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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 dream come true

2013-03-10 21:00:00

my new iMac G4

A few days ago I was discussing various models of Apple computers with one of the other consultants at the office. It didn't take me long to wax lyrically about the iMac G4, which in my opinion is the most beautiful PC ever produced by Apple. It combined good specs with a revolutionary design: the sunflower / lampshade design was really new. In my opinion the flexing arm for the screen really is one of the best inventions ever and I'm sad that the only way to get one with normal monitors, is to buy an expensive extra mount. 

Anyway, my colleague Peter overheard us talking and wondered whether I'd be interested in owning an iMac G4. DO I?! Haha, of course! It's been a dream of mine for a damn long time. The above paragraph should have made it clear that I love the design of the machine and that I consider it a timeless classic. Which is why he offhandedly remarked that his girlfriend has one at home, one they've considered sending to the scrapheap for a while now. Holy carp! ( O_o)

So here I am! Giddy and gleeful! Because what I now own, with many thanks to Peter and Ellen, is an iMac G4/1.25 17-Inch "FP" (USB 2.0). Or to put it in human words: the latest model of the iMac G4 series, with the improved TFT screen as well as USB2/FW400. It's from the same era when I bought my first Macintosh, the venerable Powermac G5 (aka, the first "cheese grater"). And it's in pristine condition, because they hardly ever used it. It's beautiful! It's complete (no parts missing) and it's now mine :9

The setup above is just about exactly how you'd expect to see it in 2003, with the exception of the speakers. The Apple Pro speakers look great, but they really don't sound too great. So I've replaced those with the LaCie Firewire Speakers that I bought years ago. These really sound awesome and come with a minimum of cable fuss as they are also bus-powered.

The iMac came with OS 10.4.11 installed, which is pretty old already. Unfortunately I don't have my 10.5 DVD anymore (returned to Snow when i left their company), so I'm borrowing a friend's install disk. When it's upgraded to 10.5 I'm sure it'll make a heck of a nice machine. Heck, even at 10.4 it's already very nice and completely usable. I'm actually surprised at the performance! The 1.25GHz G4 and the 768MB RAM work very nicely. tags: , , ,

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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. tags: , , ,

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An awesome night of kendo with friends

2013-02-24 20:16:00


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. tags: , , ,

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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. tags: , , , ,

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New kendo goodies! Thanks honey

2013-01-30 21:53:00

kendo uniforms and spare parts

In light of my planned ikkyu exam later this year, we'd been talking about buying me a new uniform set: one to keep neat and tidy, only to be used at tournaments and gradings. I'd been putting that off for months, until Marli last week decided to surprise me ( ^_^)

Originally she'd wanted to place the order by herself, but she had no idea what to order. So instead, one evening she grabbed and said "Let's shop!" :D Because I've been very satisfied with the service and products provided by Kendo24, we returned to them. And again they came through! My darling wife ordered me:

As I've grown accustomed from them, Bernd and Katrin provided excelent service. They provided quick and clear email feedback on my questions and shipping was very fast. They even threw in a free pair of chichikawa to attach the men himo, because I couldn't find those on their webshop. 

So, now I have two gi and a hakama for practice and a separate gi and hakama for special occasions. And I finally have a bit bucket of my own, for shinai maintenance.

A few interesting things about the clothes:


In closing: Thanks honey! I really appreciate the cool gift and your continued support in my training! tags: , ,

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Wow, a great night of kendo

2012-11-07 07:44:00

Last night turned out to be excellent!

What with the bad weather I'd left home a bit early so I'd be in time to pick up Charl from the P+R at Diemen. I arrived in time, but his bus didn't. Running almost half an hour late we stumbled into the dojo while almost everyone was already dressed. I was affraid we wouldn't be able to join in, but luckily we were simply welcomed in. It certainly was one of my fastest attempts at getting dressed ;)

Having missed the running, we joined in with the stretches and suburi. In the middle of stretching I was approached by Bert-sensei, to quickly talk about getting some replacement take for my shinai (which broke recently) and the ones I'm repairing for the dojo. He indicated that I could grab a shinai of my liking from the spares box, to take apart. Awesome! He also gave me a koban shinai (a practice sword with an oval handle) as a present. Double awesome! ( ^_^)/

During seiretsu, Heeren-sensei indicated that we will be using the next few weeks to prepare for the NKR shinsa (25th of november). This means that we will not be focusing on shiai kendo, but on clean and proper kendo. Focal points for the next few weeks are seme, ki-ken-tai ichi, and zanshin. Pay close attention to your posture, to your footwork, to your strikes, so you can demonstrate your ability at its best.

