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

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