Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 788-789.5

Day 788:

In Iaido class, I got to complete 2.75 sets of kata. I was energetic but sometimes my downward swing was wobbly.

In Kendo, I wasn’t too well. I had some abdominal pain last weekend. I wanted to take it easy. It was a kata day. I spent time practicing the first 7 kata with someone planning to test for nidan.

In keiko, I deliberately took it easy, not pushing myself. I still finished class. I practiced kihon and the same waza from the last several classes. We had 2-minute ji-geiko for several rounds. I made it a point to pace myself and finished with energy to spare. I still did my best to score points. I think I’ve got a chance on the keiko portion of the exam.

Day 789:

No class today as I am ill. I need to save my strength for the tournament and exam.

Day 789.5 Tournament and exam:

The day of the tournament was early, and long, like usual. I was put in charge of managing the first court. We had four courts running all day long. Over 130 kendoka on four courts ran very well, especially since we chose not to save all the final matches for the end. We got out more or less on time. We were complimented on how well-run the tournament was.

In my matches, I had no time to warm up, however I did very well. I won my first match 2-0 and then lost my second match 2-1. Better than I expected. In the team matches, I won my first match 2-0 and lost the second match 1-0. Overall, I did very well.

During the exam, it was a long time just waiting for my turn. There were only four of us testing for sandan. I was getting leg cramps shifting sitting positions.

In the keiko portion, I only got 1 solid men strike, and half-good strikes in men and kote. I kept trying to be as fast as I was during the tournament. During the tournament I was faster than I was ever before. During the test, I was second-fastest. Darn it. I was not invited to kata. I know that if I was invited to kata, I would have passed. Keiko is my weakness. My arms feel so slow compared to others of my rank.

I’m going to stop this blog. It’s no longer helping me adjust to practicing anymore. Also, I just don’t feel like a beginner. A beginner just practices waza over and over. Now I’m trying to practice dynamic seme, trying to bait and goad my opponent into attacking first so I can take advantage to them. I’m no expert yet, and clearly not a sensei. However, I think I’m somewhere in the middle, like the European word of “journeyman”. I wonder if there’s a Japanese word for the same thing.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 786-787

Day 786:

In Iaido class, I felt better in my leg. I completed 2.5 sets of kata.

In Kendo, it was a kata day. I always love kata best of all things. I was doing well today. I need to be closer for the kodachi kata.

In Kendo I was feeling very aggressive. I got in several very good hits in both waza and ji-geiko.

Day 787:

Today was a very hot and humid. Very hot and humid. It was in the 90’s temperature today. Still, I was energetic enough for 3 full sets of kata.

In Kendo, it was a hot day. Kiri-kaeshi, kihon, and tournament-style waza such as debana-kote and suriage-men. I had to step out due to overheating. Ouch, I nearly collapsed from heat.

However, some visitors came to practice with us. One of them was really unsatisfied with my tsuba-zeriai. She decided that during ji-geiko it was a good idea she should grab my shinai blade with her hand and move it around. What the $%^& is wrong with her? I really was very angry with her, but I tried not to yell at her. Instead, I just continued until the end of class and walked away. I refuse to listen to anything she does that would be an immediate hansoku.

To be fair, she was just trying to help. I shouldn’t have been angry at all. I know her. But still, it really made me instantly angry.

I’m not sure this blog is helping me anymore. I think I’ll continue for at least next week when we have our tournament and testing. I plan to test for sandan. I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t expect to pass first time like all my other promotion exams, but still I feel good in giving a strong offering.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 784-785

Day 784:

Today was okay for me. My leg felt okay. I did two sets of Iaido kata, including the 4th kata with some feeling.

In Kendo, it was a kata day. I did all 10 kata and I feel I did well. I need to take smaller steps backwards to avoid going too far back and making the maai awkward.

We then did kiri-kaeshi, kihon, men-debana-kote, men-nuki-doh, and ji-geiko. This is because Sensei wants us to practice taikai techniques for a better match. I felt assertive today, so I scored many points in ji-geiko.

Day 785:

In Iaido, I did 2.25 sets of kata fairly fast. My leg isn’t great. Apparently, I overdid it last class. My healing is slower than I expect. The fumi-komi in the 4th kata last class hurt me. I hope I’m healed enough for the test.

