Friday, December 30, 2005

Banging Against the Wall

Oops. Forgot to blog - but I did go to the Xmas Eve keiko last Sat. We got a relatively good turn-up (12 in bogu plus a few newbies), which made it look less like a "Lonely Hearts Club". Us girls got another group on rotation (Noroi, Takase, Jane, Lisa, Jacquna (sp?). Even though they were all my junior, I got quite excited winning all the yakusoku keiko rounds (be it ai-men or ippon-shobu). In turn, that did give me the thought of showing up for the squad-training...

But then, I missed the Tuesday night one doing something stupid (playing with cats underneath the dining table - and injured the muscles along my back... argh)

So this is now Thurs, the last keiko of the year 2005.

As usual, I missed the first 15 mins, but I joined in when they started picking up the shinai.

A few rounds of suri-ashi men up and down the dojo, then some men-uchi and kote-men against empty air. The leading senpai said something funny about Tenouchi towards the end of the cut: "when some sensei said 'squeeze like a towel', that's actually a handkechef and not a bath towel, so you don't have to try too hard!" Indeed. Since I got this comment about over-twisting my forearms, I am working on squeezing with the fingers/ hands instead... Do feel relaxing around the elbows now.

Eda-sensei came in at 8pm, who tell us "men-tsuke".

Now using the full-length of the dojo, we did a few more suri-ashi men men men men men men men. Wong-san dropped by the gym and watched us for a bit. For some reason we all try to look good and serious.

Then for a change we all found a line on the floor and did fumikomi-men-with-no-running-through (i.e. Sumi style). Eda-sensei told us to just stop where we stomp on and measure how far we jumped. Something like this:-

To my surprise, my couple of fumikomi that came in with men-uchi straight and stable, were as far as my shinai+ one kote fist... (4 feet!!!) So, really, no more excuses of fighting any closer, and I should be more aware of how far I can actually reach.

Another exercise we did was to band against the wall... Well uhmm "one-step taiatari"... and it was actually against the spongy ones. This was to let us feel the force to give+receive in correct taiatari (by ourselves!), and with the right footwork (since you can't possibly end up with your left foot in front). So the 12 of us all lined up against the wall and start running into it like mental patients...

At paired practice I was with the "women and children group" (Jane, Lo, Takumi, Aka - Ng's son). The time was short, and with just a few rounds of kirikaeshi and men-uchi, we quickly got into jikeiko.

It was after class that Ng (kohai at squad) told me that this is his son's first keiko in bogu. Well, I wasn't that hard. Not being a kid's motodachi for a while, I only remembered to kiai louder when there is no kiai, and keep walking forward when he's all backing up not hitting... It's probably quite hard for Aka as he wasn't showing too much interest when I saw him on a Tues before the squad. Ng hopes he can have more fun with some kids over this dojo.

Takumi (Utsunomiya) was always the hard one, as he was most of the time the only 9-year-old on a Thurs, and with his mom watching from the side. He also won 2005's HK individuals at his age group... Anyway, I really like to forget cutting men to take his kote and do as he thought no one could!

Against Lo, I guess she's improving as well, that we struggled quite a while until I got the first de-gote. But that waza isn't working too well now as she's learning kote-nuki-men... So the lesson is to really work on one waza against a certain type of person, because "tokui-waza" doesn't always work!!

After that we can queue for anyone, so I got to wait for Kwok, a visitor from Silicon Valley who was here on holiday and was only practising today. Strange thing happened - he and a senpai were fighting and then backing to my side, which ran me to the wooden bars at this wall of the dojo... Suddenly blood was on the floor... I twisted my right foot around, and saw some splinters from the wooden bars piked in there. Just when I thought I should last this keiko without sitting down, I just had to. Mrs Utsunomiya offered me a wound plaster, and I just took off my men and kote and pressured my foot for ...until when Yame was shouted. Funny enough I just found out yesterday that I passed my first-aid certificate from St. John, and today I find it being "very useful"

Here's a semi-gross picture - end-of-year shock!! ...Well the wound was not big but it gets a bit swollen now (and sorry that's a copy of Communication Arts on my bed...):-

I hope that doesn't affect my plan going to the New Year's keiko/ squad the coming Sunday. We already got a special invite from Eda-sensei:-

"Dear squad members,

Please note we may plan our last overseas training trip (financial year before 31st march 2006) to Chinese Taipei. [snip]

We have talked to government officials recently in a general meeting once a year to review on our performance. It is very important all squad members to participate in the overseas trip and to achieve good results in the shiai...[snip] Our performance may affect the amount of fundings for the next financial year.

It is every squad member's responsibility to practice hard and to achieve good results, as you are no longer treated as one of the ordinary members.

See you all on the New Year day keiko!


P.S. the 2009 WKC will be held in Brazil. "

She's thinking so far ahead... Argh.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Snap, Snap & More Snaps

1. I've put up some pics of the 1st Regional Kendo Championships in Nov, and also some of the anti-WTO protest 2 weeks ago (irrelevent) in my photojournal site:-

2. In case anyone wonders - YES I took this photo at "Ken Mado"(monthly mag for AJKF). The president actually has more to say about kendo in China and the forementioned taikai:-

Merry Xmas to you all!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Next Year?

This is Friday and we got this email telling us Nemoto Sensei is visiting tonight. In the end I decided to get to this 9-10.30pm keiko after my Nihongo class. Dragging my bogu along the busiest district in town was definately not the nicest thing to...

A bit of info: Nemoto Michiyo (sp?) sensei from Osaka was a former AJWKC winner and is now 7th Dan. Hence the internal email actually said: "Squad members especially ladies must join." We were told that she comes around every Xmas, and was good friend with Horibe sensei's sister (Horibe Akemi - also 7thDan...)

We did some kihon for warm-up and then the remaining 45 mins for keiko.

I came 5th in the line with Wong-san being first, followed by Eda-sensei. After that it just turned into kakari keiko. I told Amy who was just behind me, "yeah, it's usually like this with visiting sensei who doesn't know you well."

Indeed. It happened to me as well after losing one ai-men, missing a kote-men, and hitting a hiki-men in empty air. Argh. My kakari-keiko must have been aaaaawful to watch. Literally I did not control my breath well enough to cut back whenever sensei gave an opening, and it seems like she *always* open when I was about to breath in. As usual, my kiai was a mess too.

Definitely not my shape with the flu /fever still in me... Had to take off men and blow my nose. Felt like having muscle cramps too.

After that I fought Yu- sensei. He had this odd kamae with shinai slightly off centre and slightly protecting his own kote. Some of my kote-men worked quite well. But he's men-uchi ended up coming in at an angle. I blocked a few, did some kaeshi-dou, but sucked up a few. Not that I complain about his kamae... Recalling what Sumi-sensei said last week about seme from any position (the question was about some sensei dropped their shinai tip before coming in - i.e. gedan seme)... So basically if you let someone did an ippon on you from an odd kamae, you lost to that second of doubt in your mind. (sorry... can't explain something highly conceptual...)

Comment to me was about my lack of power in koshi (uhmm)...

Then I had A. Lam (wearing Australian zekken... alphabets too small to read tho). We paired for once at kihon and I quite like his "foreign" kendo. Proven to be a very enjoyable keiko as we both landed some good cuts on each other. But I think I was the one lacking initiative - I'll blame the flu for now.

At the end of the session while everyone was packing their stuff heading home. Eda-sensei gave "a small lecture" to me, Amy and Fanny. Problem was that the sempai (Agnes + Jay) are all recovering from serious injuries at the moment, and that the 3 of us need to be ready for the coming Asian Tournament and the 13th WKC next year (and that's according to Kishikawa sensei...) Basically without the ladies getting some ranking at Taikai, it's quite hard to get funding/ subsidies from the government.

It totally confuses me again as it's quite hard to tell them about my situation. Honestly I cannot take that kind of responsiblity while I cannot even feed myself. (It's like if I say no they are going to ban me for ever...) But it comes to my mind that, IF I last one more month or so at the squad, I might get at least once, the experience to fight as a squad. Question is, I've been escaping from the torture for 4 months already, and I can hardly keep up with the kihon keiko - how the hell will I be of any help?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Budo Stamps

The other day I was trying to find Jan-06's issue of Kendo Nippon (with special AJKC DVD included)... It has proven to be a popular buy among fellow kenshi - I declared my defeat after asking at 4 different honya.

Anyway, there's always something else I ended up buying... like old issues of whatever mags that came in sight. Last time I bought this "Japanese Postage Stamp Catalogue 1999" with HK$10 (i.e. really cheap).

My intention was to see the stamps as design/ illustration references, but it happens that a lot of them are budo-related. Below are the one listed:-

1953 - Judo

1956 - Judo

1960 - Kendo

1962 - Kendo (at Ryukyu - it's only been Okinawa Prefecture since 15 May 1975)

1963 - Sumo

1964 - Karate (Naihanchi, Makiwara, Kumite)

1972 - Kendo (background: Aso Volcano, Kumamoto-ken)

1973 - Kyudo (commemorating Okinawa's reversion - Okinawa Special National Athletic Meet)

1983 - Naginata (background: Myogi Yama, Gunma-ken)

1995 - Judo

1999 - Karate

Well, I did collect stamps at primary school. But not much of a collection since email came into my life at secondary school...

Monday, December 19, 2005


[Korean farmers giving and receiving backrub. Victoria Park, HK. 4pm 15 Dec 2005]

For the last 2 weeks I spent my time volunteering at HK People's Alliance on WTO. It's been tough, especially the past 6 days we all had to sit in open air (12-15 deg.) at Victoria Park. As my job was to answer queries at the Info Desk (in English, Cantonese + Mandarin), and talking too much hurt my voice. I walked straight to kendo on Thurs and Eda-sensei kept saying "Jenny, more kiai!!!" Argh.

On Thursday I walked straight from the park to keiko, with a fellow volunteer who was interest to watch the class. As usual this made me be very aware of my posture and everything during kihon.

We progressed to kirikaeshi at full length of the dojo. Then a few rounds of keiko with Oda-san and David as motodachi while everyone else queued. Oda-san still said I start cutting without much seme (although my men-uchi is straight enough). With David I smacked a few good de-gote, but somehow I think it's because he was too tired to be sharper.

We spent the last 10 mins or so doing enjin keiko - all 10 of us in a circle with one in the middle, fighting everybody.


