Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 638-641

Day 638:

No class today as I am injured.

Day 639-641:

No class as the dojo is closed for the holiday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 636-637

Day 636:

No class today as I am injured.

Day 637:

No class today as I am injured.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 634-635

Day 634:

In Iaido, I was distracted. Distracted by how I felt. I was tired, cold, lethargic, and not well. The weather took a sudden downturn and we were all feeling it. I only completed 2.5 sets of kata and they weren’t very good. My limbs acted wobbly and slow.

In Kendo, we started with okuri-ashi. I hoped that would wake me up but I never quite fully came awake. After kihon we had several kakari-geiko in a row for endurance training. We had a short break to catch our breath and then we practiced some oji-waza such as men-nuki-men. Then we had multiple ji-geiko matches to practice our waza. Still, I felt lousy. It was a bad class but at least I finished it.

Day 635:

Today I felt really well. Sharp, active, alert. I completed 3 full sets of Iaido and then practiced the twelfth kata a few times to remind myself to saya-biki with the draw. Our new student wasn’t here today. I hope she comes back.

I Kendo, it was a good day. After kihon, it was more kihon. 3, 5, 7, and then 9 repetitions of waza for everything. It was breath-draining. We then had another set of multiple kakari-geiko. I just barely finished still standing. After a short break for breath, we practiced men-nuki-men and then ji-geiko. I had a ji-geiko against sensei and I felt great. I bought my best game and scored multiple strikes. At the end, I stepped back with vigor to rei.

I tripped over the raised step towards the door, flipped three-quarters around in a backward somersault, and landed against the wall. All I could think of was…”Please, flimsy wooden railing, do not break and impale me through the back.” My body weight collapsed onto my right hand and bent my thumb backwards. I felt the bones crunch against each other, but not break.

I had to sit out the rest of class because my entire thumb is sprained. The class went on to figure out kote-nuki-kote and then finish. I stayed for the end of class to lead the closing rei.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 632-633

Day 632:

Today in Iaido was another day of training. I like how my metsuke is improving but I was really eager. I kept shoving my weight forward so I was off-balance. I need to calm down.

In Kendo class, it was a hard day of stamina work. After suburi, we did okuri-ashi. I never did like okuri-ashi because it robs me of breath. Still, it’s good for my suri-ashi.

We then spent a lot of time in kinhon-waza. 3, 5, and 7 repetitions of the same waza. We then did a few debana-waza like men-debana-kote-ouchi. Then we finished the class with a marathon of ji-geiko of increasing length. I was so tired and breathless after class.

Day 633:

No class today as I am not well.

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 630-631

Day 630:

I got a package of supplies today, so the business took up some time. I only had time for 2 sets of Iaido and then three more kata. I do feel a little better, but the sore throat won’t go away totally.

In Kendo class, Sensei decided to ratchet up the intensity for endurance training. After kihon, we went straight into nidan-waza. We practiced kote-men, debana-kote, kote-suriage-men, kakari-geiko, and the a few rounds of ji-geiko. I did well during keiko. Not too tired, pushing myself to move faster. At the end we finished with dreamlight. I got better at it, but I was exhausted.

Day 631:

There was no Sensei today because of the holiday. Still, I completed three sets of Iaido kata.

In Kendo, we performed okuri-ashi and then kihon. We then performed a series of drills to sharpen up our kote-waza. We then practiced kote, kote-men, ai-ouchi-men, ai-kote-kote-men, harai-men, and then ji-geiko.

Close to the end of practice, I got disciplined by Sensei. After I would practice a waza, he then followed up struck my shinai with a kiri-otoshi, and then struck my men. The point was that I was not adopting chudan after turning around. I was being lazy. I picked that up after helping to train the students. I need to not do that in the future.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 628-629

Day 628:

Today was probably the most awkward day of practice ever. I thought I tied my obi properly, but when I tried to place the saya in my obi, it didn’t work. I figured out that I didn’t rotate my obi so the knot was behind me. I just gave up and slid it aside and finished class. I gotta make sure to not do that again.

I completed 3 sets of kata with time to spare for exercises. The exercise of stepping across the floor while lowering down to 1 knee is fun.

In Kendo, one of our instructors is out for business travel. The other instructor led class in stride. We worked on kiri-kaeshi, kihon, kote-men, kote-suriage-men, and harai-man. We finished with ji-geiko to tie it together. I notice that we’re really pushing our students with nidan-waza. They’re really struggling but that’s good. It’s important to fail and wonder why.

By the end of class, I felt bad. Maybe I wasn’t fully recovered from being sick last week. Still, I finished.

Day 629:

In Iaido, I made sure to tie my obi correctly, thank goodness. We also got a visit from one of our part-time students that only shows up when he can, which is not often.

In Kendo class, we did a full day. Kiri-kaeshi, kihon, kote-men, kote-suriage-men, men-suriage-men, and ji-geiko. We did multiple repitions for each one.

Today was possibly the best practice ever. When it was time for me to do ji-geiko, I fought against sensei. It was then that I found the Golden Gear. It’s that perfect sync between body and mind where I forgot my pain and dehydration. I just summoned all my speed, strength, and accuracy in an endless stream. I struck great points against sensei over and over and over using maai, closing in, baiting, and zanshin effortlessly. Sensei was impressed and so was I. I wish I could find that sync on command. I only seem to find it by accident.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 626-627

Day 626:

No class today as I am not well.

Day 627:

No class today as I am not well.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 624-625

Day 624:

In Iaido, I got to complete three sets of kata just in time for class to end. I kept my metsuke in the fifth kata better. I got to stop looking at the ki-saki.

At first I thought Kendo class would have been cancelled since only two students showed up. Still we had class. After warm-up and suburi, we spent the class practicing bokuto kata. It’s been a long time since this spring so I kept making mistakes in performing the kata. I kept thinking that doing the first kata actually counted as four kata. We used ji-geiko to finish the class.

Day 625:

In Iaido class, it went by fast. I only got to complete two full sets and then nine extra kata.

In Kendo, we had more students show up. We began the class with warm-ups, suburi, and okuri-ashi. We then performed kihon and several ni-dan waza. Men-debana-kote, kote-suriage-men, harai-men, and a new drill of kote-kaeshi-men. We then did some ji-geiko and kakari-geiko.

We also did a new drill. It’s called Dream Light. You do kiri-kaeshi-men-men-kote-doh-men-tai-atari-hiki-men- men-tai-atari-hiki-kote-men-tai-atari-hiki-doh-men-kiri-kaeshi and try not to die from heart failure. It’s a drill that’s encouraged to train for yon-dan.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 622-623

Day 622:

In Iaido class, I got to complete 3 sets of kata but not without a proce. I did not use enough saya-biki. During my first tsuka-ate I stabbed the knuckle on my left hand right at the base of the index finger. Ouch.

