Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A word on 'Mind Frame'

Myself and a few other members have recently been talking about getting into the right mind frame when in Shiai. Though we are no experts, we have concluded the following...

1) Getting into the right mind frame is a difficult task
2) The right mind frame is very different from being in shigeiko

So just out of interest, here are a few of my thoughts about getting into the right 'mind frame' when your playing in a competition match.

- Don't think about winning or loosing. The rationale behind this 'for me' is that if you are worried about winning, then you are worried about loosing, and vica versa. By putting this mental pressure on yourself, you become hesitant, not willing to take risks for fear of loosing. Great kendo comes when you are actually playing kendo and not thinking about it...

- Before going into a match, it can help to visualise your best Kendo in your minds eye

- Remind yourself to be bursting with positive energy and engage your opponent (not in an aggressive violent way…but the more intellectually intense way…similar to poker or chess), if you are engaging and not the other way around than you have a chance to dictate the match

- Be confident in your training. We all have had great training, so remember where you have been and where you are now...there is no need to be extremely nervous or uptight...instead try to be excited that everyone is here to watch you play your best kendo. (You should feel nervous...just remind yourself its a positive feeling.)

So there are a few tips from 'my point of view' hopefully they might stir up some more discussion around the club on this topic :)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Fun in Melbourne

Well as most of you guys know, SKC did very well in Melbourne at the Mumieshi 3's competition. Actually it was the very first time a club from another state has been invited to attend the competition...so as you can imagine they were sad to see their trophy go. But while we are waiting for Chris to give me his photos from the actual kendo event...i'm going to talk about the social side of things.

After the seminar with Sumi sensei of Saturday, it was fare to say all the lads...Chris, Andrew, Mark, David and Myself...needed to unwind with a few beers back at the hotel.

After musing over a couple of cold ones back at the hotel, it was time to designate a driver (poor David) and head to St Kilda for a good meal and wine.

However, the antics started before the night even started...with our designated driver getting excited about the horse at the front of the hotel

With our logistics man Mr Hudson with the map we eventually found our way to St Kilda, where were met with hundreds on Bondi'esque' beautiful people. We stopped into a little trendy restaurant/club called the Vineyard for dinner. After dinner the wine and beer flowed as steadily as the conversations. As you can see, from the pics a good time was had by all.

After our big win at the competition...we went back to St Kilda to take in the sights and relax after a huge weekend, then it was back on the plane to Sydney...with our trophy

I think we need to remind ourselves that its not always about playing Kendo, but bonding together as part of a club and staying young at heart. Kendo is what I believe an impetus for human engagement

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Massive Blister

Over the last couple of weeks I was in so much pain. I had this massive throbbing pain in my right heel. Every time I went to do Fumakomi, I received this massive sharp pain travel through my body.

Anyway, it got so bad last Saturday I thought i better have look at my heel to see what’s going on. Too my surprise I had a massive blister hidden underneath the huge callous of my right heel. GROSS. I could see the blister trying to protrude out.

So I went and sterilised a pin...and starting digging. You wouldn't believe how much blood came out of my heel if I told you.

Anyway...come Monday night training, I was in full flight again, cutting with the confidence I lacked over the past couple of weeks.

Now I'm ready for the two tournaments this month!

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Samurai Trilogy

Hi folks, if you're Miyamoto Musashi fans then you might want to pick up the 3 DVD box set called: The Samurai Trilogy. I'd say it's something more for film buffs or fans as the 3 films were made between 1954 and 1956, but can I also say that the first episode won Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards and Toshiro Mifuni plays Miyamoto-san, he is arguably the biggest star of Japanese cinema and played other great roles as samurai in films like; The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Sugata Sanshiro.

It's more about his life journey and transformation from volatile tempestuous rogue to mature and philosophical craftsman, rather than a collection of fight scenes - although there are fight scenes of course - but I enjoyed it very much.

The one thing I did find a little unbelievable was that there were two women totally besotted by him. From what little I have read about Musashi apparently he didn't like to wash and rarely changed his clothes so I'm not sure that the ladies would have found him that appealing!

