Sunday, August 29, 2004

"Go for it"

It has been quite frustrating recently, that I am not able to practice more than once a week due to academics. The only chance I can get my medicine is the Wakaba practice from 12pm-430pm (Iaido+Kendo).

The tsuba of my Iaito has loosen up for no reason (maybe it's too cheap?!). Lukas spent a long while attempting to fix it - leaving no time for Iaido free practice before the regular class.

Sahla stopped the Jodo class and asked everyone to do some splinting across the dojo - keeping both heels off the floor at all times. Maybe it's the influence of the Olympics. But then I was never a good runner... Tales were told about some Japanese sensei putting drawing pins underneath people's heels (ouch!).

We progress into the Iaido class - the focus was more on improving the basics. Points for myself that I wasn't' too aware of includes:-
1. When in suburi, tip of the sword should not point to the back, but UP. (previously Sahla banged his sword against mine to "teach me a lesson", leaving me a loosen tsuba...)
2. Yoko chiburi - tip of sword and tsuba should be horizontal (I used to do it pointing downwards too much)
3. kiritsuki - should hold the sword out with tip in front of our face (not too wide)

We get more advice on Seitei kata #1-5... My main problem is "no relaxed enough" - I was told a couple of times to "do it again" because of tense facial expression (Argh!!). Also the concept of Metsuke is emphasized.

- When the left hand swings up to grip the sword, bring back saya to the centre.
- Bring right foot around before spinning. Toes under.
- Left heel should get right next to the right knee. Block AND rise up. On the downward cut, the right foot should go back straight and not at an angle... Otherwise you'll miss the opponent completely. Also, when cutting, think about cutting into the center. Because the sword is already at an angle up your shoulder, going for a diagonal cut will widen the angle too much.
- When sitting in tatehiza, the right knee should try to go lower... Forward strike should be higher to the solar plexis of the opponent, and the sword should go against the chest (either higher or lower) on the thrust to the rear. Look before cutting to the front again.
- Pull sword out 1/3 before turning the direction. Up+Down in one movement. Have kikentaiicchi in chiburi.

I don't like bokuto-kihon, but was forced to do it!!
I don't really want to be a motodachi for the beginners class, but I did it again...hmm I want to save up more energy for the adult practice.


Today I am starting to lose the accuracy + speed for my favorite de-kote waza. I was trying for kote-men combos, like faking kote first, before going for men. But the success rate is really low (frustrating). I don't know why. Maybe I wasn't focusing. Maybe I was tired. Maybe I am getting worse...

People I fought:-
Matsuoka - Maeda - Schmidt - Emmanel - Y Miyamura - Ishido - Alexander - Holt
A Scott
Schmidt (again)

Not too bad for a tiring day. My primary goal is to last as long as possible. Eventually I'll be able to last for the whole round!!

Pleeeeease stop banging my right heel on the floor on fumikomi!! This is horrible - I should have remember what I just learnt in the Iaido class!!!

I realize I bend too much over to the right on unsuccessful attempts to cut kote...

Saturday, August 21, 2004


Masagaki - When the opponent is overwhelming you he is like a balloon. But there must be a point where a tiny needle can break it. So when you are threatened, do not hesitate.

In Iaido Sahla taught Gyakuto of Omori Ryu today. Although I ran through all 12 Omori, I realize I don't remember much at all... Argh...

Yes Sahla still wants a revenge...

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Weekend Kendo Marathon (2)

While downloading some programs for my new laptop, let's continue with what happened last weekend...


Sunday at Mumeishi. We all went there for a bash with the visiting high school kendoka. By reputation, Kyushu Gakuin is a very strong team.

I arrived just in time (10am). I entered the venue with sleepy eyes, and saw some Japanese visitors coming down the stairs. One of the teachers exclaimed, "OOhh--! Girl!!"...

