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!


  1. I keep trying to comment on your blog because there's so much I can relate too, except you manage to get to far more practices than I do. However, blogger comments are being typically flakey and even this may not get through. Anyway, are you at squad practice in Liverpool at the weekend?

  2. Hi Dave

    Hmmm.. dunno if it's something broken in my account?

    Sorry I've only just spotted your comment and twigged your name to a face, otherwise i'd have chatted longer. Was good to meet you, i'm guessing you worked out who I was?

    I really enjoyed the weekend up there, although the five hour drive back wasn't fun :/

    Nice nuki do on me BTW :P

  3. No it's not your account, it's either blogger or the fact we have to use Internet Explorer 6 over our arcane network. Essentially it stops me using my blogger account to leave comments.

    Have I worked out who you are? I'm guessing Derek, as you had the Nenriki zekken and your profile picture, though small, makes it quite clear you're a bit taller than most kendoka. Do I win?

    It was a good practice, sorry about the long drive. We've been there with the Bowden jaunts to Reading. Hopefully the next Wolverhapmton training will make things a little easier to get to for you, not by much but a bit. I'll see if I can go but with the Bowden coming up and my wife working weekends mostly it's a challenge in itself and I can't really afford to stay overnight both financially and the emotional blackmail price ;)

    Saying all that I certainly felt better at practice last night so there is real benefit in me going, especially if I'm going to attempt Sandan. Stoke this year was my first chance but I just wasn't ready. I don't even thing Mumeishi is a possibility but Joe is due his at Glasgow so we may attempt it together to share costs. I'm still not sure I'll be ready. I have moments where I think I'm ready but moments of sheer flat-footed stupidity where I feel like a beginner again! Such is kendo!

  4. :)

    There's a scattering of us 6ft4 - 6ft5'ers about... we're like our own little club, heh. I was facing Fuji sensei in my pic, he's tiny.

    I know what you mean about facing sandan. Mine isn't until Stoke next year but i'm already trying to work out what's needed and how to change bad habits in preparation. Then there's the kata - agggh!

    I think what squad does provide is a more intense level of practice compared to a usual club night as most there are our peer group or higher. You'd probably noticed a heavy number of nidans in attendance, I find this is a handy tool to try and understand where I sit in regards to grading (not talking shiai). I always get my ass whipped by the squad guys but I try and copy their intensity of kiai and technique as I may face similar skills in a grading.

    I attend to try and raise my game rather than win a place on the squad - I've fully accepted that my shiai career leaves much to be desired.. ha ha.

    It would be cool if you could make Wolverhampton, if not, good luck in the Bowden.

  5. I know what you mean about intensity. I've been Sempai at Liverpool for around 10 months now. Joe's multiple lessons a week are really starting to show dividends in practice and I can feel how solid his kendo is.

    Geunsu too has incredible speed and a fantastic eye for an opening, which explains his coming back from 1:0 down in the shiai practice. Together with my Sensei they are the only one pushing me to improve my kendo to compete/stay ahead. It's frightening in a way as I've nearly ten years experience but it's the regular multiple practices that can really improve your kendo compared to ten years of one night a week.

    Still there's plenty of times where my cuts have just been second nature, I'm not sure how I've pulled it off but maybe it's just the experience. Practicing with some of the squad guys is a humbling experience, which is good, but those ten years drag heavy when you realise some of the guys who are competing and outperforming you have been doing it for considerably less. As you say it's reason enough to want to do better. And my Shiai career is still 0 for 4, not a single point in one match!

  6. I hear you on whipper snappers overtaking us... I remember being on a par with half the 'new' squad at one stage, now they kick my arse. At the end of the day I suppose it shouldn't be about them, but how you progress in your own time.

    Multiple training a week is a definite game changer. I'm hating the reduced sessions during the summer.... if it wasn't for the missus i'd like to train 4-5 times a week. However, that would be a quick road to divorce :P