In Kendo class, we performed suburi and kihon for the beginners. Then we practiced kote-men, harai-men, and ji-geiko. Today wasn’t hot but it was humid. It made me sweat a lot. Still good for me.

Day 623:

In Iaido class, my hand was still sore from the stabbing. Still it was good enough to practice. We did suburi and kihon. We followed up with kote-men, harai-men, and ai-ouchi-men. For advanced training, we taught kote-suriage-men. It was surprisingly easier this time than previous attempts. Still need to work on charging after landing the hit. We finished with ji-geiko.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 620-621

Day 620:

In Iaido, I got through three sets of kata and then finished with a few Iaido stretches.

I asked sensei between classes why the Kendo teaching guide stated that chudan-no-kamae meant you aim the ki-saki at the opponent’s left eye instead of the throat. He answered that proper chudan is individual and a range between left eye and throat. The one you wind up doing depends on your sensei and koryo.

In Kendo class, we went through a standard set of kihon waza drills. We also kept teaching the beginners advanced waza such as kote-men-ouchi. We finished with a few round of ji-geiko.

I was corrected several times today. A friend and I fist-bumped before we did rei-hou but while we were standing in line. Apparently, that’s disrespectful. I think it’s because it breaks the discipline.

I also got corrected by the same sensei by not taking the center very definitively. I would seme into issoku-ittou-no-maai and then launch right into the waza. He said (loudly) that I need to establish my control of center first and then attacking second.

The other sensei corrected me by stating that often time when I strike men I raise too high and pass by into jodan. He’s right but it’s hard not to when using tenouchi.

Day 621:

In Iaido class, I did 3 sets and a few stretches. I noticed that during the 5th kata, my metsuke follows the ki-saki instead of the opponent. I need to break that habit.

In Kendo we had a hard day’s practice. After kihon, we practiced kote-men-ouchi, harai-men, kote-suriage-men-ouchi, and then some keiko before finishing. It was a good practice.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 618-619

Day 618:

In Iaido class, I finished 3 sets of kata and then did a few spare kata. I focused on the 12th kata because I need more saya-biki.

In Kendo we started with suburi and then men-tsuke. We had 2 beginners, so it was an easy day. We did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi, and ji-geiko. One of our beginners had his first day in full bogu.

Day 619:

In Iaido class, it was one of the most humid days ever. I was sweating so much just from kata. I had a moment of weakness from the humidity. Still, I finished 4 sets of kata. New record! Not even rushing.

In Kendo class, I decided to pace myself instead of pushing myself. We did suburi and okuri-ashi. Our newest student joined us up to this point. Afterwards, he went off to practice with one of our sensei.

We practiced kihon-waza and some kote-men-ouchi. From there, sensei taught us about how to make the kote-men-ouchi into a quicker waza. You strike kote when you raise up for fumi-komi and strike men when you stomp down. I was actually pretty good at it. I just think of kote-men as skipping-stone. We then practiced kote-suriage-men, which was easier then I remember doing it when I was a few ranks lower. We finished with kiri-kaeshi.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 616-617

Day 616:

In Iaido class, I was really focused. I completed three sets but I noticed that my saya was scraping on the 12th kata. I tried to use more saya-biki and it made less noise.

In Kendo, we had two beginners, so it was a less intense class. It was actually taught by my fellow early-dan Kendoka. It was an intro to him teaching. We went through the basic set of kihon, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and doh-ouchi. We then moved into harai-waza, ai-kote-kote-men-waza, kakari-geiko, and ji-geiko. After class, we took some pictures of myself and a sensei practicing the first 10 kata for advertising purposes.

I asked sensei about the difference between harai and suriagi, because they seemed the same. He confirmed that the motions are similar but the initiative is different. You attack with harai but you react with suriage.

Day 617:


I was 30 minutes late to class, with only 15 minutes left. Still, I went in and practiced a full set of kata and another 6 kata.

In Kendo class, we only had one beginner so it was a normal class. We practiced suburi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and then right into ji-geiko. We then practiced harai-men and hiki-men wazas. Moving slowly to get the footwork right makes it really hard.We finished with multiple kata and then into kata.

I love kata. This time I got to practice with the shoto. I got to practice both uchidachi and shidachi.

For shidachi, you have to step out and set down your bokuto using three backward diagonal steps and kneel with your left knee. Step back and take chudan. First kata is block with uke and step to the right, strike men, and back into jodan. Reset. Second kata starts with pressure the uchidachi and then uke to the right. Strike men, shoto at the hip and grab the arm. Reset. For the third, the shidachi is in gedan. Surprise block and flip the uchidachi’s sword down and left. Immediately block doh and pressure the sword. Slide your shto to clack with the tsuba. Grab the uchidachi’s arm and push them three steps diagonally. Reset.

For uchidachi, you mirror the shidachi when putting your shoto down. For the first kata, you are in jodan. You strike men and then you are done. Match the shidachi when they step back and follow when they reset. For the second kata, start in gedan. Try to come up but when the shidachi preassures you, swing back into waki-gamae and then rise up to cut men. Then you’re done. For the third kata, start in chidan. Surprise the shidachi by raising up on the second step and swing down on the third. When you are parried, swing around into waki-gamae and then swing up and around for doh. Let the shidachi grapple you and step back three steps. Best to lead with the back foot.

The rei before and after the sword picks is counter-intuitive and best left to practice.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 614-615

Day 614:

Today I was more focused. I got through 2 full sets of Iaido and then the next 10 kata. I was getting focused for the next class.

In Kendo class, my student did not show up. He had some function at his school. So, I joined the regular class. After suburi, we launched into a long string of endurance drills. Men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and then ji-geiko. We resumed with kakari-geiko and then practiced on some advanced waza.

We started with kote-men-ouchi and then moved up to ai-kote-kote-men-ouchi. We did ji-geiko and had a good drill in kiri-otoshi-men. You need to have plenty of space or else you’ll be too close. I took shorter steps to prepare. We finished class with ji-geiko and kiri-kaeshi.

Day 615:

In Iaido class, there was no clock. It was battery-dead and taken down. Our treasurer had to keep time for us to keep moving with new exercises. The weird passing of time means that I did 2 sets of Iaido regular and then did the last set with random kata thinking that it was almost over for class.

