floors are really nice. We did the class lengthwise to take advantage of the space. We did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-kiri-kaeshi, kote-ouchi, and doh-ouchi.

We then did more of those seme drills. Reacting to an approaching opponent, men-debana-kote, and men-debana-doh. We finished strong with a long kakari-geiko and several rounds of ji-geiko.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 521-522

Day 521:

Today we went back to a regular practice. Kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and kote-men-ouchi. My endurance seems to be getting better. I didn’t have to sit out today.

Today’s focus was on hiki-waza. We had long lectures on proper footwork. You need to use fumi-komi to stomp and propel yourself backwards. The secret is to start not to start totally face-to-face at tai-atari. You need to be half a step backwards at tsuba-zariai. Then going backwards puts you at proper maai. A good modification for balance is to discreetly slide your left foot back a bit, then fumi-komi backwards.

We finished with some ji-geiko. I really was feeling the rhythm and made a good showing.

Day 522:

No class today because I am ill.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 519-520

Day 519:

The instructors have brought us a new way to train. They say we need to understand how to react to others pressure. We did a new set of drills.

We did kiri-kaeshi all the way down the length of the dojo and back. We approached our opponent using okuri-ashi and then strike men, kote, and then doh. The motodachi did a drill to approach us with ayumi-ashi until we were in issoku-ittou-no-maai.

We then did some more advanced drills of suriage-men when the motodachi steps into maai. We then did some kakari-geiko and then a new way. We did kakari-geiko with the receiver ‘resisting’. Resisting means stepping away, dodging, and lightly blocking. I liked resisting. I was pretty good at it. I wasn’t bad at striking a resisting opponent, either. We finished with ji-geiko. I didn’t have to step out once.

Day 520:

We started with the new kiri-kaeshi. I don’t like it much since it’s awkward to know when to stop together. We did men-ouchi normally, with okuri-ashi, and motodachi ayumi-ashi. We practiced men-debana-kote and kote-suriage-men to sharpen our technique. We then repeated the kakari-geiko and kakari-geiko with resistance.

We finished with ji-geiko and kata. In kata, I practiced the first five with a student and then I did six and seven with sensei. Sensei said that my six and seven has improved. I remembered to not rush through the footwork and turn my body to the left as shidachi in seven.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 517-518

Day 517:

Today was a great practice. We really ground repetitions over and over to build endurance.

We did kiri-kaeshi, several men-ouchi, kote-kiri-kaeshi, kote-ouchi, doh-kiri-kaeshi, doh-ouchi, kote-suriage-men, and men-debana-kote. I was exhausted.

We finished with several rounds of ji-geiko and then we broke up for kata. I practiced a full seven kata with the instructor. Overall, he said I was much better and did not have any significant errors. Just fix a few little things like looking back at the uchidachi sooner to match gazes.

Day 518:

Today was a hard day. It was cold and rainy. I must be getting old because I like this weather but it sapped my strength.

Kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, men-debana-kote, kote-suriage-men, ai-ouchi-men, and a couple rounds of ji-geiko. I feel that flexing my left wrist makes strike better. I sparred with a classmate of mine who seems to have adopted ‘my’ nuki-men technique. I only say that because I used to use that waza against him all of the time and now he’s started to use it against me. It’s actually funny because I have a hard time defending against it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 515-516

Day 515:

No class today as I am recovering from illness.

Day 516:

No class today as I am recovering from illness.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 513-514

Day 513:

Today we had a short class. Our instructors came back from a tournament really tired. One instructor even quit after beginner class and apologized for it. The other tried not to strike too much and hide it. We did full rounds of kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, kote-kiri-kaeshi, doh-kiri-kaeshi, kote-suriage-men, men-debana-kote, harai-men, and then ji-geiko in a three man rotation.

We then did four people in a kata rotation. I got to practice the first five kata with a student and the first seven kata with my fellow shodan and the sensei. I need to remember to twist my body to face the left as shidachi in the seveth kata. In the sixth kata, the footwork is like the second kata, that allows me to drive forward into the uchidachi.

Day 514:

Today was similar to the last class. We did multiple rounds of kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, kote-kiri-kaeshi, doh-ouchi, doh-kiri-kaeshi, men-dabana-kote, and tsuki-ouchi.

I had to step out for a rest, but just for a sip of water and to wet my face. That seems to make me feel better than the sip. I stepped in for some ji-geiko and rotational kata. Rotating kata is an interesting way to do it. I look forward to a six-way rotational kata.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 511-512

Day 511:

No class today as I am injured.

Day 512:

Today was a good day of stamina drills. After kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, and kote-ouchi, we did several rounds of ai-ouchi-men. We then did a new drill where the receiver walks forward at a constant rate and the attacker attacks at one-step distance. After that, we did hot-seat. I did well, striking the instructors several times. My fellow shodan was really able to outguess me.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 509-510

Day 509:

Today the instructors decided to kill all of us with stamina drills. We had increasing repetitions for drills until we finish the type of waza and move to the next one. Three, five, seven, and nine repetitions for each of men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, jodan-men, jodan-kote, kote-suriage-men, jodan-suriage-men, and then ji-geiko.

I tried to step out after-jodan-kote, but the instructor encouraged me to stay in. I thought there was just a couple of drills left, but it lasted for multiple repetitions for several drills. I felt horrible, but I kept going. I was tired, out of breath, dizzy, eyes burning from sweat, and dripping nose, but I stayed in until the end.