In accordance with our study goals, today's class focused on kihon practice just like last week. Using the motodachi system we practiced kirikaeshi, oki men, chisai men, oki kote-men, chisai kote-men, oki dou and repetitions of men, kote-men, dou, kote-men-dou. Students were encouraged to display proper kiai and to the timing of their footwork, which should match their strikes.

Funny thing: class started out in mawari geiko style (rotating the whole group), but was switched to motodachi style right before I was switched to the shidachi side. In a later chat with Heeren-sensei he told me he was very curious how I would deal with that situation, knowing about  my problems with breathing and panic. Whenever I'm on the shidachi side I'm bowing out pretty early, but now that I was on the motodachi side he knew I was stuck: I have a responsibility to the people on the shidachi side, because without me in my spot those people cannot practice. As Marli said when I explained this: "Booooy, he's got you pegged! He knows exactly how to get to you!" and she's right :)

Well, it worked: the added responsibility meant that I finished class just about completely and I didn't bow out from kihon practice. I am very happy that I pushed through for the shidachi I practiced with and I learned a thing or two. Sure I got tired quickly, but that was solved by foregoing my own practice two or three times: let shidachi practice, then skip my own drill to catch my breath.

Heeren-sensei took a little time to demonstrate that oki dou starts out looking like a normal men strike. You start going for men and when your opponent raises his shinai to parry, you bring your shinai to your shoulder (or sometimes higher) and strike dou. As always it is important to:

Heeren-sensei indicated that, to practice this dou strike, it is best that motodachi does not open up dou beforehand but that motodachi should only start opening when shidachi moves to strike men. He also suggested that, when paired against someone considerably shorter than yourself, you can slightly lower your posture by sinking down on your legs a bit.

Kihon practice was followed by fifteen minutes of jigeiko and of course kirikaeshi. After two rounds of geiko (thank you Charl, thank you mr Goto) my breathing got the better of me and I had to bow out. After a short recuperation I joined the bogu-less group to practice some oki kote-men and chisai kote-men with Raoul-sempai. I'm very happy that Raoul saw improvement in my kendo since the last time I'd practiced with him. He indicated that my right hand was still a bit too tense and thus too slow, but in general he saw improvements!

After class, Heeren-sensei reiterated that we need to practice proper and good kendo for the examinations. He also informed us that, starting next Saturday, class will include kata geiko which is also needed to prepare for the exams. He advised everybody to prepare by researching the kata they need to know and to watch a few videos. He also asked the kendoka with kata experience to provide guidance to their classmates. tags: , , ,

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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. tags: , , ,

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Accessing Photstream without using iPhoto

2012-05-19 17:22:00

Finally! I've been searching for this for quite a while now and I finally found the solution!

Question: "How can I access iCloud Photostream without using iPhoto?"

Answer: "By accessing ~/Library/Application Support/iLifeAssetManagement/assets/sub/ and searching for all images."

Here is the source for this information. The best thing: you can obviously store this procedure as a Saved Search in the sidebar, so you'll always have a shortcut to your Photostream tags: , ,

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An awesome outing: NK kendo

2012-02-19 20:15:00

Packing all my gear

Today was an excellent day!

I'd packed all my stuff yesterday, making sure to take along enough food and drinks for myself and one other person. You never know who gets hungry, but forgets to bring food or money. It barely fit into my kendo bag! :D

In the morning I got a bit anxious about my family being home alone, what if something'd happen and Marli couldn't make it to a phone? You know, the general anxiety stuff I live with. I'd taken care of all other possible worries I might have, but this one stuck. So Marli spoiled a surprise she'd prepared! She'd arranged for our good friend Michel to pick up her and our daughter, so they could come and watch too. Awesome! I'm so grateful for Michel's help!

