Sunday, June 26, 2005

Squad #14: Zzz...

This morning I started with Iaido again at -- 8.30am!!! I didn't sleep well and woke up so early that I actually made it to the dojo. It was pretty sunny tho (like, why is it only sunny when I have to do indoor activities...??)

Kishikawa sensei wasn't there, but there is another dude... uhmm or should I say a sempai. I didn't manage to talk to him (typically me) but he does Muso Shinden Ryu - so do I. He looks ok (not spectacular) But I sucked completely as I realized I have forgot most of the MSR stuff... Do'h!! I need a proper sensei or a reference book...!!

I watched the entire 9.30-10.30am session as I am just too sleepy...

Since K-sensei wasn't there (but in Japan.. Grrr) we were exempted from the mental rounds of hayasuburi... But the dojo was quiet with only 10 (4 female...) squad members. I got paired up with Eda-sensei... Who is ultra serious at practice (she is always training; coming here from 8.30 and train in both sessions on sunday; does more round if other people haven't finished, etc.) So I felt rather bad that I wasn't as alert at waza-keiko and messed up a few times as motodachi, and got comment about my kiai not strong enough (it shows..) But I was going ok from the 2nd hour onwards - finally waking up...

In waza keiko we spent quite a lot of time doing "step in -> mune-tsuki, repeat, step in ->men/kote/kote-men" I found the kote-men get messy very easily if I don't focus on the last men, after spending a lot of concentration on the step in and aiming for kote... My men sounds okay if I hit on shinai/tsuba on the omote side first (as another nidan-waza), but I am not sure why I can't grip the shinai strong enough for the men if I hit on the kote first ...

At 11:30 Lai-sensei shouted "yame" and then called for shiai-keiko (???) There are a few Japanese sensei around but they looked rather bored when we do our waza-keiko. And they still looked dull at shimpan... The matches are not brilliant really. 3 people chose not to participate so I ended up fighting the 4th and last fight against Takase-san, who is a kohai... Needless to say I got KM-0 in 15 secs. But those are not really good ippon as she just walked into the spot, and also the shimpan got bored and gave out any pop sound (I really know the last kote-nuki-men I got was without fumikomi...)

I found out my opponent at the previous shiai day, Narita-san, was actually 5Dan. Argh.

Uhmmm so the last 30 mins of jikeiko I managed 3 fights. First I had Kawada-san (6dan), he had a high+off-centered kamae but still hard to get men or kote from him (I am not fast enough)... A few strong pushes after cut reminds me of using more koshi - but then that made my grip less strong and can't really pop anything... Grrr...

Second jikeiko was against Tomioka (Another 6Dan but rather tall and young, and last week he won a brilliant last ippon from K-senseni) was a lot of fun. Of course he slowed down and let me do stuff, but in turn this "equal opportunity" made my keiko more pleasant. Not like getting my Men popped all the time whenever I do anything. Comment was about me doing too much feints or blocking and not really going for a cut.. Even the men cut of my kote-men has a major delay (uhmmm)

Final Keiko was against Lai-sensei. I found him easier today - probably because it's the last keiko and he haven't been resting (I don't think I have improved much!). Maybe that made him blocked less of my men, so at least I hit on his men (previously he just blocked everything...)

So my new tactic to survive in jikeiko is to fight the hardest person closer to the end and after a bit of rest..!!

It suddenly started raining very heavily on the bus on my return journey. I don't have an umbrella (I'll be wet anyway) but I am quite happy that I went today (even though half of the time I was felling asleep).

Friday, June 24, 2005

Gaijin Kendo

At 6pm there is no heavy rain so I grapped my bogu asap and run to the bus stop... And then it started pouring again---!!! When it rains the bus is always packed and it goes a lot slower on the highway... So when I arrived it was 7.30pm. Adding to that there is this weird 60's song concert at the stadium... there was a massive toilet queue of middle-aged women at my changing room... Just... why can't they look somewhere else when I change... God!!

So I missed (oops) the warm-ups and half of the suburi. Oh look, a new foreign guy - Meyer from Basel. And there was Stephen (who KO-ed me on the floor last week) from Germany here too. Day for the German-speaking kendo people!

