So many things have happened since my last post on Friday.Kyudo
Last Friday afternoon, just before the 3pm Kendo Club training, I tagged along Miki to the Kyudo extra-curricular class. The Sensei kindly gave permission for me to film the class, and I was given the chance to try Kyudo myself too. The bow is really really long, probably some 2.5m, and we gripped the lower part of the bow to draw the arrow back.
After about 30mins of observing and waiting, I finally got the chance to try. My first shot missed the target by miles. hehe. However, the 2nd one was the closest to the target than anyone in the club I saw today. hahaha. I am so proud of myself. Kimiko taped the whole thing, so I got proof to show you guys! Mind you, no one actually landed the arrow on the target today. hahaha. But mine was still the closest. YAY!Oct-14 Kendo Training
There were 2 Kendo training sessions on Friday - Club training 3pm - 5pm; Womens training 5pm - 7:30pm.
Shiai-geiko / Mitori-geiko went on in the first hour. This was the last chance for shiai-geiko for those representing Nittaidai in the All Japan University Championships on Sunday. After that was free club jigeiko session. I practiced with Yamamoto-San. During the practice, all I could think of was to be proactive and played as energetic as the Nittaidai students. So I just kept attacking and attacking during our geiko. After the jigeiko, Yamamoto-San kindly came forward to give me advices. Although I could not understand the full sentence of what he was saying, I could pick out the important word, and that was 'seme'. He kept repeating the word 'seme' which gave me a light-bulb moment. Oh, yes. I have totally forgot about seme and attacking for the sake of imitating the energy shown by the Nittaidai students. I was probably freaked out because I was playing against all these great players. That's not my kendo. I need to seme in.
So in my next jigeiko with Hakamada Sensei, I really concentrated on seme. I could feel there was more connection between me and Hakamada Sensei during the jigeiko. So I felt very good afterwards for taking a small improvement in my kendo today.
At 5pm, the club training ended and the womens kendo training started. We started with kirikaeshi and other kihon-uchi rotations before going into more specific waza practices.Kote
: Each round consists of 3 kote variations - 1) debana-kote; 2) Fake-men, and when the motodachi lifts her hand arm to block men, cut kote; 3) Men-debana-koteDoh
: Each round consists of 2 doh variations - 1) Nuki-doh; 2) Kaeshi-doh. Okada Sensei told me to loosen up my left hand grip when executing the doh cut, so to allow the left hand to slide up the tsuka, or even releasing the left hand if need be so that the hands wouldn't get tangle up during the doh-uchi process.Combination
: Each round consists of 3 variations - 1) Men-nuki-doh; 2) Kote-kaeshi-hiki-kote; 3) Men-debana-Men.Tsuki
: Renzoku-tsuki - each round consist of 3 quick succession of tsuki. It was here that I got a big bruise on my collar bone from numerous tsuki trauma. Oouchie!!!!Tsubazerai #1
: In this exercise, two person in normal issoku-ito-no-maai. Then the person practicing would attempt to cut the motodachi, resulting in a tsubazerai situation. There, the person practicing actively explored for hiki-men opportunity and cut when the opportunity was spotted. The motodachi has an important role to quickly follow up the person practicing and keep issoku-ito-no-maai distance. Don't stay back when the person practicing was practicing the hiki-men. Chase the person down! Connection here was very important.Tsubazerai #2
: In tsubazerai, the motodachi would try to texecute a hiki waza, either hiki-men/kote/doh. The person practicing has to try chase down the motodachi who was going backwards from hiki waza, and execute men cut on the backward-going motodachi.
After the waza training was the uchikomi and kakari-geiko practices. That was HELL!!!!
First up was uchikomi-geiko. The 4th year students would be motodachi, while the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students would keep on doing uchikomi geiko. I was told to observe on the side for this round. Gosh, I really don't think I would survive if I was to do this uchikomi-geiko exercises. There were probably some 20 rounds of uchikomi-geiko. The sight was very gruelling and scary, almost torturous. The 4th year motodachi would knock the very tired students off with their shinai, pushing and swinging them to the floor and smashing them to the wall. Sometimes the younger students were too tired after being smashed to the wall, that they fell on the ground, and the motodachi would come and beat them up. So the younger students would get up as quickly from the floor as possible to avoid being beaten.
haha, that's how champions are made. Really tough training.
Anyway, I had the honour to join in the 3rd / 4th year student kakari-geiko that followed the torturous rounds of uchikomi geiko. We did about 7-8 rounds of ai-kakari-geiko. I was so so so out of breath at the end of the session my arms could barely lift up above my head.
We completed the training with suburi - jogeburi, men-suburi, and haya-suburi. Lots of them.
So that has to be the most tiring training session I have had in my kendo career, probably more to come later on in my next few weeks in Japan.
After getting changed to our tracksuit. We did some more strength training before finishing off with cool-down stretching.
It was good to end the tough training with a good meal that night with Miki and Hoso.
Miki, Hoso and MeOct-15 Kumikiri Dojo, Chiba
Michael Komoto drove me and another German-born Russian to Chiba today and was later joined by the 3 International Budo University foreign students to train at the Kumikiri Dojo in Chiba.
It was a special occasion that day, and Kawasei Sensei, 8th Dan Hanshi visited the dojo. He jigeikoed with everyone one-by-one until he geiko'ed everyone. The comment he gave me after the geiko was to extend my arms forward rather than lifting them upwards after a men-cut.
I then played many other 7th Dan Sensei, so it was a really good experience.Onsen, Chiba Budougu & Onjuku
After the training, all 6 of us went to have Onsen - hot spring. It was so nice to have onsen overlooking the absolutely magnificent Pacific Ocean. It was such a beautiful sight.
Afterwards, we spent about an hour in Chiba Budougu in Katsuura to wait for the Russian to complete his kendogu purchase before making our way back to Michael Komoto's home in Onjuku.
Onjuku is such a pretty little town. It's like a mini Bondi with many surfers. Anyway, we spent the night watching many kendo videos before going to sleep at 12am.Oct-16: The 53th All Japan University Kendo Championships
Kayo(L-R), Miki & Me
I caught the bus with the International Budo University students at 6am to travel to the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo where the 53th All Japan University Kendo Championships was held.
All I could say about the kendo I saw in the Championships was awesome - so fast, so powerful, so full of energy. There were 64 teams competing for the champion title.
Anyway, I was sitting with the Nittaidai gang. During the day, many famous kendoka walked into our area. One of them was Eiga Naoki. He is good friends of Shizawa Sensei, Yagizawa Sensei and Shinzato Sensei. Miki talked to Shinzato Sensei about having a photo taken between Eiga and me. So yeah, here it is... I am so lucky.
One of the 4th year student told me that my kendo idol, Suzuki Aki Sensei - one of the 2 female Sensei who visited Melbourne with Chiba Sensei in August will be coming to Nittaidai next Wednesday and the student even told me that Suzuki Sensei know me. Wow, how nice of a Sensei could remember such an insignificant Aussie Kendoka. Now I am very looking forward to geiko with my idol again.
The Nittaidai came 3rd in the Championships. In the Quarter-finals, Nittaidai beat the International Budo University. In the Semi-finals, the Nittidai team lost to the eventual winner. The winning team was really strong and they beat the runner-up really decisively. Very exciting kendo.