Sensei Says, “Renshū This…!”: OIKOMI-WAZA
Recently, one Japanese kenshi I’ve been following on Instagram left a message on my recent video clip and commended my oikomi-men. Being a big noob still in the practice of kendo, I went on to find out what oikomi was. It turns out that this is the opportunity to attack after your opponent does hiki-waza (backward attack) or the opportunity to attack the opponent after he/she passes through and is just turning around to face you.
Apparently, I already know this waza long before I knew some of the most basic ones; I was just unaware that it has a name. The thing is, this is one of the first things J-sensei taught me: he trained me to chase after the opponent as soon as his/her attack is done. This is because the opponent is most vulnerable during these times , which therefore makes for a good opportunity to attack.
This very same kenshi asked me a favor several months ago to paint his (and his teammates’) group portrait. I expressed my reluctance at first, but gave him my word that it will be done when I have a free time. Call it procrastination if you will, but I was trying to avoid doing it. Portraiture is not my forte and I feel very inadequate to take on the task.
Anyway, Christmas-time came and there was no longer any excuses left not to do it. I had more time in my hands than I normally do, and for a gargantuan task like a portrait, I could use all the free time I can get.
When I started sketching and had already drawn 3 portraits on the foreground, I began to doubt myself and let the kenshi know the situation. I told him I wasn’t up to the challenge and that I was not confident about being able to finish it. He responded with a very lengthy reply — in Japanese!
I let the day go by without replying. When I attended my last Nihongo class before its school break, I asked one of the Japanese senseis there for help to read it. She tells me that the tone of the entire reply was very polite and very difficult, even for a native speaker of the language. What the content was basically saying is that, my drawing is sugoi and that it’s okay with him if the drawing was unfinished. He was just happy that I remembered my promise. He is very grateful for my even partaking of the task.
Anyway, I just finished the painting earlier and sent him a phone-camera shot of it and he immediately posted it on his FB. He asked me to sell it to him. I told him, I accept payment in kind — whether it’s a tsuba or a tenugui, so long as I can use it in my kendo practice. Wishful thinking – I hope he sends me a koban shinai, hihihihihihi.
Mai Akatsuki, the bogu craftsman I spoke about, who made me two menchigawas as Christmas gifts, was overjoyed to receive my painting of his cute little pug, Umetarou (named after his favorite Samurai and inspiration, Ryoma Umetarou) at work on a bogu in his workshop. He was so amused and happy of my little present, that he asked me for my measurements — he asked for my kote, dou, and shinai measurements!!!! *jaws dropped with a whopping bang on the floor*
I don’t know what it exactly means (since I don’t want to jump into crazy assumptions), but he said he wanted to make me “something.”
I can only hold my breath is wild anticipation of what that ‘something’ is.
The lady kenshi I spoke of previously (who made me two of her handmade shinai bags) had received my painting just before New Year’s Day. She was very amused and happy about my painting. It is unique, it is funny, and it somehow (according to her) fits the descriptions of her sons when they were younger. I had plenty of fun painting it too!
Crushie-sensei II (I’m afraid this is a different person from the previous one I spoke of.. actually there’s 3 of them, haha!) thinks I am at least 2-dan or 3-dan. Come think of it, Crushi-sensei I, too, also thought the same. Well, as much as this comment from them swells my heart with joy, I only really believed them today, when my sensei remarked that my kendo level is already 2-dan and that I must therefore show a much better kendo compared to the shodans I will be taking the exam with next month.
My mind literally reeled!!
I am 2-dan level!??!???!?!?
So what’s really been happening in the dojo all this time is that I am being trained to be 2-dan at shodan level! So I guess…, when I pass my shodan, I will be training at 3-dan level for my 2-dan exam and so on… .
It’s mind-boggling innit? Well, my mind is certainly ‘boggled’ by it all!