Summary of class, 29/09

This summary is for the afternoon session in Amstelveen.

After a regular warm-up, training started with an inspection of the shinai. Just like last Tuesday emphasis was placed on proper upkeep of especially your shinai so that you won’t cause injury with any splinters that might come off it.

Afterwards there was a shuugou during which Heeren-sensei explained the importance of courtesy during training. He felt that the kendoka were not showing enough respect towards each other, and especially towards those who rank higher.

  • When greeting an opponent of equal rank, a small bow is sufficient.
  • When greeting one of higher rank, especially a sensei, you should bow deeper than your opponent.
  • Bow whenever you finish an exercise to thank your training partner for that round “arigatou gozaimashita”, but also bow at the beginning, to ask for good guidance, or to wish for a good exercise “(yoroshiku) onegai shimasu”.
  • Conversely, the training always starts and ends with a kneeling bow, and with the same words (onegai shimasu for the beginning and arigatou gozaimashita for the end). Shiai and jigeiko also start with a type of bow called sonkyo.

Then it was on to kihon exercise. The points for this Saturday were roughly the same as last Tuesday’s training during which we focused on seme-men and feint kote-men. These exercises were alternated with kirikaeshi.

  • From maai, step all the way in until your kensen is on your opponent’s right kote. Hit men from there. The point is that your opponent will only see a small object coming towards them, causing them to react later than when they would be facing the entire edge of your shinai.
  • Make sure to pause for a split second between your seme and your actual attack.
  • The object of the seme is to take the center between you and your opponent. Control the center and you control the fight.
  • The mental requirements to be able to make this attack are courage and determination.
  • Since most kendoka are not very proficient yet, the exercise should be executed in a large fashion. This is the best way to develop the finer motions that are needed to make your shinai snap using your wrists. This will also automatically cause you to make better use of your left arm.

After the kihon there was uchi-komi, and kakari geiko for those kendoka who were going to participate in the Fumetsu Cup on Sunday. The kakarigeiko was supervised by Fukuyama-sensei, Herbold-sensei, Heeren-sensei and Tanida-san in that order.

The sensei all had a slightly different style of taking the kakarigeiko. Fukuyama-sensei tended to hit your shinai away and block your attacks. Herbold-sensei was more lenient in the way that he did not hold you back, but you had to continuously attack as much as you could, and the strikes had to be proper. Heeren-sensei would swing your shinai away from you if he could, often making you spin around the wrong way. Tanida-san was like fukuyama-sensei