I emphasised at the beginning and the end of the training that the basic requirements for doing good kendo are perhaps the fighting spirit and body posture.
After some rounds of suburi, we started with 4-5 rounds of kirikaeshi. I stressed the breathing and its importance. This was pointed out by Ozawa sensei in last year's seminar in Prague. I repeat here again:
- Kirikaeshi: (1) men-strike, (2) breath, then 4 sayu-men forwards and 5 backwards, then men-strike, (3) pause and breath again (4) repeat (2) and (3).
Then we did more kihon. But this time I asked very one to start from toma, where they should kiai and move their feet, before taking one step forwards to take the centerline with the tip of the shinai, and strike. After the strike, they should push their body diagonally to the left of the opponent to go through.
Then we did like this for kote, kote-men (motodachi stay still), and kote-men-men (motodachi take one step backwards after each strike). I emphasised that distance and footwork are the key points in these exercises. At the kote-men it is a common mistake to take too large a step at the kote-strike, so that the men-strike is too close to the motodachi. At the kote-men-men, the point is that because the motodachi is going backwards, one must draw his left foot quickly forwards to prepare for the next strike, at the same time maintaining a good posture.
I'm glad to see they take kendo seriously with lots of intention to improve themselves. It's very important to train yourself as well as to think of exercises to do so. I'm glad to see two of them stayed after the training to do even more exercises themselves. They obviously care about their own kendo.