Practice began with Sensei giving a short talk on shinai maintenance:
- As shinai are made from bamboo, don’t try and sand out the dents as you’ll split the fibres
- If doing any maintenance be careful of splinters under the skin, and also try not to breathe in too much of the bamboo dust
We began with kata. Depending on people’s grade they either ran through the entire Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho or numbers 1-4, with some people moving onto Kendo no Kata 1-3. Pointers I recieved were:
- In bokuto kihon 4, kakarite’s initial attempt at men needs to be a strong cut as it then gives more momentum/impetus to the rest of the kata
- again with kihon 4, be careful of how far you step back during the hiki waza. The cut want to be deeper than would be usual with a shinai.
- kihon 5, the debana kote should be made mainly with a stretch of the wrists (also must resist the urge to fumikomi :) )
- kendo no kata 3:
- As uchidachi you initial parry should be strong, with the 2nd weaker as you’re overpowered by shidachi’s push
- During uchidachi’s parry’s the feel of pulling the kashira (right word for a bokken or just swords?) should be much like that when receiving kirikaeshi.
- uchidachi’s raising of sword should be strong as it’s actually threatening shidachi which is what makes him move backwards
- The ‘joining’ of shidachi and uchidachi when moving back to the center should be reasonably seamless (ie; there shouldn’t be a pause while the kensen connect, it should flow).
- Generally, to improve the appearance of the kata the movement in should start off strong becoming warier as you become closer (ie; at 9 steps your safe and showing strength, but as you come closer you should start to be more aware of approaching danger). On moving out it should be the reverse, from kensen touching the movement is careful as there’s still a chance of attack but then moving faster once you’re out of danger. This applise to both Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho and kendo no kata.
We then put on armour and begain shinai practice. We began by doing kirikaeshi at walking pace. This made it obvious how much you can rely on momentum when doing kirikaeshi at full speed. Also made you focus much more on the cuts and where they were landing. I felt I had my left hand too high for the saya-men cuts, so there’s something to work on. Moved out of rotation to work with the beginners doing a basic form of kirikaeshi, Sensei had then doing it using only men-uchi and sliding footwork. When I rejoined rotation we were working on kote-men, 2 sets using one breathe. Then moved onto an exercise where kakarite would push motadachi’s shinai (with motodachi pushing back), then releasing the pressure and cutting a small kote or kote-men. Felt that the work Sensei and Sempai had done with me on kihon 4 really improved my kote here, I could feel quite a bit more ‘pop’ than usual, also the kote-men I felt I’ve made an improvement on the footwork and wasn’t ending up to close for the men, think again this was down to extending arms for kote more. Then moved on a ‘routine’ uchikomigeiko (men, kote, do, kote-men, kote-do). After a number of rotations Sensei doubled the cuts.
We then finished and Sensei asked us all to say a few words about practice. I commented that I am finding kata very useful at the moment. I think this is mainly because I’ve got the base movements down (just), and exploring some of the other concepts is making me think about my shinai kendo a bit more and also carrying over good habits.
Spent the session working through kata. Looked at both Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho and the full Kendo Kata.
Due to some gradings coming up Sensei worked through Bokuto Kihon 1-4. Making note of the following points:
Kihon 1 – Check distances. Each cut has a different start ‘distance’ (for the initial men a little closer than for the kote strike but not as close as for do).
Kihon 2 – Should be a clean flowing movement between Kote and Men
Kihon 3 – The harai movement should be small and coordinated with the right foot moving forward and with the upswing for the men cut. It shouldn’t look like a wild swing in from the side and then a disconnected cut. Also motodachi should only allow their bokken to move just enough outside of the bodyline to allow kakarite to make the men.
Kihon 4 – Both sides should take a 1/2 step in to tsuba-zerai. tsuba-zerai should be done with straight arms, and the bokken should not be vertical as then your centre would be off.
Then we worked through Kendo kata 1-3
Sensei spent a lot of time correcting kamae. Left (hidari) jodan should be done without excessively turning the torso, the left hand should be over the left foot and above the eyeline. Moving in hidari jodan from chudan you should lift your arms and then they should move into the final position from above (ie; swing up with a large movement and then settle down into jodan).
Kata 1 – After the initial approach you should be close enough that Uchidachi’s strike would hit Shidachi (the aim being to cut through the tsuka (handle), both of shidachis hands, their head and down through the torso) so that shidachi has to move to avoid the cut. Uchidachis swing should be a large arc (based on what they’re trying to cut through), and should leave uchidachi off balance (weight too far forward.). Shidachi’s nuki movement to avoid should be small, and the sword/hands should move upwards not backwards (ie the kensen shouldn’t drop and the bokken shouldn’t become level).
Kata 2 – Uchidachi’s cut should end just below shidachi’s wrist. Shidachi’s strike should be made with a step forward (ie; shidachi shouldn’t just step back and strike, but should evade (nuki waza) and then step in to ensure the cut is on target)
Kata 3 – Sensei broke this down into small steps to build it up:
- First, uchidachi performed tsuki with shidachi performing the parry. The tsuki needs to be a strong tsuki and aimed towards the solar plexus. Shidachi’s parry should be performed while stepping backwards but pushing the arms/bokken forwards. The parry should be enough to move uchidachi’s kensen, but only enough to avoid the body/
- Then performed the above, but this time with shidachi’s retaliatory tsuki/push.
- Then begining with the approach from gedan, and trying to build contact/tension while coming up into chudan and then following through with the sections already practiced.
