Monday, 27 June 2011

London Cup 2011

Due to a wedding reception and lots of booze I was only able to attend the team competition on Saturday.  Sunday was a write off with a horrible hang over, i'm glad I didn't sign up for both days.

This year I was fighting senpo for our 'B' team and was the first time I've had the responsibility of setting the pace by fighting first.  I was hoping to put in a good show to try and settle a couple of team members nerves who'd never fought in a competition before.

Well, that was my plan.

Our first opponents in the pool stage was 'International Men'.  This team comprised of a mix of Swedish and Greek (I think) fighters.  They had already fought and beat our second opponents (UCL A) before we lined up in front of them.

I wasn't feeling that nervous when I entered the shiai jo.  However, on the shout of 'HAJIME!' all I can say was I froze... I felt like a rabbit in the headlights and not in control at all.  The guy I was fighting was very nippy and attacked at speed, I seemed to be second best the cut every time.  I could suggest that he was already warmed up from his first fight but he was simply much better then me.  I was finished off before the bell with two men cuts.  The rest of the team tumbled to a whitewash with the exception of Oli (our Taisho) who managed a draw.

I was very disappointed with myself and felt I'd let the team down.  Saying that, 'International Men' ended up taking third place so we were fighting experienced players.

Our second match against UCL A was straight up after.  I was determined to give it a better go so tried to increase my kiai and aggression.  I cant really remember much of the match but I recall chasing the guy around the shiai jo every time he did the old 'cut and run away' thing, it must have looked amusing from the sidelines.  I managed ippon first, I think we both went for men but I snuck my cut in first... unfortunately, he took a point back with a men after I performed a dodgy kote.  Drat.

The rest of the team gave it the best but we defeated in the end with three losses and two draws.  Unlucky chaps.

It was nice to see our team members gain experience in the competitive side of kendo and for the first time I kind of enjoyed the fight.  I didn't feel the terror of previous years, I just need to start winning some matches.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Cardiff squad training weekend

First week back after my holiday and it was hard. Thought i'd try and burn though my dip in fitness so attended the usual three training sessions during the week, with two days squad in Cardiff at the weekend.

This was the first time i've attended squad outside the southeast area so it required a night in a hotel on Saturday. We all had an evening meal together which allowed me to meet and get to know kendoka from other parts of the UK.

The theme of the weekend was kakarigeiko. Mano sensei explained that the ability to strike an open target automatically is helped by practicing kakarigeiko with full spirit, this can make all the difference during competition as it improves awareness, continuous attacking skills and fitness.

We also had practice shiai matches. I only fought once and lost to a lad 1-0 with a quick kote-men..... i'm still having trouble scoring in competition situations. However, speaking to Mano and Starr sensei afterward they explained that my main problem is poor kiai. A senior grade told me that I cut a certain ippon with good ki ken tai ichi and distance, but a feeble kiai let me down.

This made me wonder and I self analysed my kiai during my next jigeiko. The penny dropped.... I found that when I *think* I've scored ippon I kiai properly, but if I'm interrupted or feel the cut didn't connect then my kiai is weak. The problem is I'm to pessimistic when judging my success so there's always a chance I will produce a feeble kiai when i've actually scored. Mano sensei instructed that I should kiai loudly for every attack, successful or not. This will help score ippon, improve my spirit and could even persuade a shinpan to score a cut if they are 50/50 about its success during competition.

Mano sensei also warned me about my use of harai waza.  I'm not using sharp movements which leaves my kensen off centre, this leaves my kote wide open for my opponent.

Overall, I found training was great. Mano sensei kept us at a high tempo throughout both days, managing to avoid us burning out too early. I practiced with some new people and was pretty happy with my performance over the two days. It was an enjoyable weekend.