In Kendo, it was a stamina day. We did kiri-kaeshi, kihon, men-debana-kote, men-nuki-doh, and ji-geiko quickly. We spent the second half of class doing a practice tournament for the beginners who will have their first tournament next month. I got to practice being a shinpan for several matches before getting three matches of my own. I fought a sandan, another sandan, and a nidan. My results were to tie, lose by one point, and then tie. That’s not too different than how I do in real tournaments.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 782-783

Day 782:

In Iaido class, I got to complete 2.5 sets of kata. My hip is getting better but my leg is still bad. It’s getting up from tate-heiza that hurts. It’s not bad enough to stop, it’s just uncomfortable. I certainly can’t add fumi-komi to it.

In Kendo class, it was a kata day. We have a student testing for ikkyu but she hasn’t practiced nearly enough. I’m not being mean but this student is really not good at kata. They need much more practice.

We finished the class with kihon, kiri-kaeshi, and then Sensei built up our stamina with rotating uchikomi-geiko practice at high speed.

Day 783:

In Iaido, I was really distracted today. I only got to complete 1.5 sets of kata. I stopped to listen in as Sensei taught a student how to tie their new uniform of keiko-gi and hakama. I think I may be making a small mistake in my hakama-himo (is that the right word? Hakama-obi maybe? The build-in part, not the separate obi I use for Iaido). I tie it in the center and no-one’s ever corrected me.

In Kendo, it was a day of practice for stamina and accuracy. It was kihon, kiri-kaeshi, men-debana-kote, kote-suriage-men, and ji-geiko. I was not feeling assertive today. I tried but I was just so slow. All I can do is keep going.

After class, Sensei gave the advice to attack form the hips rather the arms and fix the fumi-komi to be stronger and synchronized.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 778-779

Day 780:

In Iaido, I did 2 sets of kata. It seems doing the breathing shall forever slow me down. That’s good for my time limit on embu. I need to be smoother, not faster.

In kendo, I stayed for the kata class. Sensei took the other nidan and myself to take us through all 10 kata. He reminded me that in the kodachi kata, I need to step in the second kodachi kata and straighten my sword before uke.

I did not stay for keiko. The last class had several drills to strengthen us. The frog hop drill injured my hip and hamstring (again).

Day 781:

In Iaido, I did two sets of kata, skipping the 4th kata. That hurts my hip. I’m a little better but not good enough for Kendo class this time.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 778-779

Day 778:

Today I got to practice 2 sets of kata plus a few spare iterations of the first two katas to try to not cut too high. I’m too eager to thrust the sword out and cover distance which raises the ki-saki.

In kendo, we had a kata day. Myself, my other nidan, and an ikkyu candidate practiced Kendo kata. I need to practice more since I seem to be tense and standing a little too far away.

After kata practice, we did kiri-kaeshi, kihon, and then lots of uchikomi-geiko in a three-person constant-rotating drill. Kinda like hotseat. I was really sweating afterwards since it was myself, the other nidan, and Sensei really going at it full strength.

Day 779:

In Iaido, I completed two sets of kata. Today I was really impatient. I was constantly just drawing too quickly and too forcefully.

In kendo, we started with suri-ashi training with fumi-komi drills. We tried a new drill where we chase our partner down the length of the floor while striking men with fumi-komi constantly.

We then did kiri-kaeshi, kihon, and then another set of hotseat uchikomi-geiko.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 776-777

Day 776:

No class today as I have an appointment.

Day 777:

In Iaido, I completed two sets of kata, trying to keep the breathing going. Sensei gave me advice that my horizontal cuts were too high. I need to have them lower on the first and second katas, otherwise I miss the target. It needs to be a natural cut with the ki-saki just a tad lower than horizontal.

In Kendo, we had quite the lab day. A Guest Sensei wanted to teach us to have good fumi-komi. There was a lot of okuri-ashi and group drills. Like lining up and the kakarite charging down the line striking the shinai in order with fumi-komi. I usually call those “Kendo games” because they are so fun that they don’t feel like work. We haven’t done those in a long time. We finished with some kiri-kaeshi and ji-geiko.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 774-775

Day 774:

In Iaido, I had to slow down and do the breathing. This means I only got to complete two sets of kata. Sensei gave a lecture about how in hasso-no-kamae our left hand is in front of the solar plexus. I might be holding it too high.

Sensei was still too injured to teach the class, so he asked me to teach it. My throat was sore today, so I thought I could just skip Kendo and go home. I guess not.

I led the class with okuri-ashi, kiri-kaeshi, and kihon. The whole time I focused on zanshin. The class is getting lazy after the strike and just walking around. We need to strike well, pass by and then turn around with kiai. Also, the motodachi needs to follow the kakarite to issoku-ittou-no-maai to speed up the waza. We finished with ji-geiko. I used my belly to talk more than my throat, so I hope that will help not hurt myself more.

