a MMB! Kendo Blog: December 2005

MMB! Kendo Blog

Thursday, December 22, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Move Forward. Straight & Tall

When I arrived at the door of the dojo last night, Fukuda Sensei emerged from the dojo, yelling 'where is my wife? Where is my wife?'. haha, not sure what happened there, but it was pretty funny to be greeted at the dojo entrance like this. Well, to end the story quick, Fukuda Sensei found his wife in the adjacent park later on.

There were mainly beginners practicing kata when I walked into the dojo. For the first 30mins of the training session, I paired up with Toshio Nishimoto and practiced Kodachi #1, #2 & #3, and Fukuda Sensei would be watching and giving comments and advices in helping us to improve the kata movements.

From then on, Itakura Sensei led the class. The training routine for last night was Bukuto Kihon Kata for 15mins (Kihon #1 - #9), kihon suburi for 20mins and ashi-sabaki for 15mins. The remaining 15mins were for free jigeiko.

Kihon Suburi (20mins)
Similar to last Wednesday night training, we did tonnes of suburi.

  • Jogeburi (a few mins)

  • Nanameburi (a few mins)

  • Squatting suburi x 100

  • Lunging suburi x 50

  • Kihon-men suburi (a few mins)

  • Haya-suburi x 50

Ashi-sabaki (15mins)
We did a lot of suriashi practice, coupled with men, kote-men, and kote / men combo.

While I was doing the suriashi-men exercise, I realised that my left foot was 'flying' again. This problem was fixed after the training in Nittaidai. However, with my recent left ankle injury, my left foot couldn't push off as hard as I could before the injury, so the left leg was 'kicked back' or 'flying' mid-way through the cut.

From then on, I made a conscious effort to make sure that my left foot PUSHED off when doing tobikomi-men, and make sure the left foot stayed in contact with the ground as much as possible.

Jigeiko (Last 15mins)
Last night I had my second jigeiko with Fukuda Sensei since he arrived to Sydney on Monday (the first time was in Pyrmont on Monday). We had a high intensity jigeiko which made it very enjoyable for me to keiko with Sensei.

Fukuda Sensei announced a sanbon-shobu playoff, and he took the first point with a very straight and beautiful tomikomi-men. I equalised later on with a hiki-men (feinting hiki-doh). I noticed that my head wasn't tilting back when I executed the hiki-men, which was very pleasing.

The drum was banged, and the match had to end before we could score the final point.

I also had a few short jigeiko with Chris, Toshio, David Banbury (which I later found out that he got into full bogu for the first time), and Kai.

Zanshin: Debana-Kote
The jigeiko with Kai was illuminating. Kai got quite a few kote-nuki-men on me, and I realised that I was having problem with my follow-through and posture after the debana-kote. What I need to do after debana-kote are:

  • Move-in quick - Rush straight into the opponent to close off the distance, and prevent my opponent from being able to land a men cut on me.

  • Posture - Keep the body posture tall and straight.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Back to Basics

Tonight's training was very interesting. The training format was totally different to the other trainings.

Takashi Itakura Sensei led the class tonight. From 7:30pm-8:30pm, we practiced Bokuto Kendo Kihon Waza from #1 all the way to #9, and I paired up with Chris Barbe.

I wasn't quite familiar with the Bokuto Kendo Kihon Waza routine and have only learnt Kihon #1 and #2 at Hornsby training half a year ago. However, since the name of the Bukouto Kendo Kihon Waza suggests the movements and actions that need to be taken, it was easy to pick the routines up quite quickly.

Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho
So below are the routines - from #1 to #9

Kihon Ichi:
Ippon-uchi no waza: Men, Kote, Doh, Tsuki.