Accumulating all the stress and sickness I collasped on Sat. Keiko was supposed to be at 4.30-7.30pm with SUMI SENSEI. But I was so dead that I can't really do anything about it, when I wake up at 4.30pm after a decent nap. At 5pm violence broke out with the Korean farmers around the WTO protesting area, which is not more than 500m from where the dojo is. As no buses was going direct, I just thought it doesn't worth going, and I stayed home for more rest.


Sunday morning at 7.45am I watched the traffic update and there was still no direct bus... 900 protestors got arrested but there is still one major rally in the afternoon.

In the end I arrived at 9.30am with everyone doing kendo kata sanbonme. I was probably the last person to arrive, but was surprised that there were only 30 people at most in the dojo. You simply can't believe how few people (especially from other dojo) turned up whenever there is sensei visiting and doing a lecture.

The whole kata session lasted until 10.30am going thru to nanahonme. General commends were made. I can only recall as far as "there are 3 points of seme in ropponme"... Everyone had already paired up and I had to deal with "imaginary opponent" if I wasn't watching the others.

10.30am to 12pm was a practice session in bogu. We started off with 3 string of kirikaeshi in pairs before doing 5 sets of bokuto kihon #1 each. Apart from the initial suri-ashi cutting, there were other specifications like fumikomi but not running thru, fumikomi + running thru, starting from toi-maai then step in before cutting, etc. etc. Me at the 3 Dan & below group (which only took up 1/2 of the dojo) got about 8 rotations.

Next up was tachi-ai keiko, i.e. mock shinsa, and sensei at the side will commend afterwards. While Sumi sensei looked after the 4Dan & above group, the few of us juniors got Koyanagi and Kashiwagi-sensei (7Dan also from Fukuoka). Everybody got 2 90-sec fights, and I got Naganawa-san and Vinx, both were challenging as they all did quite well in previous taikai. Adding to that, the flu I was having was giving me nose-blocks. Literally I messed up with breathing and kiai because I had to use my mouth to breath at all times.

Comments to me: should take more initiative. Yeah I know... I should really sort this out before going for the real Sandan shinsa. Sickness is not an excuse, really.

We finished earlier than the senior group and so we moved to watch them. Sumi sensei was talking about how the tension should build up during the keiko, and not losing it after a cut (whether successful or not) has landed. Also it was interesting for him to say "kiai from both sides at the same time is like nidan level"...

The last 30 mins was left for jikeiko, which I had to take off my men and watched at the side for the entire time. It feels terrible to be so ill while there were visitors worth queuing for. I notice how Sumi-sensei did quite a lot of cuts using one-step fumikomi, just like kihon keiko. But apart from him getting a few good de-gote on Kishikawa-sensei, and then turn him into kakari-keiko mode... I was about to faint at the opposite end of the dojo... It's rarely that I felt I should be at home rather than in there.

After lunch I got 1/2 of napping time before another lecture - but no more keiko and we all changed back to casual wear. Sumi sensei talked about the very "confucious" concepts about kendo, and how these can be translated into our daily lives. I got myself 3 pages of notes.

Attendance was rather low with most of the juniors gone (!?) - so at the Q&A session the questions (from local sensei/ seniors) are more to do with teaching/ learning. For example, ways to encourage beginners, ways to explain technical points, how to be good motodachi, etc. Apart from being able to listen to most of the simple, yet entertaining Japanese Sumi-sensei used, I also realized how these sensei showed their concerns about the way they teach - and I hope that what was discussed will be put into practice.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Making the Right Decision

I skipped Thursday to sit my first-aid exam. The multiple-choice questions were pretty easy, but I pressed a little bit too fast on CPR, and missed the second trianglar bandage around the chest for someone with a broken wrist. Result will be out at the end of the month, and I am still not sure whether those mistakes are enough to make me fail...

As of today (Sat) - I was late for 15 mins for today's keiko. Loast (and found) my mobile while watching a movie iwth my grandma (Perhaps Love - Oscar nominee - Best foreign film - and is actually quite decent, in terms of a musical in Mandarin with cast and crew from China, Hong Kong, S. Korea and Japan).

Eda-sensei is in Taiwan for an IKF meeting this weekend. The practice today is leaded by an average senior.

After a couple of suburi, we did 20 and then 30 haya-suburi. I realize how I cannot really keep up with the last 10. My stamina is not there any more. Leo attached that green-ish shinai weight the whole time during warm-up. When I looked at him, I noticed how I am so behind from the squad who have been training hard.

Again, it's mainly the same sets of suri-ashi kihon cutting: men, kote-men, kote-men-dou, kote-men-dou-men, tsuki. We also did some waza like kote-nuki-men, kote-kaeshi-men, men-suriage-men, men-degote... There isn't a routine of practicing waza for more than a few months now - so in the end I still suck at all these waza...

Jikeiko round: girls first - Noroi-san, Lisa, then Nigata-san, and finally Leo. I actually got the first hiki-men from him (but it's the same getting hiki-men from everyone else - no sense of that "i got you ippon" - not sure why). He did a few nice tobikomi-men which I could barely counter with a very twisted de-gote (i.e. no good ones). At the very end of the keiko, at one point we were at tsuba-zeriai and I wanted to turn to a side for hiki-men... But I used a turned right ankle to push off and somehow I am still feeling the pain from there.

The keiko finishes with 2 rounds of men-uchi. It's killing me whenever I wanted to turn around and cut again...

Usually the last 30 mins is for kata, but I, as usual, is trying to escape from that. Socializing with fellow dojo mates is quite important too. I kinda express my concern to Leo (only he and Amy is from my dojo and at the squad), about my extended absence. Clearly if I am not getting any work now, I'll still be jobless by the time of the 13th WKC (BTW - about 365 days later...). Kendo for me right now, is more a routine exercise than some sort of training as a national squad member. Simply I am unable to commit, and it'll be more disappointing for the team and the coach(es) if I cannot fight in Taiwan a year later because I cannot afford it.

But then, I am still practicing in a way, just not that hardcore anymore. Next weekend Sumi (Masatake) sensei is coming from Fukuoka, and hopefully I'll get some inspiration out of his visit.

Starting tomorrow and for the next week, I'll be a volunteer helping out at the WTO conference protesting area. That's some time to chill for me, before another round of job-hunting...

Friday, December 02, 2005

Should be in There

Last Sat I went to the keiko before the "Regional Kendo Tournament" - which is an invitational thing for dojos in Mainland China. Apart from the neighbouring team Macau, there were teams from Guangdong, Shanghai and Beijing. One thing different from the last Asian Tournament is that, this taikai is aim for Chinese and not Japanese. So it's good to see Chinese at my generation intereseted in Japanese traditional culture finally, besides the hatred and whatever indifference they had before.

As I just got off work, I only managed the last 30 mins or so. Yip told me to practice with Sueno Eiji-Sensei (8Dan Kyoshi from Kagoshima, winner of '79 AJKC, winner of All-Japan 8thDan taikai '02), but then that was a massive queue of 10+ people. I might end up not having ANY keiko, so I just said onegaishimas to some visitors - at least, I got some exercise to make my 2-hour return journey worthwhile.

I found some guys from Guangzhou (captial city of Canton Provience, nearest to HK) and Shanghai. All of the visitors had their full names on their zekken which gave me a headache remembering who they were (imagine you can read everything - and it's just information overload)... Kendo-wise I had a good sweat. They have good kendo, and probably just did shinsa an hour before... their level is below me. But then I m not in shape, forgot when's the last serious practice I had, and extremely tired after 5.5-day of work... Recalling what Honda-sensei said about "fighting someone junior half a grade above them" - I tried but in the end, I could only make it to the same level of kendo. For some of the cuts I could have countered or aggressively attacked, I simply stood there and did nothing. The rate of errors made in debana and hiki waza is extremely high too.

Towards the final 2 mins when "last keiko" was shouted, and when Kishikawa-sensei was "resting" on the opposite side, I walked into his line and bow - and I had no idea why I was up for a keiko with him. Probably on one side I was trying to be sorry for not going to the squad, and on the other telling him I was still practising, for, welll, a little... What I got from that keiko was how "easy" for him to escape from my hiki-men: he just did the very proper type of nuki waza by stepping to one side. Simple. Other people didn't do that because, A) they were too concern to block, and B) they were of a lower level.

Everybody seemed to be rusihing off for food for some reason, and none of them said a word.


The following morning I had a hard time getting up at 8am again after missing a lot of sleep during the week... When I arrived "Lei Yu Mun Sports Centre" (Only managed to find out how to get there on the internet before I picked up my bogu from home) - they were doing the opening ceremony/ line-up thing.

Usually at this kind of situation (not fighting) I would volunteer as a helper, scoreboarding, ribbon-typing, whatever. But strangely there were more than enough for the day, and all I could do was to watch, support Team HK, and take photos. I also got the odd job of holding the camera(s) before lunch at their "photo call". Though I must mention that digital SLR of Takeyasu-sensei (President of AJKF) will be something worth saving up for, if my salary could ever afford that!

The two major cities in China, mainly Beijing and Shanghai, at least in my opinion has a relatively higher standard of kendo from the local Chinese. Not sure if that has anything to do with the presence of Japanese students (which HK has none) or businessmen (which HK have a lot). But out of the 10 teams from 5 cities (inc. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Macau, besides HK) - HK Team A definitely had their advantage as it was made up of 2 yondan, 2 sandan with lower grades as subsitutes. Other teams had people from kyu to, at most, 3 dan, which made some of the fights not as exciting to watch because of the big gap in level.

... Or maybe I was just really tired. Also that the lighting was horrible for photo-taking. At one point (after lunch) I was napping right next to one corner of the court, despite the fact that there were loud kiai and strong fumikomi on the floor.

Actually one of the more exciting things I'd seen that day was some Iaido embu. Cheung was on one of those 8.30am sunday session when I happened to have the mood to pop-up months ago. But seeing his Iaido in an Embu context was a different feeling. He was in all white doing shoden to okuden Muso Shinden Ryu kata. I had that *flash* of Alex Sahla's face. Whoops.

I did chat Cheung up and found that he had participated in some All-Japan taikai under Niigata-ken's team. With the iaido conversation running again, I really think that I should fix my career crisis a.s.a.p. My interests are all suffering all because of it. Damn.

For most of the time I was sitting with HK Team B (Ng, Leo, Amy, Fanny, Agnes) when they weren't fighting. It's probably the team I would have made into *if* I attend the squad in the past 3 months. Overall they got from being nervous to overcoming the fear, and then too eager all of a sudden, which in the end made them to the semi-finals. Everyone gained a few points and then lost a few for the team. Too much getting drawn into the level of the opponent. You cut, I cut. You push, I push... that sort of thing. But if I was the one fighting, wouldn't I be making the same mistakes?