I picked up Tiamat and Kris-sempai at Almere station at the appointed time: 0845. We then made our way to Zwolle, arriving nicely in time. We made some small talk with our class mates and got dressed. Kaijuu also showed up around that time, so that was a nice reassurance for me: one of my best friends would be sticking around all day!

The sports hall at Landstede is awesome! A huge wooden floor, with nice lighting and good seating provided a great arena for our tournament.

Shinai checking occured at 1035 and both my shinai passed muster. We found out our poule arrangement for the individual tournaments and also ascertained when our dojo would fight in the teams compo. Finally, we were a bit late getting started with the warming up. All the other groups were ahead of us, so we hurried it a bit. I have to say: I always thought our groups kiai during warmup to be nice and loud, but boy do other teams have wonderful kiai! I don't know who they were, but wow! It was like thunder rolling in!

You can read about my participation in the individual matches here.

Once I was out of the kyu grades compo I had lunch and talked with my family. The girls had arrived before I got started and my father also made it in time. So cool! I'm so grateful for such supportive family and friends! I did my best to study Nick and his opponent in Nick's final fight. That was a great fight!

You can read about my participation in the teams matches here.

All through the day our kid's been a champ! She had talked and played with Marli, grandad, Kaijuu, Michel, Christa and with a few kendoka. By the time I was ready for the team matches she'd fallen asleep in Marli's lap, being completely worn out. This is why I decided to pack up and get changed right after the match. I thanked my opponent, did a quick review with my team mates and headed for the dressing room. 

We went home with Kaijuu (Kris and Tiamat hitched a ride with Peter), so Marli could get a tour of his new digs. I was also completely worn out, falling asleep at least once. Odd, how a busy day with only one real fight could wear me out so profoundly.

We then went for dinner at Itoshii. It was bloody brilliant! They charge E24 for five rounds of dinner, each round allowing you three to four small dishes. By round three I'd had my fill of some great food: udon noodles, gyoza, curry rice and plenty of good meats. Kaijuu and Michel also seemed to enjoy their sushi a lot. Really great stuff!

By the end of the evening we also got to meet Kaijuu's girlfriend Natalie. Sweet girl! <3 I'm looking forward to having an actual talk with her, instead of half-sleeping, half-minding our daughter ;)

Image source. tags: , ,

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Miyako Kendogu: free and fast shipping

2012-02-14 11:11:00

Shipping status with UPS

A little while ago Marli ordered a beautiful set of bogu for me, from Japan. I was already impressed with Miyako Kendogu's service insofar that they provide both spectacle adjustments and worldwide shipping free of charge. But now I'm even more impressed because this free shipping is actually UPS Worldwide Saver! Meaning that the parcel will arrive in the Netherlands within three working days! Wow!

It makes me giddy to know that I'll probably be wearing my new bogu this weekend! ^_^ tags: , ,

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Miyako Kendogu: Yoroi-gata 'Tsubasa' (ORDERED!)

2012-01-29 12:21:00

Miyako Kendogu Yoroi-gata Tsubasa set

A few days ago Miyako Kendogu (an international colab between Andy Fisher and Tozando Co.) announced their newly introduced "Tsubasa" bogu set. I've never heard anything but good reviews of Miyako supplies and have been considering buying a bogu from them. The only thing that's kept me back is their rather high price point. Where a starter bogu from Kendo24 would set me back roughly 350 euros (or one form Nine Circles is roughly 300), the stuff from Miyako usually starts at 500 euros and easily goes above 800. 

The introduction offer for the Tsubasa set is awesome though: 50% off! Meaning that the set would set you back 419 euros, instead of 840. Holy crap! And because international shipping is free, it's a steal! What's even better is that Andy assures me that Miyako adjusts men for kendoka who wear glasses for free. Wow.

That's a good enough offer to make me seriously consider it!


