This year Ozawa Sensei came again to Taiwan for a few days. Again this year, Takano Sensei and Fukui Sensei (both 7th Dan) came with him. It was his first time in Taiwan after obtaining the 8th Dan, and was invited to give a seminar aimed at kendo instructors and senior students at university kendo clubs and alike. It was different from the past two years when he came just to visit different dojos and practised, this year he actually instructed, and taught A LOT -- more than what I have ever seen him talking in such a short time.
The seminar ran for two days with many 4-5th Dan kendoka attending.
Warm-up and Kihon
Ozawa Sensei started with some exercised for warming up, like taking large leaps forwards and backwards while maintaining the body balance. This strengthens the leg muscles.
Then he explained some kihon. Kirikaeshi and men-uchi. Because most of the participants are seasoned kendoka, he didn't say too much about them. Only that there are two types of pace for the kirikaeshi: For beginners the cuts should be clear and speed is less important, and for advanced, the cuts will be fast and continuous. Later during lunch, while he answered people's questions, he said that there are three types of receiving the sayu-men cuts for the motodachi:
- Holding the shinai straight up vertical. This is the normal way.
- Cutting against the kakarite's shinai while he cuts. This is for against stronger kenshis whose cuts are powerful, or when you want him/her to make powerful cuts.
- Be flexible with the shinai. This is for receiving cuts from children, women or less powerful kenshis.
After some basic cuts when we were ready for some more advanced stuffs, we started practising oji-waza. Ozawa Sensei explained some techniques:
- Men-nuki-do: Seme. When the opponent just raises his shinai to attack men, raise the shinai to strike do while quickly stepping to the right. The step to the side needs not to be big, but the timing is critical. The body should stay up-right and should not bend.
- Men-suriage-men: Use the middle part of the shinai to deflect the opponent's shinai in an upward sliding motion, then immediately strike down.
- Men-debana-kote: The critical point is to take the opponent's centerline before he launches his attack. In this way, his shinai naturally moves to his left side to expose his kote. If the opponent takes the centerline, then you must take it back. Otherwise, the kote is hard to hit.
We also practised kata, but I won't write the details here.
- I am truly grateful that the senseis took special attention to my performance. Whether kihon or kata, the senseis asked me either to demonstrate in front of the others or watch critically. While I was doing suburi, he also watched to check if I was doing it correctly.
- The small men cut is not different from the big cut, except only that the shinai is not raised as high. The rest of motion, raising the arms and cutting down are all identical. He said it's bad to extend the arms and do an upward arc movement. However, I know some senseis specifically teach this way. Well, choose whatever suits you I guess. But I stick to whatever Ozawa sensei says. Unless I become as good as him someday (maybe it will never happen).
- During the only one jigeiko that I managed to have with Ozawa sensei, I took time to seme. Although my performance was poor, especially my lower body was too tired to follow up, it was different from before when I more or less struck relentlessly.
- Takano Sensei said that he understood my will to become stronger, but in jigeiko I should not bend or dodge, otherwise, I would never improve.
- During the dinner on day 1, Ozawa sensei said my upper body became stronger and broader compared to before. He jokingly said that I was so thin that wind can just blew me away, haha. However, my legs are not strong enough. He said that I should strengthen them by doing the exercises he taught me.
- I told Ozawa Sensei that I want to be strong at shiai when I'm still young, and asked him how to prepare for shiais. He only said, " Never give up!"
- After Sensei when back to Japan, he wrote me and said that I must now try to use wazas learned in jigeikos. I will try my best!! See you next year!!
(I've become quite busy in the past few weeks, so finding anytime to write blog has been difficult. Sorry for not writing it in a style more pleasurable for reading!)