At Godou keiko I practiced with a girl from Guangzhou, a Portuguese woman from Macau, a guy from Guangzhou and another one from Shanghai, all supposedly my juniors, followed by Wan-sensei (Fanny's sensei). Now I felt kinda sorry for those coming a few hours by flight to fight with someone so tired and dead. I came to keiko as a matter of respect and appreciation of their willingness to travel, which is something I haven't done for quite a long time (almost a year.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Long time No Thursday

On the first evening of December, after a month of internship with no job offer in the end, I had the folllowing activities to choose from:-

1. Kendo
2. Illustration for Advertising class
3. Play with cats at home

In the end Option #1 was the one to go for - simply because it can take me away from the hectic life in the last couple of days/weeks.

It was another usual session in kihon, but somehow being barely to make the last 30 mins of jikeiko in previous weeks, suddenly everything in kihon feels so refreshing. It helped me to cut properly in a controlled environment at my own pace.

There were about 8 or 9 adults and 3 kids in bogu tonight. It was quite exhausting without a little breather in between changing partners, as only Jane and I were in the "ladies group".

Rounds of suri-ashi men/kote-men/kote-men-do-men, then suri-ashi kirikaeshi, men-uchi, kote or kote-men-uchi, and finally more rounds of kirikaeshi and do-kirikaeshi at full length of the dojo... It was until this point that I pulled some muscles around my left ribs.

...Went on watching from the side for the ending 20 mins of jikeiko, and at times did about 200 suburi. Now I know how "not in shape" I am - not being able to last less than 1.5 hour of kihon kendo. How can I make myself to the squad?


I did get to the Regional Kendo Tournament as a spectator last Sunday. Just don't have time to report on it. More laterz.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

15 minutes

It was slightly better this week with me rushing home from work at 3.45pm for my bogu, arriving the QEII Stadium at 6.15pm. Funny enough the female changed room was rather busy when I get in. Apparently there is this Interschool Fencing Tournament going on at the main arena, and the changing area was pretty much occupied by school girls.

That reminds me of this Chinese-intercity competition (whats the official title) the next weekend. Obviously I am not on any of the team due to my poor attendance at the squad, but I'd have to go and help out or keiko at least. (Though I would rather spend the day sleeping after 6 days of work -_-)

Rarely in my home dojo would they do anything rather than "Kihon" - but when I got in there people were already at those tiring rounds of kirikaeshi-up-and-down-the-dojo-till-sensei-says-yame. Being singled out I just had the chance for mitori keiko. Kinda wonder how many rounds can I last these days, feeling so physically unfit.

After that the adult group merged with the kids class which usually occupies the other half of the dojo. It was in fact 8 rounds of uchikomi keiko for the kids side only. I haven't seen this stuff for a while and its quite refreshing to watch, especially most of them are 12-15 years younger than I am.

This was followed by enjin-keiko (one person in the centre of the circle, fighting everybody else). Still the kid was in the centre being battered by the adults. Outside the game observing, I really would say the key for this exercise is mainly to build up self-motivation and endurance, while techniques come second.

So by the time Eda-sensei said jikeiko for the adults group, it was already very close to 7pm. I had quite good keiko with Lisa, Andy Ng (kohai from the squad who is visiting with his kid) and Mrs Horibe. I got some relatively satisfying kote-mena nd hiki-men on everyone, but somehow lost quite a lot of de-kote. It's either I am too slow or not hittinf spot-on. It's very strange that I used to be able to fire one tobikomi-kote whenever I wanted to, but now it's just so closed to non-existance.

The last and very short keiko was taking 3 cuts from David the interpretor who happened to time his jodan men quite well. None of this should happen again when I practice more often...!!!

Oh, and I finally paid the dues for this season to Eda-sensei. She said Kishikawa-sensei was asking where me and Angus are. So I guess I am not the only one getting sick in a month and too busy in another. It'll be really interesting next week when I see Kishikawa-sensei and the rest of those in the squad.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Slowing down

After the 2nd week at work I arrived at the dojo at 6.30pm on Sat, missing the first hour of the kihon keiko. For 2 weeks I've been getting off work at around 7-8pm, rushing to different evening classes, sleeping at 1.30-2am and waking up at 7.45am. So this afternoon (still at work for half a day on a Sat) I just collapsed to bed at home, and when I realized it, it was already 5pm..!!

So when I joined in the bogu group they were already doing mawari keiko. In that half an hour I went from the end of the line to the top of the line - i.e. 8 keiko - which is much of an accomplishment, considering my absence in the dojo for the last 3 weeks.

On my way there while I spent my time on the bus fixing my 2 shinai, I was only thinking about doing a lot of men cuts, kote-men and hiki-men. Just cutting straight is enough...

But then life is not that simple. The first few keiko I was still in kihon mode which just turned out to be cuts without seme. Didn't get battered, but still, I should have at least find the right opportunity... Against Leo who still train in the squad weekly, he can easily perform a suriage waza that makes my men-uchi a useless move. Further down the line I am slowing down (probably due to the lack of energy), but that actually made me think about when to hit. At least I did some satisfying hiki-men in the ending few fights.

Whenever I had been out of regular training (by that I mean twice a week or more), it only feels like doing some exercise, and not improving on a specific kendo aspect (posture, waza, whatever). This of course slows down my what I am learning, but then at this moment in life, I can't really help.

From 7pm onwards it was jikeiko time and people could grab whoever they want. I took a slight break for a while and watched everyone's kendo. The more I watched I felt I am way behind a lot of these dokai.

I asked Alex for some kihon stuff, like when I was the sempai I could ask those kohai who wasn't doing anything to "just cut". Men-uchi and then kote-men 10 times each. I used this chance to work on "being straight". But the comment was that I was quite slow, and my kiai wasn't strong enough to score in a real shiai.

There's this brief conversation in between which kept ringing in my head for the rest of the day:-

Alex: So are you still training at the squad, Jenny?
Me: Er, no. I haven't...
A: Ahh, you should really go and train there a lot more. You and Amy should be training for the HK team...
Me: Er, I need to work overtime...

We went on to the side and do some kote-uchi and de-gote (and therefore I managed to escape from the kata session again!!). It was rather disappointing as it seems like I've lost my tokui-waza. I just kinda forget how to do tobikomi-kote - my posture wasn't right, my left leg wasn't pushing enough, my body was bending and unstable, etc. etc. The de-gote was equally awful - probably only managed a pop once out of 5, others either landed on the tsuba or alex's forearm (!). The next thing I should be working on (or should I say "re-work on") is my speed and accuracy.

After the keiko I briefly chatted with Eda-sensei, Leo and the lot and explained my irregular attendance in recent weeks. Sometimes I just want to hear them congrat me on getting an internship - and I don't want to get that annoying comment about "the team", "WKC", or whatever that is coming. I don't want them to hear me say "I don't care"... Loads of people are working as well as training really hard. But then I am still not too secured about my life outside of kendo - do I really have one? I'll be a really sad person if my life only existed by the shinai, or if people only care about my existance inside the dojo.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


A disappointment really, that I just slept at home for the entire time when I should be at the Sat kendo this afternoon. With only 5 hours of sleep every day for the week and then 11+ hours of clicking in front of the computer, together with the evening courses I rushed to... I just couldn't help myself.

I hope I can make it next week. Just did some sit-ups and then a few houndreds katake-suburi, but haven't put on bogu for 3 weeks already. Haven't paid my dues for this quarter yet, and I hope to explain my situation in person to all the sensei and dojo mates...

The situation should be better if I manage a permanent offer for this job. The first aid (on Mons) and Illustration classes (Thurs) finish in a months time, and I can change the times for Nihongo Phrase 4 (after passing the exam for Phrase 3 in late Nov that is). Anyway, this is gonna be a busy month without much kendo. Just a little bit of sacrifice in training in order to get serious in life. I hope I am making the right choice here.


Sunday, October 30, 2005

no keiko...

Sorry friends. I've been busy all weekend doing research and there's just no time for kendo. That means I was reading books and stuff instead of going to keiko with hachidan and nanadan sensei from Korea...

To prove that I really went around researching (btw I just learnt that japanese grammar in my last lesson :p):-

Anyway - I still got this photo and also 80+ others.

I hope I can get back to training as soon as possible... Settling down with a company isn't all that easy, I assume...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Work + No Play...

Last Tues - Skipped squad training to get more time working on my portfolio
Last Thurs - Schedule clashes with that Illustration for Advertising short course
Friday (today) - Portfolio presentation and got a graphic design work placement from a brand consulting + development agency
Sat (tomorrow) - HK Society of Illustrators seminar full day
Sun - Will probably skipped the squad training to do some research about luxury retail branding, packaging, etc. (As I am not sure whether I can handle the agency's clients like Cartier, Carat, Bvlgari, etc..!!)
Mon - Start working

Apparently if I follow my plans, I'll be missing this sudden kendo event (might just go and watch):-

Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 12:45 AM
Subject: visit of korean sensei
Dear sensei,

this sunday afternoon 2pm - 4pm two 8dan sensei and four 7dan sensei from korea want to have keiko with HK members... has invited them to have keiko ... at HK Park 2pm-4pm, please feel free to join. there will be no entrance fee.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Autumn the Kendo Season

Yet another 2 week break on a Sat. This time it was tonsilitis, so serious that after 6 days of antibiotics from my GP I am still only at 90%. But since I can finally swallow food and water without experiencing any pain, I'm back at the dojo, doing my kihon.

It's a rather good turn-up with 14 people I think. 5 of us girls in a separate rotation.

Here we do quite a lot of men-uchi kihon stuff using suri-ashi only (like your bokutoniyorukihonwazakeiko....). Initially I thought it's quite retarded and doesn't help in full-speed kendo, but now I am getting used to it, and in fact, much better. I do notice how much the power of my left thigh is forcing myself to go forward when we progress to fumikomi men-uchi. Somehow I think the 1000 rope jumps I do every other day contributed to this leg-muscle strengthening too.

Yeah, I am jumping more ropes than going for kendo at the moment. Besides the unexpected illnesses in the past few weeks, my evenings are quite booked up with courses right now. I quite tempted to go back to the squad on a Tue after my Nihongo Kurasu, but usually I am just too hungry at that hour. Argh.

