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!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

After prague

Yesterday's training was fun. We had quite sometime at the end for jigeiko. Lots of people were late in fact at the begining, and three of us thought the other weren't going to come. So we started warming up and doing suburi until the others showed up almost at the same time. Strange.

When Georg took over the training, he asked us to use two shinais to do 500+ suburis. Very, very tiring.

After a few rounds of long kirikaeshi down the hall and normal kirkikaeshi, men-uchi, and sashi-kote-men, we started jigeiko. We had chance to practise with everyone, 6 people in totoal. For ippon-shobu I drew two, won two, and lost one to Georg.

  • I found that keeping the upper body straight during kirikaeshi actually helps the beathing, and therefore makes it easier.
  • I repeated the same thing to Wei as I did to Misha on Tuesdays training. I kept hitting his kote until he didn't raise the shinai.
  • My hiki-men is still not sharp enough, so my opponent can block it.
After the trainig I asked Georg for his advice:
  • don't let the kensen drift too far away from the centre otherwise it'd take a long time or more effort to make the strike (I tend to reverse the shinai and draw a big circle to strike)
  • good strong kote. He very kindly said that he hasn't been (or not for a long time ) hit by such a strong debana-kote.
  • becareful of the zanshin after kote. Dont raise the shinai backwards.
  • He stressed to everyone how useful and important kote-men is.
He said after I came back from the Prague seminar my level shot up, and he now has real fun do jigeiko with me, which is very flattering! He said now I have to try to practise other waza's apart from debana-kote.
  • more tenouchi.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pop that kote, yo

Thursday morning training. It was hard to get up both this week and last week. But somehow I managed. I set my mind to give it all before each fight as though I will only meet the person once. (Ichigo ichie, in Japanese) This week the number of people coming to the morning training has reduced from 9 to 5.

Some notes from the jigeiko:
  • A few nice kote "pop's".
  • Sanbon Shobu: 1-2 Lost to Stephan. Got a kote. He got two men's. Becareful of the distance!
  • Make better use of hiki-waza (and more often), i.e. the right moment and the right distance. If a men-uchi doesn't work, then can follow it by a hiki-waza from tsubazeriai.
  • Posture after debana-kote need to remain well.
  • Harai needs to be sharp. and start the motion not too early. Ideally just after propelling with the left leg. (need to experiment)
  • Advice from Stephan: when applying seme, keep the centre and make contact with the opponent's shinai.

Yasuko and Kuroda-san (see Prague seminar) both have written me very nice emails. I'm glad to have kept the friendships!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Today we warmed up with some games. Girls and boys were divided into two teams, and we had to pick up a ball from one end of the hall and put it down at the other end, where the person had to rope-jump 10 times and take the ball back. The girls acually did better on this!

After the suburi, we practise doh. My left forearm was still hurting at this time, and I really did feel the pain.

One noteable thing from the kihon-geiko was that we practised Tsuki, the first time since I wore the bogu. We practised first from distance Chikma, then from Issoku-itto-no-maai. At Chikma I hit on target if done slowly, but missed completely at issoku.

A few notes from the Jigeiko:
  • Tried seme with more waza (techniques): harai, feinting, kaeshi.
  • Landed a doh on Lillie, when she raised her shinai to block.
  • Landed a couple of popping kote on Misha, by feinting men first. I repeated doing this technique until he realised that it wasn't a good idea, so he stopped raising his arms like that. I already anticipated this change, so I immediately went for his men after feinting and seeing that his posture was broken. But unfortunately I missed the target. Need to improve on accuracy.
  • I also noticed that when feinting, it's the best the keep the kensen within the body of the opponent, so that it wouldn't take long to strike on target.
  • Hiki-men improved slightly.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Turn, turn, and turn

We had a training yesterday with a somewhat different feel. First we started with rope-skipping to warm up, which I haven't done for more than ten years.. But I was thinking of doing it at home anyways. In fact, in a few minutes I 'll go and buy it. It's especially good to strenthen the muscles on the legs and the calfs at home since there's usually limited space for doing the footwork.

Practising do was essential and inevitable - 20 do-strike (left and right) standing, another 20 with one step forwards while striking left-do and backwards while right do-strike, 20 kaeshi-do, and 30 do haya-suburi. I tried this time to hit on target firm and strong, and it was better than the last time. However, trying to do the same with kaeshi-do was more difficult. I tried to keep the blocking and strike on the same beat. A good drill, but still unnatural to me. However, I think I would improve the fluency a lot with two or three more times of this exercise.

Footwork. With chudan no kamae we practised moving forwards and backwards across the hall. One variation was moving backwards with zanshin (shinai over the forehead), and when Stephan whistled, we have to strike men. Again a good drill!

After a few rounds of kirikaeshi, we did the following combo:
  • (1) men-strike, and pass the opponent; (2) immediately hiki-men (3) from issoko-itto-no-maai stike men immediately. This was essentially the application of the drills we did earlier.
Another exercise was that, the two would do the (1) and (2) from the above one after the other until the end of the hall and back.

Then kakari-geiko and more kirikaeshi.

  • kirikaeshi is more natural now.
  • Do-strike is stronger.
To be improved:
  • Kaeshi-do. Practise blocking and striking on the same beat.
  • After turning around there was a long halt, and I couldn't strike immediately. Must be something to do with how I position myself and my stance.
  • Push the hip forwards, during kakari-geiko or similar all-out practise. It's hard to do it fast with perfect posture, but one should always try.
  • Becareful of the feet not being parallel to each other.
This week the muscle on the inner-side of my left forearm has been hurting, after I started to use mainly the left hand and wrist to strike (since the training at the beginning of this month) While I think I'm accustomed to use my left hand now, I hope the pain will go away soon.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

First morning keiko

I made the first morning Keiko today, between 7:30-8:30am just before my working hour starts. It's not so easy for me considering I usually get up at about 8:30-9:00am. So when I woke up seeing the dark outside the window, I was wondering if my alarm clock was broken. And the first reaction was, "Oh, bloody hell.."