Rather interesting was that the kihon session was leaded by Tanaka-sensei who speaks Nihongo all the way. I can listen and guess OK but probably the other half of the class have to rely on David the interpretor. Earlier this week I finally bought a Fundamental I: Nihongo book and decided to go from ground zero. It's pretty embarassing that I know my kana since 14 but never really study Nihongo serious enough (can't hold a decent conversation). While in kendo verbal instruction is minimal, it is still go to grasp as much as I can. Now I am even more motivated knowing that both Meyer and Stephen can speak Japanese well enough, as they both have been in Japan for a year or 2.

As the title of this entry is "Gaijin Kendo" - I am not really trying to pick on what is the difference between theirs or the locals. But rather I admire more of foreigner's devotion in learning a completely different culture. Of course they didn't really go to Japan for kendo, but I understand that there are more foreigners willing to go on the full package of studying Japan as in a traditional way. Kendo or other cultural activities is one thing, and also language... Unlike teenagers who can only name you J-pop stars, watch their anime or eat their sushi.

I empathize as I also went abroad for my studies..

Now going back to kendo... It was kihon, mawari-keiko and then jikeiko. We occationally have this format (yay! no kata today!!) and it's quite interesting that T-sensei asks the group "Daijoubu?" after 7 rounds of keiko. I had Stephen twice. I am cutting much more solid today and didn't even feel off-balance.

Since getting 6th Dan, Eda-sensei has been joining in the jikeiko session more (previously she was at the beginners end). Grrr I had comments about me cutting small (No every single time, pleeeeease) - and when I did bigger ones... They get too big...! Argh...

Against T-sensei it was just.... uhmm how come fighting this old man is such a stressful thing?!? And his men-uchi always sounds soooooo strong. Argh. "____utsu____janai!!" I think I missed a couple of - I don't know... So I get this "Don't hit if you are not ready" look...

Towards the end we have the oddest uchikomi-keiko I had ever had. It was fun tho. One motodachi in the center and the rest of us just queue for our cut *once* and pass thru.... It went on for about 6 times and we got to see what other people are doing. Still I haven't had Mr. Meyer today (he's like... a few years older than me... so not that old). He's Nidan and I think a good match of level for me. Yosh, next time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


This morning I was quite in the mood going for keiko late night tonight... Until mid-way onwards it started pouring. Also the infected areas of skin closer to my right eye and also inside my right ear is not getting better... So in the end I just sit here typing I DIDN'T GO TODAY again.

In recent months I have been on a curse of skin allergies... WTH is going on?!?

Like, I am really going to blame my bogu. It's been raining all the time in these few weeks and I *always* find my men and kote moulded up, even I've cleaned them asap after keiko. I don't sweat much but it seems that the bogu is attracting mosture by itself (grrrr)...

Adding to that. I am still having muscle pain from last Sunday... (sorry excuses, I know)

BTW here are two kendo-related things I worked on recently:

A proposal for the Idaho Kendo Club poster (USA):-

... And another proposal for the HKKA 35th anniversary (souvenir) tenegui:-

(When I looked up the ceiling just now - there are bits of white mould on the wallpaper... Ewwww....)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Squad #13 It's Your Fault!

9:00am when I walked through the dojo door with my bogu bag, shinai bag AND iaito bag this morning. Woo-hoo I made it!! So I really have to sleep early and wake up a 7:30am for this...!

There were only 3-4 other individuals practicing kata and stuff at that time. Kishikawa-sensei was with his iaito so I asked permission to do iai there - and he said yes.

When I picked out my iaito which I haven't touched for hmmm a few months... I noticed a bit of mould on the bag... and inside I wonder if the sword is rusted... No it wasn't. BUT it's the sageo that's got mould on it (yikes!!). It wasn't simply because of lack of maintance. Because when I do my reiho in seiza, I noticed the folds on my hakama also has mould... grrr

In 1/2 hour I managed some kihon warm-ups and twice through all the seitei + some koryu... I have problems remembering them already. I just did them and thought "hmm is it like this...well... it is!"

Midway through K-sensei asked about my background. I said I did iaido for a year and missed my shodan shinsa. "So that explains a lot of what you are doing in kendo!" Huh?

