About this blog..

This is a blog that I started in April 2006, just after I first put on my bogu (kendo armour). It collects the advices given by more experienced kendo practitioners as well as those from my own experiences. Both technical and the mental aspects of kendo are written in the blog. I hope someone will find them useful or interesting at least!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Budo XI

I've been in Paris since last Saturday evening to visit Catherine, and on Wednesday I went to visit the dojo Budo XI , having previously contacted Dominik on Kendo Word forum, who is himself 5th Dan. Sadly Sadly, I couldn't train with them because of my factured toe. Though it's getting better now that I can almost walk normally without limping.

The session is led by Yoshimura sensi, hachidan, every Wednesday. There were two other sensei's sitting at the higher place, Guy Roland and Jean-Pierre Labru, both 6th. Mr. Roland is also the president of the dojo. Dominik sat at the second place of the students' side, which means that there is another person with 5th or 6th Dan.

I stood at the entrance watching them training while taking some notes. All the time I felt extremely excited and tense, trying to absorb as much as I could by watching. At times, I think I almost kiai-ed with them.

The following is a run-through of what they did in the session:
  • First 30 mins: Some warming up, and then Men- and Do-Kirikaeshi.
  • Next 30 mins: (1) Shindachi one step in (seme) and strike Men. The Men-strike should be executed before the Nakayuis meet each other. (2) Motodachi one step in and strikes Men. The Shindachi strikes debana-men.
  • Next 30 mins: (1) Suriage-waza: suriage-men or -do. (2) Kakari-keiko. The Shindachi is changed upon the whistle which happened roughly every 30 seconds.
  • Last 30 mins: Jigeiko.
What I observed while they were doing suriage-waza is that the shinai brushes straight-up in suriage-men but is diagonal in suriage-do.

There were about 20+ kenshi practising. The overall standard is very high. It's a real pity that I couldn't train with them, but hopefully some time soon!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


You know what? I fucking broke my toe yesterday while doing Kirikaeshi. It got trapped by the Hakama when I moved forwards. Whether the twisted toe then hit the floor and worsened the injury, which lead to the brokage I don't know. It was bad luck. And a lesson -- never lift your right foot higher than you needed to go forwards!!

Pity I was full of ambition to improve my wazas yesterday and this happen. Well, thinking of it now, it's kind of funny. This is actually the first time I broke something, and thankfully, no operation was needed. Here I post the X-ray scan taken by the othopedist this morning. Very monumental. See that crack on the second toe?

At the same time I had the cortisone injection for my trigger finger problem on my left little finger. The needle was hell-wide! Six hours afterwards the "triggering" is still there. Hope it'll take effect soon. [Edit 19 March 2009: after being corrected by Aki Suzuki Sensei the way I do the tenouchi when I was in Tokyo, my trigger finger problem has almost gone away. The problem with my tenouchi was that I didn't twist my left hand inwards enough. And when doing the tenouchi, the muscle at the root of the thumb should squeeze towards the little finger.] 

So the broken toe will put me out of practise for about four weeks. Maybe after two weeks I can do some Suburi with the footwork.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Swollen wrist

Blooooody hell. I woke up this morning and my right wrist is swollen, and hurst like a bitch if I try to bend it. I might over-streched it when I fell and supported myself during the jikeiko.

Yesterday I trained 3 hours from 17:00-18:30 was shiai and training, and 20:30-22:00 was training at the uni where we did some uchigumi-keiko and free jikeiko. I was up against Jan in the shiai, who is shodan and one of the best in Dresden. Here I'd like to point out that the examination system in Germany is probably the most strict one compared to other countries, even Japan. The result was a draw. So what was good and what was wrong?

