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!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Knee posture in kamae and seme

Two things that I continued practising this week were my aggression and pushing the hip during my men strike. In all the jigeikos, I started putting pressure from the start right after standing up from sonkyo.

It seems that I have improved my hip problem. The solution for me was adjusting my kamae stance. I used to keep my left knee too straight during seme, which kept the centre of my gravity high. So while launching my body forwards, the result is to go up instead of going forwards. However, adjusting kamae is not the only thing to be done. During seme, the angle made by the thigh and the lower leg should be kept the same. In other words, while the right foot glides forwards only the angle between the two thighs is stretched. Why is this important? Because this lowers the centre of gravity just slightly, so that when I launch my strike, I can push my hip forwards.

A little geeky maybe? Well, can't help it. I'm a physicist.

I had very good jigeiko this week with many good kendokas. My mainly kept the attacks simple because I still need to improve on my basics. Perhaps 10 % of the time, I put in more tactics like stepping to the left, do a harai first as though to strike men next, but switch to kote promptly as soon as the opponent raised his kensen to defend.

Over the X'mas period the dojo is closed - this means suburi at home!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Relax and strike

Two weeks are almost gone. Last week I made three trainings. I reckon it's going to be difficult to make 4 trainings a week, but I'll keep at least 3/week as the minimum. All the trainings I've been to was great. One of them made me realise that I need to be more aggressive. I want to be aggressive, without letting the body tense up.

I noticed some kenshi in the dojo are really good at letting the body relax in kamae and during seme, but releasing the energy at once when striking.

The Saturday's trainings were tricky because the dojo is always packed with people, but since I am usually free, I will go to that one. Wednesday's advanced training with Yoshimura sensei is of course a must. So then I have one more training either on Tuesday, Thursday, or on the Friday's free jigeiko. A little flexibility will make life easier.

A question about Kirikaeshi 2 - Discussions

I posted the question of the previous entry in the Kendo World Forum, which evoked a series of interesting discussions. See here: http://kendo-world.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16622

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A question about Kirikaeshi

A question about kirikaeshi came up after visiting several dojos. Some dojos do proper taiatari with the strong impact, while the others, like Imperial College, Budo XI and Kobukan, do very soft taiatari, which I probably wouldn't even call it so. What they do is, after the sho-men strike, the hands are dropped so that the right hand is roughly the chest level. The motodachi does the same and, upon gentle clash, he goes backwards and receives the sayu-men. It feels more like a tubazeriai.

So that question to you is, what does your dojo do, and if anyone knows, how come there is such a big and fundamental difference between dojos.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

First practice in Paris

Yes... I feel so good having practised this morning at the dojo Budo XI, after a stressful day yesterday. Yesterday morning I unfortunately miss my 6 am flight, for which I had to get up at
4 am, but my reflex (in kendo, we'd say the debana-waza) was to grab the clock and shut it off. Only two hours later when it dropped from my hand to the floor did I wake up, like waking up to a nightmare. Finally I had to book another flight from Berlin and a train ticket to Berlin, which cost me almost 200 Euros in total. Bloody hell!! Anyway, so much so for the whining.

Today's training was for everyone. Perhaps due to the Saturday, many people (about 40+) turned up. So queuing took a long time. But I managed to do a jigeiko with Jean-Pierre Labru 6th Dan, who was the instructor today and a former European Champion. At the start he quickly scored two men-strikes. I was not concentrated enough. Then it got better afterwards when I tried to have stronger centre. The best moment for me was when I struck a straight-men cut with very simple forward seme. I crept my right foot forwards like Kuroda-san taught me, and struck. The strike landed perfectly in the centre and my left hand was in control. All of which happened when Labru Sensei was still in kamae. He nodded in acknowledgment of the strike. The motion felt so smooth that I thought, "This is it. This is kendo."

I think as in many good institutions, how the reputation is does not guarantee the success of its members. It still takes a lot of hard work if one wants to compete with the top players from the other dojos. However, a place like this dojo where there are a 8th Dan Sensei and many high grade kendoka means that, one gets very useful advices from time to time. So there is always something to work on, which is fundamental and important. But without the hard work, the advices remain as only theories.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Across the Atlantic 3

On Friday I had the last training with the Quebecoise. As usual, the Friday's trainings are for yudansha only. About 10 people turned up, which was not a lot, but enough to have a good session. The advices I received were:
  • Taiatari correctly with the hip. The hands should be below the chest.
  • Strike sho-men and sayu-men with the kensen swung farther, making clear snapping sound.
  • Shaper on the kote strikes.
Towards the end of the session we had shiai-geiko (1-min Ippon shobu), part of the special farewell treatment for me. I won 2 matches, lost 4 and drew 1. I was not careful in the matches I lost, which ended all in men-cuts. They were, however, really good cuts. I won one of my matches with kote, and the other with kote-men.

The three trainings I had here were very enjoyable and, at the same time, helpful, because practising with different people always gives one something new to learn. Their style (more mature compared to the "student kendo") also enables me to work on my seme. For me, 3 times were too little. I wish I could stay here for longer. But for sure I will come back. So until then, ou revoir!