Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Kashi No Ki Kenyu Kai Seminar 2011

This was originally Kashi No Ki Kenyu Kai’s annual Ozawa Sensei seminar. However, due to the circumstances in Japan he had to cancel his visit. In his absence Paul Budden sensei (7DR) took his place.

The theme of the two day seminar was ‘The role of the motodachi’, and the aim was to highlight the importance of this task to help improve shidachi’s kihon.

Turnout was pretty good considering the cancellation, I’d guess about 40 people. These were mainly from the midlands, with a sprinkling of northern and southern dojos.

Day 1
The first day was concerned with outlining motodachi’s role. Budden sensei explained what he has learned from Sumi sensei on this subject and takes the form of three key considerations (referenced here):

1) At any time was I in ‘a resting' mode, so did I spend any time without concentration?

2) Did I make the appropriate distance (Maai)?

3) Did I encourage and make Kakarite execute their skills fully? And did I also encourage them to do a little more than their usual ability?

Though a number of drills involving shikake and oji techniques, we were instructed to facilitate good kihon with out partner though adjusting maai (come to one step outside distance –toi maai) and providing encouragement.

We were constantly asked “did you maintain concentration?” throughout the day, it was very easy to ‘switch off’ when tired!

We completed lots of kirikaeshi during these drills. We practiced 1-7 kendo no kata during the second part of the day and finished with jigeiko with the seniors. This was my first practice with many of the midlands based sensei, many of which I’d not seen fight before.

I managed jigeiko against Trevor Chapman and another Kashi No Ki Kenyu Kai senior which was fun, I was impressed at the speed and timing of both their kaeshi do waza… must be a notts favourite.

Day 2
The morning session was concerned with waza basics using bokato, many of which are used in kendo no kata (e.g. kote suriage kote). This allowed us to study correct cutting without the temptation ‘whack’ using shinai.

These were conducted using suriashi footwork in order to retain a strong posture.

We then donned our armour and practiced many of these techniques with shinai, full spirit and fumikomi – ensuring the motodachi performs his/ her role as highlighted earlier.

After lunch we had a few hours of referee training in which we took it in turn to shinpan a shiai match.

I found it very difficult to concentrate on positioning/movement in relation to the head shinpan AND watching the actual match, I ended up missing an obvious ippon as I was concentrating too much on my own movement –doh.

The final part of the seminar was rotating jigeiko with fellow attendees and seniors. This allowed us to fight people we’d only performed kihon with… it was noticeable that some of us were struggling by this stage, many of our legs knackered and had stopped working!

Other than the 4 hour dive home this was an enjoyable seminar. I’ll try to travel up again in 2012, hopefully Ozawa sensei will be there next year.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Happy 45th Nenriki!

I suffered with another cold during the last few weeks.  This included an annoying cough which I was unable to shift for ages. I still attended practice but it knocked me for six every time due to my lack of energy.

This year is my home dojo’s 45th anniversary. One of the celebration events was an Ono ha itto ryu seminar run by Harris and Blake sensei. Both have studied this form of kenjitsu for decades, itto ryu is acknowledged as one of the origins of modern kendo. Due to my cold I was unable to attend the morning session.

The second part of the day was a talk by Victor Harris sensei about the history of the dojo and kendo. Harris sensei is very knowledgeable in Japanese sword art history, one of the dojo's originators, is a retired curator of Japanese Antiquities at the British Museum, completed the first English translation of the Book of Five Rings and has made numerous appearances on history channel style documentaries. His presentation was made in one of the school’s classrooms and was very interesting, a playlist of vids can be found HERE.

The final part of the day was keiko back in the dojo.  I managed 5 fights before flaking out, one was with Fuji sensei who was one of the first sensei to teach at the club during the 1960's.  Keiko with Fuji sensei was fun but must have looked a little odd, i'm guessing he is about 5"1' or 2' while i'm 6"4'! I have attached a few photos of the practice below.
Men wo tsuke

Fighting Fuji sensei

Wait for turn

Sunday, 13 March 2011


Thoughts to all those hit by the Tsunami in Japan... shocking state of affairs.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Practice with the squads

After another missed week of practice, this time due to stinking cold passed on kindly by the Mrs, I made it to Tuesday practice. The beginners we being trained separately so I gave the seniors a full session of kihon.

Lucky Young was present to take part of the class and explained maai for the kote, men and do. I have been taught this before by O'Sullivan sensei but it was good to run though it again.
  • Men - The individual's distance to be able to cut men in one step. This is usually where the tips of the shinai are just crossing each other. This of course depends on the height/reach of the two fighters.
  • Kote- The individual's distance to be able to cut Kote in one step. Because the kote is closer than the men, this means that the shinai the tips are barely crossing or separated from each other slightly. Again this of course depends on the height/reach of the two fighters, I can sometimes score a kote before the tips cross because I'm taller.
  • Do - Do is further from the other two targets so the starting distance is slightly closer than men. However, higher grades seem to be able to negate this by faking men while moving in, making me lift my arms and leaving the target wide open. This is something I'd like to learn myself.

While fighting Young during Jigeiko , he pointed out that I need to drop my hands a bit in chudan in order to generate more power in my cut. In addition, he noticed that i'm twisting my hips with the right side further forward. I need to fix this.

I was worried that my cold would have killed off my cardio. Perversely, I felt pretty sharp during this and my following practice on Thursday. I think its because I managed to shake off the downer I was having a few weeks ago!

During Thursdays practice Salmon sensei commented that he's enjoying his fights with me a little more as I'm starting to engage him with seme with fewer brainless attacks. It's still early days but this cheered me up a bit.

On Friday I drove over to Brunel University to join in with the 5 Nations Kendo comp warmup practice. This competition is designed for smaller kendo countries (i.e. not France!) to blood new squad members. It was good to see the guys putting on their new GB gi and zekken for the first time, they looked very proud. It made me wish I started kendo younger.... sadly there's little chance of me catching these guys up at my age.

The hall was filled with squads for GB, Germany, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, their team managers/sensei and us hangers on. Practice was with the senseis so the queues were long, I only managed three in the hour.

I didn't know any of the senseis so I picked at random. The first was a Finnish sensei called Salonen , as I queued I noticed how steady he was (no bobbing about), effectiveness of his seme and how explosive his cuts were. Very impressive. When it was my turn I gave it my best shot, I literally couldn't touch him! Seriously... the only time a managed a cut was with short uchikomigeiko at the end. He's the best I've ever fought against with the exception of visiting Japanese sensei. Only afterwards did I find out he'd passed 7th dan in Feb, he's a very young nanadan for a European.

Next was a Swiss sesnsi called Tsherter who's also a 7th dan. Tsherter sensei gave a few smiles as I fought him which put me a ease. He commented at the end i need to attack from a bit further out (agghhhh! I never learn).

My final fight was against a Japanese sensei who I forget the name off. We running out of time so after a short jigeiko I had a minute or so of uchikomigeiko.

I managed a few pics with my mobile phone so the quality isn't brilliant.

Long queues!

Senseis in action.

I'd like to end by saying good luck to all the GB squad today.