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.