After mawari-keiko, we spent some time in ippon-shobu shiai and then more jikeiko (Eda-sensei shoved me to the motodachi side...). I am working on kote-men, kote-do and hiki-waza at the moment, mainly because I want more variation from the amount of tobikomi-kote I can get from juniors. At this stage I am still not sure why sometimes the waza works and sometimes it doesn't - and I'll try to figure that out...

There were only 4 of us girls (Jane, Jasqyna [sp?!], Noroi-san) left when we do the Ippon-shobu (winner stays) shiai keiko. Not surprisingly I lasted until I faced Noroi-san for the second time. I mainly scored tobikomi-men, and I realized how my kote sucks and gets bendy now (lack of practice).... That Ippon I lost was a men-nuki-do.

Noroi-san is one of the smarter ones who so obviously keeps on smacking people's do - mine or the taller guys. So I guess it's right to keep working on a tokui waza (or a few).

At jikeiko I fought Alex and Jiman (both 3 Dan). Well, they aren't the brilliant type, but I think I am lacking that bit of aggression that does not really exist in the girls group. Of course you get the usual hard hitters. But I am not complaining about that inch of red bruise near my right pelvis bone. Juniors (especially girls) tends to loose that keiko tension more easily, and you'll rarely see them in kakari-keiko mode. I felt nasty going 5-renzuku-waza (back and forth) to Jane, but when I fenced Jiman it was like a cool demo to the beginners who were just learning suburi at the remaining 1/3 of the dojo.

So not aggressive enough = too boring; too much agression (like the training at the squad... oh and also adding the frustration...) = too hard for me. Seems like a little bit too extreme at both ends. Much of a dilemma to choose from, if I can only attend a limited amount of keiko right now.

Finally Autumn has cometh and this week is probably the last week I'll be wearing vests. I'd really need to gear up my muscles and body fat for the kendo events at the end of this year. Tho I am not too sure about the squad now. No doubt they are going to welcome me back, but whether I can survive and catch up is another question...

p.s. For that ever-demanding reader, here's your atom feed:-

Monday, October 10, 2005

Better or Worse

It's been quite a while for me to turn up on a Sat - because there were some visitors from Shizuoka coming over last weekend. I *knew* I wouldn't bother waking up on a Sunday morning, so I had to show up on Sat.

The keiko turned out to be 1 hour only, as comparing to the usual "adults in bogu Sat session" which is at 5.30-7.30pm. A number of us didn't know this arrangement and therefore turned up 1 hour earlier. Instead of standing there chatting, we got robbed to be motodachi on the Sat kids class (4.30-5.30pm)... I hadn't done this for a rather long while, but this time I quite enjoy encouraging kids and beginners alike... Somehow it reminds me of the joy of kendo at the beginner's class.

This motodachi session was quite short - just receiving kirikaeshi, men-uchi x5, kote-men x5. There were 4 motodachi (leaded by Oda-san, then me, Leo + David) and the queues were around 5-person deep. I still like pushing kids who paused after cutting men, running away from those who takes 3 steps before cutting, and shouting "Hayaku (faster)!" to anyone who didn't look motivated.

The only odd thing was the 6 visitors coming in 5 minutes before our class finishes - and you got the other locals who came for the open keiko. Kishikawa-sensei being one of them (!)...

It was Iizuka-sensei from Shizuoka (8 dan) plus 3 mid-age men, a shorter old man and a mid-age lady. Since there were 6 of them in total, it wasn't a headache queuing anymore. I had the lady first, then a guy, then the older man, and then another guy. No one did the intro for these visitors so I had no idea about their rank, but I "assume" they are around 5/6 dan.

The most popular comment I get was about how much I hesitated before exploding for a cut. Especially with the guys - with them the keiko only last very short (because they've lost interest so fast...) I had a lot of doubts and that's due to the lack of confidence. Somehow I think it affects my hiki-men attempts too.

After class I quickly bowed to everyone I practiced with and rushed off but managed to say hi to Kishikawa-sensei. Conversation as follow:-

Me: K... Kishikawa-sensei... Hello...
Kishikawa: Hi Jenny. So you are still alive?
Me: Eh. I sort of injured my wirst.
K: When was that?
Me: Uhmm. 3 weeks ago. I was running in the rain and fell over. Now it hurts when I want to cut do or to the side, and I had to cheat by not turning my right...
K: Well that's good for your posture!
Me: Yeah I can notice that too. But I had to cut down the practice and can only join the normal Thurdays at Eda's. Can't overdo at the squad for a while.
K: Uhmm. Ok. But just don't stop practicing.
Me: Hai--!


Friday, October 07, 2005

Missing Sensei

-- Not an emotional expression, but just that there weren't any sensei on Thursday. I think Eda-sensei went picking up some 8-Dan at the airport, so we were pretty much left on our own, since the Tanaka's had left and wetn back to Japan.

It's one of those occations when there's no sensei around, some senpai would take over the class in a kinda dominating way. I arrived 15 mins late (bad traffic!!) and the 3-dan senpai was there leading the rotation of kihon. In total there were 12 people in the rotation, so it's a relatively good show. Oda-san got robbed to lead the 8-10 or so non-bogu group. Everything went as usual, but just that the environment was a bit dead.

Sadly there wasn't any inspiring/impressive senpai around, be it in this dojo or in the whole of the squad. Plently of sensei with good techniques, but then when it comes to senpai with a closer level gap - there isn't anyone there I can count on. Yes, I am annoyed by the fact, and was bored for most of the class.

We followed the "suriashi x3 + fumikomi x2" pattern for the kihon. It's still a gender-divided rotation with me, Lo, Jane, Koji (local kid, actually), and Takumi-kun. I felt sorry for Takumi because no one is doing the translation for him this round, Mrs Tanaka isn't here any more, and he got stuck with us for the first half of the class. But I quite enjoy pairing up with him even tho he bloody smacked my knickles every time he cut kote in kihon (!?!). Well, but he's more energetic then the rest of the adults, and is fun to be with anyways.

Takumi's partner for the 2nd half of the class is Gareth, another 9-yr-old local boy who goes to international school (he's got an accent in his English). Gareth has an elder bro called Brian, and the 3 were like the dojo's musketeers... I remember Brian started probably the same time as I was a beginner (was in HK that summer for 2 months in this very dojo). He was like... 5 years old and so cute that you just want to spend the rest of the class hugging him. I chatted with their grandmother a bit and she said, "yeah, they went swimming classes after school, and then here!" Gosh, don't you wish you did more exercise when you were at that age?

My wrist didn't hurt that much when I did do-uchi on the kote-men-do an kote-men-do-men sequences. Maybe because I really use a lot of left hand and hit like using katate-waza. Surprisingly it smacked with a much louder noise than I turn my right wrist...

But my wrist still hurts in occations such as lifting my bogu bag up right hand only...

The last 25 mins or so was mawari-keiko. We managed a full rotation fighting everyone in bogu plus 2 more - so it's about 2 mins every keiko. Maybe it's the lack of excitement from the kihon session - I think nothing from the whole of September can compare with this 25 mins.

Mainly I worked on my kote-men or kote-do as renzoku-waza. I do notice if my left hand remains the correct amount of gripping force, my 2nd strike will be faster and more solid.

The other thing I worked on was Hiki-men. Somehow I felt everyone is having an opening for me to hit their men at tsuba-zeriai. I think I smacked 5 on everyone.

Ng, a kohai from the squad, turned up at our dojo with his 5/6-yr-old son and shot some keiko pics out of him. He was injured on the right knee so he wasn't practising. And then I went on saying I haven't been to the squad for 2 months already. I briefly talked about my concerns over whether I can still be selected into the team next year (be it the Asian tournament or the 13th WKC). Honestly I have no idea what the future brings. It does seems like I quite enjoy the bash this night, but I am not sure whether to commit to the squad training again.

Friday, September 30, 2005

"Don't Run Away"

This 14-day break from kendo is probably the longest in the past 14 months. Still not very much recovered from a heavy flu last week and also a painful right wrist (injured again last monday... someone please tell me not to run in the rain and fall over...), I was swing my shinai again at the dojo with the rest of the class tonight.

About every other day I did my 1000-times rope-jumps, and if not a couple hundreds of sit-ups alternating with katate-suburi. So fitness-wise I can catch up with no problemo. Just that the level of my kendo isn't going anywhere due to the very irregular practices I've been to in recent weeks. I haven't been to either a Tues/ Sun squad for 2 months, got to think about it.

Everyone is rather attentive tonight as Tanaka-sensei announced (as we did the kihon without bogu) that this is the last practice with him and his wife. My 3-step/1-step kihon went alright, until it gets to the rensoku waza series. My right wrist does not allow me to cut dou on either kote-men-dou or kote-men-do-men. Recalling what Eda-sensei said about "No one is at their 100% in every shiai, so find a way to adapt to your whatever condition as quick as you can", I just happened to temporary cheat a bit by not rotating my right wrist. Since the shinai handle isn't oval-shaped like a katana, it looks alright. Just maybe not scoring in a real shinai.

It wasn't a busy night at all with only 8 people (!?) in the rotation, so comparatively kendo gets slightly more intense. Very rarely that we stayed for paired bogu practice for 45 mins non-stop. And we actually did some waza here. Like men-kaeshi-dou which kills my wrist again. Also other alternative renzoku waza combinations: kote-kote-men, kote-men-men, men(blocked)-dou, etc.

The ending 15 min of jikeiko time was pretty enough for the few who were in armour. I had a good bash with Mrs Tanaka. Eda-sensei at the side comment on my men-uchi being too small. At this kind of keiko with a significant level gap, just expect a couple of ending men-uchi. I was very tired and confused when I heard Mrs Tanaka said, "___...migi___... hidari___..." I always assume this is one of those "too much right hand" expression so I had to completely use my left hand and forget about the right. Only the last 2 men-uchi scored me a "very good" comment, and then we sunk in sonkyo, and finished the keiko.

After class Mrs Tanaka further explained about what she was about to tell me, in action. It turned out to be that I was literally running to the right after cutting (and not what I thought about too much right hand...) I should be going straight and slamming into the opponent. "Nikeja Dame" - don't run away. That's some Japanese I know, and the idea finally came across quite well.

