Monday, February 26, 2007

Last weeks training for the Nationals...

I turned up to training last wednesday unaware that it was to be a training session for the state teams; dan, women's and kyu combined. It was a very balmy night and I knew I wasn't up for the rigours of such intense training but I was definitely keen to do some training even if it was just the warm up. Toshio lead us through the motions and I was definitely feeling 'warm' by the end of it as the humidity was pretty high. The next part was to be about 30min. of jigeiko before seperating into the team training. I faced up for my first match but my shoulder wasn't quite ready yet and instantly started to give me grief so reluctantly I pulled out.

I spent about the next hour watching everyone playing and starting their team training. Of course, part of me was really frustrated at not being out there with my friends and angry that this one thing could be holding me back so much but sitting there watching did ultimately bring me some pleasure and that was in seeing how much many of my friends had improved in their kendo skills. It was great to see their hard work paying off.

There was one other thing that seemed apparent - and I don't say this as a criticism, just an observation of which I am also included - that it seemed that people were trying hard to win points with skill and timing but not so much with spirit. This is perhaps something that has been in my mind of late as I have been reading about jodan style and the need for a really strong spirit 'ki' but it also occured to me that it is not something that we really spend much time learning or working on. We do talk about it but I wonder if there are particular training practices that we can do to improve and focus this force?

Any thoughts?


Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I have finally passed my Shodan grading. What a great feeling.

It wasn't all smooth sailing though. There are two components to a kendo shodan grading. Jigeiko (free sparing) and kata. Going into jigeiko I thought this would be the easiest part of my grading. However, standing there in front of the judges on the day...I was particularly nervous and subsequently my muscles were extremely tight limiting my movement and making me feel heavy overall. My 1st grading partner came out firing leaving me flat footed. It was a real task to re compose myself, and get back to playing my natural aggressive game. But it was too late...i was stuck on the back foot, unable to get a clean cut to boost my showed with lack Kiai. The second round of Jigeiko was a little better, but more of the same.

I felt disappointed with my effort.

Then onto kata. This was my biggest worry, since I’m not a great kata lover and don't manage to get a lot of Kata practice in each week like some who are more enthusiastic about it. However, going into the Kata I found a spot of calm intensity, and managed to pull out a very reasonable display of kata skills. My weakest area had just become my strongest over night so it seemed.

On the day, I learnt Kendo, like many other sports and combative activities has a strong mental component which influences overall performance. I heard chess is a good way to pump up the grey matter....

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Jodan No Kamae - here I come...

Some of you will have noticed that I ahve been trying to play jigeiko in Jodan No Kamae...

Firstly, I want to say that I hope no one is offended by me taking this stance as a kyu grader, it actually has a practical reason behind it. With my injured shoulder it is virtually impossible for me to currently play jigeiko in chudan no kamae. While I can hold the stance, the moment I get a knock that pushes my right shoulder to the side or back it sends a crippling pain down my arm that literally makes it drop to my side. Since I still want to play some jigeiko I've started working on the Hidari Jodan no kamae as I can keep my right shoulder protected somewhat.

I also want to say that I have actually wanted to put some effort into learning this kamae for quite a long time as I am also left handed. It actually feels very natural for me. This doesn't make it easy but maybe a tiny bit 'easier' for me. During my convalescent period when I couldn't play any kendo for 4 months I could at least swing a shinai with my left arm so I feel like I have been preparing for a serious effort at playing in jodan.

I most definitely am not giving up on chudan and will do all the routine training in chudan happily but when it comes to jigeiko I want to turn my current disability into an opportunity to work hard on the jodan no kamae and hopefully reach a level of skill and control to make me a competative opponent that you will enjoy playing with.

I know I'm going to be crap at it for a while so I apologize in advance for some of the sloppy kendo I will be dishing out over the next few months when playing jigeiko and I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone can give me.

Any idea of some good training techniques I can try at home?