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<< 5 / 2012 7 / 2012 >>

Learning about dojo layout

2012-06-24 13:56:00

Renshinjuku kendo dojo layout

I've been working on a new project for the Renshinjuku kendo dojo: a few months ago Heeren-sensei asked me to come up with some ideas for renewing the dojo's website. The past week I spent a few evenings putting together a new website, based on Wordpress. Part of this concept is a page providing details about the training locations: basic info, a Google Map and drawings of the dojo layout.

Making sketches of building layouts isn't a very hard job. Half an hour doodling with OmniGraffle gave me the basic drawings. But it's thanks to the great website of mr. Dillon Lin that I could fill in all the proper names! Mr. Lin's dillonlin.net site does in-depth articles of kendo dojo, both famous and local. It's a joy to read about kendo dojo from an architect's point of view, going into building design, flooring structure and history. 

His article "Basic Dojo Layout" provided me with most of the terminology I needed for my own sketches.

In the image above, the building on the left is our Amstelveen dojo, while the building on the right is the one in Almere. The prior is situated in a local sports facility from the 70s/80s, while the latter is in a brand-new high school building. While the facilities in Almere are much more modern compared to Amstelveen, the concrete+rubber floor in Almere is sub-optimal compared to the suspended wooden floor of A'veen. 


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Awesome session at Renshinjuku Almere

2012-06-23 18:52:00

Holy wow, today's class was awesome! After being absent from the Almere dojo for five weeks, this was a great day to return!

  1. We had twentyfive people in attendance! So many!
  2. We have so many newcomers and rookies! Kendo in Almere is growing :)
  3. We had two visiting nidansha, from the Amstelveen dojo.
  4. We fought, fought and fought some more.
  5. I was worn out! :D

Entering the dojo around 09:10 I was amazed! Already the room was packed and not everyone was there yet. We had barely enough room to practice kata while the newbies were doing kihon practice. Warming up was even tighter packed, with everyone in a circle. The group was pressed up against all the walls and not half an hour into class we threw open the fire doors for some fresh air. ( ^_^)

As Jeroen had already pointed out to me, class changed a little bit. After warming up we immediately put our gear on (skipping the footwork practice we usually do) and went into kihon and waza practice. Oki-men, hayai-men, oki-kote, kote-men, oji-kote and oji-men. After that: jigeiko! While Kris spent some time with the nidansha, we were told to hold two-minute fights amongst ourselves. 

I fought Sander and Jeroen: those fights were awkward insofar that both fighters kept on pushing and ramming against eachother instead of "talking". I also let Ramon practice oki-men on me some more :) Then, as I took a short breather by the fire exit, Kris was ready with his coaching and he was itching for a fight! So he grabbed me and we went at it for five minutes!

I was spoilt! To get five private minutes with Kris! If anything, what that time taught me about my keiko is that I am now stuck waiting and not paying attention, instead of my original flaw: simply rushing in. Kris would be wide open and I'd just be starting him in the eyes. Or his shinai would be this -><- close to me, deep within my ma'ai and I wouldn't even notice that he'd krept so close!

Class went into overtime (we finished twenty minutes) late, because the whole group was run through no less than five rounds of uchikomi geiko! Followed by all kendoka in bogu doing a round of kakari geiko against Kris. Afterwards I was spent, but I haven't felt this good in a long while! :D

A great class! :)


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Photostream: how to restart the agent after sleep

2012-06-22 20:38:00

Finally! I have finally figured out how to restart the PhotoStream agent, after waking my Macbook from it's sleep!

After figuring out how to access the PhotoStream data through Finder, I now needed a way to trigger a synchronization in the Stream. Normally, after setting up PhotoStream in OS X system preferences, the agent software will be started when you login to your desktop. However, this says nothing about potential restarts after sleeping your Mac. 

First I dug around in launchd / launchctl and quickly discovered the full name of the agent: com.apple.photostream-agent

After that, things got difficult as I couldn't find any configuration file to load the agent with once it had been kicked out of launchd. So you can launchctl [stop|start] all you want, but once you launchctl unload I cannot load the agent back in. 

I found that the actual agent appears to be an application in /Applications/iPhoto.app/Contents/Library/LoginItems. There you will find PhotoStreamAgent.app, which can be ran and which will in fact load com.apple.photostream-agent. However, this will not be the vanilla one, but one with an extra label in front of it. 

Mmm, this doesn't seem to work properly yet. I'll need to do some more researching. 


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Practicing the basics: footwork, oki-men and breathing

2012-06-20 12:23:00

As I wrote recently: it's highly important that I strongly focus on the basics for the next few weeks. Last night and hopefully one or two more nights this week, I'm focusing on:

So. Nothing special during home training this week (or next), just grinding the millstone on essential basics.


