Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Squad #7 Quick Rant

Today I had the WORST keiko so far in my home town.

ALL of my men-uchi was soooooooooooo not straight. Probably this is under the influence of that video from last month that I really see my weak point.

At the last 5 "Ippon-shoubu + kakarigeiko-if-you-lost", I lost ALL of the Shodachi.

The final uchikomi-keiko was without kiai.

That was only 1-hr (and then 30mins queuing for sensei) and I felt so crap.

Especially against Lai-sensei. I had 10+ consecutive tobikomi-men that got blocked.

Seemingly, the magic shinai doesn't work every day.

When I got home the clock on the wall hit 12.15am - and this is a Tuesday...

Though I seriously hope that this is just one of those learning plateau that I haven't had for ages.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Video Review

After today's exercise... I spent quite a lot of time reviewing my shiai video from last month...

The Match vs Eda-sensei:-
At 21 sec,

This is meant to be the split second before an Ai-men. Look at my kamae - probably the most awful way to cut!!

At 1 min 1 sec,

Eda scored Men... Er, but at slow-motion it is actually a cut to my men-flap... Grrr...

At 2 min 29 sec,

Eda's men went a little bit too far. And I had my moment of katate-tsuki (missed... doh!)

At 2 min 57 sec,

Me scoring debana-men. Arms extended and good fumikomi. But little use of koshi with the back foot not pushing enough. And the way I pulled my shinai up is reeeeeeally horrible... At the back sat Kishigawa sensei (in jacket) and Tanaka sensei, who were literally talking about my bad grip!!

Me vs Derek, at 58 sec,

Another shot of my dodgy kamae. Head-tilting habit is still there...

At 3 min 19 sec,

Me scoring debana-men. BUT look at my shinai - it is completely off-center, and the downward cut actually went from the side... Yikes!!

Comparing with the rest of the people, my Ippon are of low-quality. I seriously wonder how my Ippon are like as of yesterday. These video were shot only 3 weeks ago...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Squad #6 Partly Awakened

It was my initial plan (again...) to attend today's morning keiko before the squad (monthly shiai keiko) as I skipped keiko at my home dojo the day before to attend funeral services. Unfortunately for the past 2 days have been suffering from serious insomnia... Having only 3-4hrs of sleep on both days... So when I arrived it was already 10am. There was a surprising attendance this morning due to an admin meeting afterwards. As for the squad, 12 men and 7 women (including me) got the chance to fight, which was a nice atmosphere.

There are enough girls today so we had a separate division. I was in the "easier" pool with Amy and Fanny. The other pool has Lisa, Takase at Shodan and also Agnes and Jay at 3-4dan, also the core squad girls.

Before the session outside the dojo, Agnes asked if I had the right shinai - and then gave me one of hers. The weight difference is ... so wrong!! I can't believe they ask me to use such a toothpick-like shinai...!!

Apart from insomnia, I also partly blame my starving stomach for my loss at my first match against Amy - I simply have no energy to stand properly, and was backing up and opening myself up quite a lot. She got men first. Then me got kote (as my tokui waza - I seriously got bored of it!!). I lost my last Ippon when I unsuccessfully attempted gyaku-do. I REALLY cracked Amy's do, but I didn't escape fast + far enough, giving her the chance to cut my men. So that was 1:2, my bad.

By the time when I fight against Fanny, I get more used to the unfamiliar weight of my borrowed shinai, and got 2:0. I think I got KM-0, with one hiki-kote to my surprise. But nothing too brilliant and also I probably suffering from memory loss as well... grr....

So being the 2nd in my pool, I luckily got thru to the semi-finals.

The matches was only 3 mins, and there only shimpan at this court is Tanaka-sensei. He made 3 remarks about the pools. 1) Not enough Kiai; 2) Ippon can only be counted with SNAPPING of the wrists; 3) More zanshin is required.

Also watching was Mrs. Tanaka who wants to give some pointers to me personally (and I wonder why she suddenly thinks I understand pure Japanese!!!). As far as I can tell, she said I should be more aware and ready at tsuba-zeriai. Doing hiki-waza or not, I should notice the distance and be controlled enough to strike again (and be faster then the opponent)...