For kata, I helped refine the first three kata for a student who will eventually test for ikkyu. I advised him to square his hips for movement into jodan in the first kata to keep his sword on target. Still, I was embarrassed for messing up the second kata as shidachi.

Day 510:

Today was a hot, humid day. We took it easy and did more of a technique-sharpening day.

We did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, jodan-men, and jodan-kote. The instructor gave us a lecture on how to hold the sword for jodan. We need to slide the sword up so the pinkie finger is not covering the tsuka. We hold the right hand with the web of the hand between thumb and forefinger is open to push the sword.

We went back to work and did ai-ouchi-men, men-ai-ouchi-kote (I hope I said that right) and then we took a break.

We did some kata. I got to practice the first seven kata and got advice. I need to keep my sword lower in the sixth kata to show no stance. In the seventh kata I need to cut instantly and then step carefully to avoid confusion.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 507-508

Day 507:

No class today because of the holiday.

Day 508:

Today was a day of instruction for overall refinement. After some kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and doh-ouchi, the instructor gives me a lecture about seme. He said that I need to ride the opponent’s shinai into maai. That will transmit my spirit into my opponent.

Sensei gives his own lecture to the class about kote-suriage-men. You can do it by deflecting on either side, left or right. I like doing it on the left side because to swing to the right then up. That blocks the kote from being hit. Guest-sensei said to do it the other way. I don’t like it because it risks my kote and I’m not that fast recovering.

We did a few reps of kote-suriage-men on both sides and then some ji-geiko. I did not need to sit out all class.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 505-506

Day 505:

Today was a good day of lots of work. Kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, kote-suriage-men-ouchi, and men-suriage-men-ouchi over many repetitions. There was a lot of lecture and demonstrations, which is good. That way I could catch my breath and keep that equilibrium of energy and breath good. We finished with a few rounds of ji-geiko. I seem to be getting better as long as I have some breath in my body. I feel faster when I do.

At the end of practiced, I had a kata lesson on the sixth and seventh Kendo kata. On the seventh, I had bad footwork as shidachi. I kept counting two steps and kneeling down on my left knee. That’s wrong. I need three steps and kneel down on the right knee. At the end, sensei said to augment my kata with more seme to impress the judges.

Day 506:

This was a day of technique over brute force or working us until we drop. After some kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, and kote-ouchi, we do a drill that we haven’t done in a while. We did ten ai-ouchi-men over and over. Head Sensei likes this drill because it builds stamina not just in the body but in the mind. One more time…one more time…one more time…

After a while, I had to sit out. Not because I was out of breath or out of energy. My left hip was sore about ten minutes into practice and just kept getting worse. I tried to ignore it as best as I can but after a while I just couldn’t stand anymore. I was able to step back in for ji-geiko.

I got to do some more kata with a different instructor. He gave different advice. He was more metaphysical than sensei. I like metaphysical, especially if it is relevant to the kata in question. He let me know about striking doh at the same time in order help me get over the mental stumbling block of how many steps to take. He also told me to fix my fourth kata as uchidachi, the attack is NOT jodan. I kept thinking that it was jodan and that’s why I keep swinging sideways. I should fix my hips afterwards to be straight.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 503-504

Day 503:

Sensei was sick today, so he could only teach the beginner class. He handed the advanced class to myself and another shodan. We were surprised.

We just tried to settle for a simply wide series of waza. Men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi, and doh-ouchi. We tried to pull off a hotseat but with only four total people it didn’t go off well. We then moved into men-kaeshi-doh and kote-suriage men. We finished with some ji-geiko.

Day 504:

Had to rest a bit

I have trimmed the callous on my foot very close to my flesh to avoid tearing more flesh.

Today, the Sensei was trying to kill us with pure work. We had so many repetitions. First it was four repetitions, then six, then eight, then ten. Once you thought you were done you now do it eight times, then six, and then four. Only then do you move to the next waza. Sensei was keeping pace, but the rest of us were sufferting.

We did kiri-kaeshi and then into waza. Men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, ai-ouchi-men, doh-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi.

I had to sit out for a full count of a waza before stepping back in. We finished with some ji-geiko. I had to conserve my breath for occasions when I could surprise my opponent with the burst of speed.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 501-502

Day 501:

Today we had a guest sensei show up. We haven’t seen him for a year. He was doing well and even had a new job and promotion back home in Japan. Good for him.

After warming up myself, advanced class started. We opened with kiri-kaeshi and then guest sensei wanted us to do a variation of kiri-kaeshi. We start with men-ouchi and then then strike doh over and over.

The bulk of class was a single-extra-long version of kenshi-in-the-middle. We took turns being in the middle until each did each of kote-suriage-men and men-kaeshi-doh twice. Guest sensei really helped me sharpen my doh-ouchi. I have to remember to keep my left hand in the middle of my body. We finished with three rounds of ji-geiko.

At the end of class, we lined up to hear Guest Sensei’s comments. He told me that I had a great spirit. He was always feeling being pressured.

Day 502:

We had a full day of many different waza. Kirik-kaeshi, doh-kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, men-debana-kote, and kote-suriage-men.

We all didn’t do so well with doh-ouchi. We kept not cutting well, like going too horizontal with the swing. Sensei had us re-do the drill where the receiver starts by attempting to strike men. The attacker blocks with kaeshi-doh. We do it ten times continuously while standing still. After that, then we all did better.

