Friday, September 30, 2005

"Don't Run Away"

This 14-day break from kendo is probably the longest in the past 14 months. Still not very much recovered from a heavy flu last week and also a painful right wrist (injured again last monday... someone please tell me not to run in the rain and fall over...), I was swing my shinai again at the dojo with the rest of the class tonight.

About every other day I did my 1000-times rope-jumps, and if not a couple hundreds of sit-ups alternating with katate-suburi. So fitness-wise I can catch up with no problemo. Just that the level of my kendo isn't going anywhere due to the very irregular practices I've been to in recent weeks. I haven't been to either a Tues/ Sun squad for 2 months, got to think about it.

Everyone is rather attentive tonight as Tanaka-sensei announced (as we did the kihon without bogu) that this is the last practice with him and his wife. My 3-step/1-step kihon went alright, until it gets to the rensoku waza series. My right wrist does not allow me to cut dou on either kote-men-dou or kote-men-do-men. Recalling what Eda-sensei said about "No one is at their 100% in every shiai, so find a way to adapt to your whatever condition as quick as you can", I just happened to temporary cheat a bit by not rotating my right wrist. Since the shinai handle isn't oval-shaped like a katana, it looks alright. Just maybe not scoring in a real shinai.

It wasn't a busy night at all with only 8 people (!?) in the rotation, so comparatively kendo gets slightly more intense. Very rarely that we stayed for paired bogu practice for 45 mins non-stop. And we actually did some waza here. Like men-kaeshi-dou which kills my wrist again. Also other alternative renzoku waza combinations: kote-kote-men, kote-men-men, men(blocked)-dou, etc.

The ending 15 min of jikeiko time was pretty enough for the few who were in armour. I had a good bash with Mrs Tanaka. Eda-sensei at the side comment on my men-uchi being too small. At this kind of keiko with a significant level gap, just expect a couple of ending men-uchi. I was very tired and confused when I heard Mrs Tanaka said, "___...migi___... hidari___..." I always assume this is one of those "too much right hand" expression so I had to completely use my left hand and forget about the right. Only the last 2 men-uchi scored me a "very good" comment, and then we sunk in sonkyo, and finished the keiko.

After class Mrs Tanaka further explained about what she was about to tell me, in action. It turned out to be that I was literally running to the right after cutting (and not what I thought about too much right hand...) I should be going straight and slamming into the opponent. "Nikeja Dame" - don't run away. That's some Japanese I know, and the idea finally came across quite well.

I tried queuing for Tanaka-sensei but obviously we ran out of time. Little Utsunomiya Takumi-kun got the "special farewell treatment", you know, that kind of uchikomi that last forever ever ever ever ever ever... got told that it would be the last ippon, got pushed and fell over, got up and the rest of the people just kept on shouting "GANBATTE"... Oh what a scene. The 9-year-old was 200% exhausted when we gave him the round of applause (probably because we'll never last that long). His eyes were still in tears when we waited for the seiza call. I just turned around and gave him my 2 thumbs up.

Tanaka-sensei gave his 10-min farewell speech while we were in seiza (awww). Basically it's about how he enjoys teaching in a dojo that worked a lot on kihon, correctness of posture and such. And he went on and said the importance of listening, lasting a practice, and always get one more ippon. "It's that "one last Ippon" that build you up little by little every single time you go for it. If you give that one up then you'll never improve. Japan is a militaristic (?) society in which everyone has to discipline themselves. For those who just hang around not pushing themselves, their sensei had already given up on them... Hope you can make use of this concept both in and outside of the dojo." That was translated by David and he did his job well. For some reason, I found the last few lines apply to my current situation really well (...wonder why all the sensei is picking on me yeah?)

"Take care, Sensei." My last line to Mr Tanaka.

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