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!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Annoyed terribly

It really annoys me BIG TIME when my opponent simply raise his/her shinai to block my strike during practice. It's understandable if it's ippon-shobu or in shiai, but what's the point in normal practices? First, it looks bad, secondly, one never improves if he/she keeps doing that. Being hit makes one realise one's own mistakes, so he can improve faster.

Last Friday seeing almost everyone blocks half of the time in jigeiko, I went ballistic and charged like mad into my opponents. I really want to tell everyone, fight the centre, and not blocking. If you have the centre you do not need to block. Blocking should happen only if it's intended as part of a waza.


Georg said...

Hello Ivan,

sadly to read these words here instead of talking about this topic before or after a training.

First of all I agree with you on the first paragraph. The motodachi is supposed to ensure a maximal gain for the kakari in each exercise. Doing things at common excercises which are not supposed to be done are wrong and slow down the progressing of all practitioners.

But I disagree about the second paragraph.
One should always take care about the level and skills of the counterpart.
If he/she isn't to skilled blocking and raising the arms is a normal reflex. It defenitely takes time to avoid this reflex and learn different things.
How should one fight for the centre if he/she isn't skilled enough to do so?

Don't take the following words as a personal attack but try to think about the point of view:
In my opinion you are concentrating too much on the centre. Holding the centre as good as possible is something I personally understand as blocking too. Your mind freezes and instead of holind the centre you could always try to do a waza if the opponent strikes. Even Ai-Uchi is better than lowering the kensen to control the centre.

Gaining the centre is one important part of Kendo, but personally I prefer training of the movement first. Most persons lack of accurate strikes during ji-geiko. Doing many attacks trains your movement as well as your eyes and you intentionally understand things like seme and centre step-by-step.

I saw your "ballistics" and thought you should more take care of maai and ki-ken-tai-ichi instead of the centre.

Awww... and if the other one is not striking: force him to move, let him hit you, do waza next time and increase the speed and rhythm of the geiko.

See you later.

Ivan said...

Hey Georg,

thanks for your comment. I agree with you on most points, on the others, I think it's a matter of personal preference, and misunderstanding. To avoid further misunderstanding I'd prefer to discuss face to face, if you want.

The way I went ballistic on Friday was a terrible example of kendo. It was a realise of frustration, and that wasn't so cool to be honest.

Today I have to skip the training (moving appartment).

See you on Wed!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ivan

I understand what you say but I cannot agree. I really feel annoyed when I try men and the newbie third-time-in-bogu can block easily. But I belive it is not his fault, he/she is doing the proper thing according to his/her stage. As George said, it is a natural reflex. In fact, I consider it is my fault. Probably because of a lack of an accurate shikake waza, speed, strength, determination... I get very, very annoyed, but with myself. I must practice more, and more focused.

It is said that kendo is a fight against your emotions, not again a physical opponent. I believe so.

By the way, have you read this: http://www.kendo.org.uk/pmwiki.php/Main/Attitudestojigeiko
Very, very interesting ideas in it.


Ivan said...

Hi Hartim,

I think it's down to what each individual's interpretation of what kendo is. The younger or beginner kenshi are more active (while still learning the movements, as Georg put it), whereas the more seasoned kendoka play kendo like it's a competition of mental concentration. So the goal is different. However, I listened to what the Sensei's I have met in the past few months, what they think I should work on.

Here are a couple of facts of that I was told:
- if just do a simple block (whether a reflex or intended or not), I got told not to do it ever again. That's if I do it just once!

- when attacking always trying to gain the centre first.

I think kendo in many ways teaches people how to hold back "certain" human instinct. Naturally, we want to attack, attack and attack, and likewise, we want to raise our shinais to defend. But it teaches us that when attacking, you should wait for the moment, and when defending, you should defend in a way that you're posture is still good.

I think it's good that everyone focus on themselves instead of saying what the others should do. You're doing the right thing. But when you keep exposing the mistake of the other by hitting the same spot (while he raise shinai leaving kote and dou open) and the other doesn't realised, you do get very frustrated.

Yes, I have read the article by Honda Sensei. There is a thread on kendo world on blocking with many different views, make sure you check it out!

Thanks for the comment and hope to see more of you here!

Anonymous said...

I think if the partner in Jigeko blocks, it's a prove of the own skill. Because either you are fast enought to hit or not. On the other side when you recognise that the partner is blocking again and again you can trick on him and hit another point than thought by him.
Finally it's also an interessting, but sometimes also frustrating, excercise. If you have an enemy who will block everytime. It is your exercise to hit him.
High grade Sensei's allway's do that, for another reason e.g your are not in the middle or so, but the main thing is the same. When your seme and your middle are good the enemy hasn't a chance of blocking after all.


Ivan said...

High grade sensei's never blocks. Period.

Example: do you see any single blocking in this video?


I don't want to waste my time on changing other people's opinion if they insist. I think just think we over-rated the importance of blocking.

Georg said...

This isn't a video one should follow. Its about 3 minutes long containing 10 attacks.

This style of kendo is possible after plenty years of training. You need perfect eyes, body control and so on...
But we all will never ever reach this abilities if we just stand still... we have to move:
2006 玉龍旗 high school kendo championship final
In our age these senseis did practice very hard, if we could we should look at how they practiced in our age.

Ivan said...

sigh.. standing there not moving is NOT what I mean. Quite the contrary, blocking is the easy way out. You can block all the time and never sweat a single bit.

Many people confuse fighting for centre as static and still. But that's just not true. As I have fought very exhausting fights with much older people, exactly because they attack the centre, and exactly because I don't block so I have to work hard to think of other ways of counter striking. Blocking makes everything easy, and is no fun to me at least.

If you want to do high school kendo that's your choice. But that's not the only way to improve. I'm ten years older than these kids and I don't get satisfaction in doing what they do.

The senseis who gave me advices knew very well my level and I believe in them. Perhaps you got different advices from your sensei, which I fully respect. I think definitely there is also a fundamental difference of what kendo means between us. And it evolves naturally with age, your background, and your experiences in life, etc.

I think my Taiwanese cultural background definitely plays an important role in that. So I don't really expect you to think the same way as I do.

But I hope we keep the diversity and respect in each other's ideas as such. Afterall kendo is supposed to bring together people not dispute.

Anonymous said...

"High grade sensei's never blocks. Period."

I fought against many sensei's at sunday and all blocked. They haven't blocked by a reflex or something, but to demonstrate that my strike wasn't fast and directly enought. If anyone at a lower level block's it is for another reason maybe by a reflex but, and this is important, if they can block the strike it wasn't fast or directly enought.
So maybe the reason for blocking is another but the reason for an succesfull block or for an unsuccesfull strike is the same.

Even if I like to block in some fights when the enemy is good enought it won't work. So maybe not the kenshi who blocks is the bad guy.
Don't get me wrong I'm also frustrated by someone who alway's blocks but if I'm able to get a point against such a kenshi I'm very happy.

But like you said: There are many way's to become a good kenshi and everyone should choose his own.


Stelios said...

Hi Ivan,
i had the same problem with u...the only difference was that i was difencing myself always...that was happed for 2 reasons...firstly my reflexes were very fast and secondly i didnt realise that jigeiko its only practice and not a shiai...i am only one year with kendo, and now i am starting to understand some basic points of kendo...i think now that i am using my fast reflex to attack in jigeiko and not to defend myself.if you are always defending yourself, you are getting tired more fast...but if you meet a kendoka that always blocking your cuts, be smart to brake his defence, to be more fast...its a very good personal training...