a MMB! Kendo Blog: Thinking Beyond

MMB! Kendo Blog

Sunday, February 06, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Thinking Beyond

This weekend was the first full kendo weekend in the many weeks to come. This weekend was the annual Picton Kendo Weekend.

On Saturday, about 60 kenkoka attended the training. We had the Dan and Kyu Squad Training in the morning. In the afternoon, we had a choice to attend either the shimpan seminar or the grading seminar. I attended the shimpan seminar which was conducted by Payne sensei, Semmler sensei and Sano sensei, who had attended the Asia Regional Shimpan Seminar in Hong Kong last December.

I had a chance to shimpan 5 matches during the shimpan session. I was feeling very rusty with shimpaning in my first 2 shimpan matches. However, towards the later matches, I could feel I was almost in a 'no mind' state. I didn't have to struggle with which colour flag belongs to which player. When the player executed a cut, I was able to capture that split second in my head and make decision straight away. That feeling was good.

At the end of the day, we had a jigeiko session. I was one of the three lucky ones to have a jigeiko opportunity with Ron Bennett sensei. Both of us got one kote cut on each other. That was fun. Then I played Takahiro, 4th Dan, from Wollongong. He has a very straight but relaxed upper body posture, which reminds me of Yano sensei. I was always in awe with how beautiful and effortless Yano sensei's kendo was. I also played Malcolm Schultz from ANU in my last jigeiko of the day. Malcolm earned his shodan the next day.

Know The Waza
At the end of the shimpan session, we had a feedback and QA session. The 3 sensei repeatedly emphasised the importance of having a good knowledge of various waza in order to become a good shimpan. Only by understanding the waza well can one judge the others on how well their waza executions were. And this can only be achieved by continuously practicing the waza during kendo training.

Sano sensei also pointed out that good shimpan should be prepared to judge the more difficult points on top of the obvious points that any audience could easily tell. He pointed out that there was no such thing as aiuchi cuts in shiai. One cut always land before the other. As a shimpan, we should aim to be more sharper-minded and be able to judge the more difficult cuts.

49 kendoka registered to grade on Sunday. The Sydney Kendo Club had some very good results, with a few people jumping grades. More notably was Andrew Tan, SKC President. Although he has been training for one year only, he has developed beautiful kendo posture and technique, almost textbook-like. I was watching the grading behind the grading panel and I could see the sensei watching and nodding approvingly at Andrew's beautiful execution of kendo techniques. Taek earned his nidan on the day too with the highlight being the tsuki in the jigeiko against Martino Ellero which wowed everyone. I could see David Bunder, the dojo stewart on the day, turned and looked at the grading panel in amazement. That was impressive.

After grading, we had a jigeiko session. First up was jigeiko with Min-jih. It has been a long time since I played jigeiko against Min-jih and I felt really happy to be able to play him again. Then I had jigeiko with both of the Bunders, Mike Henstock, Natalia and Erik.

Thinking Beyond
Playing the Bunders was extremely worthwhile. I gained a lot of feedbacks from them with regard to anticipating opponent's move and breaking of the centre.

Shoko pointed out that I was blindly going for the kote cut straight after I apply pressure to my opponent's shinai without analysing whether my opponent has or has not exposed his or her kote. I should be more of my opponent's reaction to my pressure and act accordingly. Shoko emphasised the importance to think beyond the current situation and anticipate my opponent's reaction in response to my moves. I guess that's where kendo becomes more interesting. The phychological and tactical parts of the game and how to trick and outwit your opponents. Hmmm... I like it.

Dave taught me a really simple but effective technique to break my opponent's centre. When both players are in chudan no kamae, do a sudden squeeze and relax of grip of shinai. This movement makes a sudden jerk in the shinai which knocks the opponent's shinai away from centre and opens the men target. Launch straight into men cut after the jerk movement. I tried this technique in the jigeiko afterwards and found it really effective. I am definitely going to practice this technique more in my training to perfect my moves. Thanks Dave!


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