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!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Maai (間合;Distance)

Recently, I have been working on getting the correct distance, or the maai. Maai is the distance between the two opponents, and it is basically like the "shooting range" for guns.

However, not only the distance is important, the kamae also determines whether one is ready to jump forward or not, and whether one can jump far or close.

For example, if one were to strike debana-men, he must not jump too far because it would be slow, and also it is unnecessary since the opponent moves also forward. So, doing a successful debana-men should be aiming at "touching down" quickly with the right foot, in order to be faster than the opponent's men attack.

The separation between the two feet is also crucially important. At to-maai (far distance) and issoku-ittono-maai, the separation must be close to each other. To seme from to-maai, the left foot must draw towards the right foot quickly as the body advances forwards. However, to seme from issoku-ittono-maai ("one-cut-one-step" distance), the left foot should stay put, getting ready to strike at any moment.

It varies with the ability and the height of the person, of course. Generally speaking, when the opponent comes into the "shooting range", the left foot should not move, so that one can strike immediately when there is a chance.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

North-South Competition in Tainan Butokuden

With my calves still sore, typing an article on kendo training is like the cool down exercise for the mind.

Last month on 7/31, we traveled down south to Tainan City to participate in the annual North-South Competition. The main event is the match between the North Team and the South Team, which consists of kendoka from the northern and the southern Taiwan, much like the idea of the Tosai (East-West) Competition.

Each team has almost 80 players, and there are two courts. 40 players from each team fights in one court with the "point-scoring" system, where one player fights with only one player (the most common system); The other 40 players fight in the other court with the "advancing" system, where one player stays on the court to fight the next if he wins.

There is also team competition between dojos. The North won overwhelmingly on the day, and the matches were exciting accompanied by lots of cheering.

I won two matches and lost one. Our dojo's team were not able to advance, and lost to a team whom we should have won. I think I played a big role in our defeat, because I was the Senpo and lost 2-0. My opponent wasn't impossible to win, but he was more experienced and calm. He made me think that I had the chance, so I launched a kote-men strike. He scored with a kaeshi-do. Then I became impatient, and wanted to get the point back. He caught a debana-kote.

It's a classic example of not being calm enough, making enough seme before striking. A good lesson to be learned!!

The event took place in a very special place called the Butokuden "武德殿". It's officially classified as a national heritage, and there's a similar one in Kao-Hsiung, where we also went for a competition 2 years ago. It was built during the Japanese occupation period for the police to train kendo and judo.

Though victory didn't smile upon us, we did had a bit of fun taking a day trip down south in a nice weather. And I did learned a lot from this competition!