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. tags: , , ,

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