a MMB! Kendo Blog: Kihon Kote Realisation

MMB! Kendo Blog

Saturday, June 30, 2007


忍耐 + 掌握人生
Kihon Kote Realisation

I am so happy to update the blog in a totally relaxed and happy mood right now. This is because I have completed all eight university exams, with the last Anatomy laboratory exam on yesterday morning. WOOHOOOO!!! It is so wonderful. I cannot express how free and light I feel right now. 3 weeks of Holiday. TOP THAT!

I tell you, it is such joy to care about nothing but to totally enjoy kendo this morning, without the constant subconscious pressure of work and schedule. So free and light. WOW. And the 3-hour lunch chat with my kendo friends afterwards in Chatswood. Oh, how wonderfully enjoyable. Such is the simple pleasure and joy in life.

WICKED GOAL: Kote that looks like Men
Contrary to my intense exam schedule, I have been to quite a number of training sessions in the past three weeks since the AKC. Not only did the kendo training helped keeping me sane during the intense exam period, I have also found the new purpose in my kendo again - a more concrete one than ever before.

The loss in Melbourne has made me think more deeply about my kendo. It has prompted me to reflect, admit and face my weaknesses directly and honestly. I knew where my problems lie, and was very eager to devise a plan to resolve the problem. And from the self-reflection sessions in the past weeks, I am so happy to tell you that I have found THE stuff that I want to perfect, and that is - a kote that looks like my men.

Now is the end of the sneaky unsightly kote era for me. Now, I will learn to go back to practice kihon kote cut - straight, simple, elegant, and more importantly, to complement my men cut. So that, once I master it, I will have a powerful men and kote combo.

Thursday, 14th June @ UNSW
There were only about ten people training that night due to last weekend's national championships / seminar, plus the beginning of university exam period for many. Ka-bi led the training that night and we focused on kaeshi-do in the waza-drill session.

Saturday, 16th June @ Willoughby
During the jigeiko session, I tried to practice basic kote that initiate like my men with some success from time to time.

Monday, 18th June @ UNSW
During the normal training session, the class practiced kihon cuts.

From 9pm - 9:30pm free jigeiko period, my goal was to practice kote that initiate like my men cut. However, I didn't have much success that night.

Thursday, 21st June @ UNSW
There were about 30 people training that night, with many came from USYD. It was great atmosphere.

We did 3 rounds of kirikaeshi, 10 mins uchikomi-geiko, and kaeshi-do during the waza focus session.

Ka-bi led the training and we practiced kaeshi-do during the waza drill session. It was wonderful to cut do, do, do, do.... over and over again. By the end of that session, the men-kaeshi-do swing was so natural during the jigeiko period.

Jigeiko with Ka-bi was fantastic. I was able to focus and varied well that night. I did more attack to the shinai than usual, and was able to make consistent good snappy cuts. Also, I was alert and in keeping appropriate distance and applied seme. Overall, I felt quite dynamic that night.

Goal of the night for me was, once again, to practice kote that initiated like men. I had some encouraging success that night, with the realisation that the most effective way for a kote cut to complement my men cut is to cut from above my opponent's shinai, i.e. on top of the kote. The old habits of cutting from underneath my opponent's shinai for a sneaky kote point is too weak and unconvincing, and worst of all, the sneaky kote looked 100% opposite to how I would initiate for a men.

This sounds so basic, but honestly, it was my first ever time to really comprehend and fully understand how the most simple basic kote cut will be my most powerful weapon in the long term. And realising this through my own experience has left a very powerful effect and impact on me right now. It is like learning how to balance on the bicycle for the first time. That realisation. Ah, it feels so nice.

Saturday, 23rd June @ Willoughby
Continued my kote practice from last session.

Monday, 25th June @ UNSW
The class practiced basic cut during the first 2 hours of training - kirikaeshi, kihon-men, kihon-kote and kihon-do.

In the extra 30mins free jigeiko session, I continued my practice on kote waza. Not much success though. So I asked Sano Sensei for feedback after the training. He told me that I haven't threatened my opponent with my men cuts, and therefore, my opponent didn't react much to make a decent opening for me to cut their kote.

So if I can make some very strong men cuts first and make my opponent scared of my men cuts, then they will try to protect their men more the next time I initiate an attack. So then, there will be greater possibilities of them to expose their kote while preempting to block my men. Then PA-KOON!!! I can easily cut a nice straight kote.

Thursday, 28th June @ UNSW
Sano Sensei led the training by asking the class to concentrate on men cut at first, to get the coordinated one smooth movement. Next, he introduced us to his 'mock-kote' practice. He asked the motodachi to keep the centre, and the kakari to do a straight on kote. The main purpose of this 'mock-kote' practice wasn't about actually hitting the target, but to get us understand the effective distance to the opponent's kote and the very small distance that the shinai needs to clear in order to go over to the other side of the opponent's shinai and cut kote. With this, there is very small exposure of your own kote when initiating the kote attack.

'Wow', I thought to myself. 'Did Sano Sensei design this session for me?' This is exactly what I wanted to practice. So it was a very productive and useful training session for me.

Saturday, 30th June @ Willoughby
I started kendo exactly 6 years ago, so today marks my 6th anniversary in kendo. \(^o^)/

There were so many sempai today that I didn't have to be motodachi.

And so, I had a really great time going around to keiko against all the strong motodachi. I jigeiko with the young Japanese 3 Dan who has extremely fast kendo. His kote-men. So smooth, fluid, swift and powerful. Then afterwards, I went to keiko with Itakura Sensei, Sano Sensei, Payne Sensei, Ka-bi, Doug, and Mark Stone.