Anyway, I picked up a copy at JB Hi-Fi so if any of you are interested then check it out...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Don't get Left Behind!

Hi folks,
I got some great inspiration from Jaysons last few posts (this isn't nepotism is it?) and felt like sharing one little extra experience that I have gained over the past few weeks in relation to what Jayson said about men cuts...

Since my injury I haven't been able to lift my right hand above shoulder height. This makes pretty much every cut impossible in a kihon sense but what I have been able to do is still practice the footwork and movements using only my left hand without a shinai. The amazing thing about this is that it really brings home how important this side of the body is to doing a good solid cut. As an exercise I totally recommend it. It has made me so much more aware of the power needed from the back leg, keeping the body square as you follow through and pushing forward with the left hand. In concentrating on the 'whole' cut I think we can neglect what each side of the body is doing but by simply dropping the right hand I have discovered so much to work on with my left side that I'm confident will improve my cuts all round.

Give it a go and let me know what you think.

Happy kendo playing,


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

All is good...really!

I think this will have to be the last of this sort of posting I write cos' you're all going to think I'm a hypochondriac! ...Anyway, my physio treatment is going well, I've got this yellow rubber band that I have to do stretching exercises with and it seems to be working - just a little too slowly for my liking. The hard part has been trying to supplement my exercise to keep some degree of fitness happening. I've been jogging and trying to do footwork at home, doing cuts without a shinai and without lifting my arm above my shoulder but it's not quite the same. On saturday I came crashing down with the flu so that has stopped everything for a short while. Some would say it happened because of the changing season - I did have some pretty bad hayfever on friday - but I think it's simply the combination of not getting enough exercise at the moment and feeling a bit depressed about the whole lack of getting to do any kendo.

Don't get me wrong, most of the time I'm accepting of the situation and feel positive that all will come good again in the future, it's just that my regular kendo training was a great stabilizer in my life. It was a great way to escape the daily grind, sweat out a few frustrations, challenge myself, hopefully see a little improvement in myself and enjoy the camaraderie of being with like-minded souls sharing the challenges of kendo.

Now I spend too much time thinking about it and not doing it but I'm trying to channel my frustration into healing and am hopeful that I will get a clean bill of health from the physio soon and you can be guaranteed there will a smile on my face when I next step in the dojo that no amount of heavy men cuts or miss placed hiki do's will be able to erase!


Tips for Men cuts Part 1.

Well its time to get more active on this blog.

I have only just discovered Vivian’s blog...which is fantastic! Not to mention all the other great kendo blogs out there. We will be putting up links to them all very soon.

A lot of people have commented on my men in the past. So i thought it might be useful to post up a few training tips for men, i.e. the things i did when I first started.

The best way to improve your men cut is to practice Kihon men at home (if you have space). Pretend you are striking your opponent from a distance. Meaning you need to take a step in 1st, then cut men. Just to break it down, 1st slide your right foot forward then bring your left leg up and then immediately launch off for a kihon men cut as soon as you bring your left foot up. Move your feet as quickly as possible (start off slow if you are a beginner) to get your body moving as fast as it can. The key to a good men cut is getting the body moving. If none of this makes sense please grab me at training to explain further.

The following are a few details to muse over when practising this men cut from distance at home.

Body movement: A great men cut comes from tremendously strong body momentum. If you can get your 'whole' body moving from 0 to 100km (figuratively speaking!) in a split second you are half way there. However you need to train your body to do this. You want to feel like your body is part of the cut...not just your hands and Shinai.

Posture: You need to keep your body upright and straight throughout the entire men cut. This ensures your hips are travelling as fast as everything else, which translates into your whole body is moving forward, meaning you have a lot of power behind your cut and you will be more stable 'in flight'

Smooth Action: Make sure your men cut is smooth. This means raising and lowering your shinai at the same speed. A lot of people raise their shinai slower then they cut. You need to lift and lower your shinai in one sweeping quick movement.