We finished with some ji-geiko. I noticed that I was scoring men-ouchi and kote-ouchi on Sensei over and over. At first, I thought I was surpassing his Kendo, but then that didn’t make sense this soon. After class, he admitted that his leg hurt badly so he wasn’t fighting at peak capacity. That made sense.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 498-500

Day 499:

I showed up on time and had a quick stretch. My left big toe was really stiff. I can normally pop the joint but it wouldn’t pop. We also had a higher-ranking fighter visit us. I really wanted to spar with him.

We did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, and kote-ouchi drills until my toe began to hurt. I stepped out and tried to manipulate it. I thought I had a caught tendon somewhere. I worked it until the pain went away and stepped back in.

We practiced kote-debana-men a few times until my toe and foot started hurting badly. I had to step out another two times before going home early. I was really disappointed. I was also disappointed that I didn’t practice with our guest even once. I was in the wrong rotation position and I left early.


Day 500:

No practice as I am healing from the previous class.

Day 500.5:


Today was the first time I participated in a tournament as a shodan. It was really sweet. I feel so much faster than when I was an ikkyu. I was drafted to run a court table again. The first half of the day was just running the other divisions.

After lunch, it was my division. I fought a nidan and nearly won. I still lost, but it was so close. My next opponent was a shodan and I fought him to a victory. I didn’t score any points in my first match, so I didn’t get to advance. Still, I was happy with my effort. I stepped up my effort from the start.

Later, I was on our top team. We played against a young team of low-ranking people. We won all five rounds, scoring all the points. I scored a perfect 2-0 victory. Still, my opponent was not a pushover. I had to make sure to do correct Kendo to make sure not to allow him to score.

Overall it was a great tournament. I think I’m looking forward to the next tournament.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 497-498

Day 497:

In Iaido class, we actually had a structured class. We did matoburi suburi and that drill where we do a draw and cut like in maai, only we do it front-right-behind-left and then do it again. I messed up the first right-vs-left and ended up backwards. Afterwards, we practiced the first three kata and learned the finer points. I need to cut lower across the eyes.

In Kendo, we skipped okuri-ashi and went directly into waza. Several rounds of men-ouchi and all of its variations. We had a lesson on stepping right, not half-stepping into it and messing up your fumi-komi. I spent time hitting my partners too hard. I need more tenouchi. The sensei worked us hard in preparation for the tournament. Kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi, and ji-geiko. The instructor mentioned that I waver my shinai when I turn around after passing by.

Day 498:

I decided to mix it up by going to advanced class for a while. I forgot we changed our times of class so I arrived halfway through beginner class. The sensei asked me to join in, so I did.

In advanced practice, we worked hard to sharpen our skills. We worked several repetitions on men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi, sashi-men, and oji-waza such as debana-men. I had some trouble with harai-men. Instead of raising straight up, I wound up slinging my shinai backwards and forwards to strike kote, called kote-nuki-kote. It worked, but that was not the drill.

By the end of class, I felt like collapsing. I couldn’t move fast. My feet hurt. My callous on my left foot tore some more sideways. I was really dehydrated. Still, it was a good workout.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 495-496

Day 495:

No class today as I am sick.

Day 496:

In Iaido, I did two and a half sets of kata. A student walked over and told me I was holding my sword wrong. He showed me how to hold the sword better and it did help my chiburi from overhead.

In Kendo, I’m back from being sick. I hope I’m not going to sit out. We did suburi fast and hard like Head Sensei suggested. It did really drive home physically the idea of cutting. For waza, we did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, and a new drill. Both people step together into sashi-men range. The attacker steps forward and then back and then the attacker should be in range then. There was ji-geiko to do, but I missed out to just random position in the rotation. I was in the out position and then had to receive for a student who was in his first class with the rest of us. It’s okay. I’ll get it next time.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 493-494

Day 493:

No class today as I am sick.

Day 494:

No class today as I am sick.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 491-492

Day 491:

Today I did a full two sets of Iaido kata and up to the ninth kata when the instructor started to lecture. He told us of how at the seminar he learned that during the seventh and eighth katas you are supposed to transfer the sword over your head using one hand and meet up with the other hand when the uke part of the blade is overhead.

The instructor also mentioned after class how he was promoted to sandan. I guess I should call him sensei now.

In Kendo, we drilled hard in suburi, orukri-ashi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and fumi-komi. The instructor said we are coming up on our tournament, so it’s time to start hard conditioning of our bodies. It was really hot and humid inside my men. Often I thought of stepping out, thinking, ‘That’s it. One more and I’m done.’ Still, I kept pushing. One more, one more, one more… I finished class just barely without stepping out. I won several exchanges of ji-geiko, including against the instructor.

Day 492:

In Iaido, I had a lot of energy. I finished three sets of kata and a few spare kata. I asked the sensei about the cutting path on the fifth kata. He answered by saying the path up and the path back are the same. You stop with your left hand in the center and the ki-saki to the left, by the hip. That’s different than some of the study guides, but that’s the way it’s done now.

In Kendo, our Head Sensei showed up randomly. He made several changes to our training. Like he does not want us to take it easy in suburi. Each cut with a bokken must be as if we were in shiai. I need to stop my men strike with a slight bend in my right arm, not locked out like I often do. We must never cross our foot in sashi-men drills, even if building up for timing of fumi-komi.

We did men-ouchi drills over and over many times, getting the timing down. We did some kiri-kaeshi and a drill we’ve done in the past. Ten haya-suburi quickly with the last one charging through.