In Kendo class, we did suburi and okuri-ashi. Then we did some hard, repetitive waza with 5, 7, and 9 iterations each. It was men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi, and kote-suriage-men. The new drill was to push the shinai aside and then strike men. You can mess it up if you over push the sword. We then finished with multiple 60-second ji-geikos. What a way to end a practice. I had more energy and stamina today than normal. I wasn’t push the to edge and that was comfortable. Last drill was kiri-kaeshi and that reminded me of my student not being present.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 612-613

Day 612:

In Iaido class, I was able to complete 2 sets of Iaido and then a few spare kata. I remembered to try to cut across the shoulders of the enemy instead of “horizontally”. It seems to make the path better.

In Kendo I was teaching again. I had to compress the schedule since he doesn’t show up twice a week. We did rei-hou and stretched. Then we reviewed okuri-ashi, fumi-komi, and 2-step men. Then I put on bogu and taught him kote and doh strikes. After repeating the strikes several times, I had him doing something like kakari-geiko where I give a random opening. Next week is the last training class and I introdouce kiri-kaeshi.

Day 613:

In Iaido class I tried to focus. I squeezed in a full 3 sets of kata and then immediately ending rei-hou. I’m really losing track of time in class. Cutting lower across “shoulders” helps for the first 2 kata.

In Kendo, we had an old-fashioned stamina-training session. After warm-ups and suburi, we had several rounds of okuri-ashi. We had several rounds of men-ouchi, small men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, small kote-ouchi, ai-men-ouchi, and ji-geiko. The new drill was ai-men against men and kote and doh. After class, I was told that I keep dropping my guard. I give bait and then don’t fully recover. I should fix that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 610-611

Day 610:

I was able to complete three full sets of Iaido again. I concentrated and did not hesitate. I need to remember to cut lower horizontally across the eyes. Maybe I need to imagine cutting across “my shoulders” instead.

In Kendo, I had to teach again. My student came back and seemed eager to practice. We reviewed rei-hou and warm-ups. We went over some words in Japanese and then did some okuri-ashi in our corner of the dojo.

It was time to teach him fumi-komi, so we joined the class. However, when the class did their kiai, he left. He had an anxiety attack and refused. All I could do was try to comfort him and get him to recover. I taught him basic fumi-komi together and we practiced 2-step men with and without fumi-komi.

I added the 4-step suri-ashi drill to the mix and he finished the class today. He told me that he could only practice once per week. Next week I’ll have to compress the schedule and teach him kote and doh.

Day 611:

No class today because I am not well.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 608-609

Day 608:

In Iaido class, I only got to accomplish two and a half sets. I was really distracted. Maybe I was obsessing over being prepared for teaching today. I got my last new shinai from the club. We don’t sell equipment after this so I need to watch my shinais. When I think I need a new one, I’ll have to order two from the website. I also put in an order for the “How to Teach Kendo” book. It has great pictures and explanations.

In Kendo class, I taught my student. We reviewed rei-hou and I included standing rei. We reviewed chudan and some basic footwork. Today I introduced the three-step men. The kid was a natural. After several repetitions, I combined footwork and three-step men.

Day 609:

I finished two sets of Iaido kata today. I didn’t think I was stalling but the time flew by.

No student today, so it was Kendo class. After warm-ups and suburi, we did lots of repetitions of basic waza. Kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, quick-men-ouchi, ai-men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and quick-kote-ouchi. The advanced waza today was men-debana-kote-ouchi. We finished with ji-geiko. Next week I go back to teaching.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 606-607

Day 606:

No class today as it is a holiday.

Day 607:

In Iaido class, I finished three sets and then practiced the fifth kata again. I need to pull the sword against the saya before drawing to make it more smoothly.

Today, I started being an instructor in Kendo. I was given a young kid for a student and this was his first class. I taught him rei-hou, stretching, holding the sword, and walking. I kept his attention by suggesting that he imagine a street thug as tall as he is trying to rob him. He holds the sword at the throat of the attacker and holds it. He did well. After about half an hour, I put on men and stepped into class. My instructor suggested this as he felt half an hour was enough to keep his attention. I still had a talk with him about the bogu and what it did.

In class, I did a quick kiri-kaeshi and then a few rounds of men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, kakari-geiko, and ji-geiko. I had taken my tabi off after Iaido and I was astounded by my speed and acceleration with bare skin touching the floor. That tabi really forces me to grip the floor with my toes.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 604-605

Day 604:

Today Iaido class went quickly. I made sure to push the blade forward and rotate slowly to make ready to strike.

In kendo class, our normal sensei was on vacation. So, I had to lead stretches and suburi. After men-tsuke, we practiced various men strikes. Men-ouchi, ai-ouchi-men, kote-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi, and then ji-geiko.

Day 605:

I showed up late from traffic but still had enough time for three full sets of Iaido kata. Simply pivoting my wrist seems to make the cut in the third kata even easier. I should practice that.

In Kendo, today was the same as previous day. Various men-ouchi-waza were done today.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 602-603

Day 602:

Today I arrived late but still had enough time for three full sets. I tried pushing the sword forward as much as up and it seems to make to the swinging around into strike position much easier.

In kendo we had a hard day of practice. We stepped into practice right after suburi. Several round of men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi. then we started to work on advanced concepts of kote-men, ai-ouchi-men, and then step-step-men. We’re trying to teach to see and strike the men upon sight of target. Finishing with kakari-geiko and ji-geiko was satisfying.

Day 603:

Iaido class went quickly. After three sets, I practiced the third kata by pushing the blade forward again. It does make the swivel easier. My foot felt mildly sprained after last class but it feels fine now.

In Kendo class, I tried to take it easy, especially with the fumi-komi. After suburi, we went back to okuri-ashi practice. I like okuri-ashi, it fixes my footwork well.

We did a series of drills to work up towards small men strikes. We apparently don’t call it sashi-men anymore because ‘sashi’ means ‘stab’. Calling it stab must be rude or too sensitive or something. I don’t care.

Kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, and ai-men-ouchi were the drills for the day.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 600-601

Day 600:

Another day of fast kata, three sets long. The third kata is getting awkward. I nearly clip my head as I swing my sword around. I asked Sensei and he demonstrated the swing. I think I’m not pushing the blade forward as I push it up.

Kendo class was hard work today. After surburi, we went right into men-tsuke. We did multiple iterations of men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and doh-ouchi. We practiced kote-men and then went into a series of ai-men-ouchi and ai-men-kote-kote-men-ouchi to teach us to always try to strike kote-men rather than just men. We finished with ji-geiko.

Day 601:

Iaido class is getting fast. Fast to practice and fast time ticking by. As a class, we did half of the set together after the new student was taught the tenth kata.

