a MMB! Kendo Blog: June 2006

MMB! Kendo Blog

Sunday, June 25, 2006

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Training with the Stars

I have been doing self-training at the local sporting ground at night for the past 2 weeks. My routine consists of jogging around the sport field and doing a lot of footwork practice. During Monday to Friday nights, I usually share the sporting ground with some soccer and rugby players who have their own training going on. Last night and tonight, however, I had the whole sporting ground to myself. There were no other people. And there were no light.

For the first part, I jogged for about 15-20mins. Then went on to do suri-ashi and ayumi-ashi up and down the rugby score-line. One lap fast suri-ashi. One lap slow suri-ashi. One lap ayumi-ashi. Repeating that sequence for 5 times. At the end of that exercise, my left calf had a good workout.

I have always known that my body wasn't very stable when I do fast suri-ashi footwork. So during all the ashi-sabaki practices, I put my hands above my hip to make sure that I have engaged the correct group of muscles to propel me forward, to keep my body stable. The hands gave great feedback to my quality of ashi-sabaki practice. Even the seemingly easy ayumi-ashi practice was a bit more demanding when I put more concentration on keeping my body posture correct.

I then grabbed my shinai and did some more ashi-sabaki practice along the rugby score-line - fast suri-ashi with striking movements, men-uchi, kote-uchi, men-uchi with lunging footwork.

Then in the last session, I did imagination training to practice my movements and reaction in shiai situations.

It was so nice to practice in such a serene, quiet and peaceful darkness under a beautiful clear night sky. During rest between sessions, I looked up the sky to watch the countless beautiful stars. I love star-gazing, especially in winter, as my favourite constellations - Scorpius, appears during this time of the year. I personally think that Scorpius got the most captivating shape amongst all the constellations in the sky.

Tonight, I saw a shooting star. It was so beautiful and enchanting that I forgot to make a wish before it disappeared from the horizon. That will just keep me going back to the park at night to train until I see another shooting star. Next time, I will remember to make a wish before it flies away.

52nd All Japan University Kendo Championships
16th October 2005
at Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan

I have video-taped some matches from the 52nd All Japan University Championships while I was training at Nippon Sport Science University late last year. I thought the matches are beautiful and would like to share them with you. Below are the quarter-final 7-men team matches between two great kendo university rivals - Nittadai and Budai.

Quarter-Final 7-Men Team Matches
Nippon Sport Science University (white) v International Budo University (red)

3rd Match - SAKAI Senshu (white) from Nittaidai

Fukusho Match - SHINO Senshu (white) from Nittaidai in Jodan

Taisho Match - WADA Kazunori Senshu (white) from Nittaidai

Saturday, June 10, 2006

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Please Give Me a Hand

I could not express the agony I am having right now. It's not the physical pain of rupturing the hand ligament again. That alone would not drive me to such a depressed state. The emotional pain is quite unbearable. I don't know what to do now.

When I felt that tearing sensation in my left hand after that fateful taitari, my heart was shattered. The first thing that came to mind was the Australian Team selection trial. 3 weeks. That is all I've got now to make this silly hand to swing the shinai in champion fashion. Champion? I don't even dare to swing the shinai with my left hand now. Looking at the state of my left hand is like a thousand knieves stabbing into my heart. It is a tormenting thought. Why does it have to happen to me again. Why are there so many barriers to trip me over? I just want to realise my dream. The amount of effort put into getting my hand better - doing all the tasks and exercises that the doctor and physio handed down to me, and then seeing this happening again is heart-breaking. Just when I am getting so close to conquering this treacherous mountain, there, I tumbled all the way to the bottom of the unforgivingly cold and dark chasm.

I really don't know whether I can wear my kote again before rocking up to the Selection Trial. All I know is that I need to keep my body fit, my stamina and endurance up, my muscles strong. I can only hope that I could swing the shinai when I fit into that kote again.

I think I actually know what to do now. Fix up my head. Stop sulking. Get over this emotional thinking. And start doing something constructive. Keep fit and train with imagination and visualisation. Let's see if the result of my imaginative training will shine in 3 weeks time.

Next Tuesday (Mon is Queens b'day) I will have an ultrasound scan to evaluate the extent of the injury and make an appointment with the hand orthopaedic surgeon. On Wednesday, I will visit the hand physio for check-up.

Please I really need my hand back. I will do everything to take me to the World Championships!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Cast Into Bogu

What a great feeling to get back into those beautifully scented bogu!