Day 775:

No class today as I am ill.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 772-773

Day 772:

In Iaido I did 2.3 sets of kata. Then Sensei reminded me for chiburi in the first two kata, I need to have the ki-saki lower than my knee. I thought I was doing it but I guess I need to remember to do that.

Sensei had been to a tournament over the weekend and he was devoid of energy. Our other nidan and myself ran the class. We decided to stick with fundamentals. We did lots of kiri-kaeshi to fix the motion and make it smoother. We also focused on issokou-ittou-no-maai. Kiri-kaeshi, kihon, kote-men, and kote-doh. Kote-doh really requires you to have good maai to strike well. Several rounds of ji-geiko finished class. I got whacked in the arms and legs several times.

Our shodan had passed the shinsa over the weekend and is now a nidan. We have three nidans now. I guess we should now rotate teaching classes and beginners.

Day 773:

No class today because my left big toe is injured. I can’t even walk well, much less charge forward without great pain.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 770-771

Day 770:

In Iaido class, I got to practice 2.5 sets of kata plus number eleven a few times. It’s actually much easier to make the first cut at the angle when I do not draw to right jodan above my head.

In Kendo class, it was time for lots of repetitions of kiri-kaeshi and kihon. We then practiced quick-men and quick-kote. At some point, I noticed that my Sinai had several deep splinters and my cheat had some pain. I stepped out to sand my shinai and calm down.

Day 771:

In Iaido class, I got to practice 2.5 sets of kata before time ran out. Sensei had a discussion with us about the right cut in the seventh kata. A sensei said it was a vertical cut but we’ve been taught by other sensei that it was angular. The official manual says it’s diagonal but a steep angle.

In Kendo class, we had a Guest Sensei. After kiri-kaeshi and kihon, we had several lessons about oji-waza such as kote-nuki-men. I was able to complete the lessons but against higher ranking people I seem to get hit. However, I don’t notice that I’m getting hit. I just need to raise up higher next time. We had long sessions of ji-geiko which nearly tired me out.

Today was a bad mental health day. I kept getting distracted by bad thoughts and bad fatigue. This means that the ji-geiko against Guest Sensei was terrible and not worth remembering. I hope a good night’s sleep will fix that.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 768-769

Day 768:

In Iaido class, we had a structured class all about breathing properly. Finally, I get some targeted lessons. We went thorugh katas 1-5 all about breathing. I seemed to get light-headed when breathing as deeply as instructed. I think I should maybe breath more shallow.

In Kendo class, Sensei asked me to teach the class for bokutou kihon waza. We need to get people ready to test this year. Our tournament and testing will happen this summer. Sensei reminded me of which ones were katas 1-6. I taught the class the basics and we did it together, both ways for the whole class. It was kihon, kote-men, harai-men, men-tsubazeriai-hiki-doh, men-nuki-doh, and kote-surigae-men.

Today’s practice was not hard, and that’s good for my leg. I hope I’m not hurting it again.

Day 769:

In Iaido class, we did the same as last class. I need more practice I suppose.

We had another day to prepare for mudansha exams. Practice katas 1-6. He was training our ikkyu for the shodan exam for the Kendo kata. After that, we had ji-geiko and kakari-geiko.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 766-767

Day 766:

Today I only went to Iaido class. I was still hurting from the seminar, so I thought I would skip Kendo to take it easy. Sensei actually gave us a structured class today. We concentrated on breathing properly during the first and second katas. It’s really awkward to do so, but it does slow down the kata for a better time.

Day 767:

No class today as I am injured. I think I made my mild leg sprain worse last class.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 764-765

Day 764:

Today was a preparation day in Iaido. I did 2 sets of kata and then was invited to practice a test twice. My first test I did a recommended set of 1, 3, 5, 9, 11 and got a time of 5:25. Not bad but I need to stretch it out more.

I then tried a set of 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and got a time of 6:07. That didn’t make sense. I did stretch out my breathing but that much time seemed a bit long. The senior student admitted that she forgot to give the command to approach and started the time without giving the command. That makes more sense. I need to remember to make 2 short breaths between each kata.

In Kendo, we had a tournament preparation day. After suri-ashi, we had the beginners line up for matches and we taught guests and family members how to keep time and score. In my matches, I fought Sensei and my old first instructor who is nidan like myself. I lost the first match and tied the second one. Just like how real tournaments go.

Day 765:

No class today as I am ill.

