Wow.. not updates the blog for a while. I'll give a summary for October so far which was mainly concerned with injury and shiai.
First of all our club held the Lidstone Kyusha Taikai for the first time in six years. Due to past UK kendo political upheavals, this event was cancelled in 2005 (the year I started kendo) which meant I never got the chance to compete in it. Fortunately, the club is now in a position to relaunch the competition and we ran our 36th event on the 8th October.
We had 39 competitors this year, mainly from the southern region although we had a few travel down from Stoke way. Club members helped with running the comp and I was taked with operating one of the scoreboards. I was surprised how much concentration was needed to avoid missing the type of point/hansoku scored.
The competition is centred around providing beginners and inexperienced shinpan with their first steps into the world of shiai. You could see the full spectrum of abilities from fresh '6 monthers' to guys that are pretty much dan grade ability (the cut off was 2 years experience max). It was enjoyable to watch and I think most people who attended benefitted in some way.
Other than a fire alarm disrupting our post competition keiko the event ran like clockwork, full credit goes to the organisational skills of Tony the club Secretary. I hope 2012 is just as successful and able to attract more competitors.
The following week was the British Open based at Mumeishi. This proved a bit of a disaster. I was drawn against a lady from Oxford dojo, who was half my height. Sh*t. I always struggle against short people.
As I prepared to enter the shiai-jo I knew I had to expect debana kote. But you guessed, I walked straight into it. Full credit to my opponent as her two kote were very sharp (she finished second in the ladies comp), she was much more skilful than me. However, I still left annoyed that I let her do what I knew would happen.
Time in British Open 2011 = 1 min 30 seconds.
On a positive note, I attended squad training up in Wolverhampton last weekend which proved more productive. We were introduced to Goodwin Sensei the new GB coach. Sadly Mano sensei is returning to Japan which is a shame, he was a great source of advice.
Goodwin sensei is an ex-squad member and spoke very passionately when he addressed the group. His approach was different from Mano sensei's which seems to mark a diversion from a holistic 'intensive training' approach, to 100% focused on improving the squad. Not to say they are discouraging people like me in attending, who are there to improve rather than gain selection to squad.
The focus of the weekend was to raise our effort, energy levels and engagement during shiai. This meant we concentrated on fast footwork and soft hands/arms. The aim is to engage with full intention and spirit in order to 'explode' at the opponent.
Sensei wasn't afraid to kick us up the backside if he didn't see 100% and the results were marked. By the end of the second day it was visible that people had raised their game and were giving all they had during shiaigeiko, the energy levels were great. I felt that I'd improved over the weekend, i hope I can replicate this intensity during club practices.
Various seniors picked me up on some key points:
* Stopping after kote-men which leaves an opportunity to be hit. I need to explode through after all cuts, either forward or backwards. * Wake up in tsubazeriai - I was caught napping with hikiwaza on quite a few occasions. * I'm reacting too much to my opponent's seme ('jumping' my shinai etc). I need to be more proactive rather than reactive.
October has also been awkward in regards to my damaged ankle. I've been wearing a brace which has helped but it still hurts if I twist and land on it in a certain way. Luckily one of the squad guys is a physio and identified the offending ligament, he taped up an area on my shin which helped relieve the pain slightly. The difficulty will be trying to replicate this taping for myself.