Saturday, 26 June 2010

Bring on the heat

I visited Wakaba again on Saturday on one of the hottest days of the year. Blimey, I dont think ive ever sweated as much as this before. At the end of the session my gi, hakama and even the top of my tare were so drenched I could wring out the sweat. Luckily we had enough breaks during the three hours to drink fluids to keep us going.

Over the last few years i've tried to manage my hydration levels before practice. I keep a 1.5 litre bottle of water at my desk (I work in an office) and sip throughout the day. As a result I usually drink about 2.5 litres before I leave work. In addition to this I drink 500ml of carb powder mix as I travel on the train to practice (High5 Orange), with an additional bottle to drink during the session for long training sessions.

I have been told carb mix is only effective combined with the correct nutrition. However, I have found it does help, especially during long hot keiko like Wakaba. Maybe its just a placebo effect? This article suggests that commercial products are a waste of time and that a home made alternative is just as effective CLICK HERE.

I feel hydration is an important consideration for kendo which is commonly overlooked. I'm amazed that a lot of people do not prepare during the day and end up sinking a quick pint of water 30 mins before practice. All that happens is you pee it out without any benefit. Dehydration destroys energy levels and occurs before you feel thirsty. Therefore, thirst is not a good indicator.

During Saturday's practice Katsuya Sensei observed that i'm not using enough footwork. He said that i'm leading with my arms too much which is making me slower and predictable. I will concentrate on cutting more with my feet/body over the next few weeks.

Manny observed that I need to clean up my kendo a bit before grading to provide a good impression. This means looking confident with good posture, not scrapping at close range, not showing any emotion or disappointment when I am cut (accept it and keep a positive attitude) and lifting my arms when I turn after the cut.

Its the Chiba Sensei seminar next weekend. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Dodgy Kendo Brain

Was out and about visiting a few clubs this week. The guys at Hizen extended an open invitation for members of other London clubs to visit their Thursday practice, so four of us from our club attended to represent our dojo.

I've Hizen few years ago for a kata seminar, but this was my first shinai kendo practice there. All in all it was an enjoyable night, the guys there were very friendly and accomodating (I know a few of them already due to Wakaba and other events). The only problem is it was so bloody humid, I felt like keeling over after about 15 minutes!

During practice Geoff Humm Sensei (7th dan) gave me a few pointers:
  • Relax shoulders;
  • Dont bounce up shinai after cut;
  • Push/run though after cut, dont stand still; and
  • Dont step so deep for seme. If i'm already at Issoku ittō-no-maai then use my arms to push the shinai forward instead of moving my body.
During jigeiko I was again suffering with terrible form, I couldn't complete a successful cut and was becoming very annoyed with myself... I was thinking "why cant I do kendo anymore?". Then the weirdest thing happened, I suddenly flipped my mind focus from myself to my opponent. It was if someone had flicked a switch in my brain. I immediately started to cut correctly and felt good.

This proves I have some sort of retarded kendo brain which fights against itself for no real reason.

I attended Wakaba on Saturday which was its usual intensive but enjoyable practice. During the session Katsuya Sensei reinforced the importance of cutting with the body and not focusing on the arms. He said that cutting speed is driven by the body and not how fast you can swing the shinai.

My performance was ok, I'm still not moving as quick as before my holiday but its still miles better than the last few weeks.

I've also been hit on the right index finger again on a number of occasions. However, I think ive worked out why this has been occurring. After my cut i've been pushing my hands forward to run though. As a result, I think i've been catching my opponent's men strike on the hand because it's in front of my head. I'm unsure how to stop this, do I lower my hands when running though or push the sword horizontally forward more?

Saturday, 12 June 2010

After pleasure comes the pain

Hectic last few weeks which has left little time for kendo.

I got married at the start of the month to my long term missus (bless her for putting up with my kendo habit). We flew over to Dubrovnik in Croatia for a week of holiday and wedding, its a beautiful place and couldnt have asked for a better setting.

However, a week of boozing and late nights as trampled over any kendo form I had before hand. My return to Thursday and Friday practices were AWFUL. I had no timing, distance or movement. Are these dips in form after a break mental or physical? I seem to be my own worst enemy at times.

The guys at my club had a nice surprise for me on my return. Ippon Shobu with everyone..... it killed me. I think I handed my kote to nearly everyone there :(

Grading is 5 weeks and counting! Need to sort my head out.