We decided to have this extra session for Bogu-wearers only, doing only jigeiko in mawari-geiko format (rotating partners). Which is a great idea. Nine people turned up, and I had in total eight jigeikoes.


  • Landed a few popping kote.

To be improved:

  • Keep a good distance. Chikama is too dangerous. At this distance wazas are perhaps useless.
  • Stronger doh-strike.
I was originally apprehensive about training before going to work, whether I'd be too tired, but it turned out to be the opposite. It felt like a morning work-out, like many people going to the gym before work. Well, I guess. Not that I know anything about working-out in the gym. After a shower at my institute (yes, we even have a shower) I felt very refreshed and ready to start the day.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Exhaustion brings essential kendo

Just got back from the training in the Uni. The training was very intense. After the warm-up and the suburi we began with kirikaeshi, twice 3x men-uchi and twice 3x kote-uchi, 10x men-only ai-kakarigeiko four times, and finally jigeiko.

I enjoyed ai-kakaigeiko as usual. The most difficult opponents were Martin and Lili, who held their centres very strong. For some reason, maybe she move slightly off centre the last minute, very often Lili hit my men but I missed, even though I aimed and went straight in. The jigeiko with Stephan was very.. well, inspiring should I say, which made me work harder. But of course I should fight with equally high energy with everyone. At the end of the training session I was totally exhausted, hardly able to keep my posture. Good training.

To be improved:

  • Still more centre!
  • Faster strikes
  • Do-strike hit on target.

Stephan spoke of the idea of having an extra training session in the Thurday mornings from 7:30am - 8:30am, doing just mawari-geiko. In principle, it's a good idea. But I must also see if I can actually work afterwards.

Starving.. will cook myself a nice meal, and ... wash the hakama!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New semseter

On Monday Tino lead the training. We did some Kihon and Hiki-waza before finishing with Jigeiko. I still lost to Patrick for the Ippon-Shobu. My fighting spirit wasn't strong enough to put pressure and create openings. With the others I either win or draw.

General thing to improve:
  • Seme, or more explicitly, the building-up to a strike is as important as, if not more than, the strike itself. With a seasoned kendoka a simple strike very likely leads to a crossed sword and eventually can be countered by an oji-waza.

Yesterday I arrived a little earlier for the university's training, at the end of the beginner's session. Since it was the first session of the semester, there was a flood of 50+ curious students - the largest number of people in the history of Dresden kendo! We'll see how many will stay at the end of the semester.

We did lots of Kihon (great!) and Hiki-waza. My breathing has improved for Kirikaeshi. For the Hiki-waza, we did 2 rounds of 3 x Hiki-men/kote/do. I always did the first two slowly to make sure my footwork and body coordinate well together. This for me was a good way to learn.

Then we did kakari-geiko, and ai-kakarigeiko, which I like the most. Because they're very good for building-up the stamina and the fighting spirit. The ai-kakarigeiko helps especially to attack with a strong centre, since most of the time both people would strike men, and if the centre is not strong enough one gets hit, otherwise the swords cross each other.

No time for jigeiko. But was still a good training. It also seems like with the training on the coming Friday, this week I will have trained three times, which makes me a happy kenshi!

Monday, October 02, 2006

More centre!

Today trained with only Georg and Michael. No one else came for some reason. Again I have been trying to have a better centre, for which I'm slowly improving. But now I have to make it more natural, instead of just holding the centre and not attacking.

A few tips from Georg:
  • Hiki-waza: use the forward movement of the shinai and the arms to propel the body backwards in order to gain the optimal distance.
  • Men strike: my sashi-(small) men is too light. Use the left wrist more and hit stronger.

Other notes:
  • When turning around and maintain zanshin, quickly come back to chudan and hold the centre. Try not to raise the shinai immediately or while turning.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Simple and Beautiful

The scenary on my way back to Dresden

Ok, so I wrote so much. What have I learned? This is to write a short summay about the things I've learned.

  • Use the shoulders to lift the shinai when doing men-strike.
  • Breathing of Kirikaeshi, and men-uchi.
  • Posture. Back straight. Ki-ken-tai-ichi.
  • Reiho. Especially for sonkyo.
  • Keep kensen in the centre.
  • Becareful of oji-waza, like suriage-men.
  • Keep the pressure on the opponent. Do not fear.

One week after the seminar the memory is still vivid in my head. The people: the Senseis, and the friends I made; the kendo: the points I made, and the points I lost. The tournament was a great experience for me. My performance was much better than in the Leipzig Championship, and I clearly knew when I was in control. How I lost showed what I should work hard on. This is the best of kendo. One doesn't just improve on ones own, through the others one learns about his or her weaknesses. The new barrier therefore appears; a higher mountain therefore rises. One should always be pateint and determined, at the same time be humble, always anticipating an even greater challange.

Of all I miss the most is Ozawa-Sensei. I hope I will be able to make the trip to Japan next year and train at Kobukan (his dojo). Meanwhile, I have to improve my kendo and build on what I have learned from him and from the other senseis.

Meguro-Sensei, me and Ozawa-Sensei

Ozawa-Sensei's Autograph. It means: all except me are my teachers.