Sensei Says, “Renshū This” (Move With Your Koshi)

Tonight’s keiko was rather interesting. It felt different — like it was a mature kind of jigeiko I did tonight. What I meant by that is, often J-sensei would give me opportunities to hit him (which he still did this evening), but it was a step up from the usual. We were doing ai-men (striking men simultaneously) with more conviction, and we didn’t even talk about doing it. It just happened smoothly — he went for my men, I went for his as fast as I could. We watched each other’s movements. We seme (pressure opponent). We waited for the opportunities to strike. We went full speed. Well, that is, J-sensei wasn’t moving as slow as he usually would with us slowpokes. And you know what? He was rather pleased by our sparring that he blurted out, “That was a good jigeiko!”

I, too, thought — “Well that a rather big change!”

It was really nice. Well, more than nice… it was splendid!! This is exactly where I want to go in my kendo training. I want to be able to spar at this level (no, better than this level), with more strategizing/mind games and less mindless hitting (if not, at all).

Also, I now figured out how to strike from toma (far distance). It’s still a huge challenge to make that leap (and develop muscle memory) because it’s really not my range, but yes, I can do it and was surprised that I was hitting him with a third of the yuko-datotsu (correct part of the shinai)…and I am short! My legs can only take so far, but yes, nothing is impossible if you really set your mind into it and really trust your koshi (hips).

And speaking of hips, we probably dedicated about a full hour just running over the basics with special attention to the use of our koshi. We did suriashi (sliding footwork) across the squash court with shinais behind our hips to keep our bodies straight, then fumikomi (stamping) with shinais still behind us, then with a men cut, then with a fumikomi accompanying a men cut,… just moving forward with our hips so as not to compromise our posture.


I don’t normally look this way…

After keiko, we somehow ended up talking about being ‘scary’ during jigeiko and I mentioned to him how Y-sensei sometimes scare me and find it necessary to keep my distance from him (just as I relayed in the previous posts), especially with his very strong kamae (stance). I related how I often run into his shinai (just when I thought I had parried it) and end up inflicting tsuki upon my self with his shinai tip. Often, I don’t see it coming although I expect it to come. So he tells me:

“When someone tuski you in the dojo, you can tsuki them back. With Y-san, because his kamae is very strong, harai and osae will not be enough because his shinai tip naturally goes back center. So what you can do is ni-dan-san-dan-waza. Try to do kote-kote-men. But it’s good that he does tsuki on you… it will help you develop sensitivity for distance.”  

Well, it certainly kept my distance from Y-sensei, haha!

But it’s good to know these things. I shall try it.

I also spoke to a 6-dan and asked him about gyaku-dou (strike on the left side of the body) on a jodan player. He tells me that has never done it before and found no need to use it. He did give me the following advice:

“I think you have big risk to hit gyakudo for the player of joudan. I think you should hit left(right) kote, tuki, kaeshi men. Of course it depends on the type of joudan. When you seme to tuki, he downs his arms.Then  you get chance to hit his men. When you seme to kote, he pull up his arms. Then you get chance to hit his tsuki and dou.”

The video clip below shows me doing jigeiko with Y-sensei last January 2015 when I awfully did kendo with fear; I stepped back a lot, my strikes were poor, along with my posture and determination to attack, followed by a clip from last Saturday (October 2015), where I just flung myself forward without fear of being struck and with an attacking mind, regardless if I made the hit or not. Such a huge change, isn’t there?

A video posted by Onna Kenshi (@vjjoson) on


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