Me vs Jay Chan (previously I credited her as Meng as written on the back of her hakama - and I only know her name today...Doh!). I only practiced with her at the very few uchikomi keiko weeks before, and I know she is stronger and much more proper. However she only had me once while I had her twice - one kote-men, and one debana-men if I remember correctly. I got one more tobikomi-men but T-sensei happened to cancelled it... I don't think my cuts are really strong, and my posture is just awful... But, oh well, I won..! I'd like to thank my new magic shinai! :D

So we waited for the guys to finish their pools with Kishigawa-sensei as their shimpan. We then moved to use the whole dojo as a shiaijo with 3 shimpan...

Me vs Agnes. I spent the break time imaging how the match will be like... I am a couple of inches TALLER than her, but she is soon-to-be godan..! From waza-keiko in previous weeks, I know she can time my kote quite well... and being taller it is obviously that I will cut her men... So the tactic I employed as my Shodachi was, Kote-do.

It made a noise!!... Argh, but the noise is not sharp and my zanshin is horrible... The guys watching was pretty impressed tho! After that I run out of ideas... Had a little bit of kakari-keiko mode... I feel that I am learning to turn 180-degree much sharper by now. Yet on one occation, Agnes got a more steady kamae when I juuust turned back.. Tobikomi-men for her. After that one she was more defensive and I made no better attempts. So I lost 0:1 in the end.

As there were too many people for the last 30 mins of jikeiko, we are allowed to practice with each other. I had a bit of "rematch" moment with Amy and Fanny (both shodan)... I am the faster one most of the time but my cutting is still pretty bad...

Eda-sensei came back from that admin meeting and she grabbed me for another keiko. I only *feel* I can cut debana-men on her, but when she open her men, I can REALLY SEE how my shinai not landing in the center... Also at the last couple of ai-men, she reminds me to hold my breath. My breathing capacity should be much better by now - but I have to remind myself to use it properly.

Later she also said I am not relaxed enough and my face is sooooo showing my worries at tsuba-zeriai...! Argh...

After the finishing line-up, Agnes and Eda called us together and literally lectured us:-

"Don't you feel it is a honour to represent Hong Kong to fight in future competitions?"
"..Eh..haii" Me after 10 seconds of slience.
"I am serious," Agnes said.
"...Hai" Damn...

The conversation went on about how difficult to get girls, how rare is the opportunities at other countries, and how we should put the squad at priority, etc. etc.

So I think from now on I'll move my schedule around and have to force myself to get to a late-night Tuesday..! Which maybe a good thing as I'll spare up my Sat and probably manage that morning keiko (as of a Sunday-Mumeishi style, really)...

There is an Individuals-only taikai in 2 weeks. According to the details, I can fight in both the Ladies and Men (1st-2nd Dan)... Uhmm...

Thursday, April 21, 2005


The first comment I entered the dojo today is, "gee... this is hot."

I was not in the mood today for some reason. I *knew* before hand these few weeks are going to be a lot of shiai keiko, as there is "Sports Festival" coming next month. But I wasn't prepared for today's kendo. The first few warm-up kirikaeshi I did was absolutely shite!!!!!

We jumped straight into shiai keiko. With 10 people or so in bogu. First up, me vs Lo (the big girl). Hikiwake. Eda-sensei comment: Loads of cuts but Lo can time and block, even though she is passive. Try other methods... What I feel is that, like last squad practice, as Kishigawa-sensei said, I got no seme, "So predictable! Of course opponent can see you coming!!" Argh.

Tanaka-sensei asked for a Ippon-shobu match again.... So goes the "rematch" of me and Lo. K-0 with me scoring on my tokui-waza.

Nagakawa-san (adult shodan) was unbelievably fast today. MM-0 he got me within 1min of the match on the next round (switching back to 3-pon shobu). YIKES... I can't even time that tobikomi-men... Twice!! While his posture is quite HS-kendo, nevertheless he got his Ippon(s).

Tanaka-sensei's advice: against someone tall, expect a Men right after sonkyo.

T-sensei's advice to the junior grades on having more determination and zanshin: "Opponent wa kiiiru yo!!" ... You gotta love his English.

Speaking of English. I haven't had a period of using oral English until today, when Johan (a irregular "gaijin"-looking man) showed up and I was asked to be his interpretor. I quite enjoy the job, being able to listen carefully to what T-sensei is saying in Japanese which I only get 50%, combining with David's Cantonese translation, and then saying the same thing back to Johan..