Today was a repeat of last class with men-ouchgi, kote-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi, and then into ai-kote-men-ouchi drills. We finished with ji-geiko.

We’re getting close to the time when we are supposed to cut our hours. I wonder if we’re going to include a mandatory kata lesson at the end to cool down. That would help me. I need to learn the three shoto kata for sandan test.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 598-599

Day 598:

No class today as I am not well.

Day 599:

Iaido class went fast today. It was cooler and less humid than usual. I completed my three sets and did a few spare random kata to keep sharp. Today the lesson was “drop your right hand before moving back”.

In Kendo, we again skipped okuri-ashi after suburi. I’m thinking I’d like to go back to it. My fumi-komi just isn’t synchronized well. Still, we had a lot of people show up, so I was rotating with the receivers again.

Drills for the day went right into kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and doh-ouchi. I even got to go through ji-geiko with many students and a couple of instructors without needing to sit out. That went well.

I decided not to tell the dojo that it was my birthday tomorrow. Going 40 seconds per person consecutively with no break doesn’t sound good for me.

We had a couple of visitors from years ago when they were members of our dojo. Something was wrong because they each took turns stepping out for different reasons. Maybe they’ve been out of practice for a while or maybe they pushed an injury. Either way it was nice to see them.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 596-597

Day 596:

I did 3 sets of Iaido in class before asking a question. Sensei was teaching the new student about the footwork in the ninth kata. Sensei turned his left foot to the right about 45 degrees. I have been keeping my left foot straight. A short conversation resulted in the answer being either one is good, but straight is better. I did a few spare kata to reinforce the footwork.

In Kendo class, we had a Guest Sensei. He’s a yondan from Michigan, which is Sensei’s alma mater. He was really happy to be here and practice with us.

The class got delayed just enough that I could stepo in and lead the class in rei-hou. We did warm-ups and suburi together. As a class, we did a few rounds of okuri-ashi and then put on men.

We did several rounds of kiri-kaeshi and men-ouchi. Class was large and the receivers needed to rotate. We did a few kote-ouchi and then it was several ji-geiko. Most of my partners were kyus so I had to push them into hitting me. At least today my naka-yui stayed tied. Maybe I can keep this shinai a little longer.

After class, Guest Sensei had advice for me. He said that my left arm is still bent at the end of a strike. I think it’s because of not extending and being too stressed at striking.

Day 597:

Iaido went by quickly again. I got to complete three sets of Iaido and had some time left over. I asked a question about tate-heiza. Sensei seems to sit with his feet in line with each other. It looks really awkward to stand up. He said it’s not necessary to sit exactly in line just make it close.

In Kendo, we had a hard class. After suburi, we skipped okuri-ashi and put on men. We did several rounds of kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, and kote-ouchi. We had a round of ji-geiko using only men and kote. Afterwards I had to sit out. I was getting to the point of not breathing any more. After I got my breath back, I stepped in for some advanced waza. Kote-men-ouchi, harai-men, and harai-kote. I like doing harai-waza. It makes its own opening. After one last ji-geiko, we finished class.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 594-595

Day 594:

I got to class early today. I was able to complete three sets of Iaido with time to spare. I was able to practice the eighth kata a few times to practice the footwork. After class, sensei told me that the official instruction book was available. I asked for a copy.

In Kendo class, we did suburi and okuri-ashi. I felt good throughout. It was a big class, big enough that the receivers had to rotate. I like this kind of class. It gives me the time to recover my breath before doing waza. I still get to push myself.

Day 595:

In Iaido, I was really motivated. I did three sets of kata and then had time for almost another set of random kata. I had to remember to bring my right hand down before backing off. A sensei at the seminar told me to hold both hands on the sword as you back off. My sensei told me it’s not true. Now I gotta unlearn that lesson after months.

In Kendo, we did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, and kote-ouchi. My naka-yui started coming undone before my eyes. I stepped out to re-tie it and back in. I practiced kote-men-ouchi and then had to step out for breath. Soon after, the whole dojo took a water break. We stepped back in for kakari-geiko and ji-geiko. Very good workout. I need to inspect my shinai this weekend.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 592-593

Day 592:

Today we had kind of a group practice. We all did the first kata twice, then the second kata twice, etc… We finished with the sixth kata twice. Then we broke into freeform. I finished the seventh through twelfth katas twice and finally did an entire set.

In Kendo, we did suburi and I was sweating really badly. The summer is really hard on my health this year. There were thunderstorms, cooling the air. Still, it was humid. We did kiri-kaeshi and men-ouchi. I felt drained, close to losing all my breath again. I stepped out to catch my breath. Afterwards, I stepped in for some ji-geiko and kiri-kaeshi. I had just enough energy to finish.

Day 593:

Iaido was a structured class today. Together we started with leg stretches and then the four-direction practice. I messed it up trying to follow the opposite line instead of just turning the direction called. Ugh, what an amateur mistake.

Then together we did the first seven katas twice together. Afterwards we had free practice. I finished the two sets and practiced a few spare kata.

For Kendo class, sensei did not arrive. I stepped into lead the class in rei-hou and then led suburi. We did okuri-ashi and I remembered to loosen my arms. It allowed for better strikes. We put on men and then did waza. Kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi. I was getting tired. I was thinking about stepping out but it was close to the end of class. We did kakari-geiko a few times and I had to stop in mid-stride.

Fortunately, we stopped to line up for birthday keiko for one of our students. When it was my turn, I made sure to crush her spirit so I could step in and strike her men and kote. After that, I allowed her to strike my men. It was a success, I think.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 590-591

Day 590:

Today was really, really hot and humid. I was sweating a lot during Iaido class. I did two sets and four spare kata. I didn’t sip a lot of water before Kendo class.

In Kendo, we started off without men and doing a lot of okuri-ashi. It seemed really good to pace the class that way. We did the drill where we criss-crossed the room in alternating style charging and then men-ouchi. Then we put on kote and went through lines doing men-ouchi and kote-ouchi while rotating into lines.

Then we put on men. We did kiri-kaeshi and men-ouchi waza. I got really hot inside and felt weak. I decided to power through it because the class was close to over. However, sensei decided on a huge drill, four men strikes and then 4 kote strikes and then 4 doh strikes and then 4 men strikes. I did the men strikes and was weak. He yelled at me to be louder and more firm. I tried to summon more energy and struck kote twice. Then I collapsed against the far wall. I stopped breathing. I was so hot, that I didn’t feel anything. I had to sit out for the rest of class. Still, I kept my men on for ending rei-hou.

