This weekend Kashi no Ki (Ollerton dojo) is hosting a seminar and grading for kyusha (grading is up to 2nd Kyu). Today was the seminar, led by Matsumoto sensei, the British coach
The theme of the seminar was ‘Kendo ‘Fundamentals’
Matsumoto Sensei started by talking about how one should dress and prepare yourself for kendo practice:
Kendogu – The keikogi should fit to nape of neck without being baggy. The back of gi should be flat and ‘taut’, so you need to check you’ve not ruffled it while putting on you hakame, if you have then pull it through the openings in the side of you hakeme. Hakame, when tied the front should be lower than back, and the hem bottomn should just touch the top of the feet at the front. Very important to do all of this correctly as it’s fundamental to good kendo, and will fail exams.
Tare, should always put on in seiza, make sure to tie excess himo out of the way, should be neat and flat at the back.
Do, the bottom should rest halfway down the tare-obi (the wide fabric part at the top of the tare) , it should hang straight with equal weight on both himo, pull the bottom himo on either side to ensure a tight knot. Asked about which himo first, explained that in Kendo left first when putting things on or stepping into kit, right first when taking thing off.
Seiza, should draw left leg back and sink to knee, but not flatten toes (ie move onto tops of feet) until both knees are down. Toes should be crossed (didn’t stress which way). Weight slightly on knees. Keep an upright and ready posture. Knees should be be 1-2 fists apart depending on your build. To stand you should first bring your toes back underneath your feet and then stand up in reverse (right then left).
Kamae. Should be balanced, stress should only be in the left foot and hara. My center is actually a little to the left of where I though it was, center should be occupied by the 2nd knuckle of the left thumb. Physical kamae is the most fundamental, mental kamae is also important. Should hold same kamae whilst moving. Should try to keep a ‘tall’ posture but keeping legs bent. Left foot should be raised about the same height as the height of the right toes. Kamae should be a ‘ready’ pose, ie you can react instantly to anything.
Suburi. Big joge suburi, use back to check for straight swing, cutting swing should be the largest circle possible with kensen. Men suburi, no tension till cut so don’t power through with arms. Saya-men, ensure left hand is centered, cut at 45 degrees but when pulling back up move more straightly (someone asked about whether it’s a straight lift or 45 degree pull out, no real answer (makita-sensei last year said 45 degreews to stop blade sticking)).
Moved onto paired suburi, with one recieving resoku men with shinai moving backwards and forwards. Then recieving saya-men. Sensei suggested that it’d be better to recieve keeping the left hand in the centre and then cutting forward with the right (timing was tricky and also felt a bit exposed without men on).
Kihon no bokuto with bokken. Ran through katas 1,2,4 with higher (Slightly) grades as motodachi. Emphasised distance and good cut with strong kiai. Then kyusha received
Quick break for Lunch
After lunch sensei introduced some drills based on kihon kata 1,2 and 4. He split them into 2 sets, in the first set we’d cut Men, kote, do and tsuki. For the second set we’d cut kote-men, men, move as into tsuba zeriai, hiki do and then men.
We performed these along the length of the dojo, so we could do repetitions on each pass (ie; set 2 twice). We started off with just Do and Tare, first with suri-ashi, then moving onto fumikomi. Gradually more bogu was put on, first kote, then men as well. Sensei always wanted to hear/feel loud kiai and good large correct technique. For some reason I kept trying to cut gyaky-dou rather than the normal dou, no idea why as it’s not something I normally do. In fact it took a while to realise what Sensei was telling me to correct when it was pointed out.
We also did Kirikaeshi solo (ie only striking, noone recieving).Then we formed into pairs and repeated the previous exercises, but this time striking and following through. Sensei stressed that the left foot shouldn’t move once you’ra at issoku-ittou-no-maai, and that you should push from there to cut.