Keep Kamae: When moving forward, keep your kamae for as long as possible to the point where you think 'If I don't cut now I’m going fumikomi without cutting men'. Doing this will make your men cut scarier and force your arms to move faster.

I'll be posting a few more tips on men cuts...stay tuned...

Also if anyone has tips on building a great Kote cut, I would love to hear them!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How jayson got started and why he is still 1st kyu after 9 years

I started playing kendo when I was just 16 years old at the University of Newcastle. There I met Don Miller (later I was told he was a renegade kendoka...but that is a story for someone else to tell) the sensei of the club.

We had the most magnificent dojo, Don had some friends at the university and had this dojo/dance hall especially built in conjunction with the multi million dollar sports and aquatic centre being built at the time for the university...we had wall to wall mirrors, springy smooth wooden floor boards and proper Japanese bogu room.

Sadly Don Miller left to Japan to teach English permanently when I was 17 and the club fell apart after only 6 months as the older students finished their degrees and moved on to find jobs. As the numbers dropped from about 25 reguler attendees to 5 or less, we got moved out of our fantastic purpose built dojo to the squash courts. I temporarily quit.

About 18 months later (now 18-19 years) returning to university as a 'proper' student, i noticed some kendo flyers on the uni notice board. So I went along to the new training session and Naohiki Shimada a third Dan uni student from Japan. He was a fantastically strong player with the best Men cut i have ever seen till this day. I wish he could have played with Okazaki or Kirby. I trained with Naohiki for about 24 months before he finished his business course and left back to Japan. Another sad loss for the Newcastle club.

I then played Kendo on and off for the next two years at the struggling University of Newcastle kendo club (many very un-important things happened during this time which are not worth mentioning here) and I was still grade less. I finished uni at 23 and made the move to Sydney to find a job.

When I came to Sydney...i was excited about finding a Kendo club to join. I was originally going to join the Macquarie University Club...but found the Sydney Kendo Club website more appealing. I called Doug and he gave me the training times. I don't really remember my first training at Willoughby (I have a bad memory), but I do remember Doug telling me that I played pretty good for someone who had never graded. It soon became apparent to me that grading is important.

So all in all...I have been exposed to kendo much longer than my grade suggests...however it has not all been quality time. I do thank Don Miller for teaching me the fundamentals of kendo and I thank Naohiki Shimada for teaching me how to cut men. However I can honestly say my greatest progression has been at the Sydney Kendo Club under the guidance of Payne sensei and Itakura sensei.

On this note I would just like to remind everyone to keep playing Kendo, don't give up (its much harder to get back into than you think) and make sure the training you do during the week counts.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Read it and weep!

Is the world conspiring against me? Or simply against me playing kendo?

Work situation reduced my playing time down from 3 nights to 1 and now a recent visit to the physio has dropped me to ZERO!!!!! At least for the next few weeks....

It all began back at the Founders Cup. I never noticed it over that weekend but over the following few weeks my right shoulder was sore, especially after playing. Like most of these things (and being a male) I assumed that it would go away and almost convinced myself that it had and then one morning I was being a silly bugger on my skateboard, slammed hard on the concrete on my shoulder, and the pain was back again. I gave it yet another week to improve but no luck. Finally, I missed my one night of training on monday as the shoulder was feeling pretty bad and I saw a sports physio on wednesday (thanks Vivian). The result?

I have a 'shoulder impingement'. The assumption is that I did some tendon damage (probably from having to play keikari-geiko with Jackson for my grading!) and this lead to swelling in the joint. So when I raise my arm the swelling pushes the bone out of its socket. What now?

At least a couple of weeks of no kendo, exercises, anti-inflammatory drugs, more visits to the physio and about a 6 to 8 week recovery. Bugger huh?

The lesson here? Act on an injury early to avoid a worse case scenario later, and count yourself lucky every time you have an opportunity to train. Do your stretching properly and think of poor clowns like me who will be looking at their watch at training times and thinking about you all training while I'm stuck at work or staring at the idiot box day dreaming of pulling my men on and facing off for some jigeiko with my friends. I hope it will happen one day soon.

