Saturday, 29 May 2010


I received a whack on the left hand index finger on Friday... it's swollen up so much I can hardly move it. Hopefully it will calm down again in a few days.

Another relatively quite week finished with a hard Friday practice. I'm still working on my distance which means i'm losing a lot. However, Manni commented that he can see an improvement. The intent is there even if the technique isnt!

O'Sullivan Sensei taught us how to Harai using out body instead of just whacking the opponent's shinai away. It involves moving the left hand to the left (using right as pivot) then slamming it back against the shinai while clenching your lower abdomen, arse muscles and moving right foot slightly.

I tried this on Friday against a number of opponents. It was a waste of time against seniors as they battered me (nuki waza usually), I did manage to make it work ONCE against another shodan which made his shinai ping to the side. This pleased me.

Nic commented that my small cuts are using too much right hand. Glen observed that i'm not taking immediate action after my seme, I shouldn't pause because my opponent will take advantage.

No kendo for me for the next week. I'm getting married.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

AGM Practice

This week I trekked up to Northampton for the BKA AGM. This is my first so didn't know what to expect.

I have to admit I went for the morning practice rather than the 'serious bit', which proved a bit dry to be honest (lots of budgetary talk). The most disappointing thing I heard during the meetings is that UK Kendo membership has been falling during the last two years, this comes as no surprise considering the economic conditions. However, Kendo doesn't seem visible enough in the UK compared to karate/judo where we have some of the best competitors in the world. Its a shame really.

During keiko (which was bloody hot) I managed practice with Davis Sensei (BKA Kendo Bucho). I told him that I was grading in July and could he point out some things I need to work on. He highlighted that I'm running though too far. I need to turn quickly after a few steps then step immediately forward, thus showing positive intent. Also, footwork needs to be short but fast when running though. He also picked up that I raise my hands too high after cutting and my kiai is too quiet.

During Thursday practice I asked O'Sullivan Sensei why i'm susceptible to being skewered when I attack from distance. Other than the obvious 'taking centre' problem he suggested that I might be raising my arms too early, this opening me up and takes away the threat of the kensen thrusting towards my opponent.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Concentrating on distance

Distance seems to be my biggest problem at the moment, its the thing i'm picked up on the most. Distance is affecting the quality of my cuts and seme.

This week I decided to concentrate on improving this aspect of my kendo, it will be my number one priority up to my grading in July.

I had little chance to practice on Tuesday because I was teaching basics to the beginners (who are coping very well.... I am pleased how they are progressing).

Thursday was my first attempt at keeping distance and attacking from my comfort zone, not my opponent's. This proved a bit of a disaster, I found it very difficult to break centre and cut successfully. I even got a tsuki in the throat for my troubles. The main issue I can't get my head around is how you seme/keep centre from distance when my kensen is hardly touching with my opponents? I feel like i'm creating little pressure and end up either moving within distance to threaten or running onto my opponents sword.

I visited Wakaba on Saturday and tried to concentrate on distance again. During Motodachi Keiko I asked Rukas to help, he spotted that I lean forward before launching an attach which telegraphs my intentions (something which O'Sullivan sensei has also warned me about). I need to move with my hips/left leg more and speed up my fumikomi, concentrate on cutting with footwork as opposed to arms/hands. This could be one of the reasons why I don't create enough pressure especially against seniors), they can see when i'm about to attack!

I have a feeling this will be a difficult problem to overcome and I have to accept I will lose many times before I improve.

I also had advice from Hiro who said I should push my shoulders back because they are too narrow. This will help my posture.

To keep with the hypochondriac theme I have split my right big toe again which is causing quite a bit of discomfort during the day. I have started wrapping it in tape again for practice.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

All stop for the election!

No practice this thursday due to the dojo doubling as a polling station. This means friday was the only regular practice this week because tuesday was for beginners (thus limited jigeiko time). However, to compensate I attended saturday's squad/intensive training at Brunel Uni.

This was a full on three hour session of kihon and jigeiko. Most people were whacked by the end. Mano sensei focused on footwork position and hiki waza during the session.
  • Footwork
The position of the front foot during the cut should be adjusted depending on the target. When striking shomen the right foot should land between the opponents feet. For kote the right foot should land in line with the opponent's right foot (no twisting the cut around with the body). Finally, to cut do the right foot should land in line with the opponent's left foot.

  • Hiki Waza
Unless the kenshi is very experienced, hiki waza should be made with a big cut. The point of the exercise was to retreat at speed after the cut and show strong zanshin (don't wave the shinai too far behind your head).

We were encouraged to run though after all kihon cuts and make use of the large hall. The motodachi was told to turn and follow shidachi, with an attitude ready to attack.

During jigeiko I managed to practice with Alan Thompson. I was again pulled up on distance (I never learn). However, one bit of advice proved an 'a-haaa' moment. I tend to start my seme at Issoku ittō-no-maai which means i'm too close when I creep in and cut. Alan suggested I seme in from distance then cut when Sakigawa (tips) cross. What I need to work out is how to implement this when my opponent rushes in and I dont get a chance to seme from outside distance.

Sunday, 2 May 2010


An usual week this week.

Its my turn to take the new beginners group for the next 8 weeks. At our club Shodan and above take it in turns to run the course so we all gain experience in teaching kendo (under supervision from sensei). The course introduces basic big men cuts, kirikaeshi and an introduction to Bogu.

This was my first one so I was pretty nervous about taking a class of 25 people. I broke the class into basic footwork, kamae and men cut (split into 3 then 2 'phases' of cut). The class was finished with 10-15 mins of hyasuburi. Hopefully I can keep the newbs interested for a few weeks, but we all know how bad the attrition rate is in kendo ;)

Saturday and Sunday was the London Cup. I fought in the first pool match for us in the team comp, we had more than 5 people in the squad so we were allowed subs. Nas and Oli took turns for later matches.

I fought against a lady from the Dutch national squad (Chung). She was much shorter but quicker than me and won with a degote. Two disappointing things about my performance. One, my usual problem with attacking too close allowing the kote and two, crap zanshin/kiai. I spoke with one of the shinpan afterwards who said I would have scored at least one men cut if i'd claimed the point more convincingly.

Sunday was the individuals and I was paired against Lee from Shiraoka in Scotland. I didn't last very long against this lad, he was too strong for me.

Not a very good couple of days really. However, the one improvement from previous shiai is that I didn't feel as nervous as before. Maybe in another 10 years I will be able to get into the second round?