a MMB! Kendo Blog: January 2005

MMB! Kendo Blog

Saturday, January 29, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生

There were so many people at this morning's training. We had quite a few UNSW Kendo Club players training with us today. We also had a visiting sensei from Japan - Kitagawa sensei - but we didn't notice there was a new sensei among us until the warm-up session when his excellent techniques were finally revealed in front of the class.

Today's warm-up and technique sessions were vastly different to the other training sessions. We practiced the really basic kihon cuts against 4 motodachi (Itakura sensei, Mike Henstock, Andrew van Hamond and Doug) for 1 hour without putting our men and kote bogu on.

It was during the warm-up session that I noticed this new Japanese, who turned out to be Kitagawa sensei, performed those fluent big kihon cuts. His cuts were like unstoppable waves powering forward. It's just so nice to watch. I was very lucky to be able to play against him in the wasa and jigeiko session afterwards.

Bring my Brain
I was a sucker today playing Sano sensei in jigeiko. I was like a stupid fish going for the bait again and again. Sano sensei deliberately opened his kote and I just kept falling into his kote trap. I didn't know how many kote-nuki-men Sano sensei has succeeded. I should have known better after a few kote-nuki-men from Sano sensei to not go for the kote bait. Bottom line of this story - Bring my brain to jigeiko.

Maintain Kensen in the Centre
One thing I did concentrate on today was seme - breaking the opponent's centre. I tried knocking Sano sensei's shinai out of the centre and then cut his men. But each time I knocked sensei's shinai off centre and was ready to launch a men cut, Sano sensei's shinai would be back into centre once again to block my men cut. I was pretty confused as to what I was doing wrong. Then Sano sensei pointed out that my own kensen was off centre too after I knocked his shinai off centre. The time for me to re-adjust my kensen and launched a cut gave my opponent's enough time to recover and block my cut. What I should aim for was to maintain my kensen pointing to my opponent's throat at all time.

Forward. Forward.
I also had a chance to play Itakura sensei just before the training finished. Itakura sensei pointed out that I was steping side-way after rising from sonkyu. That's a big NO NO. It showed weakness in my kendo. Always moved forward.

Other things Itakura sensei pointed out today were my hip wasn't pushing forward enough (aiya! Not again!) and my arms were raised too high after my men cut. I should maintain my arms at shoulder level when passing through after the men cut.

Main things I should focus on next session:
  1. Hip forward.
  2. Seme. Maintain kensen to the centre.

Friday, January 28, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Amazing Will Power

Tonight I finally had a chance to sit down and watched a full match of the Australian Tennis Championships - Mens semi-finals between Andy Roddick (USA) and Lleyton Hewitt (AUS). The tennis was really high quality. Those astonishingly big serves from Roddick, my goodness, they were like missiles. Roddick fired aces after aces at more than 220kmh. The match was exploded with so much power and speed, it's like watching a supermen contest.

But tonight, I was bewildered by a different kind of power - the mental strength of the players, especially Hewitt. Hewitt pushed himself to the human physical limit, digging out balls after balls from behind the baseline cunningly angled by Roddick. Every time Roddick hit those powerful balls which seemed almost impossible for any human beings to return, Hewitt did it, and did it with much fighting spirit to force errors from the frustrated Roddick. In the end, Hewitt's amazing fighting spirit rewarded him a spot in the mens finals.

Although kendo and tennis share little similarities in terms of game rules and techniques, there are so much to learn from the mental aspects between the two sports. Hewitt is a good example for anyone who wants to excel in sports or life in general. No matter how tired his body is, Hewitt does not give up. In his mind, every ball are just as important to him as any other. Hewitt's action tonight fits perfectly into Payne sensei's favourite saying, 'treat every fight as the last fight in your life'. In every kendo session, I should always give everything I got. There is only one way to improve - keep trying and never give up.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Kote! Men! Do! =P

Today is Australia Day - a public holiday to celebrate everything Aussie. I did not think I would turn up to tonight's Willoughby training session until I wrote my last blog. I was eager to try the new things Master Kim taught me last night, especially to practice moving my body, my hip forward in every cut.

There were less people training in Willoughby tonight but still more than what I expected. The first 30-minute session was devoted to kata. I then led the suburi warm-up. Doug Stouffers then led the advance class and practice basic kihon techniques, followed by a more advanced technique, men-kaeshi-do. I had trouble with my distance when executing the do cut. I was too close to my opponent to execute a correct do cut. I was suspecting that my men block movement must have been too large and therefore it left too little time for me to swing the shinai to cut the do. I need to experiment more during the next training session to find out how to improve my men-kaeshi-do cut.

I played several jigeiko tonight, amongst them the jigeiko with Taek Yang and Jayson Chaplin. It was always good to play jigeiko with Taek. His technique was textbook perfect. His posture was always straight, someone that I could learn from. Taek launched a men cut just second after the jigeiko started. I had to admit that I wasn't tune in to the fight when he launched the first cut. I must make sure that I must focus 100% to my opponent every time I rise from sonkyu. My last fight of the night was against Jayson. Jayson was famous for his strong and snappy men cut. I tried to break his centre by applying pressure on his shinai. However, it turned out that at the very moment I applied pressure on Jayson's shinai, he probably took advantage of my shinai downward movement and launched a perfect men cut on me. I guessed I hadn't break his centre at all. Next time I must try another seme techniques to break Jayson's centre and create opportunity to cut. Ah, Jayson, he is tough to play against.