I skipped the small rounds of kendo kihon at 9.30am to put away my sword. Then I fought 1 keiko against Narita-san (who beat me last week at shiai). I saw him instructing a bit of Agnes so he must be 4Dan+ (!!)... Anyway... my keiko is crap. I do not enjoy it that much. hmmm So I took off my men and watched for the rest of the 30mins. (it is allowed - I am not suppose to go 3 hours straight!!)

Tomioka-san (really young 6Dan travelling from Shenzhen, the neighouring Chinese city just north of HK) has become my new hero. At the last ippon against K-sensei and he won debana-men (soooo fast)!!
14 people in the squad training today at 10.30am. 6 of us girls.

We spent extensive time on suburi and kihon without men...
Oki-suburi with 2 shinai x50
Naname-suburi with 2 shinai x50
With a partner blocking with a shinai held horizontally, katate-hayasuburi x60
Repeat with more snapping on the downward cut
Katate-hayasuburi at kote level x60
Several times of katate-men up and down the dojo
Katate-hayasuburi at men/kote/floor level x60

Urgh. At this point the blister at the pinky of my left hand has ripped...

So now we get into the "normal" kihon routine with full bogu. But I can see my men reeeeeally pops for the first half of the session.

The whole point of this practice is to be more stable. Something K-sensei said struck me a lot,
"When you're hitting not stable, do not complain that your opponent is too strong if you end up on the floor. It's your fault."

Yeah. I know very well.

Towards the end it was a series of ai-men from to-ma against about 5 opponents. And then a couples of ai-kote/kote-men rotating for a further 5 opponents... This is suppose to be jikeiko time (check the clock). Until K-sensei shouted - Mawari-keiko.

Only 3 sensei not rotating (Eda, K, Wong-san) and now I counted 9 keiko in total. I dunno what motivates me to stay for the whole round. But I did - especially after fighting K-sensei at the 4th keiko, after he did spot-on tsuki for the 10th time (I counted 5 landed, 3 blocked, 2 tsuki/kaeshi-men -my last ippon was brilliant!!!) I decided to last until the end.

After class a changing time when people are still chating, I joined in their conversation about broken shinai at today's suburi drills...

K-sensei said I fought like the big guys in the UK. Huh?

"Too strong in the hands. You are fighting with only the hands."

I complained about the last 3 times I fell down was when I cut and my opponent's hands were pushing on my face... The conversation then shifted to body balance. Like, when all my power is in my arms, it would be a lot easier to be pushed. Somehow when I imagine my power in the fumikomi more, I seemed to have moved my balance to the lower body. Or like, when I stand normally, I should focus on my belly button then my spine (argh.... I was told to keep my back straight....)

K-sensei: So Jenny, the main point is, you are a woman.
Me: ... ...What's your point...?
K-sensei: You are a girl and you are less built up then the men. There is no way you can fight them with power.
Me: Mmm
K-sensei: So you should use your feet more. Be more flexible in the hands [then he started to swirl his shiai around..] You can move to the side and use okuri-ashi when a big guy runs into you. Like Spanish bull fights. [demonstrates]
Eda: Next keiko we'd have you waving a tenugui around against the guys.
And I finally had lunch with them. Finally some social moments, really.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Ame / Rain

The thunderstorm on Tues stopped me from going to the Squad. Instead of seeing this as an excuse, I made a rule about going to keiko:-

I would only go to kendo when I really desperately seriously want to train.

That thought came up to me tonight (besides sending off some freelance work the day before) - so I went despite having a slight rain outside. Maybe a bit too desperate that I left my hakama on the sofa at home....!! Luckily Eda-sensei got a spare one in the locker... But I was having this weird look because it's a white hakama...*grin*

The Tanaka's were not there so Eda has to deal with the beginners, 3 primary school kids, and us. We were pretty much left to "just keep going"... There was only 10 people in bogu and I always got a girl when we change partners... Towards the end of the kihon session it was like 9 rounds of uchikomi keiko (Men, Hiki-men/kote/do, Men...) BUT I ENJOYED IT.

There is 30 mins or so of medium-length mawari-keiko (rare in my dojo because mostly its jikeiko and people all queue for Tanaka-sensei, or that the mawari-keiko was 1-2 mins only...)

