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!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Excursion to Japan

This Friday I will be in Tokyo staying for one day, and on the next day I will fly to Miyazaki in Kyushu to visit Ryuzo kun (who won the Mumeishi 3 this year in London!), before going back to Tokyo on next Tuesday. Then I will be wiping the floor of Kobukan until the 16th Dec.

Can't wait!

The winner's smile! Congratulations!!

28th Nov 2008 - 16th Dec 2008
Tokyo and Miyazaki (Kyushu)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Taiwan 3: Tao-Yuan Kendokan 桃園劍道館

From Taiwan 2008

From Taiwan 2008

From Taiwan 2008

So I came back last night alive from the Tao-Yuan Kendokan in Tao-Yuan Tao-Yuan County, which is about 1.5 hours far from where I live by driving. Fortunately, Mr. Chou a Sempai affiliated to Tokyo Kobukan drove me there.

The keiko consisted of only jigeiko and mawari-geiko at the end, for about two hours. There were about 20 kendoka in total, all yudansha coming from not only Tao-Yuan, but Taipei and nearby places.

Most of the national team members come from this place because they had much resources to develop their kendo from very early since the Japanese occupational period, combing with the effort of Hsu Sensei, 7th Dan Kyoshi, currently the national team coach, to train his talented students.

Atmosphere is very relaxed there, much like a social club. People arrived gradually at different time and started keiko on their own in pairs. Some sat on the side and chatted for a long time before putting on men and practise. It didn't appear to me that they take it seriously, but somehow they do strong kendo. So much so that they won 22 times in a row in the national championship. I fought with Mr. Chou and Huang Sensei first, then the rest of the national squad members. Because of the mawari-geiko at the end of the training. I had the opportunity to fight with most of the squad members.

The style here in this dojo is much sportive I felt. Young, fast, a lot of techniques and the distance between the opponents is short, usally at chikma. It's not my favourite type of kendo, but I can still learn from them, and people can do very well with it in competitions. Their techniques are however very good, and because they started at a young age, they have solid foundations.

I didn't do so badly, and was able to put pressure and use waza to score points. However, I know pretty well that I was pushing myself to the limit to match some of them.

I was again told that I should improve my basics, like pushing with the left leg, using more left hand, and move forwards instead of right when striking kote. Then I will be very powerful.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Taiwan 2: Taipei Kendokan 台北劍道館

From Taiwan 2008

From Taiwan 2008

From Taiwan 2008

From Taiwan 2008

Today I visited the Taipei Kendokan, led by Ming-Hwa Ho, 7th Dan Kyoshi, who also represents Taiwan to fight in the individual division in the world championships. The 1.5 hours training is only for yudansha, starting with kirikaeshi, followed by men-uchi, kote-men uchi, oji-wazas and then jigeiko. Hsu Sensei commented pointed out that when striking men or kote, one should always win at the seme stage first. "Striking without having the centre is like suicide," he said, "you'd get killed certainly."

I fought 4 jigeikos, first with a 3rd/4th Dan, and then with Ho Sensei, Hsu Sensei and finally Mr. Do who is 4th Dan. The overall level is very high and the average age of the kendoka is relatively young, perhaps 28 years old. Most of them fights very competitively, however with also good postures, which is an impressive thing.

It was rather impossible with Ho Sensei. When he sees the moment he just went for it like a blitz. With Hsu Sensei I could manage some ippons, but he commented afterwards that my Kamae was not good. Perhaps I moved my kensen away from the centre too much.

I was really exhausted towards the end. My left leg just could not follow up quickly anymore, which is a shame. But there's not point complaining if I'm not putting in enough time to strengthen my leg muscles.

Next Monday hopefully I will visit the dojo where most of the Taiwanese national team members train. I hope that I will come out alive.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Taiwan 1: I-Shin Kendojo 一心劍道館

From Taiwan 2008

From Taiwan 2008

From Taiwan 2008

On the third day of being in Taipei, I had my first ever kendo training with the Taiwanese kendo community at the I-Shin Kendojo. The dojo is led by Tsai Sensei, 6th Dan Renshi, who is also a good friend of Ryuzo kun. And Ryuzo's wife contacted him a couple of weeks ago from Paris that I will be visiting his dojo, so Tsai Sensei very kindly drove me to his dojo in case I didn't know the way. The dojo is unfortunately 1.5 hours away from where I live by public transportation, but that's life...

I attended two sessions on the day. The first two hours was for beginners alike, from no grades to about sho-dan level. There were about 25 kids, 10 high school students and 7-8 adults (me being one of them). It was surprising to see the kids doing good and proper cuts, and having such a level of energy!

After suburi, we did a lot of renzoku-waza practice - combinations of men, dou, and kote cuts as well as taiatari-hiki-men/dou/kote. Though my level exceed most of them who attended this beginner's session, it was good to recap the basics, like what people do in kendo seminars.

The feed back I had from Tsai Sensei is that my wrist snap at the end of the strike is not enough.

The second session of the evening is for yudansha. About 15 people attended the class. Tsai Sensei wife Mihara san, 5th Dan, also joined the training as well as I-Chung Lin, 4th Dan, whom I have contacted previously by email. There were also I think 2 other 4th Dan and a handful of 3-2 Dan kendoka.

Not suprisingly, they have solid basics - cuts and foot works. Their taiatari was also solid. One can see these by simply recognising their movement after the strikes. People who have good body posture and footwork moves almost like a bullet before and after the strike - the whole body (especially the hip) moves as one gaint bullet.

We started with small men and kote strikes, and then Waza geiko in teams. Tsai Sensei emphasized that in waza-geiko, the one who executes the oji-waza must apply seme. This doesn't mean simply "stepping in'' but with pressure.

He commented on my debana-kote, and said that I should step in after the kote-cut instead of turning immediately sideways.

We had about 10 mins of mawari-geiko during which I fought with I-Chung and Tong-Fung Li, who I think is 3-4th Dan. I could got hit mostly but could also score a few kote or men cuts.

In the final jigeiko with Tsai Sensei, I didn't feel I was doing my best, because I hesitated too much before striking, which is really a beginner's mistake. I couldn't land any strike on him, and received coutlessly many straight men-cuts from him. He has practised kendo for 30 years, and had truely the level of kendo to match the 6th Dan grade, which I'm very cetrain of.

Feed backs:

  • Tsai Sensei: Think but don't think too much during jigeiko.
  • The left side of my body (left hand and foot) needs to be strengthened.
  • The left foot must follow up quickly while executing tsuki.
  • I-Chung: Good timing with the kote strike.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Long-awaited trip home

12th Nov 2008 - 11th Jan 2009

I will be writing my kendo experiences in in Taiwan in the following weeks. Stay tuned!!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

New chapter in life..

From My PhD Defense 03/11/2008

My academic hat. There is no graduation ceremony in German universities. So the tradition in our group is that the members will make one for him. 

From My PhD Defense 03/11/2008

Finally the long battle was over. Though I pretty much crewed up the exams, but I managed to pass it somehow, and the defense (or viva) was not too bad.

The day after my defense my dojo mates gave the best present they could have given me - kakari-geiko!! After the training I almost puked... for not having enough sleep lately and weak body. I need to recover somehow. Yes! Holidays!

Next Tuesday I will be flying to Taiwan, and will stay there until mid January. In Dec, I will make a visit to Tokyo for 2 weeks  to do kendo, and Miyazaki for a few days to visit Ryuzo kun a very good friend of my whom I met in Paris.

This will also be the first time that I do kendo in Taiwan. I hope it will be good!

In this trip I hope to, at the same time, sort out some doubts as to what to do next in life... Not a easy one..