I was determined to move my body and my hip at every cut tonight. I think I was doing fairly well until the last 10 minutes, when my body was exhausted. Now thinking about it, maybe I should practice counter-attack techniques and concentrate on applying seme when I am tired, so that I won't revert back to my bad old leaning posture when lauching a forward men cut.

Points to focus on next training session: Move the body in, break opponent's centre.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Seme. Attack with the Body!

I visited Master Kim's dojo tonight. I love going to Master Kim's dojo because of the amount of constructive advise I get out from each training session.

There were 6 kendoka tonight - Master Kim, Jimmy Kim, Johnny, myself, and two Korean kids. We started off with a 15 minutes warm-up, jogging along the length of the dojo and doing the usual stretching exercises.

The next 15 minutes was dedicated to footwork drills. We paired up and my partner was Johnny. We learnt to apply pressure on opponent's shinai, breaking / regaining centre while moving forward / backward. We also experimented with distance and foot movement - moving forward, sudden stop and moving backward.

The next session was geiko. The six of us splitted into two groups, with Master Kim and Jimmy Kim the motodachi. Johnny and I were in Jimmy's group. We started off with kirikaeshi, then uchikomi geiko, kote-men, debana-kote (both inside and outside) and aiuchi-men. Master Kim pointed out the following things during this session:

  1. Kote-Men. The focus is on both kote and men. The men cut of my kote-men wasa was fine, but my kote cut was too light. Master Kim said the kote cut is just as important as the men cut. The main point is to relax the right arm before the cut.
  2. Relax the right arm. Exert power in the right hand at the last split second just when the shinai lands on the opponent's kote. That will give the perfect oomph and power into the kote cut.
  3. Move faster with that kote-men! Pa-Pan!!! Breathing in will slow down the speed of executing kote-men. So make sure to breath out whlie executing kote-men.
  4. Attack with the body. Move that hip! Master Kim pointed out the importance of moving the body into position when executing a cut. During aiuchi-men, Master Kim said the person who is able to move the whole body into position first will ultimately be the first to land the cut on the opponent.
  5. In tsubazerai, always be sure your shinai is on top of your opponent's shinai, so that it gives you a chance to execute a cut on your opponent but not your opponent on you.
  6. The rear leg should never bend too much. Bending the rear leg too much will impede the speed of powering forward and launching a cut.
The final session was shiai geiko. I had to play against Jimmy Kim. We both tried to put everything we learnt tonight into action. I experimented with kote-men and breaking of the centre. I also tried my best to move that hip, though Master Kim pointed out that my body was still not moving in together. A main huddle that I need to overcome in order to take my kendo to the next level. Master Kim gave a few more advices during this shiai geiko session:

  1. Attack with the Body! The best seme is created by moving the whole body in. Moving the whole body into an attack is much more powerful than attacking just with the shinai.
  2. Breaking shinai's centre. Master Kim said I am not using enough force to move my opponent's shinai away. To improve my ability to break my opponent's shinai centre, I should experiment with my shinai tapping with greater force, so that my opponent's shinai is visually off centre.
During Jimmy and Johnny's shiai geiko session, Master Kim showed us a men-kaeshi-kote technique. When executing this technique, make sure the posture is straight after executing the kote cut. Do not bend down. Show zanshin.

Monday, January 24, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Learn to move my body

Tonight I went to the Pyrmont training. I came into the dojo putting my focus on using my shinai to break my opponent's centre. I have experimented the following ways to break my opponent's centre with minimal movement of my own shinai.
  • pressing my opponent's shinai at the shank, which opens my opponent's men target momentarily.
  • leaning my shinai against both sides of my opponent's shinai, forcing my opponent's to lose its centre.

Wrist - breaking the centre

When I played Itakura sensei tonight, he pointed out that I was using too much of my shoulder to move the shinai. I should use my wrist to repel my opponent's shinai, instead of using my shoulder and thus the whole arms. By using the wrist to apply pressure on my opponent's shinai, I can keep my shoulder relax and stable without compromising my upper body's posture.

Move the Body

The second thing that Itakura sensei pointed out tonight was that I was, once again, leaning forward when I executed a cut, leaving the rest of the body behind. Itakura sensei said I should aim to have a stable posture after executing a cut so that I can execute another cut if I wanted to. Don't be afraid of being cut. Once I learn the correct way to move my body during a cut, other techniques, such as nidan wasa should come together easily. I left the dojo tonight with one major goal - a correct posture when executing a cut. Time to move that body!!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
First Post

Hi I'm Vivian Yung from Sydney, Australia. I train at the Sydney Kendo Club and I'm the secretary of the NSW Kendo Association. I started kendo on Saturday 30th June 2001.

I first came to know about kendo when I was 10 years old through watching a Japanese cartoon animation called "Musashi no Ken" by Murakami Motoka. I was absolutely fascinated by watching Musashi's "never say die" spirit and his extraordinary will to train hard in kendo, knowing that to be the best, there is only one way to achieve it and that is to train even harder than anyone else.

Since then, I have always dreamt to take up kendo and strives to achieve what Musashi in the cartoon strives to achieve - to be The Best!