a MMB! Kendo Blog: Things You Most Want to Learn As a Beginner

MMB! Kendo Blog

Sunday, May 29, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Things You Most Want to Learn As a Beginner

I posted a thread in Kendo World Forum today. The thread goes like this:

"I was asked to take the non-bogu beginner class yesterday. The beginner class consisted of 11 people, including first-timer to those who have played for 2 months.

I went through jogeburi, nanameburi and kihon-men, sayu-men and paired-up exercises at the start, reminding them the following points:

  • Left-hand is always in centre.
  • Left-heel must be slightly lifted.
  • Straight back; face squarely to the front.
  • Big and perfect movements; don't rush.
  • Ma-ai; check if you're cutting the men (not air-strike) if your partner doesn't block your cut.

After running through the above basic exercises, I thought it would be good and fun for the beginners to learn kiri-kaeshi - which puts kihon-men, sayu-men, footwork and distance into practice.

Interesting, the attacking movements were generally better than the defending movements. It seemed that no one before actually taught them the footwork for the defending side in kiri-kaeshi. So I made everyone execute kiri-kaeshi very slowly, so that the defending side could get the footwork right. Then, I got them to paired-up again to practice kiri-kaeshi again. I could see they executed the movements with much more confidence and were more enjoyable.

At the end, I asked them what other things they want to improve on and practice...


Then one of them said they needed improvements in everything. Aiyor... fair enough. But basically, I just want to know what beginners would like to learn.

Any thoughts?

I would especially love to hear the opinions from those who have just started kendo in a dojo in the past 3 months or so. "


Rest of Yesterday Training
Because I had to take the beginner class, I only had very little time left at the end of the training to put on my bogu and played only 2 jigeiko. There were 5 Sensei at training yesterday, Payne sensei, Sano sensei, Itakura sensei, Strenger sensei and Onodera sensei. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to play of any of the sensei.

Suriage: Straight-up motion
I promised Cath that I would jigeiko her since last Saturday, as I narrowly missed out to playing her due to time. Cath hasn't been able to come to training much after her wedding, but she was still pretty strong considering that she only trained once a week.

In this jigeiko, I tried to focus and play like I was in shiai against Cath, but also trying to practice suriage-men when the chance was presented. However, I couldn't quite "catch" Cath's shinai in a number with my suriage-waza, so Cath ended up landing a few men on me. Maybe I wavered too much instead of lifting straight up when doing suriage. Point to watch next time.

Cath announced a sanpon-shobu. This time, I really focused and played like I was in a real shiai. I only did the waza that I was most confident with and left those waza, such as suriage-men, that I was still working on behind for the moment.

During the shiai-geiko, I noticed that Cath was able to land some men-cuts on me when we were backing out from tsuba-zerai positions. Those points were not counted as I had my shinai leaning on Cath as well, but I think that I need to prevent her from being able to execute men cut on me when backing out.

In the end, I got a debana-kote and a men-cut on Cath to finish the match.

The next and last jigeiko of the day was with So-Yeon. She started playing in bogu not long ago, so I was encouraging her to practice the cutting motions and made her aware of her ma-ai and the attacking opportunities.

So that was the Saturday training. It was a pretty short training for me today and I wish there were more time for jigeiko.

Looking forward to the next training...


  • I like your new thread!!

    By Blogger Paul, at Sunday, May 29, 2005 11:05:00 PM  

  • Thanks Paul.

    The discussion going on in the thread is quite interesting. It reminds me of the same type of thinking I had when I was a beginner.

    By Blogger Vivian Yung, at Monday, May 30, 2005 11:00:00 AM  

  • Hello V,

    "Lucky" enough I haven't had the experience to lead the whole class before - apart from once taking 15 mins of the beginners course (what I did was just the exercise they had at the other dojo the ngiht before :P )... So by no means I am giving advice - but more of some general opinions.

    1st-day to 2-month is such a big gap so it's hard to accomodate the class with a universal appeal... Say, if you did a little bit of suburi, then jump straight to Kirikaeshi, the beginners with less than 3-weeks of experience are not going to enjoy it. They probably don't have the sense of coordinations, so they can't follow, i.e. disappointed with themselves...

    As someone mentioned on the KWF thread, it's always nice to have some very basic stuff first and then build it up slowly. Better to have them in pairs after that, so they can have a sense of distance, make some noise with a men cut, and have a laugh with their partner...

    IMHO it'll help if you have a core theme of the day, say, "left foot pushes" or "right hand in the middle" kind of really tiny detail so that they can have something to focus on. Rather than picking on everything in one go. Adding to that, you might like to give individuals ONE advice in person while they are in pairs, so they'll really know what they have done right/wrong.

    ... That's speaking from beginners class observation in various dojo, and also that's what I tried to tell those new in bogu in between keiko. Give them one or two pointers, make them move, and they'll be happy for the rest of the keiko.

    (Did I say too much...?)


    By Blogger Mingshi, at Tuesday, May 31, 2005 2:02:00 AM  

  • Hey Mingshi,

    Thanks for the great comment. Ah, thinking about it now, I think I might have given the beginners too mang things to work at one time.

    I absolutely agree with you to keep a core theme at each training session for the beginner. I need to remember that, and keep my excitement of teaching in control, so that the beginners won't be overloaded with information.

    Thank you so much for your insight. ^_^

    By Blogger Vivian Yung, at Tuesday, May 31, 2005 4:14:00 PM  

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