Holy shit! Holy crap! OMG!... Marli just OKed and ordered the set to my measurements!!!! I'm still doubting between panic and sheer overjoyment! *panic* *joy* tags: , , ,

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First time training in full bogu. What a great day!

2012-01-14 14:06:00

The day got off to a slow start. I was achy and dull and slow and had trouble waking up. First thing I did was to take my shaving gear downstairs to make myself look presentable for kendo practice. That's one of the many things I've learned about kendo: make sure that you are clean, look neat and that you have your stuff together. It's one of the many psychological aspects of the sport. It's a reassurance to yourself and it also signals to your classmates and opponents that you are ready and that you take things seriously. 

A trim and a shave later I double checked my bags and got our kid downstairs for breakfast. As expected, Martijn showed up at 0830 after which we piled into my Honda and drove to the dojo. We were running a little bit late. Class started as usual: get dressed, get your gear setup in the dojo and then warm up and practice kata. Martijn and I went through kata 1 through 4 twice and I got a rather important pointer from Raoul-sempai: my judgement of the maai is completely off! Martijn doesn't even have to step back in kata 1 in order to avoid my strike. I need to be more confident and closer. 

Warming up was the usual: stretching, suburi and footwork training. Extra attention was paid to the fumikomi aspect, which is my goal for 2012. With regards to fumikomi I'm doing plenty of things wrong!

The last point was also noticed during jigeiko, where Ton-sensei kept shoving me in my back after I struck him. Basically: "why the heck are you slowing down, while you should be speeding up?!" He's right of course ^_^

After warming up we all got geared up. I wasn't the slowest (huzzah!) but I did need to redo my men at least once afterwards. The chin pad I was wearing kept the men from sitting right, so I'll replace that with the pillow I made. The better part of the hour was spent on waza practice: debana-men, men/suriage-men, men/suriage-kote, kote/do, men/hiki-men. I might've forgotten some, or gotten names wrong though :D Maybe Hillen or Kris can name them all again. 

And the jigeiko! Because I was redoing my men I came late to the party and four pairs had already formed. So when Martijn bowed out I quickly grabbed the chance to 'dance' with Yann. Yann then was asked to sparr by Ton-sensei, but I followed quickly thereafter. And then class was already over! We officially closed the session in our traditional sense, after which Kris, Martijn, Charel and I quickly donned our men again! In preparation of the february 19th kyu tournament, Kris quickly walked me through the basics and etiquette of shiai. And finally ten minutes of jigeiko, which were interspersed with helpful comments and analysis. He was going easy on me ;)

Because I was late in going home I got dressed as quickly as I could. Mercifully my hakama cooperated perfectly when I folded it! :D Back home all my sweat drenched gear (it's never been this wet before!) was dispatched to the laundry and my bogu was set out to airdry. Speaking of "back home": my family had gone out to Bij Honing for sandwhiches! Fillet Americain and salmon salad make a great lunch! :9

To finish it all off, simply because we could, all three of us took a bath together. So now we're all relaxed, comfortable and squaky clean! I'll probably do a little bit of cleaning around the house this afternoon, take a short nap and fiddle around with Shadow Era.

What a great day!

Something else important that Kris taught me during our private jigeiko: "Don't let them see that you're tired". Sure, you're tired! But instead mask it by changing your pace. I'm not eightteen anymore and I can't go head to head using my younger opponents' styles. I can only keep up a flurry of blows for so long, so I'll need to be smart about it. When do I unleash a torrent of strikes? And when do I bide my time, using other techniques?

The Sankei kendo glasses worked a treat by the way! They steamed up a little bit later on during class, but once I got moving again that was quickly resolved. At the start of class they were uncomfortably tight, but after getting really into the swing of things I didn't even notice anymore. The pressure of the men himo on my temples was worse, as was the sting of the strikes to my head ^_^ tags: , , ,

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I'm competing! Borrowed a men!