  • My seme was good. I used my body and my shinai well to press forwards. In some occasions he went several steps backwards.
  • My defense was good (otherwise it probably won't be a draw).
To be improved:
  • Speed. Even though the good seme built up a good chance to strike, Jan was fast to strike or to block when I striked.
  • Centerline. I think I ought to use more of my left hand when I strike. I often feel my opponents can hold the centre more than me when we both do men-uchi.
  • Wazas. Against someone like Jan, or someone who has a good kamae and hold his/her centre well. A simple Uchi is not gonna help very much, so more techniques like harai- or suriage-wazas are required.
  • Nidan and Sandan waza. I missed a chance of Ippon after a fake-tsuki and men, at which moment Jan raised his hands up to Men and I could have easily striked kote, but my momentum was seized at that point.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Harai- and Suriage-waza

Yesterday during jigeiko I worked on my Harai- and Suriage-waza. The former is first hit on the opponents shinai before making the second main strike. The latter is to brush (up or down) the shinai before striking.

Well, I simply just didn't get the hang of it. I lost the controll of my shinai after trying to deflect the opponent's shinai. Need to practise more.

[Note added on 19/6/06): Suriage-waza is to keep the shinai in the centerline brushing directly upwards in the hope that natural curvature of the shinai will brush the opponent's shinai sideways. The kensen is in the centerline all the time.
To do Harai-waza the kensen has to return to the centerline at the end of the slapping/sweeping. The natural way to do it is to draw a semicircle (if upwards). Some also just sweeping quickly and return the kensen before striking.]

Monday, June 12, 2006

Blister with honour

"Blister with honour" is the phrase which represent Australian Kendo team. A funny and apt one I think. Read Vivian Yung's blog


Finally I received my Zekken today, and am looking forward to putting it on in tomorrow's training. Though, it is not exactly what I specified, namely, with a blank top line for putting my dojo's name later. Emai's Yuki-san, who has been extremely friendly during our communication, sent me a free Tenugui (with the name and tel. no of her shop). With that I kind of let go of the minor imperfection and the slightly long wait.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Moving from Kamae

Yesterday's training at Uni was canceled due to the absence of Stephan, who went to Tengu Cup in Frankfurt, and several others. I still went to the dojo, nonetheless, to train on my own, since I know I can still improve on the basics. For example, the things I worked on were:
  • striking from kamae, and moving while maintaining a kamae that is ready to strike at an instant. To practise this, I moved forwards->backwards->right->left, and repeat, during which I randomly strike men, then repeat the footwork again and so on, until I reach the other end of the dojo.
  • Kamae. To achieve the above, one has to put his centre of mass forwards. I discovered the best way to do this without loosing the balance is to adjust the position of the hand and the shinai. For example, placing the hands nearer to the lower belly allows the body to lean much more forwards. But too much of it will be risky, of course.
  • Do-strike, with walk-through. I used the columns as the targets.
  • Tsuki. Not sure I was doing it correctly so I didn't practise for long. Mainly concentrate on using the hip to push the whole body
I also ordered contact lenses, because the Men and my glass frame was killing my ears on Tuesday's training!

Next week will be a great week. In principle, the Zekken I ordered a month ago from emaishop should arrive, as well as the two shinai's and a Tenugui from Ninecircles. An extra goodie I shall receive soon is the book "Kendo - Elements, Rules and Philosophy", which I bought from ebay for only 6.59 GBP inc. P&P !

Monday, June 05, 2006

Kendo is soothing

After not practising for a week, since the Lepsig championship, Friday's training was.. well.. "soothing" if I may. The reason for not being able to practise was the conference held at the Max-Planck Insitute, which kept me busy for the whole week.

We did almost entirely jigeiko, not sure why Stephan said so this time. My way of fighting has changed since the Leipzig matches. I don't just strike, but react to the situation more. In other words, I'm starting to do kendo than gymasitics

At the end we at a shiai-geiko, in which I fought with Stephan. Wow! Even though I lost 1-0 I enjoyed the fight. I almost got he on the Men, but my Zanshin was horrible. I ran into him, and he pushed me so that my balance was lost, which means no Zanshin. This was also a problem while fighting with the big guy from Czech in Leipzig (see the previous post).

I felt the gap between my level and the older kenshis' is closing very fast. Those who turn up only once a week or every two weeks are no threats to me anymore. Well, it sounds a bit arrogant but I just mean that at least we can fight on the same level.