Today was the first day of the 12th Dresden Seminar, led by Uwe Kumpf and Tomonari Miwa, both 6th Dan Renshi. There were in total about 40 people, all from Germany, of whom roughly a quarter didn't have bogu.
First morning session was divided into three groups, people without the bogus, people with bogus who are going to the German National Single Championship, and the rest. Needless to say, the majority was the third group. I the beginning I thought, "ok, if I train with the people who are going to the Championship I could be trained harder and improve more." But when I stepped to that side, Stephan said to me that we need to train more. Well, it was a bit embarrassing and disappointing, but what followed changed my mind.
We start with maybe 5 rounds of kirikaeshi, men-uchi, kote-men-uchi, kote-do-uchi, and kote-men-do-uchi, while the other group of armoured kenshi practise tsuki and some other wazas, which seemed less physical, but more advanced techniques. However, as I always think that the kihon (basics) is more important, I was more than happy to have the whole morning devoted to kihon, and practised my cuts with correct posture and tenouchi.
The morning session finished with Kakarigeiko whereby all the kenshi attending the Championship were the motodachi. Because each motodachi had only two kakarites, and the kakarite goes to the next motodachi when s/he finished, sometimes the kakarite didn't get the chance to take a breath. After about 15 rounds each we stopped, and then the motodachi did kakarigeiko themselves. I was completely exhausted, but that's what I like. Therefore I was glad I didn't attend the other group. Well, at least for now.
At lunch we went to an Asian resturaunt nearby, and I had some fried rice. I sat next to Martin, at the same table with another two kenshis from Hesse, with whom I had very interesting conversations. The meal took a bit long to arrive, as a result the afternoon session started a little later than scheduled.
The afternoon started with the beginner's shiai. They were matched in pairs and had to execute kirikaeshi and uchi-gomi. It was for me a pleasure to see that the beginners from Dresden were the best, and a few in particular had a nice "ki-ken-tai-ichi". The winner was Erik from our university kendo club. Congratulations to him!
Then the armoured kenshi all trained together, this time led by Miwa-Sensei. He emphasised in particular the tenouchi and how it looks and feels like. From his strikes, one could really see his hands twisting inwards, and the hands moving forwards after striking, almost looked like pressing the shinai with his hands at the moment of the contact. He also said that the fumikomi should not be lifting your right foot up but bringing it forwards, by extending the right thigh. Another thing he pointed out was the footwork of kote-men-uchi. It should be small and fast, the right foot stomping and the left foot tapping the floor to follow. I also noticed earlier that Marco from Leipzip had the similar footwork, as a result he is very agile. I tried to used this foot work for the rest of the day and I felt I could indeed move faster.
We then practised hiki-waza. Miwa-Sensei showed that the hit should be small and sharp, without lifting the shinai too high.
Finally we did mawari-geiko and free jigeiko. In the mawari-geiko I cleverly positioned myself so that I could train with both Senseis. So I got two jigeikoes from each Sensei at the end of the day. With Miwa-Sensei the most difficult thing for me was to obtain a good distance. He always walk towards me before I can obtain enough distance to strike. With Kumpf-Sensei I tried to use a lot of harai-men but they all ended up with a countering suriage-men. He made the opening sometimes to let me strike. During the bowing he said, "good reaction".
I wasn't particular happy with my performance during the jigeiko because I couldn't make the openings myself.
Comments from Miwa-sensei:
- Good kihon.
- Always go in, instead of going around your opponent after the strike.
- If taiatari happens then always use hiki-waza and gain the distance back.
The party started at 7:30pm with food contribution from seminar participants, mainly from the Dresdeners. They were pretty good food in fact (particularly those made by the girlfriends of the participants), and my stomach was very happy about it. yum.