'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This kendoka is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-KENDOKA!!
14 hours of kendo over the last few days has broken me. Lots of suburi and kihon was really hard work (but fun in a perverse way). After a hot bath i'm having trouble typing out these words due to lack of energy.
Today was a mixture of recapping Saturday and learning some new techniques. We went though the basic kote, men, do drills as before but also practiced hiki waza. Iwatate Sensei instructed on the following aspects of hiki waza:
- Receiving Taiatari
Must step into the taiatari keeping his/her arms low to meet the aite's tsuka. Motodatchi must NOT step back while performing this.
- Creating Opportunities
Must move the motodatchi's kote to create an opening to cut. The one I remember clearly is for kote, kakarite must try and lip their tsuba under the aite's tsuba and push/roll the opponent's kote up and to the right using their own hands. Once this opportunity has been made, the kakarite must step back and cut the kote using a straight cut (not angled in). Zanshin is shown by retreating at speed and immediately pointing the kensen to the aite's throat.
Zanshin for men and do are also performed at speed with the kensen to the aite's throat. Iwatate Sensei encouraged us to strike using big cuts.
We were asked to perform repeated kote, men, do then hiki men, do, kote as a single string during mawari geiko. After this we practiced repeated kirikaeshi and men cuts across the width of the dojo.
After a break for food and water we had to perform a mock grading. We were sorted into grades and asked to treat it like a real shinsa with the hachidans providing feed back at the end. For my two jigeiko fights I was told that I need to seme more and show stronger attacking spirit. I wasn't creating or reacting to enough seme responses, thus relying on preconceived men cuts. This is something I should work on. On a good note my kiai pleased them.
After the gradings Iwatate Sensei ran though reigi. The main point he highlighted was that the three steps in then sonkyo must be done in a fluid action. Not three steps, pause, then sonkyo... but as a single unbroken string.
The final part of the day was an hour sensei jigeiko. This time I made sure I got to fight Iwatate Sensei. During my turn he conveyed the need to seme, he didn't let me cut unless I created pressure and made an opportunity (well, enough for him to let me cut anyway!). It was a pleasure to fight him even though my kendo is so basic compared to what he is used to.
It was also fun to see him practice with the kids, he always seemed to have a grin on his face as he dodged and weaved to make them cut with precision.
Due to the queues I only managed a short jigeiko with Hayashi Sensei. This was very intense and Hayashi Sensei doesn't let up for lower grades (within reason). It was amazing to fight with such skilled opponents.
All in all it was an enjoyable few days. The aim now is to try and integrate what I have learned into my 'every day' kendo.
All photos taken and kindly provided by Jeff Martin:
Mock grading (me on right)