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Overview of dutch kendo dojo

2013-02-28 07:20:00

Yesterday I spent a few hours gathering information on all dutch kendo dojo. The NKR only has a list of city+dojo name on their website, which isn't terrifically navigable. I took the list, gathered all the website information and then gathered all dojo locations. I then spent an hour putting them all into a Google Maps project. The result: a map of all dutch kendo dojo.

 

 

Also in dutch, so dutch kendoka can find it:

Gisteren heb ik een paar uurtjes besteed aan het verzamelen van informatie over Nederlandse kendo dojo. De NKR heeft een lijst met steden en dojo namen op hun site staan, maar heel erg handig werkt die niet. Ik heb van alle dojo's op de lijst een overzicht gemaakt van hun website, plus het adres van hun trainingslocaties. Daarna kostte het me een uur om ze allemaal in een Google Maps project te zetten. Het resultaat: een overzicht van alle Nederlandse kendo dojo, op de kaart.


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Booyah! My biggest failing in kendo analyzed

2013-02-24 21:49:00

My wife, ladies and gentlemen! My dear wife just helped me figure out one of my biggest failings in kendo!

Countless times I have been told by various teachers that I double-step or step through when jumping in for a strike. I keep getting warned about it, but I've never conciously felt it happen. Sure I was aware that I keep shuffling my feet to find footing for the lunge, but I've never felt the "step through with left" happening. Until last night during the big training, when I think I felt it happen at the back of my head. 

But that's not the big succes here. No, that's my wife's analysis of the same situation!

Watching me do kihon practice, she noticed that my whole body teeters to the right when I'm about to lunge. It happens especially when I start leaning in for the lunge. And then, when I lunge, she sees me pull left up to the right foot (or past it!) after which I actually jump.

And the answer is!.... *drumroll* Weight distribution!!!

I keep my weight too much on the front leg and then I only increase that when I start leaning in for the lunge. Earlier, I learned that back-front should be 60-40 at rest. In my case it's probably reversed: back-front is 40-60. Then it gets worse when I lunge, going to 20-80! THAT'S WRONG! How can I jump from the left foot, when all my weight is on the right?! That's right, I cannot! Which is why I instintively doublestep/overstep, to get the weight back on the left foot. 

I'm so grateful that she saw through that! This really gives me clear details to work with.


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Anxieties and living with them

2013-02-24 21:27:00

The past few months I've been dealing with my anxieties in what, I hope, is a better way than before. Having been through CBT has certainly been empowering and educational. That doesn't mean that I'm free of anxiety, but it does mean that I've learned ways of dealing with them. 

Funnily, yesterday I had a bout of anxiety when we dropped off Dana with her grandparents in Friesland. Plenty of doubts and worries pent up about her sleepover, which led to some physical effects while we were there and on the drive home. I was also a bit anxious about the night's kendo practice. All of that was mostly resolved by talking about it with Marli, which certainly is one of the prime methods I've learned: dispeling illogical and worrisome thoughts with the help of others. 

I am writing an article for Kendo World magazine, based on my experiences with anxiety and kendo. The article will explain what anxiety disorders are, how they are treated, how I've experienced it and how it can occur in a kendo dojo. If everything goes as planned it'll be printed in the next issue. Exciting!


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Successes from coaching

2013-02-24 20:52:00

Keuzes Maken

For the past few months I've been undergoing personal coaching, by Menno. Today we simply spoke about the successes I've booked over the past few weeks. All of them were brought on by actions I undertook based on the coaching i've been receiving. Each of the following was an 'action point' or 'todo' item from our sessions. 


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An awesome night of kendo with friends

2013-02-24 20:16:00

Training

Yesterday was wonderful, a great night of kendo and of building friendship. Renshinjuku Kendo Dojo organized a big training and buffet party in honor of a few of our members. Fukuyama-sensei and his family, as well as Tanida-sempai and his family are returning to Japan. Also, Kurogi-sensei recently achieved seventh dan ranking. Great reasons for a 'Sayonara & Omedetou' (farewell and congratulations) party.

Marli came with me, which means a lot to me. Last time she hadn't enjoyed the buffet very much, so it says something that she tagged along again. Sweetie <3 Double-sweet, because she spent some time taking notes about my performance.

I was expecting a bigger turnup than usual, as it was the Saturday afternoon training. What I did NOT expect was sixty to seventy kendoka turning up! Kurogi-sensei brought along a number of his students from Belgium and a five-strong delegation from Scotland was also in town, for today's Iijimia Cup. Because it was such a big group we ran the night in the motodachi system, with twelve higher ranking teachers lining up to train with all students. Roelof-sensei took care of the fifteen beginners.