First one I was against Kwan (who did that Iaido demo last week) the super-muscular kohai... I smacked some debana-kote which is a surprise to be (that my tokui-waza suddenly comes back).

E-sensei gave a pause and said "use your brain and change your kendo if you get paired up with a girl, or someone much taller, etc. Time to use more waza." I amnot sure if this is directed to me (all comments seems to be!!)...

Then there is Stephen a German girl (who has a erhmm funny kanji zekken from Nanzan University at Nagoya). I heard she has a few years of kendo, been to Japan for a year, and haven't practiced for 2 years... But to me she is still physically strong and attack non-stop, going forward all the time - something I lack.

Eda-sensei then separate the 5 girls from the 5 guys (for whatever reason... did some of the girls look terrible... or was it me???!). I got Stephen again. And, at one of those intentional sutemi tobikomi-men attack, she pushed out her arms to my face and I ... fell off 90-degree backwards...

Uhmm that's half a year ago last time I fell down like that... The moment when I think hmm maybe I have improved a bit, someone is there to send me off my feet...

The knot of my men-himo hits the floor this time so it's a shock to the head. I rested for 2 keiko and went in again. Got Jane for a short one. Then when at the last keiko called, I had Angus queuing for me...!

Angus is the tall dude who won the last 1-2Dan indivduals taikai... I watched his shiai before but never seen him in my dojo until today... It was a rather exciting keiko I reckon, as I got to see his tokui-waza (tobikomi-men, and various hiki-waza). Lots of action with both sides getting something. Like, I actually cut a few times his men. It just feels like a good shiai. AND I ENJOY IT. Somehow I think having only 6-7Dan as aite is going to be very frustrating (even they said they have reduced their level to half a grade above you!)... I need to really FIGHT to make me feel happier.

The last 15 mins was a chill-out kata session doing yonhonme (in rotation, so you get a new partner every 2 times).

It wasn't raining when I got out of the gym. It's raining now at Friday passed mid-night, and I am glad that I did my kendo a few hours ago.

I spend some time ranting on various things as an update for my training background...

Spot the Difference

Background Info: Hong Kong Version

Sunday, June 12, 2005

What am I doing???

I thought I was going back to normal last night but then this morning got completely delayed, and without picking up my Iaito I waited 20 mins for a bus - was reading this "Issues in Sports" book, so time was not 100% wasted.

Kendo never comes easy. Eda-sensei pulled out her camera when I tried to put on my Men, saying that a kendo magazine would like some of her keiko photos... Whoa. Something worth waiting for at Mitsukoshi's bookstore (...and the photos I took are going to be printed finally?!)

Now I think back on the 2 keiko I had in the morning with Mrs Tanaka (who is 5 dan and older than my mom probably), and Tezuka (wearing a JAL zekken, around 3-4dan and speaks good English)... When I walked in I was not sure what I should focus on today, so I was simply repeating the bad habits I had. Say,

Mrs Tanaka - "Ago xxxxx de!", or "Tuck your chin in!"
Tezuka - "Your distance is too far" "Try hit 2, 3 times instead on just one"

It is frustrating, not only that I am making those mistakes again (i.e. no improvement), but also that I know very well that it's ME who made myself disappointing, because I haven't worked hard enough.

No squad today as it is the monthly shiai time. But it turns out to be Saneda's sayonara keiko. I have only seen him a few times but he used to belong to London's Mumeishi Dojo... Anyway, he's been here a couple of years, and 10+ Japanese came to participate in today's shiai too because of his leave.

So it turns out to be a 7-person team shiai: 2 teams of HK people vs a "All-Japan" team. Because Agnes is the captain and got to pick her team - my team has 6 girls + Yip who fought senpo. I haven't fought a team shiai since Jan - and this is the first time I fought in a team as a squad member. No matter how informal it is, today certainly fills some new experience of me in HK.

I fought 5th vs Narita-san. I heard he's 4dan and picks people at tsuba-zeriai... Argh.

The scoreboard was already 1:3 before my turn. Gotta think about it, I should save the time planning shodachi, and try to work on my left foot, etc. bad habits instead...