Sensei was concerned for me and insisted on my colling off with two sets of Kendo kata with him after class. Kata is always fun. It was a good idea to practice kata deliberately but pace yourself. Embarrassingly, we both screwed up the third kata both times. I guess we needed to concentrate.

Day 591:

No class today as I am ill.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 588-589

Day 588:

In Iaido class, I was really distracted. I focused on my kata and almost finished all twelve kata for a full three sets. I was only one kata away and I kept thinking about other things.

In Kendo class, it was cooler than expected. We did suburi, kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and then some shodan waza. We started with step-men, step-kote, and ji-geiko. We were trying to bring up the class from kyu ranks to dan ranks.

Day 589:

Today was really hot. It was 95 degrees and the heat index was 105 degrees. There were multiple warnings of heat exhaustion. However, our class today had two advantages. The air conditioning was actually working for once, so the temperature was only 82 degrees inside. The other thing was that there were lots of students here today. I was in the receiving line for multiple students in each line. I still got to perform waza practice but had plenty of time to catch my breath and cool down between sets. This is the way to practice Kendo on hot days. Good workout but not feeling poorly from overheating.

Suburi, kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and kakari-geiko was done quickly with one rotation each. After that it was birthday hotseat. One of my friends was having a birthday later in the week, so we all took turns gauntlet-style for short keiko. Even the new students practiced waza on him. It was a good day.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 586-587

Day 586:

I was able to finish three sets of Iaido today. That felt good. Keeping metsuke can be hard when the weather is humid. The new student has kneepads now so his sliding on the floor for seated kata. Today was really hot and humid.

In kendo class, it was the WORST DAY EVER. I have never had such a horrible practice in my Kendo career. I could not strike a simple men-ouchi even once all day. My arms would not raise above horizontal all day. I think I was tense and could not feel it. Among the drills that I could not complete are kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, ai-ouchi-men, step-men, and step-men-follow-up-men.

Day 587:

In Iaido, I could only finish 2.67 sets of kata. I was really off-kilter all practice. Very distracted and thinking about my errors. The new student is getting better. He also seems to arrive earlier than I do regularly to start sweeping.

Today, Kendo was a better class than last class. I slowed down and calmed down a lot. We did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, ai-men-ouchi, men-men-ouchi, step-men, and kakari-geiko. A couple of times, the sweat and heat inside my men made me not understand the drills. I would retaliate when I should have just let my partner hit me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 584-585

Day 584:

No class today as I am injured.

Day 585:

No class today as I am injured.

A Beginner's Point of View 584-585

Day 584:

No class today as I am injured.

Day 585:

No class today as I am injured.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 582-583

Day 582:

In Iaido class, our new student learned horizontal cuts, vertical cuts, and the twelfth kata. I was able to complete 2.75 sets of kata again. That seems to be my new quota during the humid summer.

In Kendo class, we did suburi and okuri-ashi. After that, we had a lot of lecture. It was a Kendo lab all about proper tenouchi. We got to practice tenouchi for most of the class.

Day 583:

Today, Sensei in Iaido class as well as our other dan are out for a seminar. He asked me to teach the new student in both classes.

For Iaido, we reviews vertical and horizontal cuts. We practiced the twelfth kata and made sure to draw the tsuba in front of our faces and above the head. Then I taught him the first kata. He was really awkward with coming up on his toes and sliding forward. I advised more practice.

In Kendo, I took the new student aside and we practiced kihon-waza. At first we cut the air. Then I had him strike my shinai held above my head and off to the side. Once we got comfortable doing that, then I put on my bogu and had him hit my men, kote, and doh. I made sure to show him issoku-ittou-no-maai. He struck well with that. Then I taught him most of kiri-kaeshi. One men, tai-atari, four sayu-men, five backward sayu-men. He took to it well, but he keeps twisting his feet sideways. He also twists his left hand and sometimes misses the target. I told him to slow down and it worked.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 580-581

Day 581:

Today was really hot and humid. It really does not feel good to exercise today. Still, I did 2.75 sets of Iaido. I was a little wobbly on my feet. I should be a little slower. We have a new student today and Sensei showed him some elementary cuts.

In Kendo, I stepped into suburi and was winded already. I pushed on and did men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, uchikomi-geiko, keiko, and doh-ouchi. We had a Guest Sensei today, who is a sandan. After waza, we had rotating practice matches. I got some advice in not using full-sized fumi-komi or else risk running into my opponent, especially if they are just as tall as myself.

Day 582:

In Iaido class, Sensei spent time teaching the new student the twelfth kata. He likes to start with the final kata because it’s the simplest. I did 2.75 sets of kata again, like a trend. The humidity really makes me unwell. Today I tried to fix my metsuke and grip my iaito when backing up with a firm right hand instead of the loose right hand.

Today we had a huge Kendo class. As big as the class ever was when I started years ago. I was asked to be in the dan line to help train the students. The student formed lines and waited their turns. When the repetitions were done, the dans would rotate to be more efficient. I got lots of time to recover my stamina from the humidty. Still, after rotating two full lines we got to practice against the senior-most student in the line. That was good. We did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and uchikomi-geiko. I really did my best to demonstrate best Kendo when it was my turn to practice.

One of the students, who was ready to test for shodan, announced it was his birthday. Our dojo has the tradition of hotseat keiko with the who dojo when that happens. It was about 12 opponents without a break. He finished and even fought evenly with Sensei at the end.

Day 582.5 Tournament:

Putting on our tournament is always a fun affair. I was put in charge of Court B again. I knew what I was doing and we did our job swiftly. When it was my turn to fight, I had two matches. I lost the first match to someone who was seemingly my mirror. He was as fast as me. He baited like me. We circled together. He was just a little more accurate than me, so he got two points. My second opponent was slower than me, I out moved and got two points. I did not advance but I put forth a good effort. At the end of the day we had our team match. I was put into Taisho position to fight the other ‘captain’. This was to let our other people fight the people in the middle. I fought against a yandan. It was easily predictable but I was able to push my opponent to bring his best effort. I even got to strike two good doh-ouchi against him. Too bad he was able to strike my men before my doh strikes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 579-580

Day 579:

No class today because of a holiday.

Day 580:

There was a great deal of traffic today. I arrived late to the dojo but still first. I only had enough time for two sets of Iaido and a few spare kata. There was a person who showed up as a prospective student. I told him a few facts about Kendo and Iaido to keep him interested.

In Kendo, the day wasn’t too hot but it was humid. After suburi, we lined up for kiri-kaeshi and men-ouchi. Then we had a surprise round of uchikomi-geiko. We got back to kote-ouchi and then split up into lines. I was in the instructor line while the rest of the class rotated into and out of my line for sixty seconds of keiko. I got my second wind and kept in line the whole time.