I tried queuing for Tanaka-sensei but obviously we ran out of time. Little Utsunomiya Takumi-kun got the "special farewell treatment", you know, that kind of uchikomi that last forever ever ever ever ever ever... got told that it would be the last ippon, got pushed and fell over, got up and the rest of the people just kept on shouting "GANBATTE"... Oh what a scene. The 9-year-old was 200% exhausted when we gave him the round of applause (probably because we'll never last that long). His eyes were still in tears when we waited for the seiza call. I just turned around and gave him my 2 thumbs up.

Tanaka-sensei gave his 10-min farewell speech while we were in seiza (awww). Basically it's about how he enjoys teaching in a dojo that worked a lot on kihon, correctness of posture and such. And he went on and said the importance of listening, lasting a practice, and always get one more ippon. "It's that "one last Ippon" that build you up little by little every single time you go for it. If you give that one up then you'll never improve. Japan is a militaristic (?) society in which everyone has to discipline themselves. For those who just hang around not pushing themselves, their sensei had already given up on them... Hope you can make use of this concept both in and outside of the dojo." That was translated by David and he did his job well. For some reason, I found the last few lines apply to my current situation really well (...wonder why all the sensei is picking on me yeah?)

"Take care, Sensei." My last line to Mr Tanaka.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Last This Hour

Today - after rushing home from the centre of town (new version of Photoshop + Illustrator + InDesign seminar... Great!) and going back to the opposite side of the harbour - adding to the heavy traffic jam 2 bus stops away from where I should get off and walk to the dojo, by the time I entered the dojo, people were already putting on their men and I completely missed the suburi/kihon parts.

[I also happened to left my shirt and trousers in the changing room one floor below the gym for 1 hour. Some adviced me to play the lottery because I managed to find it after the class - with my $$ all still there...!!]

Anyway, the bogu session started off with a line of people in bogu as motodachi, and standing opposite, the intermediates who got to hit the targets with suri-ashi. There's one odd person out, so I took that time and did some warming up. Was pretty stiff there - I haven't touched my shinai for a week.

Moving on to bogu-ed people only, we went thru the usual kirikaeshi, kihon - with suriashi and then fumikomi... The more exhausting one will be kote-men-do-men. Seem to find myself more balanced, but not fast enough (god, how the hell can I catch up with the Hokkaido boys...)

Tanaka-sensei had a sudden "surprise" for this session, and before moving on to jikeiko, we had about 6 rounds of 5-times-ai-men. We were told that it will let us understand more about our -utsu-maai. Also we'll use more of our waist-power to turn 180-degree, and run through much faster.

I told myself not to take a break today. It was only an hour for me already, and if I can't even last that, it means I am not enjoying kendo (and not just the situation). Now I know I didn't really dropped out, but I am just as borderline dangerous as the rest of the losers. Especially yesterday I had the worst 1000-rope-jumps in ages. I haven't done even once 100-non-stop, and I felt tired before reaching the 500th. I was so out of practice, and pretty much out of shape recently...

My first keiko partner was Takumi-kun (who is 9 and ...half my height...). Tanaka-sensei came over and wacked him over the head because he missed a couple of really good opportunities, and was dodging too much. But I also got nagged about "Jenny you should beat him up" in Japanese - or something similar. Well, Takumi really did a few sharp do-uchi which I was really impressed. I was trying to work on more of my kote-men and kote-dou, but still these waza weren't working as good in jikeiko. uHmm

...And then I had Mimura-san who is a teenager-beginner. I haven't had a keiko with people at that level for quite a while now, so it's been a refreshing feeling. (Since I am no longer responsible to teach beginners here, and loads of people were still at the non-bogu stage - only this month "Iris" bought her bogu, and she started at the beginning of the year...!!) As usual I wanted to be more encouraging, and I hoped the boy appreciates it.

The ending few minutes I had a short one with David, our dojo Japanese-Cantonese interpretor. He is a fresh nidan. Somehow I found the same problem of mine in him. Like, after hitting kote (and missed), both of us just stood there like idiots. That happened twice and I started to be more aware of my left foot and did a couple of spot-on kote-men. But seemingly my kote-men only worked on people who has no intention to go forward. Thats definately something I should investigate into more...

It's just a strange day today anyway. When I packed my bogu I pulled out my current shiai tenugui from Matsuoka senpai "Possiblity is endless (not sure how to translate)" in London. And then at the end of the class Eda-sensei, who came back from Singapore last weekend, told me that "Miss Matsuda said hello to you". When I bin my keikogi into the laundry basket, my name flashes into my eyes on the keikogi those Iaido people at Wakaba gave me as farewell present. They just all of a sudden gave me little warm treats, and reminds me I should try harder and enjoy the practice more. Thanks for all that, whoever is reading.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Tonight at 8pm I switched off my laptop, stood up, grabbed my bogu from near the window... and immediately decided to put them down. Instead, I went into the dining room, sat down and had dinner.

Last Thursday saw the visit from Inoue-sensei (3rd time this year!) who was going to accompany a HK team and visit Singapore. He came with 2 other men around his age, Yamane-sensei of Osaka, and Nozaki-sensei from Nara.

We jumped straight into free practice, which means 30+ people queuing for the 3 of them. I was second on the queue for Yamane.

The keiko was okay with me smashing 3-4 de-gote and got bored of this waza, but I couldn't really switch to other waza. Apart from the lack of practice, his timing was so different... It was just quite weird, but in the end we found out Yamane-sensei started kendo at the age of 40. Still, having 30+ years of experience, I won't have any other comments.

Nozaki-sensei is the tough-to-deal-with type. He did that "running in from to-maai and cut men" thing which was pretty impressive (age-wise). At one point I was like a beginner backing out so much that I stepped into people queuing at the side. They were shouting things like, "check your breathing. Kiai! kiai--!" which only pressured me more. I have no idea why I was so afraid at that time. After that, The keiko evolved into the usual uchikomi, and the advice was about using too much right hand. Guess it's the wirst injury that got me overcompensating for it.

Later on, more local sensei got to stand as motodachi, and so, the queue at Inoue-sensei was slightly shorter. But there is nothing special about that keiko. Basically I stood up from sonkyu, held for 5 seconds, cut men, got battered, and did a few rounds of men-uchi. Finished in 30 seconds in total. Not too enjoyable.

So yeah, that's last Thursday with 3 jikeiko and nothing else.

I think I'll go this Thursday. But from next week on to late Nov the practice hours will clash with my short course at the Art School (Illustration for Advertising). Need to re-schedule everything if I am going to continue to have regular kendo.


I said that because I was thinking of dropping kendo and pick up something else closer instead. Last Monday at the St John's First Aid course, I was quite attracted to volunteer for their brigade. Since I can't go for the Police anymore, St John might have been an option just for fun. Then I don't have to struggle on a Sunday morning to see if I'll get tortured in the dojo - and then do something that contribute to the society a little bit.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Far Far Away...

Sitting here for too long without any exercise at all hurts my a$$. My only entertainment in recent hours is this:-

Distribution of Dojo in Relation to Where I Live

Hong Kong (QEII is the place for my dojo and squad training)


Well... Location/ transportation-wise my current dojo isn't *that* far... I dunno why mentally I am feeling this way.

Monday, September 05, 2005

[I wrote a longer entry but it came back with a system error. Oh what the heck...]

Although encouraging, it is also a rather disturbing idea... Now that Tanaka-sensei has spoken during the round-the-table-comments-to-everyone session at the farewell dinner last Sat.

I should fight with a relaxed body and a strong spirit - not tensing up and displaying my thinking-too-much mentality on my face during keiko.

My state of mind should be like a big but calm, quiet lake without ripples.

I have got the timings, opportunities, speed and stamina right, which much qualifies me as a national team member in international championships. What I need to work on, is how I should approach each fight. The Kimochi, so to speak.

... Slowly and steadily I am being pressured to train for the world championships. It's more than a year away and I am not sure why everyone is so serious about it already. It takes away a lot of the fun and enjoyment I can have, sucking up a huge chunk of my energy and time (while not having a decent income) ... Maybe I just can't handle that kind of pressure and responsiblity. I wish I can just play and enjoy.

My wrist is 99.9% recovered, but I am not sure about the squad training tomorrow. I get quite scared about going 250+ hayasuburi this month, being out of practice for so long...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

How Long Can I Last Like This??

My right wrist is probably 99% recovered. Went to the hospital yesterday, but 100 people were in the queue so in the end I didn't see the doc. Oddly enough, there is this bottle of home-made (and with a strong smell) Chinese medicine sent to my father from his doc/pal at Wisconsin. Work wonders just the second day rubbing it on.

I did tell my mom I was going to kendo tonight. But at 8pm I sat down at the dining table instead. Obviously, I don't feel like going to the squad. Missed 3 times already, which means I am really behind. It will kill me if they are doing 250 hayasuburi the next time I go...

The main excuse for tonight's absence, is this email I received today:-

Hi Jenny,

[snip] ... I browsed your website of portfolio and found your work to be very similar to one another in style. I very much would like to speak to you to see if you have any experience or interest in the Coroprate Identity , graphics, branding work for more traditional corporate clients...such as banks. The design they need are generally more conservative with nice photos and layouts but not extreme creative artistry.

When is it a good time to have a coffee for a chat? I am sure you will have extra stuff to show me. Is Central a good place to meet?


ps. I would like to know if you are currently engaged in any full time job.

At the moment I am re-working on my portfolio, but I have zero confidence in the kind of work this person need, because essentially, I have no experience into that.

"Found your work to be very similar in style..."
"The design they need are generally more conservative... but not extreme creative artistry..."

This. Hits. Me. On. The. Head. Real. Hard...

Friday, August 26, 2005


"Your friend from London said hi" The first thing Eda-sensei came up with when I walked into the changing room was that... She's probably very lucky to get into the seminar weekend where people from all parts of the UK were also there with Sumi-sensei last week.

Anyway tonight had a good turn-up with 15+ people in bogu. 10 days without kendo for me is a long break. My right wrist felt okay, if not 90% recovered.

... But I wasn't too sure about the 20 push-ups at the beginning of the warm-ups.

... And then with the shinai they did the single-handed butterfly swing-around wrist exercise (like how you do kaeshi waza). It just soooooooo killed my wrist again.

I thought if there is no kaeshi waza I can survive this Thursday kihon class. Tanaka-sensei leaded the sanhyoushi/ichihyoushi men/kote-uchi. Also added in today was Furukawa-sensei's kote-men-do-men combo. I can't kiai on the Do cut as my wrist hurt soooooooo much...

At 8pm we practice kihon with Men on. But surprisingly, kirikaeshi worked ok for my wrist.

