Saturday, 17 December 2011

Happy xmas!

I've managed to pick up another cough/cold (third in two months!), which ruined my chance of attending the last practice of the year. I'm a bit concerned why my immune system is shot to shit, i'm wondering if it's due to the increased stress/poor sleep i'm suffering due to uni studies? These colds seem to coincide with periods of heavy training (i.e. squad), apparently the immune system dips after intense exercise.

Looking forward to 2012 which is shaping up to be a big year. I am planning to take my sandan grading in July and I'll hopefully graduate with a degree in September.... a culmination of 5 years study (nearly as long as i've practiced kendo).

I hope everyone has a good xmas, here's to successful kendo in 2012!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Birmingham Squad Training Weekend

I missed November squad so was keen to get back into it.

Unfortunately, the day didnt start well. I was late into the dojo so my mind was switched off, combined with a drop in stamina (lack of practice) resulted in me blowing after 3 rounds of kirikaeshi. I really struggled during kihon. I did manage to sort myself out for motodachigeiko at the end though.

Goodwin sensei's aim for the day was to concentrate on engaging the back leg/foot to be ready to cut at all times, while maintaining soft arms and wrists. This should present the ability to strike for ippon even if the body is bent or out of position - However, the resultant posture MUST be perfect forKi-ken-tai-ichi and zanshin. I was pretty pleased that this was our focus as i've been working footwork for the last few weeks.

During the session we performed exercises intent on engaging our back leg, sharpening our concentration and developing seme. Including basic seme-men, seme ai-me/kote and 'fighting for centre' ai-seme men. The aim was to try and cause a reaction then capitalise. Blake sensei reiterated the fact that we need to maintain centre when engaging our opponent, spinning away or running at a tangent means we are not ready to attack again.

After kihon we had an hour of motodachigeiko . This was Mano sensei's farewell visit so we had a number of sensei from around the UK turn up (including O'Sullivan and Blake sensei). I managed jigeiko against Goodwin and Starr sensei but just missed out on Mano sensei, I was next when time was called.

The second day dealt with the shiai league. I fought in five matches with varying success:

Match 1: I was against a lad who seemed pretty inexperienced. I scored a quick men then tempted him with a kote - nuki men for the second. Felt good.

Match 2 : My opponent was much wilier and my attempted seme + men attacks proved pretty ineffective. I did notice he was straying near the shiai-jo edge, so attempted to keep him penned in to worry him and maybe grab a hansoku. Didn't work... I merely switched to pushing mode which must have looked pretty shit. Bad kendo. Finished in a draw.

Match 3: The guy knew exactly how to fight taller opponents. I telegraphed and he scored two sweet degote - no complaints.

Match 4: Managed to give as much as take against a more experienced opponent. In spite of this, I switched off near the end and she moved in and took my men. Arse. My fault.

Match 5: Lost to two degote again. Strange match, dunno what to say about that one.

Overall, not a great performance again. I tried to maintain my new footwork, my left calf and arse cheek ache so I must be doing something right. Nevertheless, I found I fell back into old habits when the pressure was on. This means much more kihon before it automatically sticks.

Friday, 9 December 2011

A Bit of Progress

Not updated for a while.

I've had a horrible month with lots of things in my life kicking off at once. Combination of increased university studies (Graphic Design degree), buying/selling our house and busy time at work as eaten into kendo time. I've had to accept the need to re-prioritise which wasn't easy as I hate missing practice... still been managing at least one session a week though.

On the up side I think I've managed a major step forward. For the past 12 months something's not felt right.. I've managed to improve my waza during kihon but struggled with imposing myself during jigeiko. I've been scratching about, changing my kamae, posture and weight distribution with little success. I could never put my finger on it.

However, 3-4 weeks ago Geoff Salmon sensei observed that I break/bend my left leg and raise my heel too much when I seme forward and/or cut, this occurs before the cut and during hikitsuke (drawing up of left foot) . As a result, my fumikiri (launch from back foot) is very weak as a lot of the forward energy is taken by my bent left knee and raised heel.

I took sensei's advice and tried to keep my heel down as much as possible. I initially found it impossible to do and concentrated on it so much I was getting mullered. Yet after a few weeks something clicked during a random jigeiko. From somewhere my leg and back straightened up and I seemed to be able to launch forward quicker than before, I began to feel much more mobile moving forwards and backwards. I tried to remember how this 'epiphany' felt so I could repeat it again.

Over the last few weeks I've been attempting to work this into my every day kendo. I still fall into old habits and have to mentally check myself. Yet, I feel this has been one of the biggest leaps I've enjoyed for the last 18 months. It has been working well for men cuts but I now need to re-engineer my kote and do.

Still lots to fix but pretty pleased over all.

Finally, two of my teachers Geoff Salmon and John O'Sullivan sensei passed their respective ZNKR Kyoshi and Renshi shogo exams. Pleased for them.