Day 765.5 Iaido seminar:

Ouch, ouch, ouch. Standing in place for hours and performing kata is hurting my back. I need to see the doctor about that.

Still, the seminar was very good. We learned a lot about how we’re not breathing right. We need to breathe in slowly to start the kata and then exhale strongly for each cut. Breathe in and out for noto and stepping back.

It turns out that I was making a mistake with the eleventh kata. The draw is not straight overhead. It’s a little bit angled like the twelfth kata so it is sympathetic with the first cut. That makes it so much easier.

Breathing this way actually does make everything work better. I should remember to do it that way. Not that I can seem to remember it. During the tournament, things were exactly as expected. One match, no flags, loss, then wait for hours and hours for the next event. At least I sat down for a lot to save my back.

For the shinsa, at least I psyched myself up. Need to cut deliberately and smoothly to impress the judges. I made sure to use as much spirit as possible and cut the air with authority. It seemed to have worked and I passed ikkyu.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 762-763

Day 762:

In Iaido, I completed 3 sets.

In Kendo, the beginners joined the class. We are all one now. We started with okuri-ashi, then kir-kaeshi, kihon, and ji-geiko.

Day 763:

In Iaido, I completed 3 sets. We’re getting close to the seminar.

In kendo, we had lots of people join us. We had to line up in lines and rotate motodachi. I like doing that since it saves energy.

We did okuri-ashi, then kir-kaeshi, kihon, and ji-geiko. We’ll be doing this for a while until the beginners get better.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 760-761

Day 760:

In Iaido class, my first Sensei showed up. I gave him the check and bought the sword. I got to complete 2.67 sets of kata. To do better, I need to swing more gently and calm down.

In Kendo, I led the warm-ups for the other nidan. It was a small class today. It’s the last week that Sensei takes the other students aside for basic training. It was easy drills of taking center and tsuki. During ji-geko, I was light on my feet.

Day 761:

In Iaido, I completed 3 full sets with time to spare. This sword is really good. I need to avoid twisting the ki-saki at the draw. It’s scraping. We should do more practice testing since the seminar is coming up.

In Kendo, our other nidan did not show up. I ran the class, wanting to teach something more advanced. I showed them a bunch of oji-waza to get them to take center and then strike. Harai-men, suriage-men, nuki-men, and tatsugi-men.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 758-759

Day 758:

No class today because of the weather.

Day 759:

In Iaido class, I got to complete 2 sets of kata plus a few spare sets of standing kata. This new sword is so very light compared to my previous sword. I used to just start sweating when I completed 2 sets but this? I’m not even breathing hard. I’m going to buy it. I just need to remember to twist my hip for noto.

In Kendo, I was asked to teach the class. I decided to give everyone something hard to work on. We worked up to it using kiri-kaeshi, kihon, kihon, kote-men, and doh-kiri-kaeshi-with-tsuki. The waza of the day was kote-doh-ouchi. It’s really hard to do, especially if you step lightly in between waza. We finished with ji-geiko.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 756-757

Day 756:

In Iaido class, I completed 2 sets of kata. I didn’t pay attention during the 4th kata and I stabbed myself at the base of my index finger. It stung, to say the least. It didn’t bleed very much, though.

In Kendo, we got to do kiri-kaeshi, lots of kiri-kaeshi and men-ouchi. The instructor wanted us to sharpen our kiri-kaeshi for form and speed. We had a lot of ji-geiko after that.

Day 757:

In Iaido, I completed 2 sets with my First Sensei’s new sword. He brought it to class as part of a larger effort to sell older sword to others. I like his steel iaito. It’s a little shorter and very, very well balanced. I plan to buy it. The balance is so good that I don’t feel at all tired doing kata.

In Kendo, I was asked to teach again. I decided today was a good day for kata. We did kiri-kaeshi, kihon, kote-men, men-nuki-men, and ji-geiko. Worked on fundamentals and brought them into a nidan-waza.

In kata practice, I took the beginners and taught them the first part of shidachi for the first kata. I love kata. It’s the “why” of Kendo to balance the “how” of waza practice.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 754-755

Day 754:

In Iaido, we had two new students. Sensei spent time with them teaching them the basics. This would normally be the time to have the class practice the finer points of kata and practice test.

I got to complete 1 set of kata. Then my fellow student asked me to run him a sample test. Sensei was okay with it. I answered some questions and then taught him the basics of how to perform the test. He forgets to do the opening rei-hou properly.

In Kendo, there were five new students. This month Sensei offered to take the beginners. We have to split the dojo floor to accommodate everyone.