Also I found myself I'm leaning a bit forward today - I guess bad habit shows without regular practice hmmmmmm

It's kinda strange that Eda-sensei reduce the times we do for kihon to twice/three times each and then change sides, as comparing to the 5 times I normally did in London. "You should give your best Ippon. There's only 2 opportunities for you to show. So do it perfectly." Yeah that's a thought.

It was just men, kote and then ai-kote-men. My wrist didn't hurt on cutting/receiving so I thought this wasn't my problem - so probably it has something to do with the do-uchi or kaeshi-waza I did the other week at Furukawa's seminar.

The final 30 mins we had time for jikeiko and I grabbed Lo for a while. I did a few ok-ish hiki-men, but it's my de-kote that's hurting my wrist. Anyway, that's the last thing I had with my men on. I got shoved to the non-bogu side and did some kirikaeshi with a cute kohai named Iris.

While the other side of the class was having mock-shinsa for this Sunday (no squad, yay), we did some renzoku-men-uchi with people lining up with shinai held horizontally (yeah thats beginners stuff) And then Mrs Tanaka told me that my left foot wasn't following when I hit... damn, I definitely wasn't paying attention!!!

Argh. When am I going to recover?!!???!

Just got an email about Tanaka-sensei (and also Mrs Tanaka) is going to leave Hong Kong mid-Sept. That's shocking news..!! (... and the rest of the email is about giving presents and party..[???])

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Injury Rant

The scenery outside my bedroom window has been looking like this for the past few days. It had been raining heavily non-stop for 48 hours, until last night.

However, since last keiko (5 days ago) my right wrist had not recovered... It hurts whenever I want to turn the door knob or pick food up with chopsticks... Basically I can't hold my right arm straight, palm up, and bend my hand down more than 30 degrees.

To illustrate my point further - my right wrist can't even hold in chudan!!! I am still not sure whether this was due to some bad kaeshi waza I made or was it because some heavy-hitting dudes hit on the wrong part of my kote. When people here ask me, "are the Europeans really physical?", next time I'm going to say: "pretty much the same". I do think my theory about "those who begins from adult-hood hits hard", with is not limited to foreigners at all!! ... Anyway, I'd have to give it a rest.

This weekend seems to be a grading weekend for a couple of places around the world. Next week they'd have one in HK, so there will be no Sunday squad... I'll try my best to make the Tuesday one tho. Had already missed out their "Eiga-Naoki-signed tenugui" from Furukawa-sensei...

I apologize for the last few lengthy entries. (I went back today and thought, "Gee, who the hell is going to read that?!") With the insomnia my brain didn't really function before I type!!

... Has anyone watched the 1997 WKC Kyoto videos as posted on KWF yet? I spot Kishikawa-sensei in one of them (R Kishikawa vs M Asaoka- Brazil came join-3rd after beating Canada... God, he was sharp 8 years ago!!

Did I just become a stalker of my sensei!?!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hokkaido Weekend (3/3)

...On my last entry I completely forgot to put up the few snaps I have last Sunday. Sorry I don't have any other chance to pick out my camera...

Here we go:-

[ Inside view of my dojo - while we are waiting for the shiai to start... ]

[ Tokai4 boys doing some kirikaeshi for warm ups. ]

[ Furukawa-sensei and Kishikawa-sensei at the opposite side checking out their students ]

So, on to Day 3. I was very lucky to escape from another heavy rain 10 seconds before hiding myself under the bus stop...

Tuesday 7.30-10.30pm

All of the 3 Tokai4 boys - Kaneda, Kamide and Kamimura-kun, were in bogu!

For the first hour or so, it's the same kihon practice with everyone in rotation (about 25-30 people there - but from my spot I can only get Kaneda-kun out of the 3, and plenty other hard-hitting dudes...). First with suri-ashi (Men, kote, kote-men, kotemendomen) then with Fumikomi.

Kishikawa sensei was at the side also giving out pointers to people. I got the "head-sinking-while-cutting" and "leaning forward after cut - not enough koshi" comments... (uhmmm)

Furukawa-sensei enjoys joking a little bit while teaching. Like he said now we should move onto Kirikaeshi, as everyone's kote is getting painful.

Agnes asked an interesting question about how solid should the block of the motodachi be during kirikaeshi. F-sensei explained that it should be adjusted according to the level of the kakari-te. Say, for a beginner you have to be soft and inviting them to cut. But for more advance people who hit more solid, you have to be solid enough to block, or even cut back.

There went a Tokai4 demo of ai-kirikaeshi, two sets each at the full length (about 15 meters).

F-sensei said their Hokkaido dojo is twice the size, and they do it for 40 mins every day. (!!)

We all tried once. The key is to coordinate with your partner and not about speed. I happened to get Kaneda-kun at this rotation. He was only at 75% of himself, but that already shows how not-solid my sayu-men is...

We now move to waza keiko. Wong-san shouted that only 3Dan and above should be participating. I was already moving to the side with the other half of the class, thinking about "d'oh"... Until Kishikawa-sensei pushed me back to the dojo (!!!) - and told me to stick with the ladies (Mrs Tanaka, Agnes, Fifi). I wasn't sure about whether this is due to making 2 pairs for the ladies, or whether I am good enough to be in the 3Dan+ waza keiko. There were more than 2 guys who are nidan and don't get to keiko...

BUT somehow the keiko started mixed...!!

We did kote-suriage-men, kote-kaeshi-men, de-kote and debana-men.

My suriage is completely too slow.

Kaeshi waza was explained to us as "shinai is coming too close". And for the block the shinai should be held horizontally - if it's at an angle you'll expose your kote. Also the right-hand grip has to be really soft to make a smooth movement.

I was bending to the left when I cut de-kote, and keep hitting my aite's tsuba. F-sensei said I should be more upright and start moving my head out and invite for a cut, and then move my whole body out when my aite reacts. I did that much better - but have a strange feeling about the "move head first" action...

General keypoint was to make Ippon even when you are not the person doing waza, thus making the whole practice like a real shiai. We did the squad this way too, the same point K-sensei stressed.

At the end of the waza keiko, F-sensei called his boys out and did some demos of what their regular training is like. Which involves the following:-

Oikomi - chasing the motodachi for the full length of the dojo
Oikomi men (the first cut is men, then taiatari, then menmenmen all the way to the end)
Oikomi kotemen (1st cut kote-men, taiatari, then kotemenkotemen...)
Oikomi kotemendomen (kotemendomen, taiatari, then kotemendomen kotemendomen)
3 times each

"Onaji no Waza uchikomi keiko"- pre-arranged sets of waza, done on both sides
Demonstrated was (if I remembered correctly):
ai-men, ai-kotemen, kote-suriage-men, men-kaeshi-do, debana-men, Ippon
Each of the above is repeated twice before swapping sides. The last ippon follows immediately.

Hard to describe but really, YOU HAVE TO BE THERE TO SEE IT. OMG they can go so fast and precise, and it seems like the can go on-and-on. My thoughts are along the lines of "I can never do that in my life" and "Please please don't ask us to do it"...

While the boys were pretty out of breath afterwards, F-sensei said, "Hong Kong has got too much delicious food. They are going to need a lot of keiko."

Considering they'll be doing all these for 1.5 hours everyday, maybe these 4 days in HK is really a luxury for them.

Then it's time for Shiai keiko. I forgot who fought, but probably Angus, Yip and someone.

Must have been a male-only team thing, I thought...

Fast forward to after keiko, while Kishikawa-sensei was briefing those participated in the shiai.

Kishikawa: "Jenny..."
Mingshi: "?"
Kishikawa: "I called you to the shiai - why did you just sit down???"
Me: "What? You did??"
K: "Yes, I called you. You should have been fighting in the shiai!"
Me: "Argh.. I thought you want me to look at the clock!!"

Baka me. Seriously.

After the shiai, F-sensei gave some advice to those seniors who are going for grading soon. I was quite surprised that so many people are going to shinsa... (Agnes, Derek, Fifi for 5 dan; Yu and Ngan-sensei for 7 Dan)

They had a few mock jitsugi... Quite interesting comments to the individuals - most of them were about a particular cut they made, whether they are in good posture, opportunity or zahshin doing it, and whether they had enough seme.

Finally jikeiko time. Wong-san, again, commanded that priority goes to those who helped the running of this seminar, and squad members. Woohoo!

I was the first to jump in front of Kamide-kun. The keiko was uhmm not too good. I don't seem to be able to do any waza but tobikomi men or kote, and can't handle his slightly-gedan-seme kamae... Following the 3rd time he got kotemen like raindrops, he called for Ippon, and I lost debana-men fairly quickly...

The next person I queued for is Kamihide-kun, who is a Jodan player. While waiting, at the next queue saw F-sensei vs K-sensei again. Somehow they went into a tsuki competition, and kept firing tsuki at each other... For a few minutes, they've probably tried everything like morote-tsuki, katate-tsuki, mune-tsuki, tsuki-men, not counting the missed ones (since most of the time both sides were doing something, missing was inevitable)... And whenever someone got it, it was followed by some evil laughter... That keiko finished with some men-uchi and a set of kirikaeshi, with a few of us cheering for K-sensei while he bowed off.

I was queuing this Jodan guy, but got distracted by F-sensei next challenger - Yu sensei. Because he suddenly raised up his shinai and went into Jodan. (I did see him before, but he wasn't anywhere near "strong") For a period of time Yu was just posing there without any chance of moving, and F-sensei just fired tsuki on him. F-sensei walked back and said rather loudly: "Tsuki Senpon!"

My own against-jodan fight wasn't any better. For the first 2 mins or so I tried numerious katate-tsuki and hidari-kote, but none really hit with the right sound. Kaeshi-dou went in too much slower than his men-uchi. The low point was getting hit tobikomi-men 5 consecutive times while standing there worrying about how to block... But in the end (I think he gave it out of boredom) I popped 2 kote on both side. The last Ippon I made a *brilliant* tsuki-men. It was so satisfying that I though of 3 flags raising up for me when I turned back..!!

Towards the finishing time, I had a short one with Kaneda-kun. But yeah it's rather normally un-interesting. I think he got a few juniors in a roll, and got bored of it.


So after Kishikawa-sensei telling me about he wanted me at the shiai...

Kishikawa: "But did you practice with them in jikeiko."
Me: "Yeah. All three of them."
K: "Good. Did you learn something?"
Me: "Hmm... I know they are going easy on me. I think they hit very solid and accurate."
K: "Yes. You see, they are very stable."