To my disappointment-- no girls came!! --Well I mean no girls from their side, although we still have 5 local presence, which is quite a good turn-out. There was only a 5-men team, plus 2 sensei vs the 30+ of us.

We started off with Team shiai. There's the club team "Mumeishi", consist of English kendoka; and there's a "BKA" team, with Wright, Yamazaki, Fitzgerald, Matsuoka & Gibson - what a strange mixture... The rest of us were just watching, which is not a bad thing.

There is a cameraman around - one-man TV crew. I guess that's way we have a pro interpreter, and they did a very formal introduction to all the students. One of the Sensei is with Niten Ichi Ryu, while the other one is from the Kumamoto Prefectural Kendo Committee. The kids (16-18 yr old) were all around 2-3 Dan in Kendo. Some of them had Iaido 2Dan, Jodo 1Dan, and is a deshi of Niten Ichi Ryu -- impressive.

Before the shiai they actually did their Niten Ichi Ryu Embu!!! I was expecting the sensei to do that... but actually it was the pair between the 2 older kids. I don't understand the 5 kata they did (watched it on tape at home, and it's just too obcured...argh), but it was done by high school students. I always wonder who in Japan does Iaido that young, and also that maybe people who practice Iaido (and a lot of other stuff) do not do too well in Shiai kendo. But they proved me wrong. At least now I am quite satisfied doing both Kendo and Iaido, even though my training schedule isn't as tight as their.

The BKA vs KyuGaku fight is much more interesting. The Kyugaku boys all looks tough and "big", have extra-solid fumikomi, and did very interesting waza - I like their Maki-otoshi and Hiki (feint Do) - Men, besides they are young and fast.

Then there is jikeiko session for 1.5 hr. Along with the local sensei, the 5 boys + Yoneda-sensei ended up in the motodachi side, with everybody else queuing for them (at least 4 people in one queue!!). I managed #3+4 of the boys, and 2 local sensei whom I haven't practiced with for a looong while since I moved to Brighton.

My attempt to get a keiko with Araki-sensei (who does Niten Ichi Ryu but uses Jodan in Kendo) failed, as he was responsible to fight the senior sensei / hosts. Both of the sensei's kendo are very interesting to watch... especially Yoneda-sensei (with 10+ people in his queue!!) who did amazing maki-otoshi waza -- like, I have heard shinai dropping on the floor 10 times, including once while I was fighting another sensei... and a shinai fly across the dojo...

The boys I fought has solid waza and precise cuts. I am not going to comment on their kendo... Both fought me after fighting 3 people in front of me. I came in fresh so it's understandable that they aren't at their best shape (and I always remember to take a man when he is down!!). They are fast, but I also see their openings - and sometimes I do managed to cut a few. Like when they miss my kote I can really go for kote-men. And I did one kote-gyka-dou that pops quite loud, which I am very pleased (so did he).

I'd be loading some photos up the BudoJournal site later. Not very good shots but it tells what happened.

...and who doesn't like High School Kendo?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Weekend Kendo Marathon (1)

Last Thursday I finally handed in my project report for my Masters... Time to take a break from fixing computers (as my laptop broke down 2 days before the hand-in day...argh) Anyway I was back in Wakaba for 4 1/2 hrs of Iaido + Kendo, and on a Sunday we mass-crashed to Mumeishi, because there is a famous kendo high school from Japan visiting the country.


Usually the day start off by FLOOR-CLEANING --- the old wet-towel, hips-in-the-air method. I discovered the trick to go really fast like Formula 1, which is to put all your body weight forward to your arms. Proven to work and I can go for two return trips without resting. But this week I was too eager to "display my youth", probably, and ended up pulling my right thigh after cleaning 1/8 of a basketball court (which is really big!!)

For my first hour of Jikeiko I gave up Seitei competely, as I know now the pattern of the class is to have Seitei twice before getting anywhere near Koryu. After warming up with the 4 Kihon, I tried my best to recall the last 5 koryu Sahla taught 2 weeks ago... Well my conclusion is really - I need to practice more.

