Friday, January 27, 2006

45 Minutes

There's this unexpected traffic jam around the Chinese New Year market in Victoria Park, causing serious delay on my bus journey. It was 8.15pm when I stepped into the dojo floor, and I joined in at the kirikaeshi rounds.

When I got fully warmed-up, there were only 20 mins or so left. That exercise of "Finding chushin -> Hit Men" really got me into the game. I think I did some good solid cuts with loud fumikomi, which kinda compensated that extra 1/2 hour I spent in the traffic jam visualizing kendo. Even though I had about 30 mins of exercise every day, I haven't been in the dojo for 2 weeks, so it's feels great being able to swing the stick again.

...The chushin thing got me think of Sumi-sensei and what he talked about earlier, about being able to do seme without your shinai pointing at your opponent's throat/eye/centre/etc. But so far I can only see an opening by getting and dominating the chushin... So what sensei said is quite far ahead, honestly.

Only did 3 jikeiko at the ending minutes with some kohai girls. I wonder why I repeated told the 2 girls that their kamae is off-centre. With them standing like that, I found out I can actually jump one massive step and hit men outside of issoku-itto, and without shinai touching.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Total Suckage!!

With my bogu bag packed and standing right in front of the door, at 9am this morning, I decided not to go to squad's shiai practice this Sun morning (with the local Japanese). For the entire week I've been sneezing, blowing my nose, folding tissues into buckets of won-ton... I've already taken the last 2 days off "work" and thought I catch up a little on that now!

Kendo rule no. 1 = stay healthy.

P.S. I've been back in Hong Kong for a year now... Not progressing much in many aspects of life, but did learn a lot about myself.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Squad #19: Move it

Althought some are the familiar faces, it feels like there's a 2nd team attending the squad on a Tues. I think we got about 14 people tonight, plus the sensei(s) from other dojo, so the space actually looks more filled up than on a Sun.

With Kishikawa-sensei joining into the suburi warm-up rounds, we get more haya-suburi variation. While turning my head observing how sensei does it, my footwork is all messed up from the 100th onwards... At the last 50 normal ones, I clearly remember closing my eyes, jumping almost on the spot. I just keep counting 1-2-3-4 and swing - a very strange moment in life where there is nothing I can think of (no mind, eh?)...

On to the strings of renzoku-waza (forward and back), I notice how bad my judgement of striking distance is ...especially on the backward ones (can't seem to combine renzoku with hiki-waza)... But my left leg is literally shaking by itself at chudan, probably due to the low level of blood sugar... Might need to invest on some isotonic drinks (or maybe a meal) before the keiko starts.

"If I dropped out now, there would be an odd person out, and that person cannot practice..." I keep telling myself to last a little bit more before I would fall over. I guess that's what I won't be considering if this weren't the squad.

Thank god for this only lasts 45 mins, and the next thing up was shiai-keiko. Different pairs get dragged out while the rest of us take a breather. At the 3rd round I was up against Eda-sensei (!). No one gets ippon for about 2 minutes, but I feel that we were using almost the same strategy from tsuba-zeriai (like, cutting the same target at the same timing...) But Eda-sensei pressured a lot on me which makes her on the dominant side 70% of the time.

The area is then splited into a jikeiko side, and a shiai-keiko on the other. 3 courts (1 shinpan each) at a time. The scene reminds me of the UK squad shiai league I had more than a year ago.

... And I don't even remember when's the last time I fought in a shiai setting..????

Eda-sensei finds me for a rematch. She's really doing the "move around" footwork which causes a lot of confusion in my head and also I am so not sure when she's coming... I only got a late men after she missed a de-gote. But she got a men before that and also another de-gote. Result - 2:1

Kishikawa-sensei also joins into the shiai-keiko side. When it's my turn, I *always* move out of fear because he keeps moving (with his feet, and also his shinai). I didn't lose on shodachi (unlike some kohai) but still it's tobikomi-men and a de-gote for him. The de-gote was the type that feels like a tap but damn spot-on. Result- 2:0

It is exhausting so I stand there and observe for a while, before unwillingly taking my men off for a blow on the nose... There's this allergy I have which makes me go blow my nose ever so often (I missed Sun sneezing non-stop at home in the morning)... Then I am back on again, fighting Fok, who is a tall sempai and I was most definitely not in focus on this match. I have no idea why I wasn't moving in for a cut or something. Result- MM:0

I was standing at the wrong spot probably, and get asked to go against Kishikawa-sensei again. The sempai/shinpan got told not to count 2 of the ippon... and in the end no ippon was given, which makes the keiko last for aaaaaaaaages. On this second challenge I switched slightly back from the renzoku-waza we just did, to shiai mode. At least I have unsuccessfully attempted kote-men and tsuki... Just that most of the time K-sensei can just take a 1/2-inch step away from the cut, and my shinai just stratches his men-gane top, nodo-tare, mune, etc. It feels like the accomplishment of the day is being able to *touch* him with my shinai tip... If an ippon were counted on this one, the result will be 10:0 or something...