Yeah, Narita-san was much faster and sharper, and can hit with full intend - something I know now that I lack, when fighting against anyone. The shodanchi comes in like ai-uchi (kote), we crashed, and because we can both hit hiki-waza, the next couple of cuts when like kakari-keiko. A very, very long one in machine-gun style.

I notice how I can catch up with the pace but never really cut into one. Like, my right fist starts pushing, or my left grip is not turned in enough.

The next thing I remember was going down on sonkyo. And from the floor I looked at the scoreboard - M D ... I thought I uchiotoshi-ed the last do.... uhmm damn... nevermind.

This is one of the most violent matches I had ever fought in... I have problems holding my chopsticks at dinner tonight...

We lost 1:6 ...and the other HK team won 4:2

For the el finale Saneda-san picked Lim, Derek and Matsuura-san (the dude who got married last week) for some more shiai... Watching so many people fight wasn't too encouraging for me today though. I haven't worked as hard recently as comparing to the others. The skill gap is getting wider and wider now. My kendo really suffers without a real job...

The remaining 30 mins of keiko ended up against Lai-sensei and Mr YW Chan. It was aaaages ago I fought Lai - last time it was too frustrating as he blocked ALL my men in the same style. Today it was not very different. When I failed the first few times, I got discouraged easily, which made me holds back even more. I definitely need more sutemi.

Against Mr YW Chan (whose son is Derek) was a lot easier. He had this no-good Jodan. Nidan waza works wonders on him. I got one hiki-gyaku-do (and ran off 360-degree in a big circle laughing my head off) smashingly clean. Must have been entertaining for the rest of the people watching!

Sigh.. Why it is that every time I think my kendo mood is coming back, I start worrying about work.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


So, 4 sensei and 4 of us went to that faraway secondary school for the demonstration, doing a favour for the Japanese Embassy - taxi was within their travel budget but it took 2 hours getting to that area from the central of HK, a residential area about 15 years old, and I've been there less then 3 times in my life...

On the taxi I got myself an extra job for the first section of the demo - I need to narrate for Kwan who is going to perform 5 iaido seitei kata...! From Kwan I got to know that, besides Kishikawa sensei, there is another Toyama Ryu Iaido group on a Saturday afternoon... It clashes with K-sensei's but K's dojo is closer to where I live... I plan to check him out this Sunday anyway...

Upon arrival there were people (not sure if they are school staff or the embassy, but they speak japanese...) greeting us at the school gate. It is ... just a v small school (well, comparing to MINE 5+ years ago!) Recalling that school hall in Brighton where my Iaido dojo is - it's about the same... What puzzled us was, why is this particular school organizing a NIHON BUKASAI (Japanese Culture Festival - as it said on the banner) in their own school hall?

Apart from the banner there were strings of Matsuri lanterns hanging all across the school hall. Some students even dress up in Hanten (those baby-blue tops with a big kanji of Matsuri printed on the back). At the back of the hall there are relaly well made models of some castles and temples, and the walls were decorated with posters of some Japanese cities scenery. On stage we saw another group in "costumes" - Chado... A few voluntees got to try their yukata etc. and learn to rotate their teacups around.

Even though the Chado demo on stage was also projected on a big screen from the side - the 250+ students were kinda half asleep (oh little lucky bast*rds, why don't I have Bunkasai when I was a schoolkid?!)

I haven't done a demo to a non-kendo audience before (therefore IKET does not count). I wonder if any student will pick up kendo afterwards - but when I reconsider the location... Nah--!

IMHO explaining iaido would be rather boring for 12-14-year-olds. Kwan had 3 years training so his technique was "average" (uhmm I am NOT saying I should do the demo instead!!!) I just said things about reigi and described bit of each kata. My Cantonese public speaking skill is truly awful (bad vocabs and just plain boring..), especially I never had a conversation about Iaido waza before!! ...and it also shows how much I don't know what I was doing in Iai...!

Argh. So the mic was handed to Eda-sensei next and she explained the kendo kata stuff for Lai-sensei and Tanaka-sensei.

Demo is simple as you can expect. Kihon. Uchikomi. The stage floor is super hard and slippery... Then the sensei got keiko demo.

