This is a blog that I started in April 2006, just after I first put on my bogu (kendo armour). It collects the advices given by more experienced kendo practitioners as well as those from my own experiences. Both technical and the mental aspects of kendo are written in the blog. I hope someone will find them useful or interesting at least!
The title is the conclusion from my competition at the end of March. Our team didn't advance into the finals. And I won only 1 match. The points I lost was by the total lack of maai, and the seme was not strong enough. I was rushing to attack. However, the performance by my teammates in the single competitions were really good. Here I show some clips. The prizes were all won by my teammates. Click into the youtube link to see who the competitors are:
After a 3-weeks break from the kendo training, which felt like ages while the guilt was piling up, I went to the training last evening. Since my senpai asked me to participate the competition in two weeks, I really have to practise now.
In the pass 3 weeks, I was busy with my own outside-of-work project, and also took the chance to fix my neck-shoulder problem with some physiotherapy and acupuncture.
In the training yesterday, my body was drained quickly. However, with a couple of more trainings I should be able to get back in shape.
The video below is a clip from two strong kendokas practising yesterday. Liang Senpai (the slimmer and steadier guy) is the new Taiwanese nation team member who is currently 5 dan. Another is a young 20 year old kenshi, Yasuraoka, 3 dan, who studies aboard at the renowned Tsukaba (筑波) University for the kendo program, and now on vacation. He has a Japanese surname because he is half Japanese and half Taiwanese.
After almost two weeks of break due to the Chinese New Year holidays, I returned to the dojo last night. It was good to exercise having eaten so much!!! (CNY is somewhat like the X'mas for the Chinese people.)
I've been more sure of my direction in kendo since the long day of matches at the Taiwan national team selection in December last year. Now I pay more attention to:
The distance between my left and right feet in kamae.
Making slightly larger and quick strikes, using the wrist power, coming mainly from the left hand.
Striking at the right timing.
Complete zanshin after the strike.
The training turned out to be really good. A few good men strikes made the day!
Ok, so, I went for the nation team member selection on last Saturday, a tough day it was! In total, 65 male and 35 female candidates from all over the island took part in the selection. We were divided into 4 pools, meaning that each team has 16 people, and each of us had to fight 15 matches, whether you advance into the next stage or not.
The top from each pool will be selected as the team member, and the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th from each pool advance to the next round. In the end, 7 are selected as the first players and 3 are selected as the backup players.
The large number of participates meant that we had to fight for 7 hours. It was absolutely exhausting, both physically and mentally. I started out performing badly in my first 3 matches or so. My reaction and movement were slow. It's like I hadn't woken up yet. And it gradually got better.
Everyone fought differently, so I had to adjust my strategy for different opponents. I definitely lost far more matches than I should have, however, being able to perform wazas like kote-uchiotoshi-men a couple of times made me feel good.
My thoughts for the day are:
Fighting spirit is very very important. I found the best way to get it out of me is to regard every opponent as a strong a respectable player. This way, my mind become sharp, as well as my movement. Because I found that my performance was much better against people whom I thought were stronger than me.
My kote-men should be faster. This lies on my footwork. So I have to improve this during training.
Sometimes I raise my kensen before striking men. DONT DO THIS.
Relax my body more.
Keep my foot close to each other.
Be careful of my zanshin. Very often I let my men open after striking kote, and also not separating myself far enough from the opponent.
Be careful when the opponent is at the close range, and also do not let go of chances to attack.
The below were two matches. I'll let the action speak for itself!
(I'm the white on in the first video, and red in the second.)
First of all, let me wish everyone a Happy and Successful New Year!!!
I had done so much in 2011 - making a lot of new friends, founding a rotary club, starting a new blog, finding a new direction in career, while maintaining regular kendo practices. Sure, I cannot say that I achieved a great deal in kendo last year, but overcoming obstacles and attending practices required a lot of self-motivation in my circumstances. I am glad that I was able to do it.
My kendo level has gone from kihon-only style to a style involving more wazas. Putting pressure and creating "false openings" to lure the opponent in striking. This requires very good timing and attention on the maai, as well as a full concentration.
However, I still need to make more effort on my practising kihon and suburi at home. My body condition has declined due to the long commuting everyday, hopefully I will be able to switch my job later this year to somewhere closer to home.
Ozawa Sensei visited in December as usual. I told him that I kept loosing in competitions in recent times, and I haven't been able to overcome this problem. And the thing is, sometimes I do not know what the problem is, that my performance in competitions is so much worse than in the normal practices.
He told me that, if only I give out 50% of my performance in practices, I would win. And the most important is to keep the fighting spirit high, and never give up.
He also said that the kendo in keiko, competition and examinations are the same. I should not do differently. I should always keep this in mind.
Below is a clip between Ozawa Sensei and Tokura Sensei (7th Dan, former national team coach of China)