[Switching back to the semi-hellish squad training from now on, I am not sure if I'll enjoy kendo as much...]

Hokkaido Weekend (2/3)

Sunday 8.30am - 12.30pm

By the time I got changed and walked into the dojo, it was 8.35am according to the wall clock.

...Wasn't panicking at all as there were about 10-12 people there only. Usually at that hour some people will be doing kata, and so they were doing it. Leo came up and complained about getting in at 8.30am exactly and having no one in the gym. But he also informed me that he heard it's kata today. Oops, I haven't got my bokuto with me (typical)!!

Our 4 visitors arrived at 8.50am. We were asked to take of our Dou. Yes, it was kata...

Though I was rather suprised that Kamimura-kun (the injured HS boy) pulled out a bokuto from his shinai bag (even though the 3 of them didn't practice the kata in pairs like the rest of us do).

It was your typical kata seminar. Going through some keypoints in each kata set, switching sides for uchidachi/ shidachi sides.

There are many reasons why I don't really enjoy kendo kata. [*sip] Especially I can't pay my full attention and falling asleep at the same time.

Amy was my partner for the day, who has not been very entertaining. Anyhow she's going to take Nidan in 2 weeks, so I tried being my best. Sometimes I struggled whether to point out small things like "you must begin and finish at the centre". Well I pointed that one out, but there are other sensei at the side watching, so I felt I wasn't in the place to comment (and just kept on going)...

A new point for me is about #6 where the suriage action is sharper with bokuto than with a shinai. With the "physics" of shinai, it's a sliding action. But with bokuto (a dense material) the waza has one smaller surface for impact.

It was around 11.00am (!!!) already when we've progressed to kodachi 1-3. I still have 1.5 years at least to sit for Sandan, but I tried listening and observing how Furukawa-sensei does it.

While the rest of the lower grades chatting at the side, not being able to practice kodachi, there was a rather long (fun but took up too much time uhmmm) Q&A session with some local sensei. I just stood there and listen... Nobody really realized there weren't much time left...!!

On to bogu, it was demo shiai keiko with 2 of the Tokai4 boys vs 4 from the squad (Derek, Yip, Johnny, Leo). Some of us scored but in total we only won 1 match out of 8. My impression is that, they are very stable and their posture is very upright, although they don't have many stylish waza. Furukawa-sensei pointed out about the danger of staying in between tsuba-zeriai and chika-maai, as that's the distance for hikiwaza. More than half of the points where hiki-men, actually.

One interesting personal point for me is that exactly a year ago Kyushu Gakuin was in London. So I kind of met the strongest High School teams from the very North and South of Japan. Kyushu Gakuin won this year's Gyokuryugi and was Joint-3rd at Interhigh, Best 8 at Kaiseki. Kaneda-kun from Tokai4 came joint-3rd at this year's Interhigh indivduals. According to my sources, Tokai4 is one of the top 4 HS in Hokkaido, and of course, including Eiga Naoki as their alumni.

There's something wrong with my queueing technique, as I seem to be too polite - and didn't get anything apart from about 10 swings with Ngan-sensei at the last 30-sec of the whole 25-min jikeiko time!!!

Well, I spent some time watching Kishikawa-sensei fighting Furukawa-sensei. Not many people can make Kishikawa-sensei ran out of breath (to the point that he needs some breathing time before the next keiko with other students)...

Also there are scenes of Yung-sensei being pushed to the far-end of the wall, Derek get pushed to the queuing side, and both Lai-sensei Yamada-sensei (the real-time translator of the day) got pushed onto the floor.

All these happened while I was in another long queue for Ou/Wong from Yamaguchi, as on her zekken. Initially I didn't know who she was. But I asked Agnes and she said Irene Wong was a Sandan when she started - with a Shanghai-nese father, she is now living in Japan. I *knew* that she's quite senior as Eda-sensei give Wong the shomen-side to start with. Wong is now Rokudan, and her kendo is quite sharp too. Shame that there's no time for keiko.

[On to next Tuesday...]

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Hokkaido Weekend (1/3)

Furukawa Kazuo Sensei (8Dan Kyoshi) with 3 students of Tokai University 4th High School from Hokkaido
Sat 4.30-7.30pm

This is a rather typical seminar-style day with loads of kihon and a 1/2 hour of jikeiko towards the end.

With around 30+ and mostly 3Dan and below people in the room, we started off with some warm-ups and "normal" suburi (as comparing to the squad ones!!), leaded by Yung-sensei.

Furukawa-sensei walked around during the suburi and observed. Apparently people here are using too much shoulders, not enough koshi, and their action aren't ichihyoushi (one beat) with acceleration on the downward swing. Also the left wrist should not go beyond 180-degree (and the grip should be "in")- which is an indication of you not holding the shinai.

I was on the middle of the 3rd row back and tried peeking on the HS boys at the far end, trying to copy their movement from behind. Somehow I, as always, feel that Japanese boys always swing their shinai so effortlessly. Seems to me that, something so basic and simple as suburi, it's not really a matter of strength or how-many-can-you-do. Maybe because they've been swinging it for more than 10 years in their lives, and while their joints are pretty flexible - making them looking so relaxed doing it.

On to bogu - we had a short briefing of what will we be doing today, and demonstrated by the HS boys. What made it interesting was their ashi-sabaki, in combination with the crispy pop-sound when the hits landed. Did I mention this part of keiko was done using suri-ashi only?

This was like bokuto-kihon kind of men-uchi, step back, and repeat for 5 times. Some with kote, do and kote-men. We made 4 lines (one rotation every 2 lines) and got different opponents. Having NOT practiced with a lot of males lately, and by the time we did kote, my right forearm felt injured. F-sensei obviously commented on "hitting too hard" in various occations, including men cuts...

The HS boys were truly impressive when we moved on to kote-men-do-men (going forward in 4 steps, suri-ashi). Our footwork, in comparison, lacked fluidity and stableness, not to mention the obvious delayed speed we all have. The HS boys all have the same "yeyeyeye" kiai, and every cut they made clearly pops. Nothing like us struggling to utter "KoTe-Men-Dou-Men"...

By the time we got to use fumikomi instead of suri-ashi, we were stuck with the same partner. Which was a lovely thing as my partner happened to be Agnes (we were like, "thank god, no more hard-hitting big fellas!!"). All the basics were repeated again, and we were expected to keep the keypoints in mind. I focused on not moving my left foot while launching forward, and am quite surprised that the suri-ashi clicked so well...

The Kirikaeshi was explained to us as a fundamental of kendo waza. By getting the timing and actions right, your waza will flow like you do or receive sayu-men.

We only had time to practice a bit of Suriage-waza, but it went alright.

At the end of the seminar, we were shown one way of how they train in Hokkaido... 8 in a group lining up in 4s, and then one person stays in the center to do their waza, while the rest of the line come up one-by-one cutting men. The motodachi in the center has to turn 180-degree sharp, facing the next opponent for 7 times, non-stop. Wait, I've done that before- in London!!! It's just a demonstration this time (and plenty of people messed up the fluidity) - but hopefully we will do it again some day.

The ending 1/2 hour of jikeiko is a bit of a nightmare. One of the HS boys was injured (not in HK), leaving only 2 others, and they happened to engaged into long keiko with some sensei, leaving massive queues for the rest of us. Towards the last 5 mins I finally got Kishikawa-sensei. But apart from one sneeky kote-men, I wasn't too focused and K-sensei finished the keiko rather short. (must be my fault)

That was the 3-hour seminar on the first day. I was starving and changed rather quickly. But Kishikawa-sensei said to me, "Jenny, you coming tomorrow morning eh?"

I was like, "uhm, yeah..."

He went, "See you 8.30 then. You're a squad member eh!"

8.30am... D'oh!

Friday, August 12, 2005


There was this funny internal email:-

Subject: Furukawa sensei

Just to remind you, on Sun and Tue there will be mainly shiai keiko for squad members. We met the 3 young 15/ 17/ 18- year-old big high school boys last night at the airport. One of them is doing the jodan. I think it will be very interesting if we can beat them all as a pre-wkc warm up shiai. They practice 3 hrs everyday including sundays.

Sat is also good training for 3-dan and below.

See you then



I should have gone but today is reserved for 4Dan and above (!?)... Should have sat there and watch but it has been a tiring day (and super rainy too)...

BTW they published the article Eda-sensei wrote, 6th Dan Examination Experience English, for Kendo Nippon (Aug 2005)

I was trying to make an interesting photo-journal around town this afternoon. Happened to walk up to a Nihongo school...

... and checked their Japanese courses. Just one of those things I should do during my spare time (seems to have loads of it recently...)

I asked if I can skipped the really basic "A, I, U, E, O" - and they gave me a piece of assessment test (A4, single page).

I scored 16/16...

And so I asked for one more...

...Scored 12/16...

Multiple-choice answers, but it was quite a struggle. If I revised a little bit more, maybe I'll skip the Phrase 3 class too. (There are 5 phrases before 4th Kyu JLPT.) I claimed to be "not too confident for another test"...

Since I can apply for "Continung Education Fund" from the government (anyone can apply to fund a number of short courses provided by various institutions - Japanese being one of those) - in any case Phrase 1-5 of Yonkyu now costs around $1,500 (or GBP 100). Before getting funded, I'd have to pay the full $7,000 (or GBP 500) But what I saved is 50 hours of A,I,U,E,O... I just have to go back and register on Phrase 3 in 2 week's time.

The "tests" costed me 20 bucks - but check out my registration fee exemption, and direct entry to Phrase 3 for Yonkyu!! :D

Last but not least, this is a really cool self-portrait I took on the bus... Sorry for the non-kendo entries recently. But this weekend I'm going to have quite a lot of it!!!

Ullambana Photoblog

Tonight Tanaka-sensei lead the session as Eda-sensei was away (probably at the airport picking visitors up). It was a loooong session on Kihon. From a little bit of footwork, to men/kote/do/kote-men/kote-men-do-uchi at sanhyoushi/ichihyoushi (3 / 1 steps/beats)... and then rounds of kirikaeshi, debana waza, suriage waza... To the ending 10 mins of mawari-keiko...
I was so focus today. Apart from the slight hiccups of getting hit by just standing there after a cut, I cut pretty precise with my back straight. My 3-month-old shinai got some splinters finally... But I am not sure if my power control is getting better or worst (or was it just because of the lack of maintaince.?)...


And, something completely kendo unrelated... (but I thought some foreigners will be interested to know a bit of my local customs...)

