Yesterday at Nenriki was the first time in Kendo from a 3-week break. I don't feel like going but the moment I enter the dojo, smell the smell, I am back in the mood again!
The practice was leaded by Matsuoka. He was "forced" to teach a class as if he was teaching in Japan. And indeed, we turn into a class of very fundamental kendo, starting with footwork:-
Ayumi-ashi (the point is to get to a complete stop after 3 steps)
Suri-ashi (doing one step by one step)
Fumikomi (body must come up straight after the stamping)
Fumikomi backward (just like hiki-waza - stamping on the spot and then slide 3 steps)
Fumikomi + 3 suri-ashi (body must come to complete pause after the 3rd step)
I think the 8 of us all went up and down the gym for 4 rounds in each type of the above footwork. It reminds me of the practice I had in my home dojo in Hong Kong. No matter what grade you are at, you have to practice footwork at the beginning of the class. It's not as interesting as getting in armour and bash. But it certainly helps your kendo.
Then it was some light suburi. Joge, shomen, sayu x30 each. The instruction "Arm is straight" is mentioned, and I keep that in mind for the rest of the practice.
Kote-men (I struggle this one)
Tsuki (normally I score 3 spot on out of 5 --time to sort out my accuracy!!)
Gyaku-do (my fav!!)
Then there is a short session of Kakari-keiko (why am I on the mototachi side now..!?!)
After that, Blake shoved everyone to the receiving end but me. I have to go thru 12 people's kote-men. The idea is to get the STRONG LAST CUT. At the kihon practice, I did kote well enough, but my Men turns weak for no apparent reason...
It took sometime to realise the problem -- that usually when I cut Men after the kote it will be too close already, and I ended up hitting men-gane, hence the weak cut. If when I cut kote hitting on the spot (and not doing a big step-in), then I can leave a lot of room for the Men cut.
In the jikeiko I experiment on this further... like faking a kote cut by moving shinai a bit only (but with a strong fumikomi), or cutting kote to my left and go for men to the right (not very straight but my shinai get through). Sometimes, I don't even have to do anything and I can go for debana-men. I see the opening of some juniors, without needing to create the opening with my shinai.
There were 2 visitors from Portsmouth dojo. I chat a little with the Malaysian women, who did express some sadness because she is the only girl in her dojo. She knows Terashima, who once visited my Brighton dojo (when I was the only person there on that day!! argh). Anyway, it's good to here they've sort out their BKA registration in Portsmonth.
33 days towards Nidan!!