a MMB! Kendo Blog: August 2005

MMB! Kendo Blog

Monday, August 29, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Searching for Inspiration

After taking a 2-week break in Kendo, tonight will be the night I will pick up my shinai once again and resume my normal Kendo training routine. There are only 40 days left before I leave for Japan and Nittaidai, so I must get my kendo and stamina training up to speed within the remaining days if I were to utilise my time well in Japan. I am still on cough medication at the moment, and am even feeling a bit sleepy right now after taking the medication, but I am really feeling much better now. So things can really only go uphill from here.

Between now and Japan, my priorities are health first, stamina second, and technique third.

During the past 2 weeks, I had the luxury of sleeping early (YAY!) and surfing the Kendo World forum for some inspiring Kendo videos:

WKC Female kendoka shiai video – oh, the debana kote. I’d love to have one of those!

Hurugawa’s tsuki lesson - Hurugawa Sensei was the high school teacher of the Eiga brothers, and he is famous for his tsuki.

One handed Kendoka - This documentary is about a Korean Kumdo player who lost his left hand in a freak factory accident. Since then, he has put his heart and soul into Kumdo training. His hard training and perserverance paid off when he went on to win a regional competition. It is a truly inspirational real-life story.

Henry Small, the legless fighter – This is a truly amazing video. I really admire Small’s fighting spirit and perserverance.

Monday, August 22, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Hands On

On Saturday, I had my 2nd physio clinic training. Again, most of the patients came in to treat their knee injuries. The other non knee-related treatments were weak ankle, strained neck and shoulder, and one person with back pain induced by improper standing and sitting posture.

I was taking turns observing Tristan and Mary's patient cases, and was able to assist them in preparing and applying heat pad and ice pad on some of the patients.

The highlight of this visit was observing Katie's case. Katie have been suffering from sore neck and pain around the joint of the C4 and C5 vetebra. The pain was induced by the compression of the vetebra joint, so Tristan massaged the area around the C4 / C5 vetebra to loosen up the joint. Then, he asked me if I would like to try too. I was so excited of this hands on opportunity of course I said Yes. Katie was happy for me to try too. So this was my first real hands on physio experience.

Tristan first showed me how to massage Katie's shoulder muscle groups along the spine in effleurage - a long continuous stroke starting from the lower shoulder blade level all the way up to the trapezius. Well, I did a short course of swedish massage at the beginning of the year just for fun, so I was able to apply a bit of knowledge from there too. It was very exciting but nervous when I was going through the effleurage. However, it was reassuring for me to hear that Katie felt my strokes were perfect and very nice. Then, she requested me if I could start the stroke from her lower back all the way up to her neck. bwahahaha. That was a triumphant moment for me. Katie said I got very good hands. YAY! :P Anyway, after about 10 minutes, Tristan came back and said I could go and fetch a heat pad for Katie and apply on her neck and shoulder.

I also had a good time chatting with Peta while she was going through her quad exercises for her knee treatment. She had a car accident 2 years ago, but didn't received proper physio treatment after the surgery, so that's why she was still at the physio clinic 2 years after the accident. Anyway, through chatting, I found out that she was only 2-3 years older than me, and she got a Co-op Scholarship to study mechanical engineering in UNSW and graduated in 2001.

It's nice to know a few friends in the clinic now. I am looking forward to this Saturday's training.

By the way, I am feeling much better now. However, the throat still doesn't feel right. It just itches when it feels like going itchy. Aiyor, so annoying. So I am still coughing a bit, but it's no big deal.

I originally planned to go to training tonight, but I think I should give my body one more day rest just in case it starts to complain profusely and unreasonably again like last week.

Yesterday, I finally picked up the shinai for the first time since last Sunday and did a few multi-step suburi. I finished the suburi off with a humble 50 haya-suburi, and then off to a 1.5 hours of exciting squash game with my uni friends. hehe. My bum and my right shoulder are a bit sore now, but that was so much fun. It was definitely a great cardio workout.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Where's the Old Bibian?

"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...

Monday, August 08, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Melbourne Kendo Seminar

The Kendo Weekend Seminar down in Melbourne was absolutely awesome. 3 great Japanese sensei conducted the seminar, and they were:

  • Chiba Masashi sensei, Kendo Hanshi 8th Dan
  • Hoshina Hiroko sensei, Kendo Renshi 7th Dan
  • Suzuki Aki sensei, Kendo 6th Dan
I participated in the Saturday's Kihon Keiko session in the morning, and the Women Kendo Seminar on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, as well as the Nippon Kata session and the Uchikomi and Waza session in Sunday afternoon.

There were an enormous amout of new things I learnt during the 2-day seminar. To make it easy for me to review in the future, I will cover them in point-form.

