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!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

17th Leipzig Kendo Championship

Just came back from the 17th Leipzig Kendo Championship, which was a nice day out. I didn't prepare for it like I did last year, so I didn't have a particular goal and the pressure that came with it. It is important, however, that I attend Taikai occasionally, and I'm glad I did.

As a newly donned Yudansha I fought in the Dan division. I helped out with the refereeing, which was my first time in a championship. A valuable experience. It's very tiring to be a referee, because not only one needs to validate scores, there are so many things that can happen. If the binding of the armour is loose, for example. At the same time, the three referees need to maintain good relative positions as the kendoka move.

The whole day I fought only four matches, 1 in the Dan division and 3 in the team division. In the Dan division, I was very unfortunate to meet Tomowari Miwa Sensei (6th Dan Renshi) from Berlin, who is also the trainer of KenVO squad. I was overwhelmed by the pressure coming from him and myself, that when I watched the videos, I saw many passed debana moments. The fight was quickly over. I will let the video speak for itself.

In the team division, I was in the Dresden A team (with Stephan, Georg, Tino, and Partrick), fighting as Taisho. Normally Stephan fights in this position, but today we placed each person in order to win the Berlin team. And since Miwa Sensei is their Taisho, heh heh..., I'm the sacrifice (quite happily in fact, since how many people at my level have the chance to fight a 6th Dan sensei in Taikai?). We met them in the final match. And before that, I won my two matches against less experienced kendoka, so they weren't that difficult (no videos unfortunately). My match against Miwa Sensei was the last of the day. I changed my style from the first to the second fight.  I jumped too much in the last fight. Everyone told me afterwards that the first men should have counted (including one of the referees and Miwa-Sensei himself, which was comforting). Again I'll let the video speak for itself. (note: I lost to 1 kote-suriage-men and 2 Hanzoku :((.. )

In the end, our team won the second place. Our all-women team also won against all-men team, which was exciting to watch! In the other divisions, we also have good results. Lilli won the women's division and the third place in the Kyu division. She performed very nice and strong kendo today as well as all the other Dresden girls. Seeing the great performance by the Dresden kenshis inspired me to train harder. 

Here are some thoughts:

  • Overcome the nerve and be more stable. In the past I could bring at least 70% to competitions, but this time only 50%... 
  • Train the eyes.
  • Some of my men strikes were good but the rest so so.  I need to be consistent.
  • Train the eyes even more.

The other videos will follow shortly.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Don't leave the upper body behind

Only trained once a week in the past two weeks because the amount of stuff I needed to do at the moment. I'm happy that things outside the dojo are going in general quite well at the moment. This gives me a more positive feel when I come to the dojo as well. I remember last year during particularly stressful time, kendo was my meditation and my escape. Every time when I came to the dojo I felt like I was coming to take a massive dosage of paracetamol, and I took it willingly.

Stress brings good kendo. I think this was almost what Jindra told me last year as to why kendo in Japan is so beautiful. Because it is shaped by the stress in the society. Though it could be an exaggeration, there is however some sense in it. Apart from techniques, people search for the spirituality as well as the self-confidence in the dojo. These two elements naturally become the main emphasis in the adult kendo.

Yesterday's training was one of those in which I suddenly understand something. This time was to do with men-strike (how surprising..). I put my weight, especially my upper body, more towards the front at the instant of the striking. This make my strike faster and more explosive. Before I tried too much to bring my hip forward, and ha.. the result was that I brought only the hip. My upper body was behind. Of course, if the upper body is leaning too much forward, it's not good either. It's a very delicate tipping point. For me, I need to be more consistent. If I do it once, I need to do it the every next time. This is my goal.

Apart from the body, my left fist sometimes goes slightly over to the right of my centerline during men-strike. This is very bad, as my opponent can easily win during ai-men. 

On a completely different story, there have been over 10,000 visits to this blog! Thanks for continuing to come back. When I started writing this blog I never thought or worried if there'd be anyone viewing, as it's just like thinking out loud for me. It makes me happy that some people find it helpful, and over the past couple years I have got some nice emails from some of you. Thank you!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hakamada Sensei 8th Dan

I just saw from the ZNKR website that Daizoh Hakamada Sensei, with whom I had the privilege to practise in Nittaidai last year passed the Hachidan test, at age 59. Congratulations to him! The most distinctive impression that I have of him is his kamae. His kensen is aimed at the opponent's left-eye. Which was the first time I noticed this style. (This is rarely heard of in Europe, but quite common in Japan, Taiwan and Korea. There are in fact five different chudan no kamae, aimed at throat, centre of face, left-eye, left-hand of jodanka, and right-hand of jodanka. I recommend everyone try them out.)

I hope the list of Senseis I know making to the hachidan will increase soon...