My revenge moment was at the last round of mawari-keiko, where I got to face Nagakawa-san again.

Just before that, T-sensei was demonstrating what he described as his tokui waza at his "Shiai Jidai no doki"... Feint men-> Kote, Feint men-> Men, Feint men -> Do. I was too busy imitating him during all the mawari-keiko.

So that was me getting a couple of Kaeshi-do. The most brilliant part was our fight finishes with my favourite GYAKU-DO..!

Lesson of the day: You are only as good as what you are now...!!

After class Eda-sensei comment: Jenny, you are so INTO the game. Which makes you progress better than the rest of the people. But sometimes you get too into it... Using too much effort to fake a half-good Ippon... (Ooops!!)

My next keiko will be on Sunday - Squad shiai practice again.

Daily Exercise Review

It has already been a month since I do around half an hour of exrcise every day for the days without kendo. So far so good. Be it the suburi with suburito, or 500 hayasuburi, or jumping ropes... Kishigawa-sensei's word has imprinted in my mind strongly - "If you don't work on your physical capacity, you cannot build up your techniques."

The past two days rope-jumping is going much better. At least I adjust the right length of the rope, find a better kid's playground with no one there, and know how I should move my arms and legs. My maximum no. of consecutive jumps is now 99 (OK - I tripped on the last one!!). That was with 100 sit-ups at home before taking shower.

Today I switched back to 500 hayasuburi - because I can't go outdoor jumping ropes at 11pm...

With "Asian Kung Fun Generation" as my background music, when I finished the 5 sets of 100, it was only 17 minutes according to my I-Tune. And I feel I should do more so I lie down and did 100 sit-ups.

I find that now I took much less time to recover for another set. Also I only "feel like stopping" at the last 15-20 out of the set of 100. That's the progress so far in a month. But it is still a long way from what K-sensei said last week during Shinkokyu in between our waza-keiko: "You should be able to fight again after taking 3 deep breath!" I need... at least...10!!

I don't want to be in the team just because I am here.
I want to MAKE myself there.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Squad #5 Survived!

This weekend has been sooooo tiring for no reason. That rope-jumping session killed my thigh muscles for Sat, and then on Sun I don't have enough sleep (there was no seats on the bus either and I was standing for an hour... blahblahblah)


I managed to last the whole 2-hour sessions. Well, the practice was slightly easier with some watch-your-mates periods. So it wasn't too damaging to my tired body. Also I really stopped checking the clock (I already have a problem of checking my watch too often...!!) which actually makes the sessions feel shorter as I have been more focused.

Today's Squad waza keiko was more about "seme" - to make your cuts less predictable, and attack when your opponent can't. At the Squad waza was not demonstrated repeatedly, so most of the things are left up to our personal understanding.

There was 7 girls and I was the "singled out" one who got paired up with Horibe Shingo, a Japanese youth who happened to failed his nidan a few months ago. But the waza keiko is, in my point of view, still good. Pairing with someone at my level (finally) gives me more confident, even if it's just cutting men - despite Kishigawa-sensei's " good, so predictable" comment...

Towards the end there was short rounds of ippon-shobu keiko, with the loser going for kakari-keiko. Somehow I cheated by running for Men straight in ... so I ended up doing ai-kakari keiko with my 4 opponents (who was all around my level or less) - until I get to the final one with Eda-sensei again. That was probably the only moment when I tell myself "uhrggh its too much" and lost a Men. Something to reflect upon. Lastly that's 2 rounds of uchikomi keiko as last week before jikeiko. I am surprised how my mental state has kept me going (especially my pair was right next to K-sensei...) and have kiai-ed all the way.

There was some surreal moment this weekend where I feel the POP sound with some senpai/sensei during Ai-men rounds. My most recent discovery is to slide in with my right foot (seme-no-ashi, if I have captured the essense properly) slightly before raising my shinai. It works so damn well that I popped 9 out of 10 of the Ai-men against Mrs Horibe yesterday and Uncle Horibe today. (Note: there is this Horibe 7Dan sensei, Mrs Horibe is the wife who helps out at the kids class at my dojo... and there is Uncle Horibe - whose son is Shingo...) I m not 100% sure whether I got the cut but I certainly popped their men.