I went to 4 training this week. Of the last two - Thursday at UNSW, and today in Willoughby, I wore the new thinner cast and was able to train in full bogu for the 1st time in 5 weeks.

With the cast on, my left hand doesn't hurt during the keiko now. However, it reduces a lot of my wrist flexing movement, so I have to adjust my kamae and cutting movements to accommodation the loss of movement.

There are much to work on between now and the Australian Team Selection Trial, which is exactly 4 weeks. After the 2 bogu keiko session, I realise that I need to get my kendo stamina back. (Sensei, please be kind and hand down those uchikomi-geiko and kakari-geiko on me.) I also need to get the seme feeling and the body-shinai coordination back. (Mmmmm, sounds like I have to work on everything.)

Bibian, Gambarimasu!!

8th Dan Shinsa Videos
By request, I have uploaded the following 8th Dan Kendo Grading videos which were taken in Kyoto on 2nd May 2006. The first 2 clips are matches with a nito player. The 3rd clip is the Who's Who list of Kendo who were on the grading panel. In that particular 8dan shinsa in Kyoto, 16 were successfully graded to 8th dan out of a total of >1300 applicants. A fantastic 1% passing rate on the toughest exam on earth.

8th Dan Shinsa - Nito

8th Dan Shinsa - Nito

The Who's Who Grading Panel

Thursday, June 01, 2006

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Karate Kendo

Thank you for all the kind messages, emails and supports. My hand is improving at a pleasing rate, and I have gone back to kendo training without bogu in a hand cast.

Sports Medicine and Physio Consultations
The week I returned from Kyoto (which is about 3 weeks ago), I went to consult with Dr. Tom Cross, a Sports Medicine Doctor at the North Sydney Sports Medicine Centre about my hand condition. He examined my x-ray & ultrasound scans and did some testings on my hand.

Dr. Cross was quite interested in my case because he said it was quite unusual to rupture the 5th carpometarcarpal ligament. While examining the x-ray, he was very surprised to see my metacarpal bone density was so high and asked me if I need to make frequent hand contacts during kendo training. I said we do make some contacts, such as in tsubazerai and taitari, but no punching or specific hand hitting contacts like in Karate. Anyway, he found the high bone density in the fingers so unusual he took some photos of it. I think I have to thank mom on this part, because she also surprised doctors with her high bone density for female of her age in her annual medical check ups. I must have inherited the high bone desity genes from my mom. So thanks mom for saving me from having to worry about osteoporosis in my life.

Out of curiosity, I asked Dr. Cross the amount of studies he had to undertake to gain the Sports Medicine doctor qualification. Answer: 12 whooping years! That is, 6 years of Medicine degree studies + 6 years of post-graduate studies specialising in Sports Medicine. I gotta admire his perseverence in pursuing his dream career.

At the end of the consultation, Dr. Cross suggested that I should get a hand cast made and so he referred me to the Sydney Hand Therapy & Rehabilitation Centre. It was really kind of him to contact the hand clinic directly and set up an urgent appointment for me.

So 2 hours later, I found myself in the hand clinic. And 1 more hour later, I was wearing a hand cast.

I returned to the kendo-jo for training much earlier than I've expected. It was Sano sensei who encouraged me to join the UNSW Monday class and do ashi-sabaki practices, and I thank everyone who trained with me while I am still in the recovering stage.

Karate Kendo
The 1st and 2nd Monday night UNSW training were pretty cool. I did suburi, karikaeshi, and kihon waza sessions all with bare hands. That's karate kendo for me! It's so cool to walk up to the motodachi, go into sonkyo, they drew their shinai, I put my hands forward - and up I came from sonkyo to attack with my bare hands against guys with shinai and full bogu. While still maintaining the correct distance and the intention to cut the targets, we moved back and forth practicing kendo cut with a shinai that existed in our imagination.

At the end of the first training, it was nice to get this funny feedback from Dino. 'Bibian, you cuts were good, but they are too light I couldn't feel them.' Thanks Dino, I will try to work on it. You just wait. ;-)

Cast Back in Armour
On Wednesday, I had my second hand physio consultation. Terese, my hand physio, made me a second cast, which is thin enough to allow both hand and cast to fit into the kote. I am planning to go to tonight's UNSW training and try it out.

I took some video during the second physio consultation, and below are some of the interesting clips during the consultation.

Strapping the hand cast

Wrist flexbility measurement

Fist-clenching exercise