Sunday, 25 April 2010

"A relaxed mind = a relaxed body"

Hmmm... don't you love the way Kendo can slap you around the face when you think you've improved?

Last week was really good and I felt like i'd progressed. This week was a case of one step forward and two back. I think that I was trying too hard to keep the good feeling going and started to tense up too much instead of letting things happen naturally. At Friday practice Glen said I was using too much power instead of relaxing. "A relaxed mind = a relaxed body".

Feedback from the week included:

  • O'Sullivan sensei = Started to cross feet during suriashi before kirikaeshi big shomen cuts. Bad, bad, bad. Tense right arm. Move left foot up quicker after cut/seme.
  • Young = I'm dropping and pushing with my arms instead of powering though after my cuts. Second cut during nidan waza is too weak.
  • Glen = Relax.
  • Manny = Seme is too big leaving me too close to cut. I should 'nibble' away to increase pressure. If I aim to seme 5cm I end up taking 10cm, 2cm I end up taking 4cm etc... therefore, I should aim to move 1cm at at time. I need to drop my hand further for chudan.
I've also caught myself using my right hand more which has started to give me a bit of tennis elbow. I suspect this is a result of trying to strike too quickly and losing proper cutting form.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Good end to the week

After a disappointing Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday proved much more productive.

Something seemed to click on Thursday and my concentration was bang on, I'd love to know why this happens because I didn't consciously change anything compared to previous weeks. I felt like I was aware of my distance much more which produced more pressure to my opponent, I even managed a couple of suriage men cuts on high grades.

I visited Wakaba on Saturday which turned into one of the most enjoyable days of kendo for a while. There was only a few of us there for the initial kihon lesson which slowly grew in numbers, by then end we had a good 20 or so. For the last 90 minutes of motodachi keiko and jigeiko the numbers had swelled to 50-60 kenshi as late comers and people from the neighbouring shinpan seminar joined. I even met a few guys from my club. It seemed that most people there were nidan or above.

All I can say is the atmosphere was electric and one of the best ive experienced (could it be due to the nice weather?). Jigeiko was very cramped but the sound was amazing, everyone seemed to be giving 100%. I was happy with most of my fights, my seme seemed to be working to a degree with similar grade opponents... i still have a way to go with higher grades!

I received advice from a few people:
  • Rukas: Good basics but I need to stop waggling my kensen (agghh!). It shows that I look nervous.
  • Pramalts (I think): Need to keep my centre more to threaten.
  • Hiro: Good basics but I need to aim for the back of the men when I cut because I have a tendency to hit the mengane. Need to stretch my arms out more on the run though and pivot on the right foot when I turn after Zanshin.
  • Mani: Said I produced much more pressure compared to the last time I fought him a few months back. Said I used my height and distance advantage more.
After this I got battered in the pub with Harris sensei. A good end to the day.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Disappointing reaction to pressure situation

I visited Tora dojo again on Tuesday night which proved to be another energetic and enjoyable practice.

At the end of class we we were split into two teams and had a single point shiai-geiko. I was matched against two Tora nidans, the first nailed me with a men in about 10 seconds. I attempted men at the same time but he was too quick for me. However, I lasted longer against the second guy but he eventually caught me with a kote.

I've never been great in shiai but I was disappointed with my reaction to the situation. Speaking with Zeke (a dojomate) he observed that my kensen was all over the place and that I had no centre. I'm annoyed that all my effort into improving seme went out of the window when the pressure was on.

I need to calm down and not fall into the trap of mirroring my opponents movements.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Another New Dojo

I was back home in the midlands for easter which provided a good opportunity to visit Kashi No Ki Kenyu Kai dojo in Ollerton (Notts). Considering its only a 50 min drive from my folks I've never got 'round to visiting before.

Due to the easter holls there were only a few people there. I was greeted by Ken (a senior at the club) who was very friendly. Luckily, Alan Thompson who's a key member of the British Squad was visiting and took the lesson as Ken was coaching a beginner.

We started with kihon and progressed to shiai techniques, focusing on seme, sashi men and kote men/do. I found the session very helpful and gained some useful advice:
  • Cut immediately after seme, don't pause after I step into distance;
  • Dont hang my kensen before cutting down with sashi men, cut must be an immediate snap;
  • Dont grip the shinai too tight during seme;
  • Move the Tsukagashira (end of the Tsuka) in a circular motion with left hand to snap a cut for a small do (using Tenouchi). Ideal for kote-do technique;
  • Dont stare at my target before cut. Concentrate on opponent, quickly look at target when cutting but immediately focus back on opponent on contact; and
  • Alan was pleased with the speed of my sashi men. He suggested that I need to build my attacking confidence to be able to use it effectively.
I have been given similar advice from many other sensei. I'm hoping one of these days I will be able to incorporate them into my kendo correctly!