At yesterday's mawari-keiko it was even more surreal... I got everyone's shodachi with Men, and then the second cut also with Men... I slowed down after the 2 cuts. The kihon certainly helps in these 2 months, but I am not sure if I should start concentrating on my waza a little bit more, now that I've got my men slightly sharper.

The worst bit is stil what every senpai is trying to tell me, that i haven't push out my kensen when I lift the shinai up. Also on the impact I have to bend my wrists more. The feeling is like turning in the left wrist, while pushing the tsuba out with my right hand with the four-fingers close to one another.

There is a girl I haven't seen before and she is called Fanny. At the jikeiko session today, after one round against Uncle Horibe, I was asked by Eda-sensei to do more waza-keiko with Amy and Fanni (one side Men 5 times, other side waza, etc., just like what we just did in the squad). It was a great thing to have some female kohai finally, and doing yakusoku-keiko (instead of jikeiko) really make me feel like we are helping each other out.

The other complain was from Agnes-senpai who said I did not have enough focus - I know now!!! I just have to remind myself about it.

Friday, April 15, 2005

All Tied Up... %*#@&!!

Some time ago I digged up an old piece of jumping rope. For a bit of change I went down to an open space in my neighbourhood to go rope-jumping. My target is 500.

...Little I know it was so difficult. It exposed my no-so-good hand-foot coordination as I kept tripping on it. Running out of breath quickly is another mistake... My highest non-tripping record was only 43 jumps..!! WTF. Even a 5-year-old kindergarten girl can beat me!!!

My right ankle hurts a bit after that 500 - the ground is of concrete so I don't think I should do that too regularly... Maybe I should invest in a better pair or trainers, or go to jump on that artificial mat at the kids playground instead (too embrassing to do so in front of them kids..!!)

"You should go to World Cup next year!"

During these few days I have been thinking about my self-initiated question: what is the difference between training in the UK and over here? It is actually much of a task when I get to analyize it...

Thursday. Kihon day. Today we repeatedly did a lot of kirikaeshi... That "Men-uchi + tai atari" bit really helps my use of koshi for all my men cuts for the rest of the practice. Also Eda-sensei asked us to do that same kirikaeshi-> do kirikaeshi -> menmendodo... string of cuts again. At the end she dragged Leo out to demonstrate the speed she wanted to see... And I thought "I can't do that strong and fast"...

At the final 30 mins of jikeiko rounds among 10 people, I first got Lo the big girl. Recently I sort of "gave up" doing kote, my tokui waza. Now I am working back my Men-uchi, and secondly kote-men/ osae-men, and various rensoku waza. The reason behind this is that I realize how much I always want to win, and as a result have given up my form or the proper attitude of jikeiko (Yes - I re-read Honda-sensei's article this week...)

What I got back from today are 3 shodachi from Lo, Leo and Oda. All shomen-uchi, and then numerous men thereafter.

There was a break in between the adults which I fought Utsunomiya-kun (half my height, and few weeks ago he was still having 1-to-1 with Mrs Tanaka on Thursdays where no other kids turned up). There is a sudden lost of verbal skill for me as I don't know what language to use. But mainly I was trying to tell him to cut bigger and not onto my men-gane... and cut him back with super-big men...

The final person I fought was with Tanaka-sensei. It was ALL men. I observed him vs Kishigawa sensei last Sun and he loves ai-men... Anyway, despite losing out of the first 10 I was quite surprised to got him twice. That two time popped, but from my point of view I don't know if he got me first.

Comment afterwards was, A) not relax enough when I was tired. B) Raise shinai by pushing with left hand OUTWARDS, and not just lifting upwards. C) BOTH hands should come down in the center at the impact, also the wrists should bend further down.

Tanaka-sensei mumbled a bit more after that in Japanese. "You should go to World Cup next year! Jenny-san wa young desu... More kakari-keiko from me welcome. Same to you Leo-san.."

While jokingly saying "Dame da", I am quite happy about today lasting the complete 1 hr 30 mins without taking a break, and managed all those keiko. Instead of going negative thinking "I don't want to drop out in the middle", I got more positive and tell myself to "finish the practice". It worked.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

No Power

Yesterday the QEII stadium underwent some maintance and therefore there was no keiko. I planned to wake up earlier to get to the 9-10.30am keiko on Sunday instead.