We then broke into groups and did some practice ippon-shobou matches. Sensei wanted as many lower-ranking students to fight me as possible to get them to try hard against a harder opponent. I remember being on the other end when I was san-kyu and forced to fight a ni-dan. It made me bring out higher levels of effort. My first fight was embaressing because my Sinai kept getting caught in my opponent’s arms and tangled. The subsequent fights went my way, though.

We then had a long lecture about what not to do in a match, leading to hansoku calls. Things like being bumped out of bounds, pushing others out of bounds, falling down, etc…

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 577-578

Day 577:

Today was hot and humid. I did three sets of kata and my sweat was pouring out.

In Kendo, I stepped into suburi and then did my best in okuri-ashi. I shouted very hard and tired my voice.

We put on our bogu and then practiced our waza. We did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, men-men-ouchi, and then kakari-geiko. I lost my breath and was very tired. I had to sit out for a few minutes.

After I stepped in, I practiced kote-men-ouchi and a few rounds of ji-geiko. We then did a practice tournament. I volunteered for two fights against lower-ranking students. I let them have a few strikes but I made sure to advance and strike twice for the win each time. I was totally out of breath during each match. I really underestimated my strength during this weather. The guest sensei told me about how I wasn’t showing much zanshin except at the end of each match. I don’t know why I’m so slow to recover my breath from okuri-ashi.

Day 578:

In Iaido class, I was tired and distracted. I only did two sets of Iaido and then nine kata. Not even a full set.

Today was cooler than the previous class. After suburi and okuri-ashi, we did lots of repetitions of men-ouchi and finished with a ji-geiko. I got to fight a nito-player that used to belong to our dojo. I always like fighting against him.

We then did lots of repetitions of kote-ouchi and then another ji-geiko. We did repetitions of doh-ouchi and then another ji-geiko. I nearly had to step out but I toughed it out.

It was sensei’s birthday, so we all took turns fighting him. I was in the second half of the class, so I saw him when he was breathless. I practiced men-men-ouchi and was able to strike. After class, one of our sensei said that my hips were not square, so my left foot was awkward. Now I need to remember to square my hips every time.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 575-576

Day 575:

Today I gave blood to the doctor. Not as much as last time but still gave blood. I only went to Iaido class today and skipped Kendo. I have a history of pushing myself unhealthy after giving blood to the doctor. It was also brutally hot today.

I completed three sets of Iaido with a few minutes to spare. I thought I would only have time for two sets but I did it. I finished with a few sets of matobori-suburi and vertical cut suburi.

Day 576:

Iaido class was cooler than previous, but still humid. I did three sets of kata and felt like I sweat a pound of water.

In Kendo class, we did suburi and then went into kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi and then some ji-geiko. Sensei wanted to practice kata in preparation for our tournament and testing.

I was paired with a shodan candidate. He looks so young for shodan. Still, I was assigned to teach him, so I did. We did both shidachi and uchidachi sides twice. He really seemed agitated and excited. I told him to relax and be sure that shidachi follows uchidachi.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 573-574

Day 573:

I completed three sets of kata in Iaido plus a few spare kata. I had a question for Sensei. During the seminar, a Sensei instructed me about pulling my hands into my body as opposed to reaching forward like in Kendo. My Sensei told me that this was kiri-oroshi (allowing the cut to fall) as opposed to kiri-otoshi (making the cut fall). It is the way to really cut with a sword as opposed to charging forward to supply the forward motion.

In Kendo, I’m using the tabi to preserve the skin of my left foot. I don’t like the deep cracks and blisters anymore. This is my first Kendo practice since having influenza. I was asked to lead warm-ups and suburi. We did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, step-in-other-men, step-in-other-kote, step-in-ai-ouchi-men, and then a match of ippon shobu for only 20 seconds. My left toe hurts. Perhaps I twisted it during practice. I’d hate for this to be normal for wearing atabi just barely big enough to fit my foot. Also, I nearly collapsed from the effort. Maybe the flu took more stamina from me than I thought.

Day 574:

Today was a warm day. I was actually able to perform three sets of Iaido kata and have enough time for a full set afterwards in random order. I feel tired but good. I decided to try Kendo again. We had someone show up and watch practice. We might have a new student.

In Kendo, I stepped in for suburi. For practice, we did kiri-kaeshi, step-in men, step-in kote, walk-in men, ji-geiko, and a final set of kiri-kaeshi. I felt poorly by the end of class, like I nearly wanted to step out and rest. I pushed myself and just finished class. I need more time to recover. I have an appointment with the doctor for a physical. I may need to stay out of Kendo while recovering.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 571-572

Day 571:

Today I’m back from being sick. My breath is shallow and my throat is still a little sore, causing coughing. Still, I need some exercise. I had a nice, quiet session of Iaido with three full sets.

I was tired after class but Sensei asked me to train a beginner early enough in his training to not practice with the class. Our other Sensei did not show up today, so I had to help out. No problem. I like being dependable. I took the student through basics of suri-ashi, men-ouchi, and kote-ouchi. I tried to mix things up by having him keep issoku-itto-no-maai with me in the two-man movement. He was exhausted after the session while I was just breathing a little heavier than usual. I wonder if it’s him not being used to the physical effort or if I’m just showing the years of effort I put into it. Still, I gave him encouragement to keep coming back to practice because repetition makes everything easier after a while.

Day 572:

No class today because of dangerous weather. There was a flash flood warning from the state.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 569-570

Day 569:

No class today. I’m recovering from influenza.

Day 570:

No class today. I’m recovering from influenza.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 567-568

Day 565:

Iaido class went swiftly. Three sets of kata plus a couple of iterations of the first and fifth kata to practice saya-biki.

In Kendo, the dojo became very hot and stuffy. One of the younger students asked that we close all of the windows, despite the heat. Sensei thought it was a good idea and we closed the windows.

We did endless repetitions of kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and kakari-geiko. Sensei told me during class that I was sighing right before I attack. I should not be doing that. If I must exhale, then I should kiai for advantage instead. Just sighing lowers my energy and shows weakness.

At the end of practice, I nearly felt dizzy and light-headed from the heat. After changing into my street clothes, I noticed that my face and forehead poured sweat since it was not covered by the tenugui.

Day 566:

No class today because of a blister on the bottom of my foot. I’m resting it to heal.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 565-566

Day 565:

In Iaido class, I did the standard three sets of kata with time to spare. I practiced the fifth and twelfth katas to practice. I need to do more saya-biki. My iaito is scraping the saya as it comes out. I need to draw more slowly. At least I remembered to turn my right foot for the ninth kata.

