I was up in Glasgow on Tuesday for work. Faced with an evening of sitting in a hotel room with crappy TV I searched to see if the local Kendo club practiced that night.. they did - result!
I contacted Gerry Kincaid sensei to see if I could visit, he arranged for me to be picked up from town by a fellow dojo member. David (one of the clubs seniors) kindly drove me in and leant me one of his shinai, as I could only bring one bag on my flight.
The class was taken by Jim Corey sensei who taught us taiatari and how to keep moving our feet in chudan for shiai situations.
Corey sensei explained that taiatari should be performed with body and that the force should be directed downward, if the 'body strike' pushes upwards then there's a chance that you can lose balance or even injure your back.
I found constantly moving my feet while in chudan quite difficult. I have been taught to 'lock' my left foot ready to launch in a split second, changing this feeling took me outside my comfort zone.
I really enjoyed practice and the guys up there are a top bunch. I hope to visit again in the future if i'm in Glasgow again for work.
Thursday was Mytchett practice. O'Sullivan sensei is currently working on improving our cutting speed. This involves us practising a wrist based 'tap tap' exercise on a partner's shinai. The aim is to create a fast, powerful but light cut, not slow and heavy. I'm finding this very difficult as I tend to hit heavy when trying to cut faster.
Friday practice involved visiting UCL which is another new club for me. Unfortunately many of the regulars are in Japan for their annual summer gasshuku, so the session contained mainly visitors from other clubs. However, luckily a few visitors were dojo leaders from other clubs (Katsuya - Wakaba, Will - Tora) so there was plenty of experience at hand. Kihon was good and I had to perform quite a few unfamiliar techniques/drills.
Sharpe sensei gave me a few pointers. I need to use my wrists more with do cuts and i'm stretching my arms out too far (raising my hands too hight) against shorter opponents. My cut should terminate with my hands around mune height.
I had a quick chat with Katsuya after class and asked why i'm having difficulty relaxing my arms/wrists which is destroying my 'snap'. He suggested my body's tension is focused on my arms and hands making them stiff. Therefore, I need to redirect my tension down to my stomach muscles and core. This should loosen up other parts of my body.
I shall try this next week.