Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Beginner's Point of View 726-727

Day 726:

Today was a terrible day all day. At least spending time at the dojo ends the day.

In Iaido, I completed 2.5 sets of kata. My toe seems to have healed up completely.

In Kendo, we had a Guest Sensei arrive to practice with Sensei. He was really good at Kendo. Always a really good attack. We did suburi and kihon.

My body feels really bad. It’s tired, sore, totally lacking in energy. Still, I kept trying. My chest felt sore and I had to step out. I felt totally lacking in spirit. After a while, I stepped back in for suburi. My men-himo were slipping out of the knot. Against the Guest Sensei, my Kendo seemed slow. He leapt all around after the strikes. Still, I got a good kote in there.

After class, he gave me advice for shoving my left shoulder forward during a strike to correct my drift. There was a session of kata after class with Sensei and Guest Sensei but my body was crashing, so I went home.

Day 727:

Today was a much better day. I did 2.5 sets of kata. It seems like my speed slows down when reminding to cut with only the left arm. Sensei gave advice to the class that when sliding forward in kneeling kata, do not slide the knee into the foot. You need to slide it completely forward.

In Kendo, we did suburi, okuri-ashi, kihon, kote-men-ouchi, and the familiar step-back-step-men-ouchi. We finished with ji-geiko. Sensei asked us when we do ji-geiko, we do it like we’re testing. I tried to bring the thunder. Prying for center, moving for angle, and striking fully. After class, his advice for both of us nidans was to only strike when we feel as if we will strike instead of flailing.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Beginner's Point of View 724-725

Day 724:

In Iaido, I pushed myself to do 3 sets of kata. I wanted to get back in to my rhythm. However, I felt like I kept making the same old mistakes. It does feel natural to cut with the left hand only. My 5th kata looks better.

In Kendo, we started off with suri-ashi for the beginners. We’re getting in the habit of including the beginners with the class in suburi to get them used to it. I think it’s a good idea. Takes some pressure off the instructors and gets them acclimated to the class. We then did kiri-kaeshi, kihon, and then the step-back-step-men-ouchi drill. I don’t like that drill but I see the point. It’s about seme and maai. We finished with ji-geiko. As luck would have it, I sprained my left big toe halfway through class so I could not charge forward as fast or far as I normally do, however I could bring the thunder against Sensei. After class, he confided that he hurt his leg before our ji-geiko.

Day 725:

In Iaido, I slowed down to remember to cut with only the left hand. I got to class later than usual so I only got to complete 2.5 sets of kata. Still, it was good. One of our beginners came back after several months of being away. I hope he stays this time.

In Kendo, we had the beginners in for suburi and then suri-ashi. Sensei is gearing up for his yandan exam. So we focused on kihon and kiri-kaeshi a lot. We also did more of that step-back-step-men-ouchi drill and ji-geiko. My toe felt better so I could move a lot. I really know to push advantages so I can score points.

At the end, we did kata. Sensei asked me to practice kata with him to prepare him and eventually myself. We did well. Our other nidan was asked to practice the bokotou-kihon-kata with the lower-ranking students to prepare them. They’ll need it. I should read up on those more in case I’m asked to instruct. After doing all 10 kata with Sensei, he said it was good, maybe even passing grade. He did remind me about being more deliberate with both sides of the 5th kata’s suriage otherwise it doesn’t work. Also, the uchidachi’s 8th kata needs to be smooth and not hesitate to make the cut.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Beginner's Point of View 722-723

Day 722:

In Iaido, I made sure to try to do what my previous lesson taught me. I slowed down and only had time to do 2 sets of kata. I was able to remember to perform flat shinden-style noto. After class, I told Sensei about the comment about my left hand being open. He said he’ll try to pay attention.

In Kendo, we had a basic practice. We did kihon, kote-men, and uchikomi-geiko. We finished with ji-geiko for those who had bogu.

We stopped early for kata. I was in a group of three to practice all 10 kata. I got to practice both uchidachi and shidachi sides. I messed up the third kata and did not make the contact on the uchidachi side of the 8th kata. However, I got comments about how continuing to go forward with the kata as if no error. I need to practice the kata over and over.

Day 723:

In Iaido, I got to go 2.75 sets of kata. It’s getting easier to keep the saya flat for noto. This time I added not using my muscles but just guide the sword. The best way is to only cut with only the left arm.

In Kendo, it was Sensei’s turn to teach the beginner but he asked our shodan to teach. We got to practice okuri-ashi, kihon, kote-men, men-suriage-men, kiri-kaeshi, and ji-geiko. During the last couple of ji-geiko I really was very tired. In the last ji-geiko I nearly stopped breathing, so I had to just bait and counter-attack. I did completely dominate Sensei during our ji-geiko with three men-ari, a kote-ari, and almost a perfect doh-ari. After practice, he admitted his left leg spasmed and stopped moving. The lack of forward momentum made it easier.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Beginner's Point of View 720-721

Day 720:

No class today as I am injured.

Day 721:

No class today as I am injured.

Day 721.5:

I had made an appointment to see a sword vendor to get my iaito’s saya fixed. The wooden inside was wearing uneven and even the narrow part in front of the cutting edge had worn away totally. I was worried that one unlucky draw would crack the saya.

I was actually invited to practice at his dojo with his students for a day while getting my saya repaired. I took this opportunity to practice Iaido with another dojo to see how they do things. However, some details came to light. The dojo practices Jodo as well as Muso-Shinden Ryu. I only practice Seitei-Gata. However, the sensei decided to alter class to be more accommodating to me. I felt very honored that way.

When I met the sensei, he examined my sword just as much as my saya. He then told me that my sword was a cheap knock-off sword made in China. The tsuka had even thickness in front as well as in back. That’s not supposed to be the way it’s made. The narrowing in front reflects the cutting edge which reminds you of the plane of the sword. The blade has a twist to it and the wood is not Japanese wood in the saya.

After being so very disappointed in my sword, I went to the dojo. I was given a jo and asked to follow along with the class practicing kata. The movements were so different and designed to deflect swords and then counter-strike. I could tell an amusing joke about how I was practicing anti-Kendo and feeling dirty about it. Never mind. It was still interesting and fun.

Sensei walked in and gave me my iaito, showing me my saya. He glued a piece of wood where the vacant place was. I feel more confident drawing it now.

In Iaido class, we only did two kata, but we really went in depth. Sensei talked a lot about technique and showed many examples of what to do and not to do. He also was the type to tell many jokes and make many not-serious jibes with students who were his friends. That’s different, but he’s high-ranking, so there’s no criticism at all.

We practiced the fifth and ninth katas. Sensei actually asked me for a request. I requested the ninth kata. I tried to follow sensei’s instructions as best as I could. Among other things, my flaw of using too much muscle was exposed. I do use my muscles a lot because my iaito is steel.

I should also state that the opening and closing rei-hou were slightly different. We would intentionally pull our hakama in tight to our legs and put the sword on the right side. My own rei-hou seems very abridged. Is it? Or is this just different? I guess I’ll just have to trust my sensei.

At the end of the day, I wanted to buy a new sword which was Japanese. However, sensei said he wouldn’t sell me a sword today. He wanted me to try my current sword and then shop around. I think my sword is okay for at least a little while. However, I still want a better one. Sensei did tell me not to go to aluminum. The lack of weight would give me injuries later in my career.