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...

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