忍耐 + 掌握人生
Using My Last Bit of Energy
Kanyil from Taiwan, whom I met in the Kendo World Forum, came to Sydney for a visit. Andrew decided to take Kanyil along to the 2.5 hours UNSW training tonight, so I also went to UNSW training.
We had the usual UNSW-styled stretching and warm-up. There was no crazy haya-suburi tonight, but we did some interesting variations of haya-suburi. I think we did about 50 haya-men-suburi and 50 haya-kote-men suburi.
After the warm-up, we had ashi-sabaki practice. We practiced moving forward, backward and sideways individually under Yoshiki’s commands. We also paired up to face a practice partner and practice ma-ai. For me, the focus in this session was on my left foot. I experiment with putting various weight distributions on the left foot with the goal of maintaining stable kamae and quick push-off.
One thing I found during the ashi-sabaki practice was that when I put too much weight on my left foot, my right foot tended to creep in closer to the left foot, making my foot stance very narrow. This was particularly prevalent during the individual ashi-sabaki practice, as I could put all my focus on footwork and tended to put more weight, sometimes too much, on the left foot. Although the left foot should generally be used to support the body weight in kamae, I think the right foot should also bear some weight so that my body weight is balancely distributed, which allows my feet to move around with adequate distance between them to keep my kamae stable.
We also did a few rounds of kiri-kaeshi along the length of the dojo in big movements before putting our men and kote on.
Sano sensei then led the class and we did some more kiri-kaeshi exercises along the length of the dojo, but this time, Sano sensei instructed us to do the kiri-kaeshi as fast as we physically can. We made 6 lines and rotated amongst the people in our own line for the motodachi role. There were 4 people in my line - Andrew, Kanyil, Dino and me. We would have one person as motodachi and the other 3 would rotate to execute kiri-kaeshi. When the last person in the queue has executed kiri-kaeshi, the last person would swap role with the motodachi so that the motodachi would execute kiri-kaeshi and then go to the back of the line.
The rotation concept was pretty simple and clear I thought, but for some reasons, the more Sano sensei tried to explain to us, the more confused people seemed to get. Sano sensei even demonstrated the rotation concept using our line. However, I had to say that Sano sensei has picked the wrong line to do demonstration. Our line set a pretty poor example, with frequent stuff-up. =P Sano sensei jokingly said that it's time to utilise the skills we obtained from our university degree to work out the rotation concept. It's sad, isn't it? =P haha, but that was funny.
We also did men-waza practice using the same rotation concept, with the goal of making an ippon in each cut.
We then moved into 2 lines facing each other. Tonight's focus was on creating attacking opportunity by deflecting the opponent's shinai on both sides (omote and ura) using your choice of deflecting waza.
For this particular session, I chose to practice uchiotoshi-men, osae-men and harai-men. One thing I noticed when I executed omote-osae-men was that I was using too much right hand to cut men, so the cut kept slipping off the opponent's men. And of course, the cut was not snappy at all. I found that the problem lied on the position of the kensen after executing the osae-waza and just before launching for the men-cut. The kensen was pointing too much to the right, instead of pointing more towards the opponent's center line. I had to use my right hand to pull the shinai back to the center line before cutting men, and that has contributed to the problem. At future trainings, I will need to reduce the kensen movement while maintaining the pressing-down force on the opponent's shinai.
The formal session ended with one last round of kiri-kaeshi at 9pm before the class broke into optional jigeiko session. I have been waiting for the moment to jigeiko with Kanyil in this whole training session, so I dashed straight in to ask Kanyil for a jigeiko before my closest rival, Yoshiki, by 3 secs. =P Anyway, Kanyil had to re-adjust his gear, so neither of us could jigeiko with him. So instead of waiting, Yoshiki and I went for a jigeiko.
I have always enjoyed doing jigeiko with Yoshiki simply because we could really maintain high intensity throughout the jigeiko. There's never the need to worry about the slash and bash type of physical kendo, but the opportunity to explore the psychological side of the game. I think that's one of the most appealing things to me in kendo. In fact, the psychological mind-play was the answer I gave to my friend who asked me in the weekend about what I like about kendo. I think kendo is like a game of chess - if you could understand your opponent better than your opponent could understand you, you would win the game.
Anyway, back to jigeiko with Yoshiki. We had a pretty long jigeiko together. We both applied seme to each other. Yoshiki could apply good seme and I could feel it. At the start of the jigeiko, I was sort of too carried away with seme and ma-ai, and neglected to practice and explore the use of shinai in creating openings. So I wasn't able to move in to attack until the later half of the jigeiko when I started working on deflecting the shinai.
I tried using the shinai to create openings, mainly osae-men and uchiotoshi-men. However, as mentioned before, I think I was using too much right hand in my cuts, so I will need to take care of my kensen position before I launch the cut.
There was one technique which I don't normally use until tonight. In one particular drill during the earlier waza practice session, motodachi were required to react and cut men as soon as the opponent moved in to deflect the shinai. After practcing a few rotations, the feeling of looking for the right moment to attack just after the opponent executed the deflecting waza stayed with me. The perfect time for me to move in and launch men-cut was at the short instant when my opponent's kensen deviated off-centre after deflecting my shinai. I tried to maintain this feeling during the jigeiko with Yoshiki, and I felt I have got the idea of the timing. It's now a matter of refining the action more in future trainings.
We both made nice cuts, mainly men and debana-kote on each other. The jigeiko ended by ippon-shobu, with Yoshiki's beautiful men-cut.
I then played jigeiko with Erik. It's been a long time since I last jigeiko with Erik. I think the last time was in Picton. Anyway, after jigeiko for about 5 mins, we moved on to ippon-shobu. However, neither of us were able to score an ippon after a long long while, probably another 5 mins, so we eventually ended the jigeiko with a hikiwake.
When I finished the jigeiko with Erik, Kanyil had also finished his jigeiko with Sano sensei. So I finally got the chance to jigeiko with Kanyil. We had the jigeiko for about 5 mins. During that jigeiko, I further practiced on the osae and uchiotoshi waza, as well as debana-kote and some other feinting moves to mix things up a bit. Kanyil was pretty strong in tsuba-zerai, so I didn't attempt to execute too many unnecessary movements or feinting acts at close distance. It was nice to have jigeiko with Kanyil and I really enjoyed it.
The last jigeiko of the night was with Kenji. I have always noticed Kenji to have a nice men-cut. He has a really powerful and fluid men-cut. It's kind of like text-book style men-cut. I wish I had such beautiful men-cut as well. Anyway, back to the jigeko. We both practiced seme and were actively looking for openings. Kenji tended to move from side to side in search of openings. I tried to maintain the kensen pointing to the center and the correct distribution of weight on my left foot, and carried on with the practice on deflecting the shinai until 9:30pm when the training finished.
I haven't had such a long kendo training session for a long time. I was so exhausted after the training and was breathing quite heavily, but the feeling was really nice. I knew I had a good workout. Luckily I didn't have cramped in my calves as Andrew and Kanyil did afterwards. =P
We went to the Kensington Chinese Restaurant to have supper after the training and I returned home not until 11:30pm.