It's Ullambana Festival this week, something like a ..."Ghost fest". Today while having nothing in particular to do (waiting for some response from an interview...) - My grandma grabbed me to go to a few bows....

1) ...My late-grandfather's urn is kept at Yuenyuen Temple, a big, typical HK temple (yet not too traditional) that ran in a amalgamation of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucism)

2) Overlooking the district of Tseun Wan with the view of a ...kitcsh idol set...

3) First of all, we need to contribute some insent sticks to all the free spirits (who happened to got out of hell at this period of time....uhmm...)

4) Posh people get better decorations around their ancestor's name.

5) My grandma here searching for grandfather's name at one of the stalls, set up especially for this event (it's numbered, don't worry :D)... Yeah, bow to the name and off we go...

6) Obviously because of safety concern, the paper-money-burning task is now located outside the stalls, and we have to do it directly at the incinerator.

7) I have no idea why I snapped this pic, but I think some people are over-doing... I think some people suddenly find out it's too hard to set that red box (of paper-clothings, assorted paper items, etc) in fire, they just trash the whole thing into the deep, hot, smoky and smelling incinerator.

8) Yeah that's it - quite entertaining as I haven't had this sort of activity for 5 year, since I weren't home. Not everybody practise this, but probably because there's someone dear passed away recently, we are just following the usual procedures to go.

It super-rained on our way back (hence it didn't rain when I go for kendo!). The above pic is taken on the bus before going in to a tunnel.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Absent Rant

1) Heavy rain
2) Diarrhoea
3) Severe abdominal pain from period

A combination of the above is the excuse of why I didn't go tonight, despite the fact that I am absolutely free to go.

A Rather Exciting Email from the Mailing List:-

Subject : 1st Regional Kendo Championships

Dear squad members,

We have been confirmed by the local government officials to host the 1st Regional Kendo Championships on the 26th and 27th of Nov this year at Lei Yue Mun Sports Centre.

We will invite teams from Macau, Beijing, Shanghai, Yanbian University, and dojos in Guangzhou and Chongqing to join.

Each area will send maximum of 2 teams (5 members team).

Please get yourself prepared to fight in this event.

More details will be announced in due course.


Whoa, I didn't know they have kendo in so many places in China - I haven't even made myself to Chongqing and Yanbian (in Jilin Provence, NE China - neighbouring Russia and N. Korea) ...

Not sure if they'll fit a Ladies division, but I definitely need to brush up my Mandarin skill!! (Had been watching some Taiwanese TV shows, but Mainland Chinese is a different story...)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Shodachi Ippon

Welcome to August.

For the past 5 weeks I've been escaping from the 2-hour Sunday squad, i.e. the whole of July! Nothing to be proud of, but I did spend more time on other more important matters of life.

Just this last week I haven't been to kendo for 9 days - suffering from a flu and then a severe stomach ache, which stopped me going to the dojo with the weekend visit of Inoue-sensei (Inoue Shigeaki/ Nara/ 8Dan Hanshi)...This morning I found myself in insomina mode, but managed to arrive at 9.30am. And to my surprise, Inoue-sensei was standing next to a white board with 25 of us in the audience, giving a kendo lecture..!

Sitting there was the Sunday morning keiko group - I counted only 3 of us were 2Dan and below... with 1/3 Japanese and half of us understand the jokes in Japanese...

What I remember without taking notes:-

1) Ken no Riho
That 1 hour of Q&A session was referred to as the "reasoning/ Ri" part of our training, as to go along with the usual "practice/method/ Ho".

2) Hold the shinai like an umbrella, with power distribution on the fingers as 3,2,1,2,1 (bottom to top)

3) Practice tenouchi at kirikaeshi, where all the cuts should be 100% tenouchi, and the rest of the time, 0%. Therefore sayu-men should be performed with "Hyaku-zero-hyaku-zero..." in mind.

4) Shitei Dougyou
Both the teacher and the student share the same experience. Beware of posture, footwork, distance, etc. points as a motodachi

5) Short of breath is mainly due to bad posture
Inoue-sensei told us about asking for advice from his sensei when he was young.
"So... how can I survive longer during practice? Can sensei give one advice please?"
"Inoue-kun, correct your posture."
"What does that mean? Can you give one mroe advice please?"
"Well, it's like riding a horse."

Eh?! - Jokes aside. That's how the older generation explained things... The point is that, when riding a horse (!), the shoulders, the arms, the hands, the feet should all be relaxed.

6) How to demonstrate the correct "Kimochi"?
Shodachi Ippon = Senhon
The first ippon of a practice is the most obvious state of your mind, and the most important cut. It's like combining the thousand cuts after that first one.

Shodachi Ippon = Ichigo Ichie
So base on this attitude [since Shodachi Ippon is a once in a lifetime opportunity], if you encounter all the cuts you made like a once in a lifetime opportunity, then all the Ippon you made will be another Shodachi, and you should be cutting at 100%

Somehow I found the last point very refreshing - it never came across me like that, verbally.

The next 2 hours [squad got cancelled..! yay \(^o^)/] was a series of kihon in bogu.

Inoue-sensei didn't explicitly say it, but basically we spent the first 1 hour running though various waza from the Bokuto ni yoru Kendo Kihon... I haven't seen or done it since I left the UK - and no one is practicing this here (!). My movements were rather rusty cutting men using suri-ashi...

One good thing is, my comrade Fanny showed up for the squad since last week. Maybe I should try harder to get to the Sunday one too... That'll depend on my job-hunting performance in the coming weeks...

We then progress to a few rounds of kirikaeshi. It was cut down to one-string only because the whole group (from 1-7dan!) all squeezed into the line on the same rotation. But the last cut was emphasized, "as if it is a debana-men cut". I happened to get Tomikawa-sensei, Sasahara-sensei and Kishikawa-sensei as my partner. No idea why these high-grades cut soooo hard at kirikaeshi (both the sayu-men and men-uchi...)
Half an hour left for keiko.

Obviously Inoue-sensei got the longest line (even though this is already the 3rd day he's here)...

Narita-san (5Dan) grabbed me for a keiko first.

My greatest achievement of the day is that de-kote I got as Shodachi!!!!!!! Besides learning his timing and how to counter his hiki-waza (he cuts really close + hard...) - a got some more debane-men and 2 high-quality de-kote from him. This keiko went on for more than 5 mins (sorry I did check the clock), and my form died off towards the end.

Spent a long time queuing for my next keiko - against Yung-sensei. It's been 1/2 year doing keiko with him, and the first time at his 6Dan. I can feel that he is timing me, and picking me off by creating the chances himself (!). Like the first 2 men-kaeshi-do I lost was just like that. Also, he is quite manipulative at distance by pulling his kamae off straight before his cut, or by picking off openings at chika-maai. There were 2 de-kote I popped, but the other stuff I lost bothers me much more.

The rest of the time was spent watching the Hachidan. You have to be there to see it. Adding to that, seeing the other sensei got pushed around is pure pleasure!!

Cost: $100
Up next weekend: Visit of Hokkaido high school students + Furukawa-sensei [Eiga's sensei] I heard his kote-men is amazing!! Must get there (with enough cash)... hmmm

Sunday, July 31, 2005


Nope, I didn't go to the Sunday Squad today. Reason: having a fever and too heavy rain. Stayed home all day.

Below is the review schedule for the past 2 months. Had only been in the dojo 16 times out of 2 months, fitting only 1-2 times of kendo a week... Obviously not as bright as I should have been, due to various matters in life. I really need to sort myself out.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Back in there

Thursday afternoon I went to an interview for an overqualifying (not to mention, underpaying) job. It came like a joke to myself, but in the end I felt I did something meaningful. At least I found out I shouldn't be going to ANY place for a design job... Anyway, I went to kendo at my dojo in the evening.

I came in late and as was Eda-sensei. The first things she said in the changing room was about her upcoming weekend business trip to LONDON next month (!)... So I spent sometime explaining where she should go to. Unfortunately that's the same week as the Sumi-sensei's seminar (a.k.a. SSS), so she will miss out the high-grades. Oh well never mind...

When we got into the dojo, people were doing the 3-step men-ute (up, cut, back) exercise with Tanaka-sensei. After that we had a few rounds of kirikaeshi, katate-men, and "kirikaeshi + katate-men + do-kirikaeshi + kirikaeshi" kind of uchikomi without men ... ending with 20+20 hayasuburi. It really feels like nothing (apart from the heat) when Eda-sensei called for a 3-min break.

Putting on our Men on we were then asked to do "one side attack, the other side keep blocking" kind of thing. I thought it was kakari-keiko, but my performance was completely awful (like, messy distance, accuracy and ki-ken-tai-icchi). It has been aaaaages since I did (or see) kakari-keiko so maybe that's one of the problem. Also I got to blame part of my motodachi not really doing their job... uhm

Then Eda-sensei said something like, go for an Ippon. Everything you do should be an Ippon. If you get an Ippon, you don't need the rest, so just finish there.

So for the next 2 rounds I had (against Lo and Amy) I just finished mine with my tokui tobikomi-kote waza.

...That's a bit too boring so I thought I should change to something else. So the other 2 rounds I did Nuki-do and kote-do... Which worked equally well, as I just stood there and wait for the other pairs to finish...

That's not too enjoyable to be honest. Besides popping Ippon straight away on Shodachi, I did't really get enough kakari-keiko...

Over to some Ai-men rounds, I felt I was having some improvement too, after those Shuttle Run rounds the day before. One problem I had with Amy was that, she is faster - but she turned right after the cut without running through (like when people go for hiki-waza...)... Though I wasn't too sure if I am correct, I did tell her to go further.

That come 5 rounds of mawari-keiko. Were all good. Osae-men worked brilliantly.

After that I queued for Tanaka-sensei. It felt like I haven't had him for an enitre month (it probably is!!). He's an Ai-men-maniac, but recently I managed to land my men on him too (previously my shinai didn't even touch his men)... And I actually had him TWICE on kote-men - only that he touched his head in a swiping motion afterwards... My men cuts at kote-men is definitely not solid enough!! Uhmm, I need to work on my grip after the kote cut (quote T-sensei).

It was finally raining today so I can't go for a run. (Also I have a bit of sore throat...symtoms of having a flu... not again, please!) I stayed home and watch some kendo DVDs - actually these are the videos from Last month's UK competition. Only half-way through at the moment but some of the things are quite exciting. It's nice to see the familiar faces in the UK in action again.