Kihon Ni:
Ni/Sandan no waza: Kote, Men

Kihon San:
Harai waza: Harai Men

Kihon Yon:
Hiki waza: Tsubazeriai kara no Hiki Doh

Kihon Go:
Nuki waza: Men, Nuki Doh

Kihon Roku:
Suriage waza: Kote, Suriage Men

Kinon Shichi:
Debana waza: Debana kote

Kihon Hachi:
Kaeshi waza: Men, Kaeshi Migi-Doh

Kihon Kyu:
Uchiotoshi waza: Doh uchiotoshi Men

Practicing Kihon Waza with bokuto and without men and kote on allowed me to become more aware of executing each technique correctly with proper posture.

A good website on Bokuto Kendo Kihon-waza is: http://www.mushinkankendo.com/kendo_kihon_waza.html

Lots of Ashi-keiko and Big Big Suburi
Tonight was a real back-to-basics lesson. In the last 30mins of the training session, we did ashi-keiko and kihon suburi.

In ashi-keiko, we did a few rounds of suri-ashi, suri-ashi with fumikomi-men, suri-ashi with fumikomi-kote-men, along the length of the dojo. We also did paired-up ashi-keiko moving back and forth the length of the dojo, with the aim of maintaining a good connection and distance with your practicing partner.

Following the ashi-keiko was suburi session. Yes, suburi was the last thing we did tonight.

We did about 100 times each of jogeburi, kihon-men, squatting suburi, and haya-suburi.

Apart from haya-suburi, all the suburi started at a very slow pace, with the aim of doing each cut perfectly and BIG. Then the speed would pick up to normal speed.

I really like tonight's training. It allowed me me to to focus on the really basic movements and to review on what I have learnt in Nittaidai. Focusing on how to grip the shinai and the elbow position in men-uchi.

Something that I felt I need much improvement on from tonight's training was the foot and arm coordination during the continuous suriashi-men ashi-keiko session. There needs to be fluency in my fumikomi and the suri-ashi movements.

Monday: Isaac Bober's Last Training
I attended Monday night's Pyrmont training and found out that it was Isaac's last kendo training in Sydney. He will be moving to South Australia this Sunday as he becomes a freelance car reviewer.

I was shocked when I found out that he is moving. Isaac has been an important person in my kendo career. It was Isaac who taught me the cool trick of fake-doh, then men. Isaac has very beautiful, straight kendo, and I especially like his kote-men. It's so fluent.

I will definitely miss the keiko with Isaac very much. I wish him the very best in S. Australia and hope that he will keep training hard there. I look forward to engage keiko with him again in the very near future.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
The Burning Desire for Kendo

I feel like I have regained my freedom again. I can't describe enough of just how happy I am feeling right now. The feeling is like being freed from a cage. I feel so full of energy.

Yes yes YES, I am back to Kendo training again!

It's been 3 weeks, 2 days and 7 physio sessions since I sprained my ankle, and I can tell you, it is a looong time to be out of action. It felt like an eternity, especially when I had to watch my fellow kendoka training hard and competing in the State Championships. Doubly agonising was the fact that I have just returned from the crazy Nittaidai training and just has this burning desire to train as hard as I possibly can. It felt so torturous to be bounded to the chair when my fellow kendoka were having great keiko right in front of my eyes. I am so happy to be back on my feet now, literally, and on to the dojo floor.


So today, I returned to the Saturday 10am - 12noon Willoughby training.

I dropped by the Sports Physiotherapy clinic in Crows Nest at 9am. Tristan did an excellent job in taping up my ankle, which gave greater stability and support for the kendo action to come.

My initial plan and goal for today's training was to practice kihon waza and kirikaeshi, to get my body back into kendo action, and to get the arm-foot-body coordination right. But NO JIGEIKO. That WAS my plan.

However, once I got into full bogu, I ditched my plan completely. I just wanted to play kendo. I wanted to keiko with all my friends.

We had an ashi-sabaki session, before putting on the men and kote for the kihon waza session. We did kiri-kaeshi, kote-men-uchi (both omote and ura), harai-kote and I think that's it.

