"I want the old Bibian back." Yes, Jackson. I want her back too. The Bibian now is too weak.
I don't like admitting to this, but I am feeling very depressed, very unhappy. I am feeling so much pressure, and I just don't think I can take it anymore. Maybe I shouldn't really write this. It's such a depressing note. But what can I do? I just can't keep it to myself anymore, and want to talk to someone, anyone who are willing to listen and understand. But which sane person in the world would like to listen to such sad and depressing talk. No one. To be honest, I would hate myself if I make someone feel bad.
I just can't go to sleep at the moment. My mind is so unsettled and tears are running down my face. I feel so weak, so vunerable. I love what I choose to do. I love Kendo. I never regret a bit of what I choose to do. But now I feel like a slave to it when it comes to doing all the administration work for my club and the Association. I want to make things happen, keep things going and make everyone happy. But there is a limit to what I can do. Being a weakling as I am, I feel like being squashed. I put so much effort, but all I get is sickness and frustration. I am really feeling very very sad. Just can't help myself but from crying. I can't remember the last time I felt as sad and depressed as I am feeling right now.
I used to think that I was invincible, nothing could get me sick. But I was totally wrong. My health was really under the weather in the past few weeks. After getting my first bout of flu 6 weeks ago, I haven't really fully recovered. But with the end of financial year and the various big Kendo events in the July-August months, I really didn't have the chance to rest myself. I have visited my family doctor 4 times during the past few weeks, with the latest visit on last Friday. My doctor was surprised to see me back again at her clinic after my previous visit just one week ago. She said I have overworked myself, my heart beat shot up to 80+ bpm from my normal resting rate of 47 as my body was trying clean out the germs in my body system. My flu have gone worse to fever and respiratory tract infection and needed serious resting. I want to, but how? I got no time. It's pretty sad when my doctor wrote me a 2-day sick leave doctor certificate, and instead of resting, all I did on those 2 "sick days" were administration work for the Association. I wasn't able to sleep properly during this weekend, coughing the whole night. So instead of sleeping, I woke up and sat in front of the computer and did more work for the Association.
Okay, that's enough! I am feeling much better now.Kata Practice
I went for my nidan grading exam this Saturday. Before the grading, a morning seminar was held to assist the grading participants. With my poor health, I skipped the more physical exercise, and practiced kata with Kirby Smith. That was good. I learnt a new point in Gohonme. The cut that uchidachi makes is intended to cut shidachi's head only, as opposed to ipponme where the uchidachi commits to a full body cut. So in Gohonme, uchidachi's missed cut stopped at the upper torso level, instead of at the knee level.
Practicing Kata with Kirby Smith before my Nidan exam.Nidan Grading
My nidan exam was held at Hornsby PCYC on Saturday afternoon. I was assigned the grading number of 2D1. Grading along with me for nidan were Michael Henstock, Mark Kim, Andrew van Hamond and Toshio Nishimoto.
In the nidan grading, each examinee is required to do 2 jigeiko in front of the grading panel. During the 1-2 minutes jigeiko time, the examinees must convince the grading panel why they were worthy of being awarded nidan.
My two jigeiko were against Michael and Toshio. I knew I didn't have energy in me, so instead of playing my usual style, I told myself to be steady for most of the time. Instead of competing on physical strength, I tried to increase the use of spirit and seme, and throw everything into just one perfect cut. In reality, this was very hard having opponents like Michael and Toshio. I didn't think I landed any perfect cuts that I wanted, but I had really pushed myself to the limit to try to keep myself in the game, using every breath in my lung to apply seme on my opponents. It was very difficult, and very frustrating having no strength in my arms anymore, and no energy to push forward explosively from my left leg. But I hanged in there, and you know, I was seriously so so so glad when the grading panel called my number to prepare for kata.
Kata went fairly well for me, despite the slight glitch in Gohonme, where Michael's shinai fell to the side before I could do my suriage waza. But that's all cool, because all 5 of us were called to submit our grading essay to the examiners. So that means all 5 of us passed the nidan grading. Woohoo!!! I have been grading with Michael and Andrew from Kyu all the way to Dan, so it's very nice to be able to become the new nidan together too.
