Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Liverpool Squad Training Weekend

Squad training again, this time it was held in Liverpool. I didn't really fancy the drive up there but I was able to break the journey by staying with my folks in the midlands on Friday night, this left only a two hour trip in the morning.

Turn out was good and it was nice to see lots of new faces. After everyone was changed and ready, Mano sensei gathered us around and explained the theme of the weekend - Tame.

As you can see from my blog i've spent a bit of time collecting online sources which focus on seme and tame (they are directly related with each other). However, reading up and putting into practice are different beasts.

Sensei instructed us on entering our Issoku ittō-no-maai and applying pressure to the opponent in order to unbalance or urge them into striking for oji waza. This is done though a combination of seme and tame.

Now i'm still learning these concepts and my success is still very haphazard. Therefore, i'll leave the detailed theory to the 6th-7th dans (see links on right hand side of page). What Mano sensei made clear though is tame isn't simply waiting, its an attacking mind and intention without physically rushing in. This is where kendo's battle of will and minds emerges.

Mano sensei outlined these points, apologies if I've forgotten anything:

  • Identify your own Issoku ittō-no-maai as this is where you will apply pressure.
  • Seme can include a step in, once in Issoku ittō-no-maai further seme can manifest as a movement of the shinai or bending of the right knee (see here). There were others which I can't recall.
  • Remain stationary but project intention/spirit with posture, kamae and body language - we've all been done by a sensei this way i'm sure.
  • Tame isnt simply waiting for an opportunity - its creating an opportunity without resorting to rushing in.

Overall, this is a very high level concept which I'm still battling with - I tend to move in too close without applying adequate pressure. I think once someone has cracked seme/tame they are on the road to an advanced level of kendo.

Over the two days I experienced enjoyable jigeiko with quite a few new people. My only shiai practice match finished in a draw (no points). I was matched with a squad member specialising in jodan, I think I did ok but I was far too defensive which spoiled the fight. I'm still unable to score ippon :(

On the injury front, I managed to complete an impressive toe-in-hakama-arse-over-tit technique which left me sprawled across the dojo floor. Spent the last few days hobbling about with a sore right big toe.

I also caught a nice tsuki in the throat due to my rubbish tsuki-dare - check out the kensen asterisk!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

More Homeless Kendo

Its been a few weeks since my layoff with a heavy cold and kendo has been very sparse during this time. My main club and most backups are all closed for the summer so its been a case of hunting down suitable sessions outside my usual Thursday practice. Kendo in London seems particularly quiet this summer.

First of all I visited UCL at their temporary dojo. This is located in the university gym in Bloomsbury which has good facilities and a nice floor (with the exception of a few holes). However, the room was uberhot - combined with UCLs intense kihon and a drop in my fitness, I was left shaking by the end. That was the hardest practice i've had for a loooong time, it hurt.

The practice was enjoyable nonetheless and the only downer was a big cut on the ball of my left foot when slid into one of the holes.

I also visited Wakaba which had a good turnout of dojomates. During the motodachi-geiko section of the session I asked one of their seniors (Junji) if he could help my cutting from distance. He instructed that I need to move forward from the hips, maintaining my kensen in a central position - as if I was going to attack tsuki. I should then finish the cut with a small men.

Last night I drove over to Mumeishi after work for their Tuesday training. I was a little nervous as this was the first time I visited during the week, the practice was well attended with 10-12 people including two nanadans.

Practice turned out to be a night of 'home truths'. Training with new people meant they were able to look at me with fresh eyes, they spotted many of my old habits which I thought I'd resolved and my regular dojo-mates have become used to. These include:

  • Inability to build up ki during Issoku ittō-no-maai which resulted in no 'mind contact' and pointless attacks. 
  • Crap Zanshin. 
  • Not launching fast/strong enough from back foot/leg - I suspect my weight balance isn't correct. 
  • Leaning forward from the shoulders when cutting from distance.

I honestly thought I was getting on top of these issues but it seems I still have a way to go. I feel a little disappointed as its the same old problems of posture and distance AGAIN.

On a more cheerful note. I received my new men and kote care of Miyako Kendogu. I tested the kote at Mumeishi which require a bit of wearing in, i'll try the new men this weekend -ahh, the joys of breaking in new armour!