Training consisted of kihon and a few waza: kirikaeshi, oki-men, oki-kote-men, chisai-men, chisai-kote-men, men-taiatari-hiki-men-men, men-taiatari-hiki-kote-men. Then an hour of jigeiko! I sparred with Fukuyama-sensei, a gentleman I am not familiar with and with Tsuyuguchi-sensei.

I always enjoyed working with Fukuyama-sensei, so I'm sad to see him go. There's just something cool about his ever-smiling face behind the mengane. In the photo above I'm at the far right, practicing chisai-men with Fukuyama-sensei.

During jigeiko I was feeling the effects of the afternoon's anxiety and I was close to quiting three times. But every time I thought "just one more fight" and then I pushed through. It sure helped that, during waza practice, Heeren-sensei shortly took me aside to compliment me, reassuring me that I was doing alright.

Dinner was nice and we enjoyed a good, long chat with my kendo friends. Jeroen, Zicarlo, Davin, Nienke, Gaby, all fun people to talk to about kendo and other geekery :) I also had a nice, open-hearted talk with Heeren-sensei which provided me with some much-needed insights.


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Starting preparations for RHCSA

2013-02-21 22:31:00

Well, this is a first. Sometime soon, my Macbook will be booting another operating system than Mac OS X for the very first time in its life. Sure it's run Solaris, Fedora and Windows! But that was using Parallels virtual machines...

In order to prepare for the RHCSA certification I will need to learn about setting up virtual machines on a physical Linux box. And since we don't have the €200-€300 to buy a test box (which I'll only use for these two exams) I'm stuck using my primary laptop. That means I will be taking notes locally on Linux, which should be a cinch using the Evernote web interface.

I just hope that running CentOS on an external USB 2.0 drive hooked up to my 2008 laptop won't be too slow to work with :)


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ITILv3 certification achieved

2013-02-17 08:55:00

ITILv3 certificate

Right, that's out of the way!

In late december I made a plan for 2013, which would enable me to retain my CISSP certification while at the same time restoring my relevance to the IT job market. A few weeks later I got started on my ITILv3 studies, but those ground to a sudden halt when I chose an awful book to study from. A week later I started anew using the study guide by Gallacher and Morris, which is a great book!

A month after starting the Gallacher and Morris book I took my exam using the EXIN Anywhere online examination. I didn't want to spend time away from the office to take this simple exam, which is why I went for the online offering. I'm very glad EXIN are providing this service! I thought I'd share my experience with the EXIN Anywhere method here.

I also provided EXIN with two pieces of feedback after taking the exam.

  1. During the setup phase, you are allowed to re-take your photograph and to re-take the photograph of your ID card. However, there is no option available to restart the room inspection. During my room inspection an error popped up from the proctor software which suggested that filming could maybe not be completed. But no definitive answer was provided and there was no option to restart the filming of your workspace. I sincerely hope I don't get failed on the exam because of this.
  2. The exam format is rather unfriendly, when compared to other computer-based exams. In essence it is simply a long HTML document with all the questions underneath eachother. Other testing suites (though admittedly offline) put the questions in much more user-friendly format. One question at a time, an option to mark questions for review, etc.

All in all I'm happy with how all of this went and it's certainly nice to have refreshed my ITIL knowledge. I last studied ITILv2 in 2001.

The fact that it took me a month to study for this test worries me a bit though. The total prep time for ITILv3 was 15 hours (translating into 15CPE for my CISSP). I'm fairly certain that my RHCSA will easily take over 80 hours, which does not bode well. I reckon it might be somewhere between my LPIC and my CISSP studies when it comes to workload. If I want to achieve it within a reasonable timeframe, I will need to stick to a much stricter regime. 


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Bad kendo, great training and moral dilemmas

2013-02-13 07:49:00

Last night's training was awesome: I was beat by the end, knowing I certainly gave it my best effort.

Unfortunately my kendo was crap, because every little bit of basics was wrong. I was pulled aside by every single senior sempai with whom I crossed shinai! Heeren-sensei grabbed me twice, once to point out mistakes in my striking and once adminish me on my footwork. The same footwork issues were also reported by both Koseki-sensei and Kiwa-sempai. Ran-sempai sternly indicated that I constantly dropped pressure in jigeiko and that I was not even responding to any of the openings he made. Makoto-sempai saw right away that my timing of ki-ken-tai-ichi was completely dead and Miyahara-sensei complained about a headache from my men strikes by the end of class. She didn't think I was striking too hard or with too much right-hand, but mostly from too close range.

