The day got off to a slow start. I was achy and dull and slow and had trouble waking up. First thing I did was to take my shaving gear downstairs to make myself look presentable for kendo practice. That's one of the many things I've learned about kendo: make sure that you are clean, look neat and that you have your stuff together. It's one of the many psychological aspects of the sport. It's a reassurance to yourself and it also signals to your classmates and opponents that you are ready and that you take things seriously.
A trim and a shave later I double checked my bags and got Dana downstairs for breakfast. As expected, Martijn showed up at 0830 after which we piled into my Honda and drove to the dojo. We were running a little bit late. Class started as usual: get dressed, get your gear setup in the dojo and then warm up and practice kata. Martijn and I went through kata 1 through 4 twice and I got a rather important pointer from Raoul-sempai: my judgement of the maai is completely off! Martijn doesn't even have to step back in kata 1 in order to avoid my strike. I need to be more confident and closer.
Warming up was the usual: stretching, suburi and footwork training. Extra attention was paid to the fumikomi aspect, which is my goal for 2012. With regards to fumikomi I'm doing plenty of things wrong!
The last point was also noticed during jigeiko, where Ton-sensei kept shoving me in my back after I struck him. Basically: "why the heck are you slowing down, while you should be speeding up?!" He's right of course ^_^
After warming up we all got geared up. I wasn't the slowest (huzzah!) but I did need to redo my men at least once afterwards. The chin pad I was wearing kept the men from sitting right, so I'll replace that with the pillow I made. The better part of the hour was spent on waza practice: debana-men, men/suriage-men, men/suriage-kote, kote/do, men/hiki-men. I might've forgotten some, or gotten names wrong though :D Maybe Hillen or Kris can name them all again.
And the jigeiko! Because I was redoing my men I came late to the party and four pairs had already formed. So when Martijn bowed out I quickly grabbed the chance to 'dance' with Yann. Yann then was asked to sparr by Ton-sensei, but I followed quickly thereafter. And then class was already over! We officially closed the session in our traditional sense, after which Kris, Martijn, Charel and I quickly donned our men again! In preparation of the february 19th kyu tournament, Kris quickly walked me through the basics and etiquette of shiai. And finally ten minutes of jigeiko, which were interspersed with helpful comments and analysis. He was going easy on me ;)
Because I was late in going home I got dressed as quickly as I could. Mercifully my hakama cooperated perfectly when I folded it! :D Back home all my sweat drenched gear (it's never been this wet before!) was dispatched to the laundry and my bogu was set out to airdry. Speaking of "back home": Marli and Dana had gone out to Bij Honing for sandwhiches! Fillet Americain and salmon salad make a great lunch! :9
To finish it all off, simply because we could, all three of us took a bath together. So now we're all relaxed, comfortable and squaky clean! I'll probably do a little bit of cleaning around the house this afternoon, take a short nap and fiddle around with Shadow Era.
What a great day!
Something else important that Kris taught me during our private jigeiko: "Don't let them see that you're tired". Sure, you're tired! But instead mask it by changing your pace. I'm not eightteen anymore and I can't go head to head using my younger opponents' styles. I can only keep up a flurry of blows for so long, so I'll need to be smart about it. When do I unleash a torrent of strikes? And when do I bide my time, using other techniques?
The Sankei kendo glasses worked a treat by the way! They steamed up a little bit later on during class, but once I got moving again that was quickly resolved. At the start of class they were uncomfortably tight, but after getting really into the swing of things I didn't even notice anymore. The pressure of the men himo on my temples was worse, as was the sting of the strikes to my head ^_^
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All content, with exception of "borrowed" blogpost images, or unless otherwise indicated, is copyright of Thomas Sluyter. The character Kilala the cat-demon is copyright of Rumiko Takahashi and used here without permission.