After that, 7 students down the stage got some fast-track kendo class... We let them hit men, kote and do. Everyone got quite exciting... Lai-sensei is a great entertainer/ instructor. The rest of the audience probably had a good time laughing at their mates missing do-cuts (on me!)...

The most enthusiatic dude around was a tall-ish student at the backstage, who borrowed one of the bokuto and swinged it around like Jedi Master... He asked if we can do "30 renhatsu" (30 consecutive - which is a game/anime term I guess, but the way he said it sounds like budo lingo). Leo responded, "We need 100 renhatsu at squad training!!"

Demonstration was done in an hour. Some teachers definately took some camera shots while we put on our men. I'd show some if I get a hand on them...

When we arrived at QEII stadium we were 2 hours early for tonight's keiko. Zzz... Eda-sensei fed the Tanaka's and me with takeaway while we finally had some social chat. I complained about work etc. and T-sensei spent extensive time picking on my men-uchi (!!)...

In the end tonight's round 2 of kendo is quite enjoyable. I still suck sometimes but overall I can see my elbows are not too "out" when I lift up my shinai.

The final reward of the day was a cup of Vanilla Haagan-Dazs at the stadium tuck shop from Eda-sensei. What a delight after a full afternoon of kendo!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Just do it...!

Coming back home from a potential business/collaboration meeting today at 8pm, meaning I'll miss at least 15 mins of tonight's squad... therefore I'd rather not go (definitely will be made to do 200 hayasuburi alone while everyone's doing their waza-keiko!!) Tho I jumped my ropes 750 times.

This meeting was slightly delayed because of another business phone conversation with that other massive company I mentioned earlier. An interview is scheduled in 2 weeks. I hope this time everything works out... (and therefore my kendo life will be saved)

Meanwhile in 2 weeks I need to broaden my sense in Sports Culture and Sports Tradition... Apart from martial arts, I must admit I have close to zero sports knowledge. Lets see how much I can remember from the BBC Sports Website in 2 weeks time..!! (Any other recommendation is welcome!)

Finally let's have some entertainment from my sensei's funny emails (and also info about this Thurs):-

Subject: Kendo demonstration on thursday 9th june

Dear squad members,

We are recruiting squad members to take part in the Traditional Japanese Culture and Sports at Secondary school _________ on 9th June thursday from 3:30pm-4:30pm. This event is organized by Consulate General of Japan therefore the Association is planning to send the squad members as there will be around 400 students and they hope to see the Hong Kong Kendo National Team members.

We understand this event will be held on weekday but we do hope some of you will be able to take 1/2 day off work or school to participate.

Please reply to _______ sensei before this sunday by email.


thank you for your kind attention.


Hi Eda,

If you still haven't had enough people to help out at the event - I will be able to come along, as I am not employed and can take some time off on Thurs. I was thinking maybe you'll need a girl.


Yes thanks! We certainly need a pretty and potential girl!!

I will let you know what time and where to meet on thursday. I hope to get back to you by tuesday.


Spot the Difference!

Jun 2005

5 Months relocated from London back to Hong Kong (my home town).

Having started kendo in London, doing it for 3 years there (plus 1/2 year of blank period filled up by Iaido in Brighton instead)... Kendo-wise, I am actually having a new experience back home.

The following are personal observations about the kendo in these two cities. I am trying my best to include everything I can think of...

Differences Between Kendo Training in Hong Kong and in London

1. No Pub - Sorry this comes up first. I am not an alcoholic, but not having the second keiko means the time for club social is reduced to the time for changing after keiko only. Therefore I still haven't talk to 90% of the people I train with.

2. Too Far Away - This is my constant complain (I know I shouldn't!)... Having spent 2.5 hours of travel time to get to a 1.5-2 hour keiko really makes me have deep thoughts about it. In London it will be like having Mumeishi as your home dojo. Do I really have nothing else to do? Will I improve today? Besides, the travel cost bothers me too (as I don't really have a stable source of income right now...)

3. Monthly Charge - Because Squad Training has its open-door policy for HKKA affilated clubs, there is no extra charge attending it (apart from HK$100/ GBP 7.5/ US$12 extra for insurance). So training once a week to 4 times a week costs the same...