So every little bit of basics was wrong: footwork, striking, tenouchi, timing, ki-ken-tai-ichi, swinging, shinai grip. Everything. I didn't allow myself to get too frustrated because all of it, only getting irked a little right after the explanation and then moving on.

On the way home I had a good talk with Jeroen-sempai, about the future of our Almere dojo. We both feel that the dojo could use a heavy dose of discipline and rigour and that it would be great if it started mirroring the Amstelveen dojo. We are however unsure how this could be achieved under the current leadership. In the past I've already been told by sensei that my stance is to strict and that my teaching of the beginners' group was too harsh and that enforcing discipline to the degree I'd desire would scare off all the beginners.

Jeroen and I will be submitting a few suggestions pertaining to class structure and instruction to beginners. Most importantly, Jeroen thinks that our whole group would be best served by focusing more on basics than on waza practice. Every week the bogu-group spends a lot of time practicing many different waza for a tiny amount of time and Jeroen would suggest that we instead divide our practice into a monthly schedule: weeks 1, 2 and 3 are spent practicing one specific subject and week 4 will merge them all. I certainly think his idea has merit!

One thing that I am conflicted about is the following: both Marli and myself think that I would make faster progress if I trained at Amstelveen twice a week, instead of once and once in Almere. However, to me this would feel like "abandoning" and disrespecting Almere after all their hospitality and because I truly feel that I can help them grow through the years. So it's a moral dilemma for me: do I choose harder training and faster progress, or do I choose loyality to the group that first took me in?

EDIT 17/02/2013:

Yesterday we did not end up talking to Ton-sensei, because I was occupied before class. While the group practiced kata, I took aside three beginners and Ramon to teach them the basics of shinai maintenance. The night before I had put together a cheapass kit of tools needed for the job: sandpaper, nails (to use as makeshift awl), an exacto knife and a few waxine lights. I taught them how to tighten the tsuru and the nakayui and how to look for splinters. I'm proud of Peter for spotting a bad take in his shinai, correctly noticing that it was splitting across the breadth. 

After warming up and legwork practice I was asked by Ton-sensei to teach the beginners group, while the guys in bogu did kihon practice with those whom already have had a few months' practice. But before we got to that, I taught Felix how to put on a tenugui and his men. The beginners, I took through oki-men and oki-kote by simply doing the suburi strikes back and forth across the training hall. The biggest problem I noticed was that all three of them end up with their arms far too low when striking men: the angles are all wrong. Just like they were with me ;)

My part of their training was ended with me introducing the mechanics of seme-to-tame-to-butsu to them. I didn't tell all of it to them, just to kakegoe, hold their breath, focus and then strike.  This showed good results with the two older beginners who were indeed more focused. But the youngster (I think he's 11) was afraid to kakegoe, he felt weird yelling at me, very embarassed.


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Structures: solidifying goals and intentions

2013-02-10 11:54:00

My dou, with motto

One of the recuring themes in my coaching sessions with Rockover are "structures": things you put in place to act as reminders of something that you need to (or want to) change. I've talked about one of'm before. In order to solidify my new motto, I've given it the same treatment as the previous one that I took in: both adorn the inside of my dou, the torso armor worn in kendo.

Sure, my kanji look crappy, but it will serve its purpose: to remind me of what I want to achieve at the beginning of every training session, class and seminar. 

EDIT:

That photograph reminds me: the Agyo omamori in my dou is officially way overdue on being returned to the shrine it came from. We bought it in Nara in october of 2011 (photo of the temple), meaning that we were supposed to return in three months ago. Since I'm not religious I don't believe I'm calling down any bad luck upon myself, but then again I do value tradition :) Maybe I should drop another email to the dutch shinto shrine


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Whittling down the mistakes

2013-02-06 11:10:00

Last night's training was very nice: no lessons or class, just simply training, training and more training. Kihon, waza and jigeiko. Along the way I received pointers from our higher-ranked kendoka Kiwa, Machi, Makoto and Ran. Many of the pointers come down to improving techniques that are basic and important for my ikkyu ranking.

Funny detail: we relied heavily upon our prior seme-to-tame-to-butsu training last night. During our practice of hiki-men I faced against Makoto and against Loek and both gentlemen really succeeded in making me feel the seme building! Because a second or two after their kakegoe, I instinctively felt chills down my neck and found myself thinking "ohcrapohcrap, here it comes!" ( ^_^)

Also, it's interesting how I tense up in jigeiko. During most of practice my breathing was fine, but in jigeiko I got tired really fast, because my arms and shoulders lock up and my breathing goes to heck.


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