I haven't recovered from the flu yet. When I arrived at 9.30am, changed, I have already lost the motivation to get in the dojo. My main purpose here on a Sunday was to attend the squad training - if I can't last the whole squad I shouldn't exhaust myself 1 hour before...

Anyway, that's how I thought today. So I stood outside the door and peeked for 1 hour, trying to pick things up as much as I can.. There wasn't too many people inside actually... Nor the squad training. Guess people went off to pay tribute to ancestors at this Qingming Festival period.

I was asked by some dokai outside the door how different I think about the kendo in HK and the UK. My response was that there isn't too much of a difference really, depending on who you fight. Tho I do point out that in the UK there aren't as many "young-ish" core group attending the squad, or even club practises - most people are already around their late 20s/early 30s when they get into kendo.

I probably need some deep thoughts about my experience in both places late on...

With one or two injured individuals, today's squad was with only EIGHT people: Au, Leo, Takase, Amy, Me, Agnes, Meng, Eda.

It's a surprising composition, with 5 members from my home dojo. Also Out of the whole group there were only 2 guys (?!), with 3 4-5dan female senpai.

Warmup was only suburi. Spine-to-floor big suburi with 2 shinai, 50 times. Then one shinai spine-to-horizontal hayasuburi 30 times. Because we were all doing it wrong and we have to do another 30... During our last 30 Kishigawa-sensei jumps in and demonstrated a few hayasuburi with us together - he went so fast and cut 3-4 times while we did one... That was something amazing to see... I feel so horrible :(

Then we were in bogu pairing up. I got Agnes as my aite... who apparently is going to try for her Godan. I think that's the reason why every sensei around is picking on her instead of me.

I was mainly about seme. K-sensei just told us to do "seme men" or "seme kote" without lecturing about it. So I guess we have to figure it out ourselves. I use the time as motodachi to stand properly, "looking good". As for the time I have ot cut, I try to twist my left hand really in and cut from the center line.

After that was in groups of 4, kakari keiko. I got stuck with the 4-5dan group again (Grrr). Same as before, we have to make an Ippon to finish the kakari-keiko. I guess overall I did 4 rounds, but the time I thought I got Ippon, K-sensei at the side was shouting "Jenny, more power, more speed." "If there is no ippon, why waste your time to hit." "Every cut you make should be an ippon." I have a serious problem not knowing, from my point of view, what an Ippon should be like. Sometimes I scream my lungs out, there was actually nothing. And sometimes I see and opening, hitting it, but because I have not got the full intention doing it, my shinai bounces back and I wasted the opportunity...

Before the class begin I have some time thinking why, sometimes at jikeiko, some sensei like to finish with a couple of ai-men. The sensei almost ALWAYS win. Why is it easier to get the centre line when you are not initiating the cut? How can you cut faster than the person coming at you? It was almost always like that. A 6Dan sensei kept getting the men from a junior, and then when he fought K-sensei, the 6Dan kept losing.

Last but not least there are some rounds of uchikomi keiko too:-Men-hiki-men/kote/do, Menand then Men-kirikaeshi, Men- do kirikaeshi, Men, men-men do-do men-men-do-do, MenAs some of us have our left hand not above our heads.. We have to re-do the last string.

Squad finished and I spent some time spitting and blowing my nose. Only managed one jikeiko with Wong-san in the last 30 mins. My last kirikaeshi was so crap that I have no power on my left hand holding my shinai. Besides the stamina and concentration to last for the whole training, I really really have to work on that power bit.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Thoughts on hachidan

Everyone asked the same question when I arrived the dojo on Weds: "Why are you not in Bogu??"

I only took off my face mask a minute ago, and still got a lot of attention with my casual wear. I told Wong-sensei I am too sick. Kishigawa sensei even tried to kick me out...!!

Anyway, I made it to the dojo and planned to observe the class. I missed the day before already - Inoue Shigeaki sensei from Nara is visiting Hong Kong for 3 days, and today it's the last day which he is joining the practice.

Inoue sensei is the meaty yet not-tall type of hachidan. The most surprising thing is, he instructed the session in English. Yamada-sensei's Japanese-Cantonese translation is uhmmm making more confusion!!

