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!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Always be ready to strike

Today's training was very worthwhile. Georg led the training as Stephan was away. I went early to join the second half of the beginners session, in which very primitive exercises were done, so there is nothing notable.

In the advanced session, however, we did some a couple of new sequences, namely, (that's if I remember correctly)
  1. men, kote-taiatari-hiki-men, kote-men, men-kaeshi-do
  2. men, men-kaeshi-do, kote-taiatari-hiki-men, kote-men-taiatari-hiki-men-kote, men-debana-kote.
The idea, as Georg explained, was to be able to make spontaneous decisions to strike given any situation. I thought it was a neat concept.

In the jigeiko, I faught with Tino, Lili, Wibke, Georg, Antja, and Elisa, each person for 2 mins. Tino's kote-men got me a couple of times when my kote-strikes failed.

Some beginners that stayed on were not disciplined at all. Chatting to each other loudly. One even had chewing gum! How ridiculous that was. I doubt many of them have what it takes to carry on doing good kendo.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

New semester

I went twice to training last week. Tuesday and Friday. On both days about 15 armour wearer turned up, so we could get a very decent training for the advanced kenshi.

The Tuesday's training was in a sports hall which I had never been to before. But it will be the home of Uni kendo for at least a semester. I arrived at the end of the beginner's session, before the advanced session. There didn't seem to be many new students, but lots from the last semester, which made up to over 20 people. I wonder if it's because the new students haven't noticed the kendo club yet.

We did mostly basics and exercises like ooikomi-geiko and kakari-geiko for building up our physical condition. During jigeiko it happened a lot that I let my opponent hit my men upon turning around for Zanshin. Of course this was because I was exhausted. But I should try to improve.

On Friday, Georg led the training. We did more trainings on waza after a series of straining warm-up exercises, suburi and kihon-geiko. There were hiki-waza's, notably hiki-men-hiki-kote, hitting men and then kote while moving backwards. We also did free waza against men. Then we did about 10 mins of jigeiko in with rotation.

Some notes:
  • To execute men-nuki-kote, the kote-strike should be closer to myself as the attacker moves in himself, which shortens the distance. One step to the left to avoid men, and strike kote. This is useful as men-nuki-men does not work for opponents that are much taller, since the arms usually protects his men.
  • For men-nuki-do, be sure to move diagonally to the front right quickly enough so that the men is not struck.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Forstreuter Sensei visits 2

Today was another valueable training session with Paul-Otto, and the more advanced kenshi's got to practise refereeing in a competition situation.

We started the session with about 20 mins of kihon. Kirikaeshi-men and do. Men and kote-men. Sensei pointed out that when I strike, at the instant when my right foot stomp on the floor, it tends to pull back instead of goind straight down. This might explain why my body is not moving forwards fast enough. However, correcting this problem is not an easy task, so it deserves to be in the goal of the month.

Then he explained the basic regulations of refereeing, the positions of the referees. I imagine that there are a lot of written materials out there, so I won't explain them here. I first deomenstrated as a fighter, and my opponent was Georg, which was an excellent opportunity for me to exam my shiai ability. However he won 2-0 first by kote and the second by men. Though the first point was incorrectly judged which was commented by both Paul-Otto and Georg himself. The second was a solid men thundering straight onto my men. The greatest problem of mine in the match was that I did not put pressure on him. I was afraid of getting too close, and this fear leads to constantly moving backwards, creating opportunities for him to strike, and premature attacks with no seme. I also need to shape up my physical condition in order to gain that confidence. In addition, I didn't use my kensen very well. It's almost like my fighting spirit only went as far as the hands, but not to the kensen.

After the fight, it was my turn to referee. At first, concentrating on the movement of the fighters while, at the same time, keeping the correct relative distances from the other referees was not easy. But after two matches, positioning became more of a natural instinct, and therefore I could focus more on judging.

We had extra 20 mins to jigeiko. I first faught with Paul-Otto and then David. The time with Paul-Otto was short. As it usually is with high grade senseis, suriage-men was always on the menu. He also pushed me a few times from my side when I pass him after the strike, perhaps hinting that I wasn't running fast away from him. The practise with David was exhausting, but good. He somehow always tend to move to the opponent's right side after strike, which made it difficult to use kaeshi-do. His movements are very swift, something I hope to improve on.

After the training when I went up to thank Paul-Otto, he told me I have to put more pressure to make my opponent afraid. Spot on.

Afterwards we went for a drink in a nearby pub. Seldom do we do this, and it was fun!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Forstreuter Sensei Visists 1

Today was an excellent training lead by a visiting Senei Paul-Otto Forstreuter, 7th Dan Renshi. He is a very gentle teacher who gives good instructions.

The training today and on the coming Wednesday will focus on refereeing skills, something I had never had the chance to practise. We warmed up first and then practised kihon for about 30 mins. Then we splitted into two groups, one group would demonstrate techniques while the other acted as referees, and then the two groups switched. At a given moment, one person was the motodachi while the rest from the demonstrating group queued up as the kakarite. We continued practising a technique until a full rotation is complete. These techniques included the following:

first kakarite hit men and turned around to hit a second men. (The refereeing is always performed upon the second attack. The first was, persumably, for warming up.)

  • Kakarite: men, kote. Refereeing the kote.
  • Kakarite: men, kote-men.
  • Kakarite: men, men-debana-kote.
  • and so on.. The other techniques being judged upon were men-debana-men, men-kaeshi-do, kote-suriage-men.

I was the motodachi for men-kaeshi-do (I did kaeshi-do on the kakarite who performed men), and kote-suriage-men, which were a lot of fun. And being judged on was a great opportunity for me to check if I do things correctly. The kote-suriage-men was easily awarded ippon. The kaeshi-do was always tricky due to the distance and the accuracy of the do-strike. But I still managed to get it maybe 6 out of 7 times. Paul-Otto Sensei told me that my upper body tended to bend back before the block, which looked like a sign of fear. I should instead be more forward-going.

We finished the training with about 20 mins of jigeiko, with rotations (mawari). Not knowing the direction of the rotation, I stood at the wrong position and did not managed to do jigeiko with Paul-Otto. What a shame!

After some time people were tired, and a few people became very passive and only attack when I turned around for Zanshin. Not only were they mostly too close, this was also bad kendo I think. Why don't you attack actively instead of just standing there, turning around, and hit? On my part, I know I should show better Zanshin, but it was difficult due to the exhaustion.

Georg told me at one point that I missed an opportunity to strike men. I guess his was right. I should be more alert to openings, especially when I am becoming more tired.

After the training Paul-Otto Sensei told me that he was in Taipei last year (where he got his 7th Dan!), and how he enjoyed the championship, the city and the culture. I'm glad to hear that!