The keiko with Ka-bi today was so exciting. The connection and intensity were there. In the end, both of us got so fired up, and we eventually went on to full kakari-geiko. And so, when the drum banged to signal the end, Ka-bi said, '10 seconds. Vivian, are you ready?' Heh, bring it on, Ka-bi. I was feeling so pumped I just wanted to swing my shinai. Ai-kakari-geiko? That's exactly what I desired. PA-BAM PA-PA-PA-BAM... We were like two mad people going full on against each other. Wow, so exhilarating to end the keiko feeling so high.

And so, with this, I will finish here on a 'high' note.

8 Comments:

  • :) it´s defintely fantastic when you end up the class with a drill or combat which makes you feel like you´ve given everything and still performed in a powerful way. That´s part of the magic of kendo for me. The better you get at it, the more fun you have even with the simplest exercise, and if you find someone which connects well with you at a geiko, then it´s wonderful.
    I find interesting your statement regarding how you wanted to practice the "above" kote. As I commented in your previous post I consider kote my strongest waza (this doesn´t necessarily means it´s good enough...just that it´s my best one)and I´ve noticed the success of the "above" and "below" koté depends a lot on the other people´s kamae.
    At the beginning I was given a good rule of thumb by one sensei around here which helped me in measuring when the situation led better for "above" or "below", but seeing how you have 2 years more of experience than me it would probably sound too simple for you. Eventually I interiorized that knowledge and I don´t rely consciously on that "rule" anymore but it sure helped me at that time.
    Whatever...don´t wanna "troll" your site anymore :) Keep on posting. It´s a wonderful blog

    By Anonymous HandsomeW, at Sunday, July 01, 2007 2:12:00 AM  

  • Speaking of kendo keeping me sane? You bet! One graduate student from my institute just went nuts, like, really nuts, and had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital!

    Regarding to the kote you just mentioned. Sometimes I also try that. I find that it works particularly well when you convince yourself first that you're going for the men, and then switch immediately to kote. Basically you have to lie to yourself first so to speak. It's the same with other sports like basketball, when you fakes a movement it looks much more real if you play a trick to your own mind.

    By Blogger Ivan, at Sunday, July 01, 2007 8:34:00 PM  

  • HandsomeW,

    Thank you for sharing your experience in kote training. If you don't mind, would you mind explaining a little further about the 'rule of thumb' that your Sensei taught you about judging when to cut kote from above or below. Maybe I can understand more about kote cutting.

    By Blogger Vivian Yung, at Monday, July 02, 2007 1:03:00 AM  

  • Hey Ivan,

    A student went to a psychiatric institution due to uni stress. Whoa, that is quite something.

    It is interesting you mentioned about tricking the mind. Now, I really have to so consciously focused about tricking my own mind, that a kote is like a men. And that they are essentially the same thing. Well 99% of it.

    By Blogger Vivian Yung, at Monday, July 02, 2007 1:07:00 AM  

  • Of course I dont´mind sharing it Vivian. I hope you won´t be disappointed by how simple it is.
    You have to examine your opponent´s shinai while you move into the proper maai. If you can see the tsuru, then his kamae is a bit on the low side and you´re more prone to succes with the kote above his shinai. If you can´t see the tsuru, then his kamae is higher and a kote below his shinai might be easier.
    As I told before dead simple...but guess what? it works quite well ;)
    Eventually I started not doing this consciously and was able to judge the opponent´s kamae just looking at his whole body, so now kote comes more fluid and is less prone to fail after opponent´s fake attacks. I´m trying now to judge the opponent´s kamae without looking specifically at anything at all, but damn it´s tough. :/
    As for men waza...I could take some hints too, Vivian, seeing how you consider it your strongest waza. I feel I have problems projecting myself forward. It feels to me like I´m too constrained in my motion and not "launching" myself foward enough, for lack of a better explanation.

    By Anonymous HandsomeW, at Monday, July 02, 2007 10:22:00 AM  

  • Well, first of all, Happy kendobirthday! 6 years...wow...some time. On June 27th was my "kendobirthday" being my very first year doing kendo. I'm still a baby :D

    It's good to feel motivated and to persue a well defined goal. As you know I have no experience but I wanted to share a different "Perspective" from this.

    My sensei was once looking at another kendoka (higher grade) and he told me to pay attention on how he launched his attacks. I was surprised to see that everything just seemed to be the same! This person just "charges forward" with his fumikomi, coming at you and just deciding the target "on the way". With that, you sorta feel "oppressed" as he's coming at you and you cant' really tell what he's doing...well...even he can't even tell what's about to do :)

    That implies a very, very, VERY good eye to "spot" the opportunity, and of course, better speed to "finish" the waza correctly. Of course it doesn't alway succeed this way, and he doesn't do this all the time, but it was an example of something "like" your kote-that-looks-like-men cut. It's like a "nobody-can-tell-what-it-is cut" :D

    Have you tried men-kote? How do you feel about it?

    Thanks for sharing your experience, it's very useful for those of us who are just starting out.

    Good luck, and rest well!

    By Blogger Leon, at Tuesday, July 03, 2007 4:35:00 AM  

  • HandsomeW, thank you for sharing the 'rule of thumb' for kote cutting with me. I will experiment more kote practice with this new idea in mind.

    By Blogger Vivian Yung, at Monday, July 09, 2007 10:56:00 AM  

  • Leon, I have tried men-kote as feinting movement mainly for competition purpose. It is a very useful shiai technique. However, from watching my own shiai video, the kote cutting movement is pretty unsightly. So I want to get rid of the ugly dodging kote. And make men and kote look just as straight, simple and similar as possible.

    By Blogger Vivian Yung, at Monday, July 09, 2007 11:01:00 AM  

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