2012-01-09 21:31:00

Me wearing a borrowed men

o WOOHOO! /o/

Last saturday we discovered that the uchiwa in my borrowed men from Ton-sensei wasn't wearable with my glasses. Despiriting and all. But then Martijn gave me an awesome offer! He's willing to lend me -his- brand new men, so I can practice in the dojo and even take part in the dutch kyu tournaments in february!


Domo arigatou Martijn! tags: , , ,

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AWW YEAH! I passed my CISSP exam!

2010-12-14 21:29:00

Aw yea!

Tonight, after weeks of waiting and finally getting fed up with it all, I finally got the liberating email from ISC2:

"Dear Thomas Sluyter:

Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that you have passed the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP®) examination - the first step in becoming certified as a CISSP."

As predicted they never mention anything about my passing grade, but I made it. The six months of studying and cramming paid off! Also congratulations to my work buddy Patryck, who's also passed. Both of us, on our first try. /o/

Image blatantly ripped from Super Effective, which is awesome ^_^ tags: , , ,

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Richard Fitzpatrick - "Euclid's elements of geometry"

2008-05-06 21:51:00

One artist's rendition of Euclid

A few weeks ago I wrote about my research on Euclid, the ancient Greek mathematician. Said research wasn't anything noteworthy, just something to form a basis for a biography written for a school assignment.

Back then I also wrote about a man called Richard Fitzpatrick and his remarkable work. You see, Mr Fitzpatrick took a nineteenth century translation of the Elements of geometry by Euclid and reworked into a new book. Each page of this book is split in two: one column with a greek text approaching the greek original and one column with a modern english translation. While the greek text doesn't add much for the budding mathematician, it does add a definite factor of "cool" ^_^

Mr Fitzpatrick's book can be downloaded for free as a PDF, but you can also buy a printed version from allows you to publish your own books at a very low price, which many academics and aspiring authors put to good use. $27 (including S&H) bought me a beautiful, hard cover book with an accessible translation of Euclid's Elements. The sleek, black cover looks quite nice and the fact that the book is printed on A4 paper makes it very easy to read.

Now... I shot some video while leafing through the book, just to give you an impression. The video came out a bit blurry, but that's what I get for using my compact camera under fluorescent lighting ^_^; tags: , , , ,

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I taught my first class today

2008-02-07 15:50:00

The Cals College in IJsselstein

Oh. My. God. I was so nervous this morning, it's unbelievable!

This morning I headed over to the Cals College in IJsselstein, to teach a class for the first time ever-ever. Before that, I had an appointment with the school's student care coordinator, to discuss another school assignment. Fifteen minutes before my class, I was in pretty bad shape though. Crampy stomach, cold and clammy: also known as "nervous".

The same went for the first two minutes of my teaching: I had a shaky voice and kept losing track of my story. After that though, things were fine :)

The students in my classroom were nothing short of awesome. Just like my classmate had predicted, they were very kind ^_^ They were very attentive and they were fast on the uptake. They all managed to finish the whole stencil of assignments, with only a few making minor mistakes. I couldn't have wished for a better class.


Klas 1DLW, heel erg bedankt voor vandaag! Ik ben heel erg blij met hoe het is gegaan en had geen betere klas kunnen vragen voor mijn eerste les. Heel veel succes nog met school en misschien tot ziens :)


One point of important feedback that Gineke gave me: at this level of education, the questions I ask to verify the students' learning process are too open. Instead of asking if everyone gets it, I should ask more closed questions to see if people give the correct answers. Were this VWO instead of VMO (uni-prep as opposed to vocational school), -then- I could've asked open questions.

Of course, there was more feedback, but I'll put that in my report for school. This will be published in the School section in a few days.

Here's a snippet from the videotape I made for my portfolio. tags: , , ,

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That's one big feather up my ass!

2007-12-03 22:07:00

Awesome! One of my teacher just gave me a big-ass compliment!

In the first three weeks of the Analysis 1 Didactics course, I'd turned in my first four reports. So far Theo's graded three of them, giving each a 90%.

Today he came up to me to tell me that he thought my work was extraordinary, because of all the extra research I put in. He also wanted to know whether I'd allow him to distribute my reports among his colleagues. He thought they'd be useful, to set an example of what they'd expect of their students.