In the next hour of taught practice, Sahla switched us into Shiai mode after going through Seitei x 2. What I learnt was about the way of judging -- in my point of view it seems to be more about "how many mistakes" then "how good is the Iai"... Sahla points out that both Helena (my opponent) and me made the same amount/level of mistakes, but because Helena's cuts are a bit too soft, therefore I won my match. Sounds a bit funny... I was the first one up and I was really shaking...

Other general comment is more about people messing up with the To-rei in the end. I only really start to learn mine 2 months ago. So it does help doing it correctly in Shiai/Shinsa.

For the Kendo Kata session, we were all forced into Bokuto Kihon (!!!). Spending 1/2 hour on Kihon 1 - Men, kote, Do, Tsuki... Sorry zzzzzzzz

Was up to be Motodachi for the beginners again. I suddenly enjoy pushing beginners through after their Men cut (because they are not going through!!). Maybe I did scare them away - my queue was always the shortest!!

While in the Mawari-keiko in Kendo, I wasn't as good as on last week due to the muscle pain on my thigh (yes I am getting old... I have some kind of injury every week!!) But I did run to Fujisawa Sensei at the beginning - like, this is the first time I have come up against him since I moved to Brighton 10 months ago!!

Then I fought Sahla before some skin on my left foot went...

For the above 2 practice, I wasn't as sharp - my Debana waza come a little bit too slow. A few times I had Fujusawa going for my kote, missed because I went for de-kote-men. But the other times he just got a lot of Men... In Sahla's case it's the same, apart from one of the kote I got wasn't deep enough (I just touched it with the tip). I think it's the problem about not twisting my left hip INTO the opponent. Besides, Sahla's tai-atari is really strong that sends me off balance a couple of times...

I fought my Senpai A Jones. What annoys me is he can time my kote so well, just dodging it, and then cut my Men (kote-nuki-men). HOWEVER, I really realize what they meant by "bendy kendo" now -- when I missed my kote I ducked down sooooo much that he is hitting the side/back of my Men. Ouccchhh.

Fought J Schmidt and he went into Jodan for a while. I counted similar # of cuts we get from each other. Although after one of his Men cut, his Do bounced against mine, sending me on the floor. My kamae must be crap... Totally off balance...

Ota came and we chat for a bit, didn't practice with him but always enjoy watching.


Saturday, August 07, 2004

First Cut

Today at Wakaba.

Sahla sensei + other senior at Wakaba weren't there, so there is no formal teaching... On the Second half of the Iaido/Jodo class, 5 of us just go for Seitei #1-12, with ME LEADING THE CLASS... what the hell...???

The day was HOT and by that I meant when I did To-rei at the beginning of the class I was already sweating crazily.

Kata was a bit--- hmmm --- The beginners are struggling with #4. Yes I wanted to do all the way to #7, but no good senpai around to do it with me. Argh.

Was "forced" to go with the beginners class doing footwork and suburi -- yes I feel like a beginner as Miyamura was leading the class, and I was just "part of the group".

Not much energy left but --- I still have the adult mawari-keiko to deal with!!!

My kendo went a bit too "bendy" recently. I blame it to my eye sight, which is getting worse day by day... Basically I always tilt my head to the left!! Hence all my cuts went a bit too much to the left side, or that I am using too much right arm power. I spend a lot of my focus twisting my head back to the right. So unnatural to me, but that is the right thing to do now.

There is a trick about cutting kote -- that your right foot stamp slightly to the middle-left, passing the shinai in the opponent's center. It worked n-th time today I GOT THE FIRST CUT (Sho-dachi).

Maybe I am just too paranoid to have a conspiracy theory about people not fighting serious against me. When they see me standing opposite them, they will just thing "Ah, Jenny, Whatever". So they relax and let ME cut them.