Kihon Keiko / Women Seminar

  • The up-swing and down-swing should be executed in one smooth movement, with
  • The shinai's down-swing immediately before impact should travel faster by the use of wrist.
  • Should aim to execute every men cut with the intent to cut through the opponent. So during suburi, the completed men cut should stop at chest height.
  • With the correct arm-wrist joint coordination, a powerful cut can be geneated with extremely small movement. The idea is like the Bruce Lee's one-inch punch.
  • Hoshina sensei pointed out that our footwork is an area that we should put effort in improving. She has introduced us to a 20-step footwork exercise routine:
    1. Mai
    2. Ato
    3. Migi
    4. Hidari
    5. Diagonal Front-Right
    6. Back to Center
    7. Diagonal Front-Left
    8. Back to Center
    9. Diaognal Back-Right
    10. Back to Center
    11. Diagonal Back-Left
    12. Back to Center
    13. Okuri-ashi to the Front-Right
    14. Back to Center
    15. Okuri-ashi to the Front-Left
    16. Back to Center
    17. Okuri-ashi to the Rear-Right
    18. Back to Center
    19. Okuri-ashi to the Rear-Left
    20. Back to Center
  • In executing fumikomi, lift the right foot using the right thigh muscles, and
  • The right foot fumikomi should pull the left foot up instantly. This will prevent the "flying left leg" syndrome so apparent in my kendo. Left foot should be always in touch with ground.
  • No lazy walking footwork after executing a cut.
  • After following through the cut, turn sharply and be ready for your opponent.
  • Hoshina sensei introduced us to a new training method to take advantage of opponent's lasped zanshin after cutting. Motodachi will commit to a men cut while the student will deflect the cut. The Motodachi will pass through the student after making the blocked cut. As soon as Motodachi turns around, the student will take advantage of the lapsed defence moment and cut the men.
  • Chiba sensei introduced us to a new reflex training. In this exercise, we formed a group of 9. Four people lining up on both side of the dojo facing each other, with one person doing the reflex training in the middle of the 8 people. One side would cut men on the person doing the reflex training, while the other side would cut kote. The person doing the reflex training will need to counter-attack to the men / kote cut by executing oji waza. After reacting to one cut, the practicing person will quickly turn around to face the other side. This reflex training keeps going until the practicing person has gone through all the people. It's important that the practicing person goes back to chudan no kamae before the motodachi should go in to cut men / kote.

Nippon Kata

  • Yonhonme - The wakigamae's kensen should be lower than the gedan's kensen.
  • Gohonme - the impact point of the simultaneous strike attempts should be in the middle part of bokken. Kensen should be at head height. (Common mistake is the impact point stopping too high above the head level.)
  • Nanahonme - both motodachi and shidachi make a simultaneous thrust out to the opponent's chest.
  • Nanahonme - the do cut should be a small in-front-of-the-body swing, instead of a full, above-the-head swing.

My jigeiko with Sensei

I was fortunate enough to play all 3 visiting sensei and Nagae sensei during the 2 days. Although each jigeiko was short, I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. Of all the jigeiko, I especially enjoyed the jigeiko with Suzuki Aki sensei. She is the most awesome female kendoka I have ever played. With a tiny and extremely slim built, I was bewildered by the amount of energy in her kendo. As you could imagine, there were 10 people lining up to play her at all time, and she played each one of them like it was her first jigeiko. There was no waiting kendo. She was actually the side who explored opportunities and went for the kill first. And each cut was done in explosive speed and power. It was absolutely awesome to watch her play and actually played against her. She played so differently to the way how the other sensei played. With what I saw and experienced, it's little wonder why she is already 6th Dan at a tender age of 33.

Together with Miyazaki Masahiro, Suzuki Aki sensei and Miyazaki are my Super Kendo Idols!!!

After the training, I went to thank each of the sensei for the training and the jigeiko. Hoshina sensei said my kendo was good and told me to 'gambade". Ah, it's so good to hear that from the sensei. ^_^

Kate told me that all of the visiting sensei will come again next year to hold a seminar just before the World Championships. Woohooo!!! Definitely something to look forward to.

Chiba Masashi sensei, Kendo Hanshi 8th Dan - he is a very nice, very approachable, funny and animated sensei.

Hoshina Kumiko sensei, Kendo Renshi 7th Dan - the head women instructor in the seminar.

Suzuki Aki sensei, Kendo 6th Dan - she is my female Kendo idol. Her kendo is absolutely awesome! Where does she find all her energy from?

What the!?

Stack on!

Different shades of colour on my right forearm. This bruise was amazingly inflicted by just one super-hard hitter in the weekend.

Electro Cardio Graph - 47 BPM

On a completely different note. I discovered that I have an extremely low blood pressure (47/90mmHg) and heart beat per second (47 bpm) after Nickle - my massage therapist, found that the colour of my palm does not look too good. Nickle said that the colour of my palm looked exactly like some of his clients who have got heart problems. *Gulp*

So after I have done a few blood pressure and heart beat tests at home, I went to see my family doctor who recommended me to do an Electro Cardio Graph test. The test results go like this:


  • Sinus Bradycardia 47 BPM
  • Non specific widespread ST elevation of possible significance
  • Most likely normal variant

Reported by: Dr. P. Hansen (Senior Cardiologist)


My family doctor looked at the report and said that the low heart beat rate is most likely caused by doing too much exercise, but the second point about ST elevation needs further investigation.

So yeah, I am going to meet a Cardiologist in September to do further testing and make sure things are okay.

Anyway, I found this article "ECG Findings in Active Patients" quite interesting.