I arrived in Newcastle where my father lives on Friday. On Saturday evening I stayed over at Ken Pepper's country house, whose son works in Sunderland. He is a member of KnK Kenyu Kai, and happened to be on a visit there which is much closer to Newcastle. So he very kindly allowed me to hop onto his car and drove me down to his lovely house.
Ken is a very interesting and kind man. He has a falconry, and has been breeding and training falcons for over 20 years. What a fascinating hobby! His son David is a former member of British kickboxing squad, and had won many titles, hoping one day to start kendo. I hope he succeeds on that.
In the evening, I learned that Trevor had told everyone about my visit, and asked everyone to show up. "Oops." I thought, and started to drink a lot of water in order to prevent dehydration from practising with zeal kendokas who want to squeeze every bit out of the poor visitor (rightly so!).
The training on the next day started at 10 am. About 15 people turned up for training. We spent the first half-an-hour on kata, which was good for me, since I haven't had enough practice and Trevor has a very good knowledge on kata.
The practice with bogu started as usual with a few rounds of kirikaeshi. There was a lot of kihon practice, all with large cuts. Even so, I could never had enough of kihon practice. But it had to stop at some point because, it's time for jigeiko!
I first fought with Robert Wix, who visited Dresden last year, though I didn't have the chance to practise with him last time. My second partner was a young chap, who had lots of energy. So I got a good work out, and tried also to use more oji-wazas. Then I practised with Trevor, which was the first time because in Tokyo we didn't have the opportunity to do so. Since I knew very well his philosophy of kendo is not far away from mine and that of members from Kobukan, after standing up from sonkyo I started to work my way to fight for the centre. I succeeded in landing a couple of good straight men cuts, while also receiving a few good whacks on my head. A clear difference between Trevor and the other members of the dojo is that, I felt already a lot of pressure after bowing and during sonkyo. I see this as a sign of respect for the opponent, that he is being taken seriously. This also engaged me even more for the fighting that was to follow.
I had two more jigeikoes, one with Ken and the other with a younger member Akagi san. Ken's body condition didn't allow him to move his lower body fast, so he concentrated more on reacting to my movement. My job became trying to make him respond first and then respond in return, i.e. putting pressure by faking men or kote strikes and then strike.
After the keiko, Trevor took me to a Chinese restaurant and had much pleasant chat about kendo experiences as well as other things.
Many thanks to Trevor, Ken and the members of Kashi-no-Ki Kenyu Kai. I hope we will meet again soon and practise kendo. I'm very curious and expecting a good kendo development in everyone here.
Two feedbacks from Trevor:
- For the zanshin of Hiki-men the shinai should be about 45 degrees and the tip should not point too low. This is of course for a fast strike from jodan if the opponent chases up.
- My left foot is sometime too far behind from the right in kamae.