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- http://kummisa.cafe24.com/10/10-7.wmv) 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 ...in 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