Practicing at this dojo has really highlighted my poor footwork and zanshin. The locals are very good at attacking with speed from distance and maintaining attacking spirt (allowing nidan and sandan techniques). I find myself creeping close to try and match their speed which isnt working due to my height. I'm also dropping my spirt after an attack (because i'm so knackered) which stops me from performing hiki waza etc.. I feel like i'm constantly hanging on to their coat tails to keep up!
I asked Katsuya Sensei in the pub why i'm suffering with this and regular injuries. He explained that kendo is natural and the reason why I injure myself so much is that i'm making my body do things it shouldn't. He gave me a number of things to look at:
- Uncontrolled breathing - I practice enough kendo for fitness not to be the main reason. Katsuya spotted that my shoulders are too far forward. I need to open up my chest to allow deeper breathing. This is a fundamental change to my posture, not just kendo but every day because I sent to slouch. This will be a very difficult habit to break.
- I need to take pride in my kendo. I don't fight with confidence which i major problem when trying to defeat my opponent mentality.
- I need to concentrate - I tend to drift and get frustrated when I mess things up. This is also linked to the previous point regarding confidence.
- My problem left knee (I wear a brace), could be due to me launching mainly with my leg muscles which over extends my knee rather than generating the power in my foot/ankle.
- I'm not attacking with speed because i'm not using correct footwork. Katsuya said the speed of the cut/run though depends on the effectiveness of the returning left foot. I need to snap it back faster.
- I'm stamping short and pushing all my power down when I fumikomi (disrupting my run though). Again, this is footwork. I should push my right foot forward more when cutting and not worry about 'stomping'. The noise is a consequence of the cut, not the aim of the cut.
This advice along with other suggestions about relaxing my grip etc. means I have to pretty much go back to scratch and think about re-educating my body. The question is, what do I try to fix first?
Injury Update: My left big toe nail fell off this week. A bloke stamped on it the day before my grading which made it go black, it bloody hurt!