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Sure, let's give it a try

2012-06-16 20:01:00

HG Sportkleding luchtjes

It's not often that Marli gets excited about cleaning commercials. While I was making tea in the kitchen, she excitedly "Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!"s me back into the living room and rewinds the PVR. It was an ad for HG's detergent for sports clothing

As we all know kendo stinks. Kendo armour gets a bit smelly, kendo gloves can get pretty bad and my keikogi (the jacket) is godawful every single week. Hence Marli's enthusiasm. Let's give it a shot then :)


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Back to basics in kendo

2012-06-12 22:21:00

It is my intention to train without bogu at Amstelveen, for the next few weeks: back to basics!

After last week's class eye-openers I've asked Roelof-sensei to take Miyahara-sensei's remarks into account, so we can ensure that the two basic flaws in my kendo can be remedied:

  1. My breathing
  2. My footwork, esp the stepping through after fumikomi

I am glad that he agreed and I had a great class tonight. After going over all of the basic stances, I practiced suriashi with the other bogu-less kendoka. In between, we watched the advanced techniques being explained by Makoto-sempai and the others. This included the differences between de-gote, nuki-waza and kaeshi-waza (some of which is still vague to me, so I need to do some reading!).

During our practice of oki-men, Roelof-sensei also grabbed my shoulder. He saw a big flaw in my timing and he would only let me move forward or backward at the exact right, time. This timing is way different from what I've been using on large men-strikes so far! In this case, the right way to do it, is to only start moving once you're already halfway through your downswing. Because only then is the distance that the shinai needs to travel, equal to the required instep and fumikomi! This is was Kris-fukushou has been trying to get me to understand! He always told me to "step in later!", but it never clicked -when- this "later" was :)

Other people who helped a lot:

Saturday I can finally join class in Almere again. After oodles of family and work events, I'm back to training in my home town. I'm ready to kick some ass! And to get my ass kicked! ( ^_^)


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Two big eye openers during kendo class

2012-06-05 22:48:00

Wow! Tonight was bad. Bad, insofar that I made a lot of mistakes and was "crap" in general. On the other hand it was awesome because I had an epiphany tonight. Two even! I'm very grateful for the sharp eyes of Roelof-sensei and Miyahara-sensei.

The eye openers are:

  1. A huge flaw in my fumikomi.
  2. I finally understand breathing.

First up, during kihon practice (we were doing oki men) Miyahara-san saw something about my footwork. She tried to explain it, but at the time I failed to grasp what she was saying. So after class I went up to her to ask what it was that she saw. 

In my striking of oki men, Miyahara-sensei saw me cross my legs. I do fumikomi on my right, then step past it with left. That's just awful, especially because I do not even feel it happening! I honestly thought I was sticking to suri-ashi! It is such a basic flaw that she told me that she thinks I need to get out of bogu again and keep on practicing the basics. She was taken aback that I do not feel it happening and was sure that this must have shown up before. 

She was right of course! Back in March, Kris-fukushou pointed it out to me during footwork training. And when Marli came to observe our class in January she actually noticed that many of our students have the same problem: fumikomi on right, then cross with the left, then go back to suri-ashi

Second up: it has finally clicked! What Roelof-sensei has been trying to tell me in different words for the past three months has finally clicked! I finally get what he was trying to tell me about my breathing! Regardez, the graph below might be crappy, but it explains what I'm describing below. The blue line is breathing, the red line is striking. It's a rough sketch, so on the second graph the blue line doesn't dip deep enough. Sorry! ( ^_^)

kendo breathing rhythm

It all clicked when Roelof-sensei changed his wording to include one new term: "make sure you have a fluidly rolling breath".

What I've been doing so far was timing my breathing based on my striking: inhale sharply on the upswing and exhale sharply on the strike. This leaves me winded very quickly (as witnessed today where I was worn out after three kirikaeshi and five rounds of kihon). What I instead be doing is breathing naturally in a nice sinoid: in-out-in-out, a nice wave pattern. I should then time my striking based on that: upswing when I near the peak of my inhalation, strike when the exhale starts.

Like the footwork problem described earlier, this is a complete return to the basics. I need to practice A LOT on the very, very basics to get this stuff right! And I need to remember all these things at the same time, to improve them at the same time. It sucks that my memory's so awful and I even forget things within a day. 

I am very grateful that Marli agreed to letting me train twice a week! The extra practice is of course very helpful, but it's also very important that the crowd in Amstelveen is so different: many higher ranking kendoka, who quickly zero in on problems I'm having.


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