He also lectured over and over about loud kiai with each strike. He said to ‘celebrate each men strike’.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 489-490

Day 489:

Today was a nice day, only warm and not hot. I did one full set of Iaido. The rest was lecture because the instructor and another student came back from a trip to a seminar. He commented on the new changes, such as the possibility that in the fourth kata you must tsuki back and a little left instead of center. Also, he commented that many sensei reminded the group that extending your body too far forward or too far back with a bent knee will end up with you standing up too wobbly. That sounds like what I’m doing.

In kendo, we had only a few students. We did several rounds of okuri-ashi, but in increments. We worked up fumi-komi with short arm swings up to horizontal. Right leg and left arm together. This added the right arm over the left arm and then tenouchi. This adds up to a nice tutorial for sashi-men. I needed this lesson.

Day 490:

No class today as I am not well.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 487-488

Day 487:

No class today as I am not well.

Day 488:

No class today as I am not well.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 485-486

Day 485:

Today was a perfect day. It was warm but not too hot and not very humid. Perfect for training.

In Iaido, I performed a full set of kata and about three-quarters of another set of kata when I had some bad abdominal pain. I felt sick, so I went home. I’m really upset at being sick enough to need to go home. It was such a perfect day to train.

Day 486:

Another perfect day. Not too hot and not too humid. I had a good deal of energy, so I did three and a half sets of Iaido kata.

In Kendo class, the instructor spent a lot of time giving lectures. That gave me a lot of time to recover my breath.

We had a lot of okuri-ashi and fumi-komi work. I need to stop raising my right foot so much.

During waza practice, the instructor told me to stop raising my shinai so soon. I need to ride the line for tsuki into a sashi-men. It’s much faster. It’s just like how a previous guest sensei said not to show the cutting edge too soon.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 483-484

Day 483:

Today the weather was nicer. I accomplished three and a half sets of Iaido kata.

In Kendo, I didn’t need help in figuring out when to step in. There was only three of us students and the instructor. After suburi, we just got right into men and kote.

We worked on men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and doh-ouchi. Lots of times, the instructor would stop us to give a nice, good, long explanations. Those really helped.

During my turn at kiri-kaeshi, he told me that I was lifting my shinai by using my shoulders rather than lifting with my hands. That makes my muscles grind against each other and that drains my overall stamina. I should remember to just move my wrists forwards and up.

Day 484:

No class today as I was working late at my job.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 481-482

Day 481:

No class today as I was working late at my job.

Day 482:

Today was not as hot but humid.

We got through one and a half sets of Iaido before the instructor decided to go through some structure. We practiced the finer points of kata three and four. I need to remember to not put so much weight on my front foot or else my back foot is too high.

In Kendo, I managed to step in at the right time. After an exhausting sets of suburi and okuri-ashi with fumi-komi, I was completely out of breath and light-headed. An instructor even commented on how red my face was.

I had to stay out for a while as the others put on men to do men-ouchi and kote-ouchi drills. After a while and some water, I felt good enough to put on men and participate. I participated in doh-ouchi and helping a new student with men strikes. The instructor ordered me to do kote-men-ouchi and I focused on keeping my left foot turned inward as well as posture. He told me that I needed to assess more and improvise. He purposefully stood at uneven distances to make me change the length of strides to strike kote men. I was concentrating on lengthening my stride instead of improvising so my kote was good but I was too close for men. I need to change that.

Training for nidan is ruthless.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 479-480

Day 479:

No class today as it is a holiday.

Day 480:

Today was hot and humid. The humidity made me feel bad. I nearly quit.

In Iaido we had more structure. We did thirty matoburi-suburi, only Iaido style. You turn the blade sideways while rising up to practice blocking. We practiced the first, second, and twelfth katas. During the lessons for the second kata, the rest of us just practiced random kata.

After class, the shodan pointed out that I’m not switching hands right. I need to cross my right hand over my left and then curl under the saya. That will put the sword in the proper position.

I continued to feel lousy into Kendo. I missed warm-ups but I came in for suburi. The instructor tried to explain when it’s acceptable to step in. It’s only when the group bows. You have to pay close attention and run in when you can.

After suburi, we did okuri-ashi with fumi-komi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi. After we broke to men-tsuke, I started feeling better. Curiously, it’s right when I stopped sweating.

We practiced kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and kote-men-ouchi. I started getting drained again. The instructor corrected me by saying I was bringing my left foot too far forward when passing by after a strike. I notice that keeping it back keeps my speed up.

When I got into the out spot, the instructor called for a massive drill, three men, three kote, three kote-men, and three doh. Ouch. Fortunately, it was only for one time. I just barely finished class.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 477-478

Day 477:

Today was really, really hot. I had to pace myself doing three sets of kata. I felt fatigued near the end of the last set.

I started class again. I did warm-ups, suburi, and okuri-ashi. We did men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi, and kote-men-doh-ouchi. We did something different. We put on kote and used our shinais to go through a two-person tunnel for waza without men. This prevented us from overheating but it was more dangerous. I actually hit someone in the face with my shinai. I was trying to start from farther and farther away to increase my fumi-komi range.

We got a safety lecture while partners are not wearing men. I didn’t have to sit out. I felt really good and worked.

Day 478:

Today we had structure in Iaido class. It was really, really humid. I didn’t feel well all day. We did a few exercises that one would do in an Iaido seminar. We did a sitting kata where you cut horizontal and vertical to the front, right, behind, and left. You finish backwards and have to do it again, winding up cutting in all four directions. We also did a deep knee exercise by cutting vertically while almost putting a knee to the floor, alternating knees.

