It's been a week since I left Tokyo. The time in Tokyo seems much too short, and the past week too long. I miss the people and the kendo at Kobukan, not to mention the great food and dynamics of the city. I think I quite simply haven't left there.
I want to write a small summary of the kendo-related things I came to realised while I was there.
I arrived in Kobukan with a very open mind, not very sure about what I was going to see, and how I could learn. In the first two weeks I was practising with 7th Dan Senseis during the kihon exercise and did only basic cuts, such as men, kote-men, kote-dou, and kote-men-dou, etc. Everyday I got up in the morning to first wipe the dojo floor and 500 suburis. I learned all over again how to do suburi and men-strikes. While from the Senseis I received simple yet important advices on the basic cuts, other sempais tend to give more specific comments on jigeiko and techniques. Kudora-san showed me many wazas and the related foot works. He trained often with me alone to improve my men-strikes, and told me I should use more kote-men in jigeiko. Akita-san told me the importance of never stepping back during practices. He said, "it is safer if you step backwards, but you'll never imporve." This quite applicable to life in general, I find.
I now could appreciate the importance and beauty of kata, and am able to do it up to the 7th form. Though not perfect, I received many helpful guidances.
Many Seneis gave me very positive feedbacks on the style of my kendo. They are all surprised that I have done kendo for no more than two years. Nonetheless, I am still a beginner to them.
So what should I do from now on?
Ozawa-sensei once told me I should do big men-cuts for 5 more years, and suburis everyday. Kuroda-san's effort on improving my men-strikes was very helpful. I couldn't yet strike a good enough men before I left, but I know what I should do, and I will continuously work on it until the next time we meet.
As Mr. Chow described, the kendo of Kobukan is one that never steps back. I will continue this spirit. Honda-Sensei encouraged me to continue what I was doing at Kobukan and continue the style of kendo I played.
Iinuma-san told me not to back down after striking kote. Kanji-Sensei told me when doing men cuts in kirikaeshi, I should put more kisei in.
The most important thing about kendo I learned was to be able to appreciate its true beauty. Before this, I had seen the videos of 8th Dan kendoka playing kendo, but never thought that this is the style I would like to try at this moment. However, from what I saw and was told by the Senseis, I realised that this is a goal that I can and should set for myself now.
What is beautiful kendo? In my humble opinion:
- Good kamae, good posture during and after strikes.
- Strong centre.
- Always apply pressure (seme) forwards. Never step back or move side ways without the intention to strike.
- No bending of head or body to avoid strikes.
- No meaning less strikes.
- Striking from issoku-itto-no-maai, instead of chikma (close distance), as Kuroda-san said.