Hot diggity! ^_^;; tags: , ,

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What a day! My first day at school

2007-09-04 10:34:00

Satelite view of my school

Wow! I'm feeling exhilarated! This whole going-back-to-school thing rocks ^_^

Yesterday was my first day at Instituut Archimedes, following classes from 12:00 until 21:45. As I mentioned earlier, this semester's roster entails four classes: Statistics 1 (math and didactics), Study Guidance and Math didactics 2. I'm very lucky to have a break between 18:00 and 20:00, giving me time to get started on homework and have some dinner.

The folks at school all seem quite nice. The teachers are cool and usually in their thirties. My classmates range between 21 and 56, though there's one daunting thing about them: over 80% of them are already in education. O_O

So yea, that's a little intimidating. Being one of the few who have no teaching experience whatsoever and who don't currently hold a teaching position. That second part is really important for classes that need me to do project in a teaching environment. Where the heck am I going to find a bunch of thirteen year olds, just to try some teaching methods on them?!

Aside from the exhilaration, there's also nervousness. I'd already mentioned it before, but it's still there. The feeling that I -know- that I can fail at what I'm doing here. The feeling that I'm treading completely new ground. The feeling that I'm getting in over my head. Mind you, I'm still loving it, but that doesn't mean I don't feel the fear :)

About the workload... I was prepared for (and expected) a lot of work. However, it seems that I underestimated things a little. Aside from working 32 hours a week for Snow I will also need to spend about 40 hours per week to earn my ten credits this semester. The basic math: 1 ECT equals about 28 hours of work. Three of my courses are good for hard credits: 10 ECTS in total. So in about seven weeks I'll have to shift 280 hours of work. Ouch! Goodbye social life! :)

Ah well... First, let's see how hard things really are.

In the meantime Marli is a great value to me, giving me loadses of support! The fact that she's so proud of me and has faith in me really means a lot! tags: , ,

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How cool is this? I'm still me!

2007-08-30 15:52:00

The letter that confirms my enrollment.

Heheh, this is so sweet. Not a few weeks ago was I wishing out loud that I'd get my old student number back, now that I'm returning to Hogeschool Utrecht

Lo and behold, today I get a letter that's part of my enrollment process. And what does it tell me? That my student number is good ol' 1018808. Sweet! I'm back to being me! ^_^ tags: , ,

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Got my LPIC-101

2006-12-14 11:37:00

This morning I went to my local Prometric testing center for my LPI 101 exam (part one of two, for the LPIC-1). On forehand I knew I wasn't perfectly prepared, since I'd skipped trial exams and hadn't studied that hard, so I was a little anxious. Only a little though, since I usually test quite well.

Anywho: out of a maximum of 890 points I got 660, with 500 points being the minimum passing grade. Read item 2.15 this page to learn more about the weird scoring method used by the LPI. It boils down to this: out of 70 questions I got 61 correct, with a minimum of 42 to pass. If we'd use the scoring method Sun uses, I'd have gotten an 87%. Not too bad, I'd say!

I did run into two things that I was completely unprepared for. I'd like to mention them here, so you won't run into the same problem.

1. All the time, while preparing, I was told that I'd have to choose a specialization for my exam: either RPM or DPKG. Since I know more about RPM I had decided to solely focus on that subject. But lo and behold! Apparently LPI has _very_ recently changed their requisites for the LPIC-1 exams and now they cover _both_ package managers! D:

2. In total I've answered 98 questions, instead of the 70 that was advertised. LPI mentions on their website (item 2.13) that these are test-questions, considered for inclusion in future exams. These questions are not marked as such and they do not count towards your scoring. It would've been nice if there had been some kind of screen or message warning me about this _at_the_test_site_.

Anywho... I made and now I'm on to the next step: LPIC-102. tags: , , , , ,

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Passed my SCNA exam

2004-09-22 13:26:00

Booyeah! While I can't say that I aced the SCNA exam, I'm still extremely happy with my score: an 89% (52 out of 58 scored questions). tags: , , ,

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