I was so tired after Iaido that I missed half of Kendo warm-ups, tying my doh and tare on. I did do suburi and okuri-ashi, but that drained me. I felt so weak as we put on men and formed lines. I pushed myself to finish all of the men-ouchi and kote-ouchi drills. I spent some time letting the new guy men me and coached him to pass through. I had a problem with my energy, resulting in my leaning forward. I guess I was gripping the shinai too hard, tensing my shoulders. The instructor kept reminding me of that.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 475-476

Day 475:

Today was warm. I did three sets of Iaido kata. I was really leaning forward on my forward foot too much, almost to the point of wobbly. The instructor was teaching a new student about horizontal and vertical cuts.

In Kendo, instead of helping with warm-ups the instructor asked me to teach the new students (of which there are three) about standing and walking. This would give him the chance to watch the regular class and correct student there. I felt very honored, being trusted to teach the beginners. About halfway through, I was corrected by an instructor not to teach too fast. Footwork only on the first day. Another student reminded me to ask the student to check their feet once in a while to make sure they’re keeping good footwork. I did that for the whole class.

I’d be a little upset at not getting hard training if I was planning on testing in a few months. However, the instructors answered my question about how I was doing by saying I wouldn’t be ready in a few months. I think they’re right, so I’m not upset. I wouldn’t mind teaching again.

Day 476:

Today was hot and humid. I did two and a half sets of Iaido. The normal Kendo instructor did not show up.

I was asked to lead rei-hou, warm-ups, and okuri-ashi. At the end of okuri-ashi, the lead instructor switched places with me. He taught the class while I taught the beginners to combine suri-ashi with men strikes. We worked up towards kiri-kaeshi. The extent of it was four men-ouchi forwards, followed by four men-ouchi backwards. It was good for my footwork as well as theirs.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 473-474

Day 473:

No class today as I am not well.

Day 474:

Today was a simple day for Iaido. I did three sets of kata. The fifth kata seemed strange. My saya keeps flipping itself over before cutting downward. I asked the instructor and he said you’re supposed to make sure it does that so you can noto.

I finished class and put on bogu. I stepped into warm-ups. The instructor decided that we were lazy, so we did two sets of fifty haya-suburi after the normal suburi. Then we did some of the older men, kote, doh, and kote-men drills. It’s nice to see the old ones back again.

During okuri-ashi, the instructor commented that when trying to keep my posture for fumi-komi drills I’m being too conservative in my leap. I need to leap farther.

We did a ton of drills for practice. Kiri-kaeshi, seven men-ouchi, kiri-kaeshi, seven kote-ouchi, doh-kiri-kaeshi, and even two ji-geikos. During the drills, I leaped farther and farther, only to feel the broken callous on my left foot rip open. The warm wetness came signaling blood. There’s no blood allowed on the floor, so I had to step out. The instructor told me to tape it up and I can get back in. I taped it up, but I had to angle the tape around my foot to avoid having it scrape off. I went back in and the instructor commented that I’m starting at too close to my opponent. That’s embarrassing. I was telling other students the same thing earlier today.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 471-472

Day 471:

I did two sets of Iaido, but I was wobbly on my feet. I think I’m leaning forward too much. The new student wanted to start Iaido lessons.

In Kendo, the weather was cool and rainy. We didn’t have the overhead fans on, so my throat didn’t dry out so fast.

We did warm-ups, suburi, and okuri-ashi. We then did several rounds of kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, and kote-ouchi. We had time for a match of ji-geiko at the end. I fought against the instructor and did well. Not only did I hold my own against him, I think I struck points on him more often than he scored against me.

I did not have to sit out during the practice. I feel I’m getting stronger.

Day 472:

I did two sets of Iaido today. I seem to run out of time doing only two sets. I was still wobbly, so I tried leaning back some. I need to get used to that.

In Kendo, the instructor was late today. As he walked in, he told me to just start class. So, I led the opening ceremony, warm-ups, and okuri-ashi. I tried to impress on everyone to keep their feet not side-by-side during footwork.

We then lined up and put on men. We did endless drills of men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, kiri-kaeshi, kote-men-ouchi, and one match of ji-geiko. It was against a younger student, so I fought at the ikkyu level.

Again, I did not sit out. I was faint and tired for a long time. The last four drills, I felt like sitting out but I toughed it out. I’m so hyped about staying in. I feel like I’m getting better towards where I was before I had to sit out.

The doctor’s office called and let me know my liver is nearly fully healed. I’m doing well.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 469-470

Day 469:

Today when I showed up, I was the only one there. There was someone who showed up looking for lessons. I had to do my Iaido kata myself and then stop early. I started to show the new guy a few things about Kendo like talking about the bogu and how to stand and hold the sword.

Then the instructor shows up and lets me know that the national federation has lost its insurance. Officially, there is no practice. However, another student showed up and we had an unofficial practice directly into advanced practice for over an hour. I had to stop after many iterations of waza. We did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, sashi-men-ouchi. I had to rest and recover before going back in for and kote-ouchi, sashi-kote-ouchi, harai, kote-ouchi, and kakarigeiko.

Day 470:

We did two sets of Iaido kata during a warm and humid day. I was sweating and gasping.

In Kendo we did warm-ups, suburi, and okuri-ashi before doing a hard day of men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and kiri-kaeshi. I just couldn’t bring myself to finish the class.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 467-468

Day 467:

Today was really warm. I was sweating while doing my three sets of Iaido kata.