In Kendo class, the instructor didn’t show up, so sensei asked me to teach the beginners. Over and over we practiced Kendo steps and men-ouchi. With the limited space available, we did our best. I tried to mix it up to avoid getting bored. I linked motions into a combo of forward/forward/back/back/right/right/left/left/men-ouchi-forward/men-ouchi-backward.

Day 566:

Did three sets of Iaido kata and practiced the fifth kata several times. My saya-biki is getting better.

In Kendo, after stretching and suburi, we put on men right away. We did a lot of waza training. Kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, kakari-geiko, and ji-geiko. I was told by a student that I was hitting too hard. It gave me a flashback to when I had to tell a higher-ranking person to stop hitting me so hard. I have to keep my focus sharp to know who to hit hard and who to not hit hard.

Head Sensei showed up to teach the advanced class. He started talking about a new way to hold chudan. I have to get back into going home early to get my sleep each night well.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 563-564

Day 563:

Finally, I get back to Iaido class. I haven’t been drawing and cutting for months. When I started practicing, I made some mistakes. I forgot to turn my right foot during the ninth kata before the tsuki. I tried to do big chiburi like in the first kata during the fourth kata. At least I remembered to do the big chiburi the gentle way, like in the seventh kata.

In basic Kendo class, we did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kkote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and ji-geiko. I didn’t have to push myself towards exhaustion again. I could keep pace with the others. Three of the new students don’t even have uniforms, so I gave them double practice in waza to help them out.

Day 564:

No class today because of a family meeting.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 549-562.5

Day 549-562:

These days sped by in a blur. I had a lot of practice to do. I had to sharpen my accuracy, increase my speed, promote my zanshin, and focus my center. I must have sweat my body weight over these days and kept going. Sometimes, I had sweat burning in my eyes and my belly muscles cramping all together, needing a short rest.

We went through all of the standard waza and some harder waza. Kiri-kaeshi, kote-kirikaeshi with tsuki, doh-kirikaeshi with tsuki, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi, kakarigeiko, and ji-geiko. We also got to practice kote-suriage-men, men-nuki-men, men-kaeshi-doh, ai-ouchi-men, and doh-uchiotoshi-men.

Several days practice was cancelled due to the weather. This wasn’t good but it can’t be helped. We just had to practice every minute possible.

Both of my shinais cracked in a single week. I had to perform some of the longest bamboo surgery over a weekend to try to save them. After replacing two different staves, one of the shinais became heavier. Slower to use but hits more firmly.

I got to practice my kata over and over again. Sensei stated that I was ready for the test, but the instructor had many little comments to make. I spent my time helping others prepare for their promotion exams.

I actually sprained my left leg two practices before the seminar. I chose to skip the last practice just to be careful. Pushing it would turn it into a major sprain. I already went through a promotional exam injured once. Not doing it again, thank you.

Day 562.5 Seminar/Promotional Exam:

This was a long day. Most of the day reminded me of the Iaido seminar. We stood around on a hard floor doing kata over and over. It was instructional. It was interesting. It was definitely not a waste of time. However, the hard floor and standing all day really took a toll on my back and ankles. I was in serious pain. I had to sit down during breaks or else I’d have to sit out. These are the kata exercises that mudansha will be tested on with their promotional exams. We’ll have to know them to teach them.

After lunch and finishing the kata, we broke into a short session of keiko. I got to keiko with two teachers, one I have fought before and one I have not fought before. The one I have fought before corrected me on my footwork. She said my left foot was passing my right foot. That was lazy of me. The one I have not fought before stopped me multiple times for several errors, such as not holding center and striking accurately.

However, I took in all of the advice and drilled my own mind with the proper way to do kendo. When it came time to do the exam, the waiting was hard. I could not get comfortable on the floor and had to eventually stand up. However, it came time to test. I resolved just to strike men, strike men again, maybe one kote, and then strike men again. I chased my opponents all over the floor, bating and striking. I remembered not to block at all, even once.

When the instructor called out the numbers called to perform kata, I smiled at my number being stated. I took my bokken and resolved to do my best, bringing my seme to the full. The shimpan-cho warned us to pause a lot in kata to avoid rushing. I did my best, showing good form as the shidachi. However, my footwork was awkward in the 7th kata. We were all asked to do the 7th kata again, making me nervous. I did it again, unfortunately rushing the doh cut.

At the end, we all gathered together. The sensei ripped into us for good keiko but not good kata. They said we didn’t seem to know the nuances of kata and they demonstrated a few cuts. It turns out that I was taught wrong about the 7th kata. The shidachi doh cut is not horizontal. It is downward diagonal and the sword is pulled by kneeling down, cutting the opponent in half.

They turned around the board to show the results of the kata. I was already planning to take the kata-only exam at our tournament out of shame. However, my number showed a pass. I quickly turned in my written answer and fee. I have now finished my path towards nidan. I feel very proud and very humble towards all of my teachers and dojo-mates.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 545-548

Day 545:

In Iaido, I got to finish two times the kata before the practice test. I got a time of 5:43. Booya and I’m ready for the test this weekend.

I skipped Kendo class because I wasn’t feeling well. No sense to push myself too hard and get sick before the test.

Day 546:

In Iaido, we were promised a full class of nothing but practice tests. Instead, the new student was there. We had the whole class of freeform with a single test. I did the kata twice and did the practice test. My time was 5:32, so I figure I should slow down. I got some advice to calm down and remember to use more saya-biki. Also, I had a hang-up during rei-hou with using a tight loop of obi.

We got an explanation of how the seminar goes. Sensei mentioned that it’s common that during the seminar, you’re expected to take notes between practice katas.

Day 546.5:

My first Iaido seminar, tournament, and testing. I show up early and get suited up. We go through a long lecture by the Head Sensei who comes from Japan. He speaks through a translator because he does not speak English. That’s okay. As long as I get the instruction somehow, then it’s worthwhile. We get together as a group and do a few practice cuts to warm up. After that, we separate into two groups, high-ranking and low-ranking. The Head Sensei asks his second-in-command to demonstrate the first two kata over and over to show us how they are supposed to be done properly. They are very well executed. We then alternate between groups to practice both katas several times while the others watch. It’s long and frustrating but educational. The second Sensei, despite having no personal translator, found a way to correct me a few times by demonstration. For example, he showed me that he doesn’t want me to reach when cutting. That’s against Kendo but this is Iaido. I should not reach with an Iaito. This lasted all day. The small of my back was aching badly at the end.