I got deferred to as instructor. The other nidan acted like my assistant. I ran the class for learning kihon. We did suburi, kiri-kaeshi, and then the set I came up with. We did men-ouchi, then kote-kiri-kaeshi with tsuki. After that, we practiced kote. We did the same for doh-ouchi. I even gave a short lecture about how to hit doh properly. We then finished with ji-geiko.

Day 755:

In Iaido, I got to complete one set of kata again. I had to answer questions from my fellow student and then give him a practice test. He keeps forgetting the proper rei-hou and even lost his place in the test. He failed one test and then finished the next one what I would call 5-kyu/4-kyu. I should go through a class with the test to give him better understanding.

In Kendo, I had to run the class again. Today I wanted to focus on hiki-waza. We had the most people ever that I’ve seen, with even more beginners. We were crammed in tightly but still finished the class. We did kiri-kaeshi, kihon, then men-hiki-men and men-hiki-kote. My fellow student in Iaido was in his first time in bogu in Kendo. We finished with ji-geiko. After class, I gave a short speech about how I’m not good at hiki-waza so I expect to practice things I’m not good at. I was trying to inspire others to not be embarrassed about missing in class.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 752-753

Day 752:

No class today because of the weather.

Day 753:

No class today because I hurt my back shoveling snow.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 750-751

Day 750:

In Iaido class, we practiced the 3rd kata. I seem to be doing well. Very few corrections from sensei. I just need to feel where my feet slide back parallel. Also, be sure of the left hand not flexing too much finishing the cut.

In Kendo, I was feeling down. It’s kinda like my symptoms for liver damage. Tired and not strong.

We did leg strengthening exercises and then suri-ashi. We did the wrist exercises to develop a snap in our men-ouchi. We did a new stretch where we raise up, then lunge, then bring up our back leg while swinging the shinai. I tried to keep going to the end. I just barely made it.

Day 751:

In Iaido, we finished the 3rd kata by doing it with a second person to show the attacker’s space and position. I’m getting the hang of it. We used our bokutou to avoid iaito damage. In the 4th kata, I seem to be leaning forward during the tsuka-ate.

In Kendo, I was feeling much better. We did several leg strengthening exercises, wrist exercises, and those snapping men strikes.

We had a guest sensei today as well. He was very fast. We did several kihon waza, focusing on a good men strike. I even got ji-geiko with guest sensei. I got one good men strike…while he got at least 3 strikes. I’m not really up to his level. Still, it’s about doing your best. I was breathless after class, but not feeling down.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 748-749

Day 748:

In Iaido, Sensei started giving formal lessons. We began class with leg exercises. We started with kata 1 and 2. I need to increase my saya-biki and reach more on the initial cut.

In Kendo, we started with leg stretches again. It was less painful than before. We also did the wrist exercises fast. After kihon, Sensei called for birthday Kendo. There were two of us celebrating a birthday. We did 30-second ji-geiko for each one. Against my fellow nidan, I only got time for a few strikes because I was trying to taken center instead of messing around.

Day 749:

No class today as I had to stay late at my job.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Beginner's Point of View 746-747

Day 746:

In Iaido, I completed 2.5 sets. I think Sensei needs to put us through some practice exams soon.

In Kendo, we started the new year. Sensei put us through some strengthening exercises. We did some of the leg stretches from Iaido cutting down while kneeling down forward on one knee. Then repeat for the other knee going forward across the floor and back. We did tweo sets when someone boasted we could do a third. The third one got me hurting badly. I only went down a little bit instead of to the floor for the third. It is good exercise. Maybe doing this lots of times will help. We also did a good drill with striking men against our partner’s shinai with only wrists. This was good but tiring.

We then did a lot of basic kihon drills with ji-geiko.

Day 747:

In Iaido I did 2.75 sets of kata. We talked about how the dates for the seminar are set but the registration form is not ready. I need to budget time from work.

In Kendo, we had a guest sensei show up. He’s really good at Kendo. Our class did lots of kiri-kaeshi, kihon, kote-men, and ji-geiko. I tried to really bring my best Kendo for my match with the guest sensei. I got to score a point against him and he scored against me.

After class, I asked for advice on the sandan exam. He hesitated but gave me a lecture about how I don’t have center at all. Also, I’m leaning backwards instead of standing up straight. It’s slowing me down. My sense of center is off. Geesh, I’m not anywhere near ready for the sandan exam. I need to re-invent my Kendo back to basics. I don’t think I should take the exam.