God, I passed the most mentally and physically-demanding kendo test I have ever done in my whole life.
YAY! The Buddies Group (Michael, me, Jackson) has successfully been graded.The Toughest Test To My Body
I went to Hornsby PCYC fairly late in the morning, as I was coughing throughout the night and couldn't sleep until early in the morning. When I got to the dojo, I participated in the later part of the shimpan session and was lucky to have one shimpan as a chief shimpan before doing the real deal in the afternoon competition.
There was lunch break before the Founders' Cup competition started. I didn't have the appetite to eat anything even though the bento was really nice. I was feeling really weak. My legs were weak they were shaking. Mika Itakura saw me really pale-looking and told me in a caring way that I should be the reserve of the team. I thanked her, but unfortunately there wasn't any ladies from my club that I could swap with. I didn't want to let my team down, so against my will I forced myself to play.
I have entered to play in the Kata Dan Team event and the Womens Team event today.
Our kata opponent in the first round was Eric Lim and Hyun-Duk Kim from Han Rim Won. Andrew was uchidachi and I was shidachi. We did fairly well... until Yonhonme. Andrew was supposed to go into hasso no kamae, but he went into wakigamae instead! Oouch, that was it. It was such an obvious and irreversible mistake that no judge could have missed. So we lost our first round that way. Oh well... this just mean more practice to get all those kata embedded firmly into our memory.
Next, it was the womens team competition. Our first match was against ANU. Junko Shirakura played senpo; I played chuken; and Cath Hallgath played Taisho.
It was the toughest shiai I have ever done in my whole kendo career. I have never have to walk into a shiaijo with shaking legs and no energy. I pulled every bit of the energy left in me to keep myself focused and concentrate on my opponent. I tell you, it is so hard to focus when you have no energy. I tried to pump spirit up on the court-side before walking into the shiaijo. My opponent was Shinji Jung. From my observations on her other match, her tokui-waza is tobikomi-men.
So the match started. I tried to set up the opportunity, pressing Shinji's shinai to try to break her center. We attacked quite evenly, and were in tsubazerai 50% of the match.
In one tsubazerai, I decided to try my hand on hiki-do. My shinai connected to her do, but wasn't enough to score. This left my men completely opened, and Shinji took that opportunity and followed with a men-cut. That was it, the two judges' flags went up. 1-0 to Shinji.
I tried desperately to reclaim the point, but each time I made a cut, I simply couldn't move any further. My left leg was so weak. So it was back to tsubazerai. There were so much time wasted in tsubazerai just for me grasping for air. So the match ended before I was able to do anything.
It's been a while since I last lost a match in a State event, so to be honest, I felt quite awkward to lose when I know I could go full on and play a much better and enjoyable match if I had the health and the energy.Match Analysis
Surprisingly, I found that I learnt more and received more feedbacks today because I lost. Sano Sensei and Strenger Sensei individually came over to help me analysed my match. I am really grateful for their support and sincere feedbacks. I really needed those in a time like this.
From what both Sensei saw, I am using too much backwards techinques, such as hiki-men and hiki-do. Even though there was a few cuts landed on the targets, there were not convincing enough to warrant an ippon because my opponent was able to follow me. I need to show convincing zanshin by frozening my opponent's movement while I execute my hiki-waza.
Another point Sensei made was that I have exposed my men after doing hiki-do; and have exposed kote after doing hiki-men. This comes down to not enough zanshin to start with, so that my opponent wasn't frozen when I did my hiki-waza.
Also, there was not enough variations in my play. I need to be more flexible with different situations and adjust my attacking plan according to which player I am up against.
So below are the things to work on:
- Explore the way to show zanshin in hiki-waza
- Explore when is a good time to execute hiki-waza in tsubazerai
After writing this, I feel so much better now. I know there are so many Sensei and friends supporting me, and there is no way in the world I want to disappoint them. Be strong and carry on!
Okay, it's time to go to bed now. Tomorrow at 6:15am, I will need to collect my locked-up car at the gym carpack next to Hornsby PCYC with my dad. Only 5 hours to go...