The first hour is about.. Kihon... Ashi-sabaki, te-no-uchi, then suburi. Only at the last 10 mins was men-uchi in bogu (slightly regret I didn't bring my bogu..!) Everyone, from a beginner to nanadan, was doing the same kind of exercise. In front of a hachidan hanshi, everyone is just a student.

Initially Inuoe sensei was giving the "Mae" "Ato" commands, but then when fumikomi was added in, he is not happy about the sound of it. When doing fumikomi, we have to be able to step out at the "Ma" of "Mae"... so to speak.

There were three types of 3-step suburi:
Shinai up > step in and cut > zanshin
Step and raise shinai > cut > zanshin
One rythme > zanshin

Cutting straight is important as it is the shortest distance available.
Koshi is at the same horizontal level, not sinking down when taking a step in.
Right hand grip is so soft that we can move it up and down the tsuka. Because our energy is coming from the arms and not the hands. We were also told to try cutting with right hand only by using the arm to draw an arc.

As I said that lasted for 45 mins or so, then onto bogu, was a few rounds of men-uchi in pairs. Sensei told us to check all posture, kamae and spirit. These are the 3 main elements they check during shinsa.

There's an interesting point being made about people moving there head when they strike (I know I do). Sensei said that is like drawing a circle without a centre. It is not solid and have no balance.

Onto the next thing is kirikaeshi. "Think, think, think!" We were told to keep everything in mind. Hands in the centre? Posture all correct? Using the arms?

There were around 25-30 people there for jikeiko in 30 mins. Mainly the senior grades got Inoue sensei but the queue went quickly so maybe around 10+ people get the chance. I was told that the day before it was mainly about kata - so I suspect no one really practiced with him...
The other Sunday while I came early and spied at the door, I saw the same senior grades practising against each other. Some of them are just strong. Yet this day watching them against Inoue sensei, I realized that they are not 100% unbeatable.

Yamada was on first. For the first 20 seconds or so it looked like a equal level match, with no movement at to-maai... And I thought, "Now THAT's what I call a hachidan.." Until Yamada made the first move and got countered...

Noticeably, Kishigawa got a lot of kaeshi dou from Inoue sensei, despite almost getting a tsuki as shodachi (!) The kaeshi dou was timed sooooo well that the block was only an inch away from his men, and Kishigawa's shinai went off centre...

Against Eda, Inoue sensei told her to "cut me on the shoulder", and that she should use the same principle to cut kote.

Being very fast, Derek was the only one getting the uchikomi-keiko treatment.

.... and there goes many other senior people. But no matter how senior they are to me, they are not 100% perfect, and do sometimes shows an opening or two. Inoue sensei just made that happened.

This time there are people I have seen from other dojo participating (who are unrelated to the squad). This gives me a motivation to attend the Sunday morning keiko. Still there are a lot of them I haven't practice with in Hong Kong. It is not as small as I thought.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Squad #3: Overweighted

(Warning: long entry)

The long awaited monthly shiai keiko at squad practice---!!

Me is getting a flu again. As the Dept of Health kept telling people, "This is the peak season - people having symptoms of flu and cold should wear their masks!"... I just wasn't that aware of it - until, of course I caught the virus for the 2nd time in 2 months!!

So I wasn't in my best shape on Sunday. The day before I did practiced in the afternoon, but I skipped Thursday as I have to finish some freelance work. But the "500 hayasuburi on days without keiko" scheme is still up and running. I am at Week 3 now.

When I finished changing it was only 10.10am on Sunday. There is a morning keiko, 8.30am-10.30am I think, with 10+ local and Japanese 6/7dans and loads of others queuing up. Sadly most of them went at 10.30am, as they are not related to the squad training. Tho I spyed outside the door for quite a while. It looks like quality stuff.. I was quite tempted to join but how the hell can I wake up at 7am?!

Back to the shiai practice... There were 10 participating this month. At least 4 people were "watching" due to various injuries. But there were 2 video cameras there so we all got to see our shiai later!! Shinpan were the following 6Dan sensei: Lai, Tanaka, Yoshida, Shigawa (who is tough enough to get ippon from Kishigawa sensei!!!), Kawada... Kishigawa-sensei was there sitting at the side observing only.

This time the format was firstly 2 pools of 5, then the best 8 go on to straight KO. 4 mins match.
I was the first person in my pool and therefore fight the 1st and 5th match. Despite having a long break to recover, I am fighting Eda-sensei (!) and Derek Chan who was in the 12th WKC squad.

