...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...
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: "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...]