4. A Lot More Girls - Probably due to the presence of Eda-sensei, at my home dojo most of the time has 40-60% female members at keiko. There are also a nuber of kendo wives in high levels (eg. Mrs Tanaka, Mrs Horibe, etc.) In the squad this is also the case, especially Eda/Agnes/J are the most attentive and senior members of the squad, with Agnes being the leader of warm-ups etc.

5. Japanese Sensei - Never lack the supply of them. There are a few 6-7 Dan resident sensei doing business here, some even married HK-nese wives and have families in HK. Same goes for 3-5 Dan senpai businessmen. Though we do lack the younger (my age) generation because there are no university student coming from Japan, unlike London.

6. Kihon:Keiko proportion - For every 1.5-2 hours I went, only the last 30 mins or so are for Jikeiko (queuing for sensei type). So the ratio is about 2 kihon :1 keiko... In London this seem to be the reverse. At nenriki we had a ratio of 1:2, but at Wakaba/Mumeishi was ALL jikeiko. I think my posture etc. has been slightly better with more kihon, but in terms of seeing openings or practising waza (in a non-controlled manner) I am going worst without the jikeiko...

7. Practice with Peers - This mostly occurs in kihon, while in jikeiko people tends to queue for sensei (and there no lack of supply!!). So a week about 2-3 times kendo there is at most 3 keiko done against a 3dan or below person...

8. Girls vs Girls - Partly due to the fact that I attend the squad more than the normal club one... Girls are most of the time paired with a girl for yokusoku keiko. Besides, my club has a 40-60% female attendance, so even if it was mawari-keiko I happen to be against a girl more than a guy..!

9. Instruction - At the kihon session, there is always someone (with no men on) overseeing all the pairs and give advice from the outside. In London the overall instruction comes from a senior within the group.

10. Age - The most hard-working kendoka seems to be the very seniors 6-7Dan, Japanese businessmen, and my age group in the early 20s. People slightly older are most of the time working overtime... So the weekday sessions are relatively empty...

11. Teaching others - I don't need to teach anyone verbally anymore, because there is always someone else watching behind...

12. Taikai - Pretty much lack of it, honestly... Jan: team shiai; Feb: Asian Tournament (Squad members only); May: HK/Macau individuals shiai... Then that's it!!! In the squad there is shiai day held monthly. Not sure if that helps anything...

13. Visiting Sensei - Hong Kong is one of the favourite "country" for Japanese tourists, so once every few months there got to be some high grades (if not hachidan) dropping by. "HK members are too lucky - in the UK they have to pay 200 pounds for a 3-day seminar with Sumi sensei." That's the comment from Yung-sensei (via email list) when he read about Sumi Sensei's Seminar in the UK(SSS)...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Squad #12 Men

On Friday I was thinking whether the next entry here would be of the line "I quit kendo today." But actually I felt much better yesterday - I even wanted to go to kendo...! Life is strange sometimes. Today (Sunday) I arrived at 9.10am (as we were told to come earlier) and found a few sensei doing kata. A few individuals were there but it was only around 10+ people.

Finally I saw Kishikawa's Iaido. I was just peeping from the side when I get myself ready for keiko, and didn't talk to him about it. He was just doing some "exercise", I think. And probably he is going a different style (than my previous Muso Shinden Ryu in the UK), so I can't really comment on it. He's stuff is ... not *impressive* - I reckon both sensei I had in the UK are better. But still, it's quite refreshing to see some Iaido after 4 months of nothingness. So if next time I can come earlier than I might be able to ask the question...

At 9.15am it was some just-enough rounds of kihon rotation that warmed people up.

Mr Ducarme (thx for the spell check) turned up and that goes in a queue.

I queue right behind Yamada-sensei for Kishikawa-sensei... For some reason I don't think their keiko inspired me today. Both of them had been very impressive when I first saw their kendo. But now... as I am not so into kendo, so no one is really eye-catching.

... Also I kinda figured out that, against a senior, if my shodachi comes in after about 10 seconds of "looking-good" kamae, and that it's not a men cut, that keiko will be more interesting than just going ugly menmenmenmenmen and got told off.

When fighting K sensei, some people get pretty frustrated because they always hit slower and had no zanshin... While the way I do it is just keep going no matter if his cuts are perfect or not. I hardly ever have to run from one side of the dojo to another... But in return I get too engaged to "close-quarter combat" - which K sensei loves makiotoshi and katate waza from that distance.

