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<< 4 / 2013 6 / 2013 >>

Here's the mountain, now start climbing

2013-05-26 20:28:00

Today I passed my ikkyu exam in kendo.

Ikkyu, being the final grade before shodan ("black belt"), means that you're on your way to understanding kendo and that you almost grasp all of the basics. Almost. The real hard work starts now :)

As I said to my friends who also took their exams today: "The introductory class is over, we are now rank beginners". Another analogy would be that a guide has shown me the mountain and that I now need to start climbing it. My foot is on the first step of the stairway. 

I am very happy that all of the help my sensei and sempai have given me and that my 2.5 years of effort have led to at least some progress. Also, obviously I wouldn't have come this far without the continued support of my lovely wife and of my friends who cheer me on.

If anyone's interested, my dear friend Menno shot a video of my kirikaeshi and my two jitsugi. I was very happy to hear his reaction about my kendo, to paraphrase: "This is cool stuff! I now understand what you meant when you said your lung capacity was useful; your kiai kicks ass!". ( ^_^) I'm the one starting on the left, as Tomokiyo-san put it: "Lucky number 7".

ThomasIkkyu.m4v tags: , , ,

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A sobering review

2013-05-18 21:45:00

a graph

"I don't think you understand what this thing is for." he said, gesturing with his shinai.

It didn't hurt as much as Zicarlo-sempai's stab to the stomach, but it stung a bit anyway. Only a little though and I'm putting aside the emotional aspect, to analyze the technical message behind it. Instead of sulking, it makes me want to train three or four times each week! Were I not a family man, I'd sign up with Museido right away for more practice.

But let's backpaddle a bit to the beginning. 

Today's class in Amstelveen was great, with a big turnup and an all-star cast. Our usual crew was expanded with a few high placed teachers and students from Museido and Fumetsu. A chance for us all to learn something new!

Class followed the usual structure: kata, warming up, kihon, jigeiko. To prepare for my upcoming ikkyu exam I practiced kata with Zicarlo and Hans, learning the fifth kata along the way. I'm actually pretty happy with how that went, though there wasn't much tension between us. That's something to work on. 

Kihon practice went alright, though I let myself coast through it too much. I often let my body run on autopilot instead of paying attention and being fully aware of what's going on. That's not right. And yes, my chisai techniques are still awful. Given my lack of stamina I'm happy to say I did not take the short break that was offered between kihon and jigeiko, but instead jumped into a little shinsa practice with Zicarlo. "Every week a little stronger" as I keep telling myself in mokuso.

Seeing how the chance rarely occurs, I lined up with Mark Herbold-sensei for my second jigeiko. I first met him a few weeks ago at the CT where he impressed me with his teaching style and personality. After Tsuyuguchi-sensei's admonishment ("You should hit!") I'd picked up my pacing considerably, so I tried my best with Mark. In my mind I was not backing down and I was giving it multiple shots in a row. Compared to a few weeks ago I thought I was doing better. Maybe I was, meaning that I was pretty darn bad a few weeks ago ;)

After class I went to pay my respects and to get some feedback from Mark. You already know how he opened: "I don't think you understand what this thing is for." he said, gesturing with his shinai. Direct. No sugar coating. But definitely not the only thing he said, because he took quite some time to explain. 

That was the big take-away from today: be ready to jump and kill from the get-go, don't start building your energy after you've already engaged your opponent.

It was a sobering experience, which is something I need from time to time to remind me that I really am a rank beginner. But I'm going to use it to motivate myself. And yes, I'm still going to take the exam next week, simply to get an appraisal of my current level. It'll be a learning experience, however it turns out. tags: , ,

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It's the small things

2013-05-08 08:38:00

mr Miyagi

Yesterday's training has two big take-aways for me.

  1. I should never break kamae, especially if I'm tired.
  2. I should hit. ( ^_^)

Throughout class I had been paying attention to all my weak points: only use my left hand, relax in kamae after kakegoe, don't have my left heel too high, proper timing of strikes and fumikomi, practice my chisai men strikes in the right way and keep on pushing through the exhaustion. I was feeling pretty good about myself! I managed to get through five of the six rounds of jigeiko too :)

Then comes the time to do jigeiko with Tsuyuguchi-sensei. He attacks me a few times, I attack him a few times but I leave plenty of openings unused. Then we get into tsubazeriai and he looks me in the eye smiling and says:

"You should hit."

I keep on making glancing blows against him and I often fail to grasp an opening he makes for me. Again in tsubazeria he smiles and repeats: "You should hit. You should hit." And he's right. Obviously. :) tags: , ,

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Working towards my exams

2013-05-06 08:19:00

Change of plans! A few weeks ago I had a chat with Marli, who'd asked me if I still wanted to take my ikkyu exam by the end of May. Originally I'd take the test in winter because of our wedding anniversary, but since we're taking a few days of fun midweek she wanted me to go anyway. Yay :)

I'm feeling pretty confident about taking the ikkyu exam, insofar that I -know- most of the things I need to demonstrate. Most of the things I can actually do well, but I am not certain that my fighting skills are at the level that's needed. The most important weak point is my hunger/bloodlust: as Donatella-sensei remarked months ago I attack a general direction, not a specific target.

Saturday's class was great and started off with a nice surprise: our friend Sebastian, who departed for Germany a few months after I started kendo, came to visit for some jigeiko! In the absence of Ton-sensei and Hillen, Kris-fukushou led class with kihon and jigeiko. Many things were said and done, some important pointers being:

For me personally, Kris had two important points of feedback:

As my mantra for mokuso goes these days: "every week a little stronger"... Despite getting more and more tired, I fought myself through jigeiko. tags: , ,

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