The next day was the tournament and the test. However, when I walk in early the situation was reversed! There wasn’t very much time before I was expected to line up for the test. I didn’t get time to practice anything, so I did the test cold. There were two chairs in each line. Each person in line after that must stand up and wait. When it was my turn, I just forgot all my nervousness and just emptied myself of everything except Iaido. I did the test exactly at my pace. The other three candidates in my group all blazed through their kata quickly. I was several seconds slower. Still, I wound up passing the exam and got a rank of sankyu. Good for me.

After the test was over, including one of my dojomates, there was an hour and a half of waiting. The people putting on the seminar ran around and tried to mark off the courts. After all of that time, they called for lunch. I had a big breakfast and I was up first for the tournament. I did not eat. I waited, did a practice set of kata, and waited some more. When we started, I had my turn. I did my part of the tournament just like my test. I was in the red court while my opponent was in the separate white court. After we were finished, the three shinpan voted in a hantei. I lost 3-0. Frustrating, but not unexpected. I never win by hantei. The rest of the several hours was done sitting, waiting, and walking around. The final division of yondan and above was compressed onto one court. We finished an hour and a half later than advertised. After some lecture and awards ceremony we left. It was time to drive back and eat at the same time. Ouch. Still, I accomplished what I set out to do.

Day 547:

I started back at advanced Kendo. The next event is my attempt at nidan. I went to class tired. Last night I had driven back from the Iaido seminar. We had a balanced class of waza. It was the effort and exercise that punished me. I guess I relaxed too much in training for Iaido.

We did kiri-kaeshi, kote-kiri-kaeshi with tsuki, doh-kiri-kaeshi with tsukim men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and then ji-geiko using only men-ouchi. We then started up with kote-men-ouchi, men-debana-kote, and then ji-geiko.

We did hotseat for 20-second ji-geiko. That was fun because it was short, intense, and quick rotations.

We then finished with a huge drill. Kiri-kaeshi-men-kote-doh-men-hiki-men-men-hiki-kote-men-hiki-doh-kiri-kaeshi. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

Day 548:

Today we had visitors from our companion dojo over in the next state. Sensei wanted to work us hard. Kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, kote-men-ouchi, ai-ouchi-men, ai-ouchi-kote-men, men-hiki-men, kote-suriage-men and a couple of variations. Suddenly, we were doing the last seven sets of waza in one, long, continuous waza. My forehead began pouring rivers of sweat into my eyes. My eyes burned and became blurry. I was lucky I finished the waza when it happened.

I had to step out after my partner completed the waza. I had to stay out for a few minutes to drain the sweat from my eyes, including washing my eyeballs with water from the bathroom sink. After several minutes, I stepped in for a few rounds of ji-geiko with our visitors and one round of kiri-kaeshi.

After practice was over, I didn’t stick aroundf to ask the high-ranking visitor for advice in pursuit of my nidan exam. However, I really did not feel well. I think I overdid my effort. I was exhausted, hungry, dehydrated, and my eyes were still blurry and burning. If he comes back then I’ll ask his advice.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 543-544

Day 543:

In Iaido class, I finished two sets of kata before the practice test. I also found that I’ve lost my ability to do big chiburi, meaning the one from jodan. I asked Sensei who told me to stop trying to rotate the sword and just twist my wrist. Then you just drop your arm in the plane of the sword. That’s so much easier. Also, the shodan gave me the advice of not ‘breaking’ my wrist. It means not allowing the sword to flex my wrist beyond straight arm. I do it on several cuts.

Doing the practice test, I got a 5:45, which is perfect in my opinion. However, when putting my saya into my obi at the beginning of the rei-hou, it felt really restricted. I think I messed that up. It prevented me from doing saya-biki. Sensei also mentioned that I need to show more saya-biki.

In Kendo, we had a small class. Just myself, the instructor, and two students. While putting on my tare and doh, the instructor had to correct the youngest student for not shouting responses during suburi. After jumping in, we immediately put on men and lined up. We practiced kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and kote-men-ouchi.

For the final kote-men I did, I tried harder to raise my arms and finished with a loud POP. That was so satisfying. The instructor reminded me about not pushing with my arms after trying to crash into my opponent after a strike. Letting my arms go limp and crashing with my abdomen.

Then we had ji-geiko, but with the new student it was kakari-geiko. I’m liking my smoothness and speed with ji-geiko.

Day 544:

No class today because of the weather.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 541-542

Day 541:

In Iaido class, I got to practice one and a half full sets of kata. After that, we got a lecture of proper techniques and then got to perform two practice tests. My first time was 5:30 and my second time was 5:38. Both are acceptable, but I should be aiming for 5:45. Slowing down and taking two breaths between kata helps your time. After class, I made sure to remind our treasurer about my need for my Iaido zekken. Just to be sure it will get done.

In Kendo, we had a new student join us. After suburi, we worked a lot on okuri-ashi. I made sure to stay on my back foot and step forward smoother. I made sure to fumi-komi a little shorter and gentler rather than harder. Then we broke and put on men. We practiced kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, kakari-geiko, and ji-geiko.

Day 542:

In Iaido class I got through two sets of kata before we got to do another practice test. I forgot about the mii-jo command. I got caught in mid rei-hou and had to start again. I gotta remember that one. I got a time of 5:53. Pretty good but I should probably be a smidge faster.

In Kendo, I was asked by Sensei to teach the new student about footwork and basic strikes. Suri-ashi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, and a familiarization with the suburi.

Head Sensei showed up and taught the advanced class. I do not have time to stay for advanced class if I practice Iaido. Too bad.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Beginner's Point of View 539-540

Day 539:

Today was the first Iaido practice in months and the first practice of the year. I remember the kata, but my ankles do not. My right bicep and the tops of my ankles feel sprained. Also my sword cuts are wobbly. I need to relax my arms as I draw.

In basic Kendo class, I stepped into suburi and kept up with the class. I guess all those advanced classes have helped my health. After putting on men and kote, we did kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, and a few rounds of ji-geiko. Standing more on my back foot seems to really help.

Day 540:

In Iaido, I did three sets of kata quickly, trying too hard to get back into shape. My ankles are really sore, especially after sitting in tate-heiza. I did a few spare kata of 1, 6, 7, and 9 to practice.

In basic Kendo, I stepped in for okuri-ashi. After some footwork, we did some basic fumi-komi drills, which hurt my left ankle. Darned tate-heiza. Still, taking it easy and shortening my stride saved my ankle. We did some renzuko-men and put on men.

We practiced some hard repetitions of kiri-kaeshi, men-ouchi, kote-ouchi, doh-ouchi, kakari-geiko, and a round of ji-geiko. I faced off against Sensei and scored some points. I think I’m getting better.