Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Blasting off

It's been a while since my last post - I've been lazy.... sorry. But due to my flight tonight, I won't really be able to post up nice detailed notes, till... (heh heh) next week.


in the meantime, here are some main pointers I've been given over the past 2 weeks.

1) follow through with kiai
2) relax shoulders
3) soft hands (grip)
4) dont stop if cut misses/is blocked (in geiko), keep on moving into the person
5) use the back
6) keep elbows close in, but rounded
7) raise up kamae

Hong Kong tomorrow... I'm pretty excited! Am I all ready for it? Sure I am. But I suppose I've done all I can, so here's to hoping I'll be able to play my best over there. Ready or not, here we go!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Notes from Picton

These are mainly points which Rixon sensei pointed out during the grading seminar on saturday. They were basically bits of basic knowledge, but i still found them all extremely helpful. He sure gave a lot of feedback - which i'm very grateful for. I think all the tips given were the main reason i got my grade on sunday, for that he has my eternal gratitude!

(EDIT: I'm not totally sure if i have all my facts straight... so any corrections are welcome!)



The first and last impressions are the most important - they leave the greatest impact on judgment of your form. So the first and last men cut must be done well. Even if you blotch up one, do your best to get the other right.

For the first men - taiatari is essential and is an integral part of kirikaeshi, although Sano sensei seems to say otherwise. To do this well, do not push your arms up or collapse them back into your body. After cutting the motodachi, just extend out your arms horizontally as you would if carrying through. When you have taken a few steps into the motodachi, STOP! Dont try to push out with your arms or charge down the motodachi, the forwards motion of the cut and your body should be sufficient taiatari.

Also when doing the sayumen, do not swing the shinai around from the side of the head. The target is the temple of the motodachi, not the ears. So do not think so much about cutting to the side, rather think of cutting the men except slightly angled.

For kiai - dont hold back, let it all out. He actually came up to me and told me that i tend to cut my kiai, which is true. When i'm really fired up, i know my kiai is stronger and more let out - but otherwise, i tend to cut it short. So i'll have to put conscious effort in when kiai-ing. He also said in general that we should not let out kiai die off. Rather, end on strong note. So, aim for MEEEEEEEEEEEEN! as opposed to MEEEEEEEEeeeen! or MEN!... if you get my meaning.


Dont step back before receiving the taiatari - so dont be afraid of being run over. Be strong and stand firm! Once they have come close, take a few steps back so that you are just close enough for them to do sayumen. Distance is very important here - you should not step too close that they cannot make a good cut or too far so that they cannot reach. Making the right distance is your responsibility.

As for receiving the side cuts, dont hold up the shinai too high such that the tsuba is by your head. Instead, bring it down such that your hands are roughly chest-height. And dont just hold the shinai in position - receive their cuts. Rick Kingsland used to say that the motion of your shinai should almost be as if pushing down on each side, and tighten/squeeze your grip when the shinai impact on each other. Also, dont try to knock their shinai away as they cut. That should not be the intention when doing kirikaeshi.

Kihon Men

When doing this or even any kind of kihon waza, the lift-up-arms-then-launch-to-cut method is not sufficient if you are aiming for yonkyu or above. Rather, try to raise the arms and launch off at the same time. I found this tip very useful.

At training on monday night while doing kihon men, i did a lift-up-arms-then-launch-to-cut and i found it a very weak cut. Then i did the recommended method, and i felt it really was much better. Not only was the entire motion smoother, it was also much more... together - achieving better ki-ken-tai-ichi.

When lifting up the arms first before moving, i seem to tend to rely on my arms more than pushing forward with the entire body. So the cut becomes kinda flat, lacking that punch to it. And unfortunately, it's become a bit of a habit... after continuously doing it as a beginner. So now i'll just have to keep on practicing while consciously thinking about it until it becomes an unconscious motion.

Kihon Kote

After making the cut, dont lift up/bounce arms too high. During grading, the panel will be watching to see if you cut the right part of the kote, and if you bounce up your arms too high it's hard for the panel to see whether you have done a good cut unless they are looking intently at you. So to make it easier for the panel and for yourself - just raise the shinai up and slightly to the left just enough to avoid skewering the motodachi. (EDIT: Actually, now that i think back about this, i'm not too sure what Rixon sensei meant.)

The tendency to lean over while cutting comes from insufficient pushing forwards of the body. This basically being the counteraction of the body(forward) versus the lifting up of arms(backwards). So remember to push forward with entire body, this coming from moving the hips and a good push with the left calf as opposed to just cutting with the arms.

Kihon Doh

Dont make the cut while already moving to the side past the motodachi. It's too avoidant and the tendency will be to smack the front of the doh, as opposed to cutting the side. Rather, cut while moving forwards into the motodachi and extend your arms while cutting. As Sano sensei always stresses, the doh is roughly the same distance from you as the men, so hitting distance should be the same - dont try to snake in closer and make up by pulling your arms closer to you. Extend! Previous advice given by Payne sensei was to use the twisting motion of the wrists to get a good side cut - with the shinai cutting at a 45ยบ angle, not just smacking horizontally.


This should be just the combination of all the above waza, plus the combined variants. Dont rush into it - watch for the openings being made, and be prepared to do double or triple cuts. Practice makes perfect, and regular practice of this will make your execution of it smoother.


Small cuts rather than kihon will be more effective, and knocking aside of the motodachi's shinai is generally necessary or else you may impale yourself. The idea is to make openings for yourself, so really go for it!

Hm, i think that's all of it... least, of what i can remember...

Follow the leader...

Yeah yeah... i know that's basically what i'm doing - another person with another kendo blog...

But now that i'm seriously thinking of
making and reviewing notes after each training session, posting them all on lj just doesnt seem to work. So i present, the latest kendo blog... and hopefully it wont be just meaningless posts.


Something i really love, and yet it's also something that can throw me into a terrible depression. A bit of a love and hate relationship i suppose...

I admit that for the past 2 years, i have been taking it easy. Sure i was serious about kendo... in a way, but i wasnt that serious about it. I wasnt really thinking about what i was doing - i was just doing it, almost aimlessly. And now that i think back, it was quite a waste of those 2 years.

But better late than never, and my new resolution is
now to really practise kendo. No more playing. I can choose to take kendo as either just a hobby, or i can really take it seriously. And i choose the latter. I want to find my own kendo - something that i can show and not be ashamed of.

So here goes to a new kendo career!
And who knows, in improving my kendo i might improve myself...