I tried a lot of things I wanted to improve today, like the plain kote, kote-men, harai-kote/men, and gyaku-dou. Only the Kote on the FIRST CUT works brilliantly, while everything else was so like random hitting. Sho-dachi is just plain and straight, and it feels great at the point of impact. But then after the class when I reflect on it, it's like I am only hitting them by suprise, not particularly great cut afterall...

Gibson and Ogawa told me not to go on the right side too much (I KNOW, goddamnit!) either too much right hand or my cuts are coming from the right side. Also my harai or nidan-waza should go a little bit more forward (mind the distance). So really. Nothing impressive, even though I did 2 cool kote-men agaisnt both of them.

Took 2 breaks during the mawari-keiko. I was really looking forward not to drop out in the middle of the rotation. But it was just too hot. Maybe if I wasn't doing Iaido before hand, then I'd stay longer. That or I am just making up my excuse. Arrrgh.

I really have to stop going bendy and keep my bacl straight, especially after the kote in kote-men.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

All Those Ippons...

Last week I was spend the Saturday resting my left ankle. I still have no idea what's the cause...

Anyhow, the Iaido practice was fine. Spending the first hour self-evaluating all the Seitei, spying on the Jodo class, plus doing the 4 kihon with Lukas (he fixed my moving tsuba!). The second hour was like, first half Seitei #1-12 (me leading... how strange). Then the second half Sahla came over from the beginner's half and teaches... FIVE MSR kata!! All so nuts... especially the 270-degree knee spin... and Sahla sensei does it waaay too fast... uhmm before I didn't know, but now I have to agree with the rest of the Iaido people that Sahla has such "flair"...

Yes I was back there teaching Kendo Kata #1 to a beginner again.
... and become a motodachi for the kendo beginners' session. I quite like it now, after Honda Sensei said being a good motodachi will help your kendo.

Then there goes the Wakaba mawari-geiko. It's difficult to fight people who don't cut clean and with poor zanshin... Sometimes it's beginners, but some are from the Nidan group... It's just less enjoyable fighting these people, nothing personal.

One round I had was with one of the Koyama brothers (aged 8-9!!). Wasn't going to destroy them, but when the keiko finished I did get to tell him, "5 of your Men I really like. Well done!"

Something strange is happening... because despite I hurt my other ankle (!), I scored a few of the Sho-dachi (the first cut), against a lot of the seniors!!! This is the second time I fought Sahla (the first time being last Sep at Imperial -- which my lungs was exhausted and I was made to run around...) Maybe this time he is tired or whatever. But my Sho-dachi was like, get up from sonkyo, kiai, KOTE-----!!! When I get to tai-atari he was still in complete shock!!

After the practice his comment was, "aaaah Jenny, maybe you don't realize it, but you can be very good ...blah blah blah." Uhmm nah I don't realize anything, apart from that I feel he is quite annoyed by that particular Ippon...

My left wrist was hurt yesterday. I can't grip properly... and my right ankle is in pain.. argh. When I fought Eddy I switched into JODAN -- just to change the force of power to the other side of my body. I find my katate-kote pops really well, when I do it in the way Chiba sensei taught at the last IKET. Although I attempt switching into left-foot-forward stance, it was proven to be a failure as the power is terribly imbalanced...

The last fight I fought Gibson, who feels like in Jodan. No one wins a clean sho-dachi (phew), but I find it difficult to block Men... probably forgot to take seigan... Miserably missed 4 tsuki, though one of the migi-kote-men I did was brilliant -- but tenouchi went a bit crap after the Men.... uhmm all those bad habits are showing when I am tired.

This is the day Ideguchi-san left. I missed his fight (too many people queuing anyway), but I saw him fighting the Koyama brothers -- 2 vs 1!! Just fun.

Just when I thought I am not going to stay in the pub after 10pm --- everybody went for a meal afterwards!!! Went home at 2am which isn't too bad as it wasn't as cold as the weeks before, and also my stomach is filled.