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Upcoming kendo exam

2011-03-29 07:53:00

All kendoka from our dojo recently received an email from our instructors to partake in the upcoming exam rounds. Seeing how I only started kendo two months ago I asked our sensei about his expectations for us newbies. His reply: "Just take the exam. Like everything in life all beginnings are easy." So there we go :)

Now, seeing how I'm still a mukyu ("no rank") the test will simply be to see if I've been learning properly for the past few months and with any luck I'll be getting closer and closer to the lowest rank there is, rokkyu (sixth rank). The funny thing about the ranking below ikkyu (first rank) is that there are no standardized requirements for them. Starting from ikkyu and proceeding to shodan, nidan and so forth everything has been standardized by the IKF, but below those everyone's free to decide on their own requirements. Thus sometimes you'll have national federations deciding on the conditions (like Germany, South Africa and Australia), often it's a regional thing (like US states) and sometimes even at the dojo level (like this one from Belgium). Apparently in Japan the kyu grades below ikkyu are even only given out to children, with adults not getting anything until they are deemed worthy of ikkyu. As you can see, there are many different approaches to the kyu grades.

Reading through all those descriptions there's a thread that runs through all of them:

We'll see :) I'm looking forward to the ninth of April, simply because it'll be a special day at the dojo. I don't particularly care about the outcome of the exam since I'm not there for achievements/ranking, but to learn kendo. tags: , ,

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A smaller kendo class

2011-03-28 07:45:00

This weekend's kendo class was a bit... weird, I guess. The group was very small, with only five people in bogu, with us four newbies in dogi or sweats and without our usual sensei. It was a productive and tiring class, but it seemed to lack coherence and rigour. We'll do better next time! ^_^

One big thing I took away from this lesson: posture.

Posture, posture, posture. Fukushou Hillen en Chris kept reminding me that I keep ducking, or bending backwards. Later on sempai Jeroen also noticed that I don't fully raise my shinai when striking, meaning that my left fist doesn't pass my face completely. Jeroen also immediately noticed something I'd been slightly aware of: when doing fumikomi I tend to keep my right foot very close to myself instead of really lunging forward. On the one hand this severly limits my range, on the other it ruins my fumikomi and my follow-through because I'm stomping my heel, instead of slapping my foot.

We were also informed that the 9th of april will be the next round of exams. I don't really know what sensei expects of us newbs who haven't even attained rokkyu yet, so I've fired off an email to him :)

Aside from the usual practice in the dojo I also try to get practice in at home. I run 2km twice or three times a week, train my lower arms with a Powerball I got years ago and I do suburi once of twice a week as well. Fun times! One very odd thing though: while I can run 1km without much trouble, the okuri-ashi warmups in the dojo really wear me out. Roughly 100m of sliding footwork at a rapid pace affects me more than 1km of jogging with intervals of running. Interesting ^_^; tags: , ,

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Spirit and endurance: two things I need

2011-03-20 07:46:00

Yesterday's kendo class was great! In sensei Ton's absence fukushou Kris and Hillen took the lead with many basic exercises for everyone, followed by half an hour of serious sparring. 

The biggest things that stood out for me were not about technique, but all mental:

The first point is obvious: after the first 1.5 hours of training I was already quite tired. Going up against my seniors many of them managed to fire me up with comments and kiai, forcing me to show spirit again. Obviously I'll need to be able to do that without their aid.

The second point was driven home when Hille gave me the lead of a group exercise, where i was to sound off stepping directions. From my mannerisms he could read what my command was going to be before I called it out. Doh! That's called over-thinking on my side :)

After the training I felt absolutely great, which lasted for a few hours more. But when I'd taken a short nap in the afternoon I woke up with a headache that was something fierce! =_= Skipped dinner and went to bed at 1930 tags: , ,

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Fifth kendo training

2011-03-12 15:20:00

Whew! Today's kendo training was heavy!

While the whole two hours were spent on suburi ("empty strikes", that is individual practice as opposed to one-on-one training) it was very tiring for me. It was the first time for me to wear my hakama and gi in the dojo, which was interesting to say the least. The hakama was very comfortable, but I wasn't fully prepared for how warm the thick, cotton gi would get. Until now I've been wearing sweatpants and a longsleeve, which is a lot cooler. But now I was pooped within the first half hour :)

Aside from that, lessons learnt:

What a great class today. I was about ready to give up for a five minute break a few times, but I kept on going. Get a quick drink and catch my breath, then carry on immediately! tags: , ,

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Hooray for my sewing machine

2011-03-08 22:33:00

After getting my kendo uniform exchanged the fit was a lot better. The size 185 really was way too big for my 179 frame, but oddly even the size 180 was still too big. So out comes my trusty Pfaff! I spent the better part of last night measuring the legs of my hakama to the right length and then hemming them, followed by a re-ironing of the pleats. Now the fit is even better and I got to work with my hands again. And it sure beats paying a seamstress to do it for me!

I also had some time left, so I took the Ikea manga drapes down from my office wall and made a Godzilla tenugui for myself. Handy and good looking! :) tags: , ,

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