In Kendo, I was late for warm-ups. After suburi, we did a different kind of suri-ashi. The instructor called it okuri-ashi. We divided up into two lines. We would cross the floor in alternating patterns relatively close to each other.

Then we would men-tsuke. It was a hard day of kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and kote-men-ouchi. I really pushed myself to not sit down to rest. It turns out I’ve been twisting my left foot too much and that now I need to swing down with the shinai faster than I swing up. If I keep doing that, then the instructor says I’ll be closer to being ready to pass nidan.

He also let me know that there are different warm-ups for summer and winter. In winter, you have to run around before stretching out to avoid injury.

Day 468:

Today I did two and a half sets of kata. The floor still does not seem to be done. It only has the one coat of varnish and no sealant. The instructor said that the association that is handling the floor is planning on finishing the floor over the weekend.

In Kendo, I led warm-ups and suburi again. We did some more okuri-ashi and then men-tsuke. Today was an all-day men-ouchi focused study. We were trying to teach everyone, including three new students not yet in uniform, proper head strikes.

In helping others teach, I had a revelation!!! The instructor had another instructor hold their shinai above my head horizontally to block my swing going backwards at the overhead point. It turns out that men strike has been hard for me because I’m swinging it too far back. I’m twisting my right hand backwards while over my head, this twists my wrists awkwardly and makes a flat strike on the top of the men difficult. When I corrected this, my strikes were faster, crisper, and easier! I can wait to fix my foot and get much better.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 465-466

Day 465:

There hasn’t been any new work done in the dojo, much to our disappointed.

The new student had more lessons, so we did two and a half sets of Iaido kata.

In Kendo, the instructor actually asked me to lead the class. I led us in warm-ups, suburi, and suri-ashi drills. I tried to do it the same way that the instructor did.

The instructor took over and we put on men. We had a regular class of kiri-kaeishi, and men-ouchi. During class, the instructor gave me the advice that to improve myself to nidan, I should be swinging down with my shinai faster than I swing up. I also should fix my left foot some more.

Because of the warmer weather (and that I did not have to do all of the suri-ashi drills) I did not have to sit out even once.

Day 466:

Instructor gave me lots of advice on how to lead a class, keep class moving, talk less, only talk if someone not doing it right, don’t slow down by end, need more practice but that’s okay, good advice

The dojo floor had more work done. Only a little bit more work. We could have avoided the area, but the owners insisted we not practice in there. So we had to practice in the carpeted room again.

We did another two and a half sets of Iaido kata. A higher-ranking student corrected me in jodan-no-kamae. I was holding the sword at forty-five degrees to the side. It should be more slight, otherwise it’s out of balance. The new student learned kata one and twelve.

I lead Kendo class in warm-ups and suburi again. I wonder if this will be the new way from now on. We mixed it up to keep things fresh. We practiced the Kendo kihon waza with the bokken, called "Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho". (Say that three times fast.)

The first is men-kote-doh-tsuki. The second is kote-men. The third is harai-men. The fourth is hiki-doh, which is very awkward to do. We’ve practiced this before a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 463-464

Day 463:

Today we’re back at the dojo, only to find the floor sanded. There was a lot of sawdust all over the floor. Even when you sweep up, there’s still dust left.

There was a hard, large bead of wood glue on the floor. I slid my foot over it when stepping back in the ninth kata. It did not feel good.

I did three sets of kata. There was a new student, so the instructor had to spend all his time with him.

In Kendo, we did warm-ups, suburi, suri-ashi drills, and men-ouchi. After that, the instructor stopped us and had us both take off men. He then had the others practice taking a test just like shinsa. He would harshly grade them for each big mistake. He even asked my opinion whether or not I would pass them. I would pass two but fail the third. The third was constantly lowering his arm, making his strike the men-gane instead of men. He took my comments as ideas on what to tell them to work on.

Day 464:

Today I found the floor treated with wood stain. It was still sticky, showing it was just put down today. We would have to practice in the carpet room again. I did three sets of kata.

Today we did more kata. I would practice in lines with rotating partners with as many kata as possible. The students I practiced with practiced the first three kata. With the instructor, I practiced the first five. He was disappointed that I forgot all about what I learned on the sixth kata and didn’t know the seventh. He did correct me on the fourth kata to step to the left more. Otherwise, my cut does not look straight down.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 459-460

Day 461:

No class today because of the weather.

Day 462:

Today we are back into the small, carpeted room. The dojo is not yet finished.

In Iaido, we did three sets of kata and the instructor reminded me to cut downwards more deeply in the ninth kata. The sword need to come down to the hip.

In Kendo, we did more kata. I taught a student to do the first three kata.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 459-460

Day 459:

Today was back to the carpet room. The dojo is not finished. We did three times the full set of kata. I asked the question about how it’s difficult to put my heel lower when my legs are so long. The instructor said to just do my best.

So, it was back to kata in Kendo. I was assigned a student and practiced the first three kata until he improved. Then I taught him the fourth kata. Afterwards there was still time in class, so we had to do the fifth. I needed a refresher, so I watched an instructor do the fifth kata and then performed it with him to demonstrate. I taught the steps of the fifth kata to the student, both uchidachi and shidachi, until he understood the basics.

Day 460:

Today we were back into the dojo, sanded floor and everything. It was clear the workers were not finished since the floor did not have a new sealant on it, but at least it was sanded. There was a lot of building supplies to move. It seemed by the time the floor was prepared there was only time to do two sets of kata in Iaido.

