I come 10 mins earlier for tonight's 7.30pm practice and found 2/3 of the kendo group (around 10+ people) already there. When I was doing suburi at the side, Eda-sensei signed me up to help out the 2005 Asian Tournament next weekend...
Tonight's warm-up session (without shinai) lasted for a total of 30 mins..! I am starting to slightly get used to the push-ups and pull-ups.. but then a few shuttle-runs around the dojo (dance studio size) is a little bit too vigorous.! The entire bogu-ed group also get to do the fumikomi+run thru exercise: men, kote-men with empty-hand swinging. The more my kendo being broken down into the basic of the basics, the more my mistakes and bad habits are showing... My main focus is to kick more of my right foot out on fumikomi.
With shinai there is an exercise with only lifting the shinai up by using danten.
My shomen-suburi+fumikomi is awful tonight. Tanaka-sensei at one point really stopped me and told me I am dragging my left foot because the left side of my waist isn't there... Also that my right foot HAS TO move as soon as I start lifting my shinai up.
Because on this shomen-suburi+fumikomi exercise we stop at Men level and have to check our kamae, Eda-sensei asked us to pair up and cut each other (!!)... Also we should treat all types of exercise as if it was a shiai, or shinsa, or keiko, and not like it is part of the warm-up. "There is only 1 hour left - why do you want to save up your energy?"
Then only kote was put on for kote-uchi. Using more left hand to lift up will help avoiding opponent's tsuba.
There were more time for kaeshi-do. Blocking should be out and the block should knock opponent's shinai out of your center (their shinai therefore would not be able to stop above your head).
Men is now on. Yakusoku-keiko was in the format of: motodachi cuts men, kakarite has 3 options: de-kote, kaeshi-do, nuki-do. I tried doing everything, but the timing for kote is different when I expect they are hitting first (unlike my tokui-waza, which is just a straight cut)... Also I find it v v v v hard to adjust the distance for going kaeshi/nuki-do when the opponent is going soooo forward. Now I think back -- I was only expecting a cut, and not mentally preparing for my waza..
Then there was some Ai-men time. Lost count: zero... Whoops, hold on.... maybe it's a bias opinion... But my shinai always lands in the center and on top of their men.
Tanaka-sensei joined our group at keiko time after leading the beginners group. It was in mawari-keiko format until a few rounds later, people start to take a rest. Tanaka said facing him we'll have to do the proper reigi from bowing outside court to sonkyo, because it is important to treat every keiko as if it was shinsa. But when fighting Tanaka, he really stops me for ten times when my ki-ken-tai-icchi isn't there. On the upward swing for men-uchi, now I notice that, it shouldn't be an "upward" motion after all. Tanaka demonstrated by pulling my left kote OUT to the front. It feels so different (and so correct).
Immediately following Tanaka was Mrs Tanaka - I was knackered and started to lose all of my ai-men. The staminer of this older lady (well, below 50?) is impressive. It was this feeling of "I don't wanna lose to an older woman just because I am so out of breath" that kept me going. Tho I can only shout HAI--! when she tells me to use "more left hand.." Aww..
After class there was non-alcoholic conversation about kendo outside the gym... Mainly it was Tanaka sensei picking on everyone's little mistakes, using closer-to-none Cantonese/ English. Mine being not able to keep kensen in the center when I lift up, and also my eye+head follows how my kensen moves (!!)...
In the changing room Eda-sensei mentioned after the Asian Tournament, the Sunday squad training will resume to normal and I should join. She (sentimentally) said I should keep on training as regular as possible... Because "when I get older I cannot do the same type of speedy shiai kendo as I am doing it now"... She also understands how people coming back from foreign countries usually have better stamina and such, as we all jump straight into jikeiko, but our basics are to be worked on. Sometimes if you focus too much on speed you'll lose your form, or if you work too hard on your form you can't have the same speed for everything. "The compensation of having the lack of..." - so to speak.
First time my LEFT ARM feels sore after I get home tonight. Maybe I am starting to do it right? :D