Okada Sensei: Big Men Suburi
Okada Sensei's words kept echoing in my head while I did kiri-kaeshi. While I was in Nittaidai, Okada Sensei was really strict about our kihon-men swing. He demanded the arms to lift waaay above the head in the up-swing, which felt like an exaggerated movements. If the Nittaidai girls didn't lift the arms high enough, he would shout and demand everyone to lift their arms up, even after hundreds and hundreds of haya-suburi. So while I was executing kiri-kaeshi today, I naturally had my arms swing really high up above my head. Even though my swings felt slower, it felt so nice and good. So proper and straight.

Oh, the harai-kote practice was great. I think I am in love with cutting kote now. The coolest part about kote-uchi is the improvisation of zanshin that follows the cut. To be able to cut a beautiful kote and then show convincing zanshin in the most natural way are absolutely beautiful to watch. KOTE KOTE KOTE!!!!

Time flies when you are thoroughly enjoying the time doing kendo. After a blink of the eye, it was 11pm already! And Payne Sensei announced Jigeiko to begin. Oh, JIGEIKO.

Should I or Shoud I Not?
Arghhh, dilemma time. Should I or should I not? I said I wouldn't do jigeiko today. But then my ankle seems to be doing fine… Thinking... Ah, stuff it. I am feeling so great, and my ankle is holding up well. Actually, my ankle is holding up exceedingly well. Apart from not being able to do a full plantar-flexion for toes push-off, my ankle is feeling great. OK. That's it. I have made up my mind. I am GOING TO JIGEIKO. Jigeiko I did, and for one hour non-stop. Oh, it felt so good!

First I had jigeiko with Toshio. I wanted to jigeiko against his nito, but his nito shinai was at the opposite end of the dojo. So instead, I jigeiko'ed against a jodan Toshio. Oh, the jigeiko was awesome. I was so fully charged up, excited and ready to jigeiko, I think I must have geared up a few notches. Toshio would try katate-men on me, and I would try kote, gyaku-doh, tsuki… basically whatever waza when the opportunity presented itself. The intensity of the jigeiko was very high, and we both made good ippons on each other throughout the jigeiko. We finished off the jigeiko with an ippon-shobu, and Toshio took it with a swift and beautiful katate-men on me.

Following that were jigeiko with Gideon, Ben and Rick. The jigeiko were great, and I had the opportunity to do a lot of practice on debana-kote. The jigeiko with Rick, however, ended with a splinted shinai for Rick after a long long ippon-shobu which lasted for 10mins, or maybe more.

The jigeiko with the newly-crowned NSW Champion - Takashi Itakura Sensei - was illuminating. He is always able to reveal my weaknesses very quickly. While I thought I had a perfect chudan-no-kamae with kensen pointing straight to the centre, Itakura Sensei just cut my kote which seemed to come from nowhere. It was like 'What!? I had my kensen right in the middle. How did that kote cut happen?'

Apparently, my kensen were pointing relatively lower than Itakura Sensei's kensen. So even though my kensen was in the centre, Itakura Sensei's shinai was on top of my shinai. So all he had to do was to take one step forward, and my kote would be complete open for him to cut. Soo desu ga... Next time, I must also be aware of my opponent's kensen relative to mine.

Toshio, being the most interesting kendoka who excels in a variety of kamae, I just wanted to jigeiko with him for one more time today. This time, he had his Nito.

It has only been 4 weeks since I had my last jigeiko with Toshio, and what a great improvement he had made to his nito. He was able to utilise his two swords more effectively as a pair now. A quick block with the short shinai, and the long shinai would swiftly come down to attack. My gyaku-doh did not work as well as it did a month ago. Toshio would be able to come straight for my men whenever I missed my gyaku-doh. His nito is improving at an amazing rate. Now, I have to think of a new strategy to keiko with him.

The jigeiko ended with ippon-shobu, and I grabbed that point off Toshio's men while he was backing off from his previous attack.

Wow, what a great keiko! Now, I have the insatiable desire to train more and more. To keep the "Nittaidai" feeling in me, and to practice on all the advices I have been given.