Back to the side I watched Sensei fights the other people. He does 4 smashing do-uchi at shodachi on some tall kohai, and the two-legs-up-jump men-uchi on another kohai who didn't move forward after cutting kote.

It still wasn't safe enough to going cheer-leading. Kishikawa sensei said, "Oi, Jenny!" and I was against him for the 3rd time... (why arent there people in the queue?)!!!

I am still trying things out with the renzoku-waza, which opens myself up with a heavy smack on the right-dou at about 30 second. I quickly loses nihonme, by literally standing at issoku-itto-no-maai when sensei turns around... Yet another case of bad maai. Result - 2:0

Post keiko review:-
1) More koshi...
2) Shiai is the sport part of kendo and we need to score on the opponent with any possible strategy. Being flexible with footwork and wrists is one of the things that makes a player slightly more unpredictable.

At 2am with tensed up shoulders, I still feel rather excited. One of the good things about being a freelancer is that, I don't need to wake up early!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Show Off Stuff...

So from now all the way to the future 3 years, I'm a certified first-aider. Whoo-hoo!!

Also today I secured another freelance design project, and it kinda balanced out my "income" for this month. Since I don't have to work full-time in an office, I'll probably go to keiko as often as I can, and should be quite up for the Asian Tournament coming up.

Uhmm that accidental background of the photo above with my Nihongo textbook, reminds me of my next test 2 days after the tournament... argh!!

As I got this first month of 2006 sorted, it seems to be a good start for the year. Finally good luck is coming to me!


For the troublesome Mr Anonymous, here's the other side of the coin. Are you not satisfied???

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Squad #18: A New Beginning

Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu!

Hatsukeiko on the first day of 2006 - also the first squad training I headed for after having a 4-month break.

Arrived a lot earlier to stretch because I woke up 8.15am sharp, and I forgot whether the squad starts from 10 or 10.30am... (better be early than late). So I was watching a little bit outside the dojo. There were 2 of the Furuse kids from my dojo who went into the 9.30am keiko, probably because their parents (who were also watching from the outside) had no better plans for the New Year..!!

At 10.30am we got a relatively good show of 10 people, only that it's a bit lonely for me as I was the only girl, and got paired up with one of the twins from Yu-sensei's dojo, who's actually quite tall.

We started in a circle with various suburi and the well-expected 200 hayasuburi. My footwork went completely crap after 120 and then I was only counting even numbers at the last 30... Luckily no one got picked on and we didn't have to repeat that again..!

With men on we then used the full length of the dojo (just a little bit longer than the length of a
shiaijo) to do various kihon and waza. A lot of the previous teachings of Sumi and Furukawa sensei was applied here. It was just slightly advanced practice that I've seen in my own dojo, only that the rest of the fellow squad were following much better. We also did various renzoku waza that required a lot of footwork and flexible wrists.

Towards the end of the waza keiko, we've ai-uchi waza running which noised up the dojo a little bit more, and also a string of yakusoku uchikomi.

There weren't too many sensei staying... so the queuing format was dropped, and we got mawari-keiko against 4 sensei instead! It's quite interesting that I could give all I had in that 2 mins of keiko, took some good breath in another line for 2mins, and go back in again for 2 mins. Apart from being quite out of breath, I also found myself going back from tsubazeriai to issoku-itto... while I should be at Toi-maai to keep away from the danger of being hit!!

After fighting all 4 sensei, the squad training finished with everyone doing the ending kirikaeshi and stuff.

Kishikawa-sensei was having a flu (him?!) so he was watching everyone from the side and giving advice with no bogu on. According to him, I am still having a bad grip (not twisting in and not flexible enough...), tooo tense, not enough lower body power, etc. etc. etc.... yeah the same old story I have been hearing in the recent months. Is that a sign of having no improvement...?

But when being asked how was today's keiko... I said I was surprised I can still follow ok (not saying that being out of squad training for so long. Some said it's either me not being serious enough (?!) or my physical condition hasn't gone bad, which is weird since I've also cut down on the exercise at home... Anyhow - at gathering lunch when people got asked about their goal this year, I expressed the unstable work condition I am having now - and it'll be more than satisfying if I can keep showing up at the squad every now and then, until the end of the year for the WKC.

... Those sensei spent quite a lot of their lunchtime calling Japan, saying happy new year to all the Japanese sensei who have visited the city before (must have heard "Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu!" more than 10 times in a roll sitting just next to Eda-sensei...!). Sounds like there's gonna be 8th Dan sensei visiting us in Feb, Mar, Apr and May... With the competitions and everything else running, this is definately going to be a very busy kendo year.