At the most frustrating point of the keiko, right after twice successfully blocking K sensei's tsuki (!). He gave me one of his regular harai waza - so strong that I dropped my shinai... This frequently happens to people against him, but this is my first time, so I don't feel too good.
But then out of the blue I got him really simple kind of harai-ura-kote... "Almost," he said, which sets me up a little bit for the coming Ippon.

There was more cut/block and block/cut on both sides, because last time I remember him saying "if you are not ready, block." I feel more controlled for blocking than giving in a debana-waza that comes too slow.

At one point he pulled out his weird katate kamae. AND I JUST SMASHED HIS GYAKU-DO!!
That was the high point of the day, really... Immediately after "hai, one more" I lost men-nuki-gyakudo... baka me.

That goes to until 10.30am - I felt sick after that keiko. Went outside and had a chill. My cuts are too damn ugly to watch too.

Almost all of the seniors all disappeared after 10.30am to attend to Matsuraa-san's wedding banquet - leaving only 7 people at the squad training (6 of us at the 19-25 year old range!!). We were pretty much left on our own, but we followed the usual routine anyway. Yoshioka-sensei supervised the non-bogu for first 30 mins, and was followed by Sasahara-sensei for the bogu-ed kihon (he speaks English, which is good), both 6-dan.
My kihon is alright.

Down to jikeiko time I first picked Amy. My focus was on watching people's Men cut, and timing it. I *know* I have a problem cutting men. A lot of times I just let people hit it, and just stand there looking good pretending nothing happened...

After her I had Yau. I did that watching thing again, and got comment on "You Men sneaking in too slow - you don't have that explosion". Sometimes it's better to have a dokai pointing out these things. Well, you are absolutely right dude... I have a serious problem with men.

The last keiko of the day was against Sasahara sensei. He is not the unbeatable type. But still, as of everyone else has been telling me for months, my men sucks.... I don't seem to be able to raise my shinai high enough with my left hand (I switched to my shiai-shinai for keiko and nothing really changed today...), or that it was too big when I do lift it up....

The way I did hit men (so many today) really hurts my wrist joint.. I took off my kote and felt that bit of thickened skin between my thumb and index finger. This is just bad grip. I have been working on it MONTHS and yet still haven't really clicked.


Last but not least, thanks for everyone's messages. I do feel a bit better comparing to last week, even today wasn't that satisfying. I should just think more positive like, I have to get more work to support my kendo, rather than thinking I can't support kendo without work and I have to quit. Uhmmm... Life... as difficult as kendo.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


At the last minute (6.30pm) I changed my mind - I put down the shinai bag and pick up the rope and went jumping instead. The counter went passed 999 and ended up at 025, so I had 1,024 jumps today.

Back home at the show, I thought, this may have been a better workout then getting to the dojo. Without any work I am not going to afford kendo in the long run...

Last time I heard Mr Alain Ducame (7 dan + current European Kendo Fed president) is visiting us on Sunday. Still very not sure whether I can make it at 9am with the insomnia these few days...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Squad #11 ......

From this week on I am entering the 4th year of kendo...

However due to all sorts of depressing matters happening in life, I wasn't in the mood to celebrate or anything...

Like tonight's squad is OK. Kishikawa-sensei wasn't there. But I learnt that from now on warming up will be 50 ooki-suburi (2 shinai) + 100 hayasuburi. Agnes shouted, "OUR GOAL IS 1,000!!"

... At the final 30 mins of jikeiko. I only managed ONE keiko against Yuen. Erhm. Nothing brilliant there.

After that one I just stood there behind the queues and watched. But I was completely not focusing on any pair's kendo.

I don't know what I learnt in kendo tonight. Apart from knowing that it is not enjoyable at all to pick up a shinai when I don't want to fight. I only show up because I didn't go for 3 times already - I missed Sunday healing a nasty diarrhea (yeah right, nice excuse).

Hopefully the situation will get better in 2 weeks. I am still struggling to land that big job apart from negotiating on some small ones... It sucks totally not working on anything while the entire world is moving around you.