Although not in shape, I was in the mood for my last squad training at Rickmansworth (NW London). That flu virus has been in my body for the pass 4 weeks, stopping me doing work-related stuff and also regular kendo. But because I have a bad feeling about not being able to attend the squad next month, or probably any month after because I have to leave the country... That's why I choose to get there for the entire weekend.
Adding to that was the "shiai league" practice format. Everyone in attendance fights against each other in 4 min matches. I missed the last kendo competition for my iaido grading - so I have the need to build up my shiai technique. Not just the fighting part, but also observation. I also like the atmosphere and pressure of watching/being watched. Sometimes you need to balance between "dueling" with another person, and performing in front of referees, etc.
A slightly disappointing turn-out of girls... grrr... But we tried our best to fight each other first. A handicapped system was used - a girl will be one point up against a guy. So in order to win a guy HAVE TO score 2 ippon. It went funny when I thought I drew but the flag went up for me. Haha.
The first day I spend a good 40 mins just to do timekeeping. Also that I was having a fever and only be managed 2 fights and have to blow my nose after fight every partner. Not completely enjoyable. But the next day, despite losing A LOT of my match really quickly, I focus more on my posture and footwork.
As far as I can remember, here's my scoreboard. I didn't even fight 12+ matches to make myself into the league (d'oh!).:-
Win 1:0 - Halls. First match and 4-min draw, then one point up by handicapped. Not v happy.
Lose 0:1 - Vinelott. Lost a Men. I suddenly became really really aware of my "head tilting" bad habit because more than 3 times I was almost pushed on the floor after cutting Men. I am not going to let that happen to me again!!! Also I was dramatically ducking ... not good impression at all.
Win 2:0 - Hanson. At last, this is the first real 2-0 match for me since March!! I was mainly relaxing my shoulder and timing her cuts. First one was kote-nuki-men. Second one was my fav jump-in kote. The one I used to finish my match in 1o sec in Hong Kong last Jan. Now I got it back. Yoshi!
Lose 2:0 - Bishop. Just when you are really happy about a 2-0, you lose out a 2-0. Again, against Bishop my rival, who did exactly the same Ai-men that I lost against her at the Nationals in Sept (thats how I came join-3rd)!! And then another one where I just stand there looking like an idiot!! Nooooooooo -- I want to commit seppuku..
Draw 0:0 - Holt. Both me and Kim was equall sick at that time. Kinda timed some cool Doh cuts which I didn't score.
Lose 1:2 - Watkinson. Last time I fought him was in Aug 03 before he get to Japan for study. Did challenge him the night before, but can't believe I lose out so quickly. Yikes. A kote, and another one that landed on my tsuba... Uhmm... revenge next time...
Win 1:0 - Fisher. He came 3rd in the end, so I was quite pleased that I drew him. Wanted to do more, especially gyaku-doh, but wasn't sharp enough.
Lose 1:2 - Hayes. Lost 2 men. I can see it coming. I realise I have a fear of Ai-men...
Lose 1:2 - Scott. Lost hiki-men and hiki-kote (?)... I don't remember!! Because he is good at hiki-waza I was quite keen on getting him there... but... at the last point I also did a hiki-waza and crushed onto the bars at the back of the gym. Doesn't help :p
Lose 1:2 Gibson. With this 1:0 handicap point, I was developing some kind of "tactical thinking" that I should hold his point as long as possible. But 4 mins is a long way, besides Gibbo is not an idiot. I blocked 5 of his Men but then turned into a blocking mode, leaving my kote wide open.. Lost kote in 2 consecutive occations - one ura, one omote (because I waved around my shinai on both sides....)
That went my 10 fights.
Honda-sensei came to my dojo last Friday. But still I didn't get to fence him this weekend. I just think that I didn't improve much since last time I fought him (Sept). Escaped from the embrassment... I look onto other people at keiko time....
Tajima from Nagamitsu. He is so straight :( He taught me about holding the center against a "stiff" opponent. Of course the easiest way to do it is knocking shinai out of the way, eg. Harai waza. But also I can move to the side WITHOUT MOVING THE KENSEN. Because I am quick-ish but not strong with hands, perhaps I should try more of this.
Kishigami from Cheltenham. Kinda annoyed by me attacking too often - but ineffectively. He said I am moving whenever the opponent moves. But the whole idea is to make the opponent move and then pick them off. In terms of "ri-ai" (reasoning?), if the opponent is disturbed by my movement, I won already.
Bishop (not my rival, but her husband!) at Edinburgh. I think I got him after he fought Tajima... As the old saying goes, "always pick on a man when his is down". Hahha. An enjoyable fight so to speak, as comparing to the last one (July). I was faster to do a few kote-nuki-men on him, in which he responded when we were at tsuba-zeriai: Stop hitting me! :D
Wake from Lancaster (?). He is "tall" so I get over there and say onegaishimas. Different in height is not a particular advantage, I suddenly realised. It only matters if you are able to manipulate it, and extend your advantage as much as possible.
Budden. I enjoy the moment of slience when we get up from sonkyo, followed by my kiai which went in echo in the entire gym (as no one was ready yet). A long while not fighting him, but he still got a lot of soft but quick kote on me (my arms are a bit stiff..)
Bell at Nagamitsu. Not enjoyable... I think I lack the acceleration with my legs on the downward cut. As a result Bell did 3 consecutive times of suriage-hiki-men on me. Grrr. But I a few times I got him hiki-kote. One more thing is that he was in Chudan. Last month he fought the last minute with me in Jodan. But this month I was too crap to get him fight me with Jodan.. :(
Honda was saying they are going to organize a trip to Paris next Spring. I *really* want to go because it's the Paris Taikai with koryu and all that. But the chance for me to stay after Jan is closest to zero. Even if I got a job I will have my passport stuck at the immigration office, probably... A bit too far ahead to think of right now, but I really enjoy carrying my bogu traveling, fighting people I don't know. Like this weekend.
This weekend was probably the last time I see everyone from all over the country. The next kendo event will be in Feb (?). I'll be disappeared by then.