Friday, 29 January 2010

Less Power, More Speed

Thursday night practice focused on relaxing our arms and using our wrists to 'snap' the cut.

We started with what O'Sullivan sensei calls the 'tap tap' exercise. Here we practiced repeated small and big wrist based cuts on a partner's horizontal shinai with as little arm power as possible. The aim was to create a satisfying 'pop' while keeping the sword alive.

After the initial exercise we practiced cutting in armour, finishing with kote suriage men and men suriage men. Here we we started to appreciate the benefit of having relaxed arms as suriage waza can be conducted much faster when there's little power in the arms/shoulders.

An additional mental note to take into Fridays practice is to remember not to bob up and down so much as I cut during kirikaeshi. Blake Sensei pulled me up on my poor footwork on Tuesday and said I need to cut with stable posture. This means sinking my hips into the strike as opposed to bouncing up on the balls of my feet.

Young battered me again. He managed to knock the shinai from my hands 3 times, this was because I was pushing him away in Tsubazeriai using my arms (shinai horizontal across his do). Whenever i did this he whipped his hands down and slammed my shinai to the floor. Lesson taught and hopefully learned.

On the knuckle front... its still pretty swollen and bruised after it was hit again. I am booked in to see the doc Friday morning, but I already know what he'll say... "stop doing kendo for a month or so" :(

//edit: Doc says it doesn't look like a bad injury. However, I am bruised the area around an artery and nerve which is causing 'retrograde pain' (shooting pain up my arm). Im guessing i've irritated the Median nerve. He suggested I try and protect it more and keep icing it to reduce the swelling.

Saturday, 23 January 2010


Friday practice Vic (one of our sensei) picked up that I hesitate when people move into my cutting distance. He also said I focus too much on my opponents sword. As a result, my reaction time is slow and stuttered which opens me up to seme and feints.

In my mind I'm trying to be more considered in my cutting (i.e. no 'headless chicken' mode). Consequently, I am missing the opportunity to attack when the opponent steps into my cutting distance. I need to break from this way of thinking, even if i feel it's too soon to attack at the time.

The downer of the week is that I was caught on the right knuckle again and it's bruised up. Gutted. I've been icing it and using Voltarol gel to reduce the swelling, I will also resew extra padding on my kote for next week. I hope i've not done any long term damage.

Friday, 15 January 2010


I've had my first two practices this year after nearly a month off.... they were awful! I'm shocked by the degree of lost coordination and number of bad habits which have reappeared.

Although it has been a very frustrating week, it's been a case of regrouping and going though the basics again. Salmon and O'Sullivan Senseis noted that my back foot has started twisting out and I was stepping too high with my right foot (planting it too short). I was working on this during thursday practice to try and fix my footwork.

O'Sullivan Sensei retaught us 'floating front foot' for fumakomi. We were told to move our body weight to 55% on the back foot, enough to keep your front foot mobile. During the push with the back foot/leg/hips the front foot shouldn't be raised more than 2-3 inches above the floor if possible, the 'stomp' sound will come naturally. Other senseis have described the front foot to me as a stone skipping over water.

Thursday, 7 January 2010


This week was meant to signal a return to kendo for 2010... it turns out that the weather has had other ideas. The UK has suffered a few days of snow and surprise surprise, everything has gone pete tong. Global warming my arse.

Well, here's hoping for better news next week.