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.