Sensitivity

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Great news, we now have a dojo! Even greater news is that we have begun practicing there beginning Saturday of last week! How thrilled we were to finally be able to slide on wooden floors; to have plenty of keiko space; to have locker rooms to keep our personal stuff in, and to have shower rooms in case we want a good after–keiko shower.  Best of all, fumikomi is wonderful! Our floor is ‘soft’ enough for it and gives us that nice stamping sound and bounce.

So last Saturday we went through a great deal of cleaning first before we began practice. This involves transferring our locker and equipment from the old building to the new building, air–drying our bogu stock, and mopping the floor. Traditional souji was too slippery for us, so we mopped the floor instead. By the time we started warm–ups, we were already exhausted!

…aaaand because I was slightly sick (coughing and blowing my nose), I felt I could no longer continue with jigeiko, and so I resorted to being the club’s photographer, recording our first ever keiko in our new dojo.

When I did do jigeiko the next day (Sunday), I found out too late that it was a bad idea. When I got hit on the men, I could feel the strikes vibrate in my face, particularly the nasal area, and the parietal lobe of my skull hurt. But I did not regret  my decision. After keiko, although massively knackered, I felt good (physically).

Also, Y–sensei finally gave me a damn good katatezuki! I was impressed because his strike was on the mark and he gave me that murderous zanshin that says, “I just killed you. Cleanly.”

I know he’s been frustrated with me that day because I was performing very poorly (because I wasn’t feeling good myself), and he was showing me through keiko how I should have been doing things. It was really tough (the first few minutes of jigeiko. I even fell) and he didn’t go easy on me until he saw that I was really spent, was really having trouble doing my best kendo, and so he made visible openings for me to hit until I gave him a good men.

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I am grateful though for the tough way he teaches me, and I’m glad I recorded it on video because I needed that lesson and now I can review it and learn from it.

Now because he has been tsuki–ing me a lot, which has been the constant source of my trepidation when being up against him, J–sensei noticed something last night about my reaction when I was sparring with Mr. B.

Mr. B went for tsuki but missed, his shinai point ending up in my keiko–gi sleeve instead. The thing is, I didn’t flinch. I just stood my ground. So J–sensei remarked:

“You seem to getting a sensitivity for your distance now. I think you can tell tsuki was coming and he missed by this much. You’re getting  sense of it, aren’t you?”

So last night, he taught me/trained me to focus on just “feeling the shinai;” getting a sense of my partner’s tenouchi (grip) and using his strength to my advantage, so that I am not constantly trying to kill the sword with osae, noru or harai techniques (which I often fail miserably at, unfortunately). His drill involves him just keeping a steady kamae (stance) pointing at my throat, and all I have to do is maintain contact with his shinai while he pressures forward and then attacking him the moment he is within my striking range by sliding my shinai to his (or something in that manner) and just getting a sense of where his shinai is going (for men or kote?) and using that ‘feeling’ to determine how to attack and/or defend.

I am also grateful to J–sensei for knowing what I need in my training and letting me practice it. This is why it is worth it to go to Tuesday night practice and miss one day’s class of Nihongo. J–sensei knows my kendo well and what I really need to work on. Y–sensei too. They’re the only ones who really monitors my progress and challenges me; help me level up.

I am really blessed to have them tirelessly teach me. I don’t mind so much anymore that I get a different/tougher treatment from them. If that’s the way I’ll improve, then tough love it is for me.

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