In Kendo, we went back to the rigorous sets of warm-ups, suri-ashi, kiri-kaehsi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, ai-0ouchi-men, and kakari-geiko. After a few sets of kakari-egeioko, I had to sit out. After what seemed like only a few minutes, I was back to health and ready to put on men. The drill I was missing was hot seat, a favorite of mine. It’s where a single recover stands in the middle and the class takes turns attacking for several seconds at a time. It builds stamina and quick-thinking.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 457-458

Day 456:

In Iaido, we started right away with structured lessons. We learned intricacies of the 6th, 7th, and 8th katas. In the 6th kata, I need to make the initial cut lower because the ki-saki must cut down through the chin. I also need to remember to turn my head first before turning my body for the next cut. In the 7th kata, the end position should be horizontal, not with the ki-saki down. In the 8th kata, before the stab to the second opponent, you should keep the blade flat and horizontal. During the stab, you rotate the wrist and twist the outside edge up.

In Kendo class, we had a more traditional class with two rows of drills. After warm-ups and suburi, we really crunched into many iterations of kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, and kote-ouchi. Then I had to rest because of the many iterations of drills. I sat out, missing ji-geiko. Sensei showed up while I was resting. He only showed up to deliver some necessary paperwork. He looked much more recovered than last time. I jumped back in for a few ai-ouchi-men drills.

Day 457:

Today was an unusual class. Our dojo was being renovated, so the organization that we rent the space from gave us a large room to practice in. It had ceilings that were almost too low and it was carpeted. The instructors decided to have only a kata day. Rei-hou was subdued as we have to talk out loud, but not shout.

I got paired with an ikkyu who was going to test at the tournament next month. I went over the first three kata in both shidachi and uchidachi roles until he had it down. I had forgotten the fourth kata, so the instructor stepped me through it. I remembered the steps as I did them. The instructor then gave a lecture on the fourth kata using me as a partner.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 455-456

Day 455:

Today a new student started Iaido classes and another started the paperwork to begin, so the instructor was busy. I did two and a half sets of kata.

In Kendo, the regular instructor was back. So we did normal amounts of suburi. I did not have to step out from lack of breath. We also skipped suri-ashi drills to get right into practice. Going lengthwise again, we did lots of kiri-kaeshi, menouchi, and kote-men-ouchi drills. We then did a series of lead-up drills that culminated in a rapid 4 times menouchi drill where the partner would strike debana-kote or aiouchi-men. I didn’t have to sit out today even once (even though I came close towards the end).

Day 456:

No practice today because of the weather.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 453-454

Day 453:

Iaido was three times kata for practice. I tried to make sure to keep my left hand down for a smoother cut.

In Kendo, our normal instructor was out so our current Sensei took over. We did warm-ups that I remember him telling me he does. It was fifty times suburi, including men, kote, doh, and haya-suburi. That really taxed us all for breath. He was all right because he’s used to it.

Then we did punishing amounts of suri-ashi drills. Over and over and over and over… I had to sit out before the end. I felt like falling over.

When I got my breath back, I got into line and did kiri-kaeshi and menouchi until I was out of breath again. I stayed out for the rest of class. When it was time for ending rei-hou, I forgot my men and had to be corrected about standing high in line without full bogu. That was embarrassing.

Day 454:

No class today as I am sick.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 451-452

Day 451:

Today for Iaido it was only myself and the instricytor. I did my three sets of kata quietly, trying to keep the changes in practice.

In Kendo, we did warm-ups and then several rounds of vigorous suri-ashi, kiri-kaeshi, and men-ouchi. I felt out of breath again. I think the prolonged kiai during suri-ashi drills are what taxes my breath. I had to sit out for a while, missing kote-ouchi and doh-ouchi. However, I was good enough for a couple rounds of ji-geiko at the end.

Day 452:

In Iaido, we spent most of class in lecture and practice for the fifth and ninth katas. Make sure to cut upwards and not sideways both up and down. In the ninth kata, be sure to pull yourself back using saya-biki and bring your sword hand down in chiburi.

Today we had a new format of Kendo class. After warm-ups, we skipped regular suri-ashi and arranged ourselves in pair going lengthwise. We then did running sets of drills about suri-ashi, kiri-kaeshi (going only one way), renzoku-men, and renzoku-kote-men. Only one iteration and then we switch pairs. After each switch you swap partners. This really kept class moving. I also wasn’t so out of breath and finished the class without sitting out!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 449-450

Day 449:

In Iaido, we concentrated on the first and second kata. I tried to incorporate breathing into them, but I wound up just making myself light-headed. Still, coordinating your movements to the breaths did make the movements smoother. The instructor reminded me that my left hand needs to be lower to make the sword more horizontal, even though the ki-saki is a tad down.

My first night back at Kendo class was rough. I tried going through warm-ups, but I couldn’t quite finish exactly. I had to not do sword swings during haya-suburi. After that, I was out of breath for the whole class. I even had to step out twice. I still attended for kiri-kaeshi and menouchi.

Day 450:

In Iaido, I did one and a half sets of kata before the instructor called for formal instruction. We went over the third and fourth katas. I need to cut more sideways and not straight down. The left hand should end up in front of the torso, but the blade is angled sharply. The fourth kata needs to demonstrate the turning of the head for metsuke more pronouncedly.

