A class out of the ordinary

2012-12-19 15:33:00


Pfff... You would think that after nearly a year of training with my sempai in Amstelveen, I wouldn't be anxious anymore. But I am. :)

They're great people, but I always dread acting like a complete newbie around them. That and I fear that I'm not pulling my weight. Well, nothing to do but push on! Maybe this will be a nice subject for my next coaching session

Last night was a training out of the ordinary. Seeing how it was the last tuesday-night session for 2012, the turnup was smaller with only one sensei appearing and the group totaling out at roughly fifteen people (nine in bogu). While Roelof-sensei kept an eye on everyone for details, Kiwa-sempai led the advanced group in what I found to be a tremendously educational class. 

The first half hour of class was spent on practicing kendo kata. I finally got a chance to practice with Nienke, a classmate whom I appreciate and with whom I'm on-par. We went through kata #1 through #3 and focused greatly on practicing #3. A lot of things that I thought I was doing right, I turned out to be doing slightly wrong or I just learned them a bit differently. Under the watchful eye of Onno-sempai, Roelof-sensei and Kiwa-sempai I got a lot of pointers.

The next half hour was spent on learning the bokuto ni yoru kendo kihon waza keikoho, also known as the kihon bokuto waza. This set of exercises is relatively new and targeted mostly at beginning students and lower-ranked kendo. Here, one practices the various techniques in kendo in a more realistic as well as entry-level setting: unarmoured and with a bokuto, which is shorter than a shinai. Much more information can be read in this excelent PDF. In class we practiced kata #1 through #3, which are:

  1. The four basic targets: men, kote, dou and tsuki.
  2. A successive kote-men.
  3. The harai-men technique.

Despite seemingly being a lot easier than normal kata, I had a surprising amount of trouble getting the motodachi role right. And, as I have with the normal kata, at first I held back when striking at Nienke for fear of actually hitting her. In this regard, I overheard a very important comment from Kiwa-sempai who said to strike without power, but in a relaxed fashion. 

The last half hour was dedicated to jigeiko. The beginners' group joined Roelof-sensei for kihon practice, while the advanced group went through their desired routines. While most duos did actual sparring, I was very grateful for Zicarlo-sempai's help in practicing kirikaeshi. As expected I soon got winded, because I'm still messing up my breathing :) It was great practice though and I need a lot more of it, if I want to test for ikkyu this summer. 

The biggest failings I showed today were my over-use of my right hand which thus lead to hitting way too hard. Also, I was cueing, as Zicarlo said, because I kept fiddling with my footing. Every single time, before pushing off on the left foot, I would re-set my left foot one last time. This is in part due to my under-estimating the reach of my shinai: I keep fearing that I cannot reach my target.

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