Make the most of it,


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Russian Style has made its mark!

Monday night I finally got to play the infamous Russians. Well, to be honest, I got to play the same one twice but both jigeiko were excellent experiences and I learnt a lot from them. At the same time though, I became aware that it was just a fraction of what we could potentially learn with a steady flow of visitors like this.

Over the past few days I have also been thinking about what their training routines might be and if there is something in particular that we could take from their training practices. If anyone gets the chance to ask I would be greatly interested to know.

They are so fast and yet 'delicate' in the way they cut and move. I see some similarities with the korean style but also similarities to people like Yoshi-san. They have such an interesting style of their own. Do we have a style of our own? An SKC style? I don't know...I don't think so but I might be wrong. What do you think?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Life, Kendo and Omnipotence...

I started writing this just after the Founders Cup, saved it as a draft, erased it, and am now writing something completely different! That's life....

So what's in a title? Well, first of all, I said 'omnipotence' not 'impotence'! Althoug I guess I could say that I'm feeling a little impotent that I'm not omnipotent. Why? Because my life has had a bit of a turn-around in the past few weeks and it would really help if I could be omnipotent - everywhere at once!

I've now missed two weeks of kendo for a string of reasons. The first week I missed monday night because of work (finishing up a one year contract), wednesday night because a friend got us free tickets to the Australia v. Kuwait soccer match, saturday morning because one of my closest friends called from the USA just as I was leaving home. I turned up at the end of training for the AGM and came home with Andrew Tan's flu (don't worry, I'm not blaming you Andrew!) that has kept me out of training this past week. I've now changed jobs and my current hours will be wednesday and friday nights followed by saturday and sunday days!

Hence, the title. Sometimes when life meets kendo the only solution is to be in two places at once. If only! Hopefully, I'll be able to change my work times to get at least one of the SKC training days in, but it might take a few weeks. This dilemma has really made me appreciate the simple joy in being able to train at all. We can get hung up on what's happening at training and our desire for the 'perfect' training session and forget to relish the fact that we can train with some great friends and sincere sensei who want to see us do our best.

I am so looking forward to my next opportunity to train with everyone and it will take more than a volley of 'men' cuts to wipe the smile off my face.

Enjoy your training,


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Me in 3D?

I checked out the website - photo's are pretty average as far as photo's go but it might be fun although you need the 3D spec's and this style is a bit old fashioned nowadays. Having said that, if someone wants to do it I say go for it! We certainly need more photo's of SKC members to grace the website and this humble blog. Speaking of which, anyone out there with photo's send them in! Video's too and I'll try posting them.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

SKC - Getting in the Spotlight (Can Kendo be art?)

Well just got this email today from a 'Artist', who wants to turn Kendo into 3D art.

Pretty cool? or are we above this?

Check out the email below...

To whom it may concern,

My name is Leo Carol. I am a designer/photographer/animator.
3D photography, or stereophotography, is one of my areas of interest.

I am writing to you to invite you to consider a proposal to capture Kendo action in 3D photos at your school. I am sure KENDO would be a great subject for a 3D photography project. I could organise a photoshoot (without interfering with your normal activities or plan) during a training session and/or a special event (such as a competition, etc), and of course there would be no fees involved for the photoshoot. I shoot 3D photography for pleasure, not for profit.

3D photos are quite unique and stunning. The resulting images could serve as a graphic record of your club's activities (they can be printed, published online, or screened, and the archival value of the images is sure to increase with time).

Recent samples of my 3D photographic work are available at:



You will need a pair of 3D glasses to view them (red-cyan lenses). If you don't have 3D glasses, please let me know and I'll post you a pair.

I hope you are not too busy to give my proposal some consideration.

I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,Leo Carol

Friday, July 21, 2006

Launch of the Sydney Kendo Club blog 21st July 2006