Kendo class was easier than last time. I missed the first part of warm-ups, but I finished, including sword swings with haya-suburi. We did suri-ashi, menouchi, and koteouchi drills. We then put on men and stepped into line. We did kiri-kaeshi and menouchi drills. I stayed in as long as I could, but eventually had to step out. The rest of the class did kote and doh drills while I got my breathing under control. When the class started doing ji-geiko, I stepped back in. I fought with two students, taking it easy and letting them have some openings. Then I fought against some dans, including a godan that came to practice with us. After class, I asked his advice since I could not stay for advanced class. He said that I raise my shinai up to jodan for zanshin after menouchi. I should keep it lower because jodan opens kote and doh for counter-attack. I think I get that habit from Iaido.

While waiting on the sidelines, I realized that even though the doctor has cleared me for Kendo, I have to take rest breaks for my health. If I’m out of breath, it’s because my blood is saturated with carbon dioxide and my liver can’t clear my blood fast enough to let the carbon dioxide out quickly. This slows my intake of oxygen. Pushing myself would just make it worse. I’m not putting myself in that bad position again.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 447-448

Day 447:

Last weekend I went up to our partner dojo to help run their first tournament. I couldn’t fight, so instead I ran one of the four tables. I was in charge of making sure every got done right: scoring, timekeeping, announcing, and ribbon-tying. The event lasted all day and drained me of energy.

In class, I did three sets of kata slowly since I was a little tired from the weekend. The instructor was there and I asked him about changes to kata.

He said that chiburi on the ninth kata was different. You step back by pulling on your saya in saya-biki and you lower your hand for the sword motion. On the eighth kata, you stab more upward to the rear opponent and then twist the sword so the cutting edge ios higher than the non-cutting edge.

Day 448:

In today’s class, we had more people, so the instructor went over changes to kata. In the first kata, we need to raise the sword higher above our heads, extending the arms up. We also need to breathe to time movements. Breathe in slowly, move slowly in preparation. Then breathe out quickly to strike or chiburi. I didn’t get the instruction, thinking that I had to breathe out slowly. That made me dizzy. This will mess up my kata until I can include it into the routine, like when I tried to add metsuke.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 445-446

Day 445:

No practice today due to weather.

Day 446:

Today I felt run down. Perhaps it’s been the idleness. I went to class and practiced three sets of kata. Since I was the first to arrive, I also swept the floor. The floor felt different. At first I thought it was the new broom, but it was the floor. It did not slide as it once did. My feet almost felt sticky upon it.

After finishing three sets, I practiced a few spare kata until the instructor had a moment to spare. I asked him that during the fourth kata, he would raise the ki-saki up over his head before striking. Was that the new way of doing it (since he had just come from a seminar)? He said that no, it was a mistake and he’d have to watch that. It’s encouraging to know that sometimes, even higher-ranking Iaidoka can still make mistakes. I don’t have to be perfect; I just have to strive to be perfect.

After practice, I felt drained and exhausted. I inspected my feet when I got home. They’re dried out and cracked in multiple places. My left foot has a patch of dried blood in spots under the skin right where I push off for suri-ashi. I wonder if I should be putting lotion on them or letting them rough out.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 443-444

Day 443:

Today felt like a short day. I did three sets of kata while the instructor timed himself. I did some spare kata until he had a moment. I asked him to watch me perform the first kata. I thought I was cutting too low, but he said it was just about right. Maybe my hands could have been lower but the ki-saki was in the right position relative to the tsuba.

Day 444:

No practice today as I am not well.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 441-442

Day 441:

Today I really had a lot of energy. I did three sets by the time the class was half over. I did a few spare kata before I noticed something. The instructor was holding his iaito differently than I was. He always had the blade facing towards the opponent where my hands were twisting it sideways. It was just a natural motion, but apparently, it’s making my chiburi harder.

I started keeping the blade straight forward and then only flexing my elbow and wrist. I did twist the blade towards the new plane of motion. Then I did better chiburi seeing only the back side of the blade when it stopped moving.

Day 442:

I did three sets of kata today at a normal pace. I didn’t do a big enough saya-biki several times, causing the sword to rattle coming out on the draw. Also, one of the instructors let me know that on the sixth kata I was not raising the sword high enough before swinging downward. I slowed down my steps, giving myself enough time to raise up higher.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 439-440

Day 439:

Today I started doing two sets of kata. Then we did practice tests. The instructor said I got 5:45 and 5:47 for times. That’s right about perfect for a target time. All I have to remember is to take a deep, slow breath between kata. I still look awkward going into tate-heiza. He said I need to not slide my right foot forward and just keep it still going down, even to the knee.

Day 440:

Against the same day. Two times sets of kata and then two practice tests. I got times around the 5:50 mark which is good. The instructor said that I look somewhere around the ni-kyu level. If I can keep this up and not backslide then I’ll do well in Iaido.

Next week I give blood to the doctor for analysis. Hopefully I can get some good results.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Beginner's Point of View 435-438

Day 435-437:

No class today because of the holiday.

Day 438:

Today is the first practice of the new year. I must have eaten some good food, because I did three sets of kata by the time the class was half over. Still, I was tired. I practiced a few spare random kata to fill the time. I noticed that someone from Kendo stopped by to practice with us. I forget if he usually practices with us before, but I don’t think so.

Next week, the instructor says he’ll start doing practice tests for us. I’m not nearly ready to go back since the seminar and exam will be spread out over two days in two locations across two states! No way. Ugh.