Today - after rushing home from the centre of town (new version of Photoshop + Illustrator + InDesign seminar... Great!) and going back to the opposite side of the harbour - adding to the heavy traffic jam 2 bus stops away from where I should get off and walk to the dojo, by the time I entered the dojo, people were already putting on their men and I completely missed the suburi/kihon parts.
[I also happened to left my shirt and trousers in the changing room one floor below the gym for 1 hour. Some adviced me to play the lottery because I managed to find it after the class - with my $$ all still there...!!]
Anyway, the bogu session started off with a line of people in bogu as motodachi, and standing opposite, the intermediates who got to hit the targets with suri-ashi. There's one odd person out, so I took that time and did some warming up. Was pretty stiff there - I haven't touched my shinai for a week.
Moving on to bogu-ed people only, we went thru the usual kirikaeshi, kihon - with suriashi and then fumikomi... The more exhausting one will be kote-men-do-men. Seem to find myself more balanced, but not fast enough (god, how the hell can I catch up with the Hokkaido boys...)
Tanaka-sensei had a sudden "surprise" for this session, and before moving on to jikeiko, we had about 6 rounds of 5-times-ai-men. We were told that it will let us understand more about our -utsu-maai. Also we'll use more of our waist-power to turn 180-degree, and run through much faster.
I told myself not to take a break today. It was only an hour for me already, and if I can't even last that, it means I am not enjoying kendo (and not just the situation). Now I know I didn't really dropped out, but I am just as borderline dangerous as the rest of the losers. Especially yesterday I had the worst 1000-rope-jumps in ages. I haven't done even once 100-non-stop, and I felt tired before reaching the 500th. I was so out of practice, and pretty much out of shape recently...
My first keiko partner was Takumi-kun (who is 9 and ...half my height...). Tanaka-sensei came over and wacked him over the head because he missed a couple of really good opportunities, and was dodging too much. But I also got nagged about "Jenny you should beat him up" in Japanese - or something similar. Well, Takumi really did a few sharp do-uchi which I was really impressed. I was trying to work on more of my kote-men and kote-dou, but still these waza weren't working as good in jikeiko. uHmm
...And then I had Mimura-san who is a teenager-beginner. I haven't had a keiko with people at that level for quite a while now, so it's been a refreshing feeling. (Since I am no longer responsible to teach beginners here, and loads of people were still at the non-bogu stage - only this month "Iris" bought her bogu, and she started at the beginning of the year...!!) As usual I wanted to be more encouraging, and I hoped the boy appreciates it.
The ending few minutes I had a short one with David, our dojo Japanese-Cantonese interpretor. He is a fresh nidan. Somehow I found the same problem of mine in him. Like, after hitting kote (and missed), both of us just stood there like idiots. That happened twice and I started to be more aware of my left foot and did a couple of spot-on kote-men. But seemingly my kote-men only worked on people who has no intention to go forward. Thats definately something I should investigate into more...
It's just a strange day today anyway. When I packed my bogu I pulled out my current shiai tenugui from Matsuoka senpai "Possiblity is endless (not sure how to translate)" in London. And then at the end of the class Eda-sensei, who came back from Singapore last weekend, told me that "Miss Matsuda said hello to you". When I bin my keikogi into the laundry basket, my name flashes into my eyes on the keikogi those Iaido people at Wakaba gave me as farewell present. They just all of a sudden gave me little warm treats, and reminds me I should try harder and enjoy the practice more. Thanks for all that, whoever is reading.