Finally got the photos from the Bowden sorted and uploaded. Not many this time, was rather busy running around with the following duties:
- General Dogsbodying
For the rest of the pictures
Pics from the Premier Cup to follow at some point.
I can now recommend kendo as a means of staving off a headache, glad I went along last night.
Sensei asked me to lead Taiso. Remembering the stretches wasn’t too bad, but I had some problems with counting. It’s very strange to be leading the count rather than responding.
Started with kirikaeshi and do-kirikaeshi.
Then moving onto Men strikes and oji waza. Sensei built the practice up by having us do the following exercises:
- Kakarite seme’s in and strikes men
- kakarite seme’s in, hold pressure and contact until motodachi opens for strike and then strikes as quickly as possible. Sensei said that it wasn’t necessarily the speedof the strike that was important, but being ready to move as soon as the opening came.
- kakarite seme’s in, motodachi tries to strike men when they feel threatened and kakarite responds with debana men or debana kote
- kakarite seme’s in, motodachi tries to strike men when they feel threatened and kakarite attempts oji waza of their choice
Sempai pointed out that I wasn’t really seme-ing far/strong enough as he didn’t feel ‘threatened’ enough to need to attack. I think this is another of these things where I’m doing things by rote rather than actually understanding how to do it, so need to be able to act differently depending on who I’m facing and under what circumstances.
Sensei explained to us his concept of Seme. That the crucial point in getting ippon is when the kensen are touching and seme is ust starting. And that seme carries right through the strike until you’ve turned to setup again. So from my limited understanding it seems that it carries through to what’s normally thought of as zanshin as well?
We then moved on kote-men and kote-do. Then using the same plan as above worked on oji waza in response to kote cuts.
Then it was time for jigeiko. I think I did OK, some things felt better this time. I was happy with my performance against sempai, unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to fence Sensei that evening.
A few more photos from my trip to the Great Central Railway. This time it’s mainly pieces of oil covered metal and rusting hooks.
2nd Practice at Eishin Juku last night. Another 2 new starters and 2 more people turning up from other dojos.
Started with kata. Worked on Bokuto Kihon form 1. I had problems with distance, I wonder if I’ve got used to practicing at certain places and subconciously picking up on distance markers, rather than actually knowing the distance from my partner?
Then moved onto shinai kendo.
After suburi we worked on cutting exercises without bogu. First of all Men. In pairs, motodachi would hold their shinai horizontally at head height. Kakarite would strike 10 times concentrating on keeping arms in position and stretching wrists, then 10 times with slightly more force and tenouchi, and finally 10 times with a small fumikomi to try and improve ki-ken-tai-ichi. I found the last one quite tricky as I kept having the urge to use a full stomp rather than the little one that was required, think I need to work on fumikomi-ing to the distance needed rather than always trying for the long distanct.
Then moved onto do cuts. First exercise in pairs was just striking normal do from a static position, then moving on to alternating cutting normal do with gyaku-do. The next exercise was kakarite standing with their feet apart and slightly sunken, motodachi would cut men, kakarite perform kaeshi while cutting alternate do and gyaku-do. The important part was that kakarite was moving their hips across their feet while cutting, the idea being to bring the hips into the cutting action for do.
Then moved onto Kirikaeshi and Do-kirikaeshi. Sensei asked me to work with the new starters working on basic men cuts while the rest of the group moved onto ‘structured’ uchikomigeiko (ie Sensei laid down which cuts in which order).
We hosted the Bowden and Premier Cup taikai at Kashi no Ki over the weekend. Both events ran very smoothly, luckily we had enough people to cover all those little jobs that come up (who remembers to add 1 person to run the BKA stand?). In fact both days finished early which is pretty much unheard of :).
We also had a team in the Bowden, due to sickness we were down to 3 members so I stepped up to fill in on slot, and a gentleman from Kodokan filled in the other position. We beat Liverpool 2-0 but were then steam rollered out 5-0 by Do Shin Ken Yu Kai.
Took plenty of photos, now just starting the fun of working through them all.
I’ll be DJing at Infest this year, on the 2nd dancefloor on the Sunday between 23:00 and 00:30
Tonight was the first night of at a new Dojo in Nottingham. Was good to see a couple of people I used to train with at Doyukai reappear.
I did take the camera, but didn’t get a chance to use it.
Practice began with Wix Sensei welcoming everyone and explaining his thoughts on how the dojo would develop. Then we moved onto kata. We practiced Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon form number 1 and Kendo Kata 1 as well.
Then moved in bogu and began shinai kendo practice.
First exercise was to strike men from 1 step distance (using Okuri-ashi). First we’d move in to check correct distance, and then step back to make sure that the distance was right, and then cut 10 men.
Then moved onto Kirikaeshi and Do-Kirikaeshi. Followed by uchi-komigeiko, though following a set pattern rather than motodachi choosing.
Throughout the night I had problems with ‘sticky’ feet. Don’t know if it was down to overly sweaty feet or just getting used to a new floor but it did feel strange at points. Also felt myself lifting my right foot too high while attempting fumi-komi.
It’s great to have another dojo so close to home, there’s now 3 opportunities to practice withing 45 minutes of home each week. I must make sure I make the most of it. Was also good to have a brand new beginner come along last night, hopefully there’ll be enough interest to grow the dojo.
This weekend sees Kashi no Ki Kenyu Kai hosting the Bowden and Premier cup taikais in Ollerton. So I’ll be busy sitting on one of the shiai-jo scoring or timekeeping. Hope to get the camera out as well.