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, November 30, 2009

More seme techniques

Yesterday there was an invitaional Jigeiko session in Hsin-Chu, at the Tsing-Hua University. About 50-60 people from Taipei, Hsin-Chu and Taichung joined the practice, including one 8th Dan, three 7th Dan, and a couple of national team members.

The practice lasted for about 1.5 hours with a small break in-between. I had about 6 jigeiko, some of which were difficult for me. My techniques for seme are still too few, and I didn't how to go in sometimes when fighting with more experienced kendoka.

Wen-Chie Chang Sensei from Hsin-Chu Kendokan pointed out to me that my men-strike is not straight enough. It tends to come in from my right side. It's probably because I tried to seme from this side so that the shinai came in from that direction. However, I need to take more care.

I also need to push my body forwards faster when striking. It's always faster to somewhat first jump forwards and then move the hands to strike in the last minute.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sticky right foot is no good

  • When stomping the right foot while doing kote-men, make sure the foot is not sticking to the floor. It should be agile enough to bounce up again quickly to take another step.
  • When doing hiki-men, stomp the floor with the right foot while striking to gain the initial momentum backwards, and then use the sole of the feet to sprint back.
  • When doing hiki-do, make sure the shinai hits on the side of the do sharply. And it's ok to go a little towards the left-back.
  • when doing hiki-kote, make sure the distance is enough when striking.
  • I ask Chang Sempai about how to execute small men-strike correctly. He said to push the left hand forwards, and make the left elbow straight. The right hand naturally becomes straight as well. The tsuba will be slightly below the shoulder if striking someone of the same height.
  • Ho-Sensei told me to use my eyes more to observe my opponent and react accordingly. Also, I shouldn't let my emotion overcomes by senses, striking when there's no chance. (Hmm... I was thinking, there's no chance for me to hit him anyways...)
I'm sometimes wondering how much have I improved since I came back to Taiwan. Sensei and Sempais told me every now and then the same things on which I should improve.

Ho-Sensei asked a few people including me if we want to participate in team competition in the National Chung-Cheng Cup on 12-13th Dec. (Don't ask me why there're all called Chung-Cheng, the other name of the former president Chiang Kei-Shek. Anyways, this is the whole country whereas, the one I just participated was for Taipei and mostly northern counties.) I said yes right away, which was unlike me who always has to "think about it". And later he asked me if I want to fight also in the individuals. To that, I also answered quickly, "Maybe not." Thinking, "Jeez, this is the national tai-kai. What a mountain to climb!" But now I'm reconsidering, since I need to get as much shiai-experience as possible while I still could.

Ozawa Sensei is visiting Taiwan in December. He will come with one 8th Dan and 2 other 7th Dan teachers. I'm glad that I can take them to Taipei Kendokan to see good kendo in Taiwan. I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, November 09, 2009

2009 Taipei Chung-Cheng Cup

Yesterday, perhaps the biggest yearly kendo competition in Taipei took place in the Taipei Sports Hall. We (Taipei Kendokan) have two men teams, one above 30 years-old and the other under, and two female teams. This was the second time I fought in the competition in Taiwan, which was also the second time I represented the Taipei Kendokan. I feel privileged, of course, because there are full of strong players in my dojo, and still Ho-Sensei and Sempais asked me every time if I want to participate in the competition.

I've been also eager to accumulate competition experiences, since it's always been my problem bringing out anything resembles the level of my kendo in practices. Nervousness had always made my muscles tense.

This time though I proved to myself that I can do it, thanks to my teammates who encouraged me to fight in the final. They could have sent the best five, all at the 3rd/4th Dan level. "Do you want to give it a shot?" Our captain asked me. With a slight hesitation, I nodded. What went across my mind was, "What if I lose? Or worse, what if I can't even put up a good fight and make a fool out of myself and the team?" I don't know. But what I knew was that if I didn't try, I'd never know and never cross that barrier.

I was assigned the senpo position (the first fighter), meaning that my job was to either win or draw. Because it matters to the overall spirit of the team. Up from sonkyo, I immediately applied pressure and striked men. My opponent blocked it, and pushed me to the floor. It was only seconds into the match. I bet my teammates were speechless. They told me from the outside that I should jump a little to loosen up my body, which also refocus my mind. I did as told, which you can see from the video. :) My moment came as my opponent missed a strike and, immediately after turning back, he wanted to strike. I took his kote. What a sensation! Especially from the cheering of my teammates! Though I lost in the end, my teammates were very happy about my performance and gave a lot of encouragement. They went on to recover and finally win the whole match. Wow!

To be honest, I think he wasn't much stronger than I was, but he certainly had more competition experiences than I did. I was pleased with myself that I didn't let my nerve took over, which had been my biggest problem so far. If I can achieve this every time in the future, it will be much easier for me to learn and gain the experiences I need.

(I was the red)

Some thoughts:
  • If the opponent is large and keeps pushing, step sideways so that his momentum doesn't come directly at me.
  • Execute hikki-waza immediately when the strike was invalid and we end up in tsubazeiai.
  • Observe the habits of the opponent and react accordingly. For example, how he blocks strikes.
  • When separating from tsubazeriai, becareful of strikes from mid-distances. For example, the second men point he got in the match.
  • Eat more and put up some weight!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Concentrate with your eyes

Tomorrow is the Taipei Chung-Cheng Cup where I'll be fighting as a member of the under-30 team from Taipei Kendokan. In the past two weeks, due to my busy schedule I could only stay in Hsin-Chu and train with the university students. The downside is that it's hard to find a competative opponent to fight against especially in terms of speed and putting pressure. So that, everytime when I go back to Taipei Kendokan, it feels like I hadn't trained for a while.

Chang Sempai gave me some advices during waza-geiko:

  • focus on using your eyes and not the feet nor the hands, to observe the opponent's movement and find the right moment to strike.
  • stronger forward motion.

I found also that I tend to lean back a little when striking men. My cut is not strong enough and is easy to loose an ai-men facing a strong fighter. I should correct this mistake.

I hope tomorrow I will be in a good condition for the matches!