It's probably not the best situation to have your first ever practice with your sensei in a shiai situation!... She *knows* my tricks... But when I was in the shiaijo, I told myself to "show her my best". I did a little of that shiai bending stuff, but mainly I cut (or at least tried) big with koshi. Getting Ippon was so ever difficult - she keeps doing kote-de-kote, so my tokui waza doesn't work at all! I lost to a super big men. At tsuba-zeriai Eda sensei is tricky, probably because she knows I can do hiki-waza (and therefore I can't!!). But then in return I scored a BRILLIANT debana-men on an ai-men situation, slightly before full-time. At encho, I lost to another super big men (was attempting tsuki but too damn late!!).

While spending considerable amount of time *coughing* severely at the side, I waited and watched the 2nd to 4th match of my pool. Previously at squad training it was mainly paired practice, and I was always at the girls group... So it was quite nice to be able to watch other people's kendo, especially in a shiai context.

Derek, my next opponent, finished his 2-0 match in 20 seconds...

He probablt felt a bit nervous facing me with a foreign zekken. Despite him having lightening speed Men, I was quite surprised I can actually block/counter a lot of it. I certainly gave him a lot of trouble, as he couldn't finish me off quickly. Eventually he got the first men. But then standing still at issoku-itto, I have a sudden urge to do Tsuki.. and at the last 0.01 second of doing so I instead cut Men. Taa-daa!! 3 flags up, Jenny got a Men again! It was AMAZING. Derek 1 - Jenny 1

It is not very usual for me to score 2 men and no kote in a day, especially I was fighting people at the 3/ 4Dan+ level...

Funny enough, while people usually sayi no cheering at the side... Agnes-senpai (Eda's dokai) shouted at the side, "Fight on! You need to win to get thru the pool--!!"

The other thing I noticed was - NEVER fight with an ankle support! Once I went for de-kote... My right ankle slipped like me stepping on banana skin, and I MISSED........ Grrr. I injured my right ankle before (I can't even walk for 3 days) so I can't let that happen again. Note to self: NO ANKLE SUPPORT NEXT TIME!

Anyway. I lost to Men in the end, and was out of the game, got the odd job of recording scoreboard, and mitori-keiko.

There are only 3 more rounds to go for the "Best 8".

Leo, the dohai from my home dojo, beat Eda sensei 2-1 at encho. He then got KO by Derek in 20 seconds. What an irony...

Derek actually finishes his 20-second (2-0) for 2 more rounds - until he meets Yim at the final, and got beaten 1-2 at encho.

So the game finished at 12pm sharp and we are going for another queuing keiko...

I finally got Lai-sensei. He is an interesting person to fight with, because he actually "fights" with you. Comment after practice is that, I am cutting too soft. He said, well, you can fight soft, but at the moment of impact you have to give out your energy.

Also got Kishigawa-sensei this time. The practice was short and it was only running through Men-uchi. Half way thru he stopped and corrected my left hand grip (!). "Jump! Jenny, jump!" That's what he says at oikomi...

As there is no pub session at 12.30pm, we gathered around at the tuck shop of the sports stadium.

While lecturing Derek in Japanese, K-sensei suddenly switched to English for me, "Derek's Men is very difficult to get, huh?"

He then asks for my shinai. (uhm??)

"Aahh. When I saw you fight, I immediately think your shinai is too heavy. You can't jump far and is letting your shinai controlling you. This kind of shinai is either for highschool boys or big European girls. Not you!!"

This is something new for me. There goes my advice of the day: My shinai is overweight. If I don't change my shinai, I cannot improve my kendo (what the ???????)

Back at Derek. K-sensei says he is fast, but he hasn't got enough seme... Always going in "Yaaah- Men".

It's like that little palm-slapping game. Even if you are really fast, you can't hit your opponent's hand when your attacks go in a certain pattern. You need to be unpredictable for your attack to work.

Vinx Lam, aka Lim, went out of the game 1-2 (encho) vs Yim at semi-finals. Quoting Kishigawa-sensei, "Lim improved the most in the past few months." Uhmm. That reminds me to train harder. I really need to focus more on practice... I am just hoping that my "work hours" is more stable...

I'll try to put up some snapshots from my shiai when the video is available. Provided if my posture isn't terrible.