Thu 21st Sep
The morning's session (9am-12am) started with the same exercises as yesterday. Except at the end, Ozawa-Sensei announced, "The next exercise is more difficult, but if any mudansha also likes to try please step forwards." I, without a second thought, went forwards.
The exercise was ai-kakarigeiko, and the format was such that, everyone kiai and seme onto each other until Sensei blows the whitsle, at which moment the two should try to strike men as fast as possible and turn around and strike again until the next whitsle blow. The exercise was repeated many times. There were only 5 seconds between each blow of the whitsle, which normally allowed 3-4 men strikes. I practised with Baris Goek, and, after the rotation, with Kei Udagawa, both from Berlin.
During the lunch break I chatted with Kei. She lived in Germany already since 1 year old, and is currently a member of the national team.
The afternoon sesseion started at 2pm. We were divided into groups according to our levels: Dan, Kyu, women, and beginners. Since I don't officially hold a grade, I wasn't sure where I should be. So I said that I was a 4th Kyu. Well..., it turned out that I might have just as well claimed to be a 6th Kyu since the Kyu group was further divided into 1-3th Kyu and 4-6 Kyu groups.
We started with Kirikaeshi, slowly with a clear pause after each strike. Then men-uchi, and kote-men-uchi, with the breathing controll as explained yesterday. I tried to achieve ki-ken-tai-ichi and good posture with every strike and to work towards a consistent performance.
The group practise was followed by a 10 mins break, and then the yudansha stepped forward again as the motodachi, and we did kakari-geiko a few rounds, each time for 15 seconds. The yudansha then practise with each other, first kakari-geiko, then ai-kakari-geiko.
Finally the jigeiko time. I queued up for Kuroda this time. Did a fairly long jigeiko with him. I couldn't get his kote so I mostly went for men. The feedback from him afterwards was: "Good match."
I then did jigeiko with Meguro-sensei, but I can't remember much detail from it. With Ozawa-Sensei I only got to do uchikomi-geiko, because it was getting late. Seeing that all the senseis were giving uchikomi-geiko, I invited Kei for a jigeiko. We had perhaps only 2 mins before the session was closed. She did straight men-cuts, and had extremely strong centre. So I didn't get any points. Anyhow, it was a short and enjoyable jigeiko.
After the session finished I went to talk to Kuroda and introduced myself. He is a very approachable and relaxed person, which to some would be a suprise since senseis sitting on the other side of the dojo easily give people the impression of being serious. Speaking very slowly and choosing right words, we could communicate in English.
He teaches kendo and Mathematics at the girl's high school managed by Tokyo University of Science, the University where Ozawa-Sensei holds a professorship. I like his kendo very much, especially his posture, and the way he moves - very steady and yet mobile.
In the evening I joined the Berlin crowd to the city centre to have pizza and a drink. We spoke a mixture of German and English, and it was great fun. Kei after the dinner decided that we should go to the castle, which is situated at the top of the hill. Funnily, though I think most of the people would have prefered not to, no one objected. So, at 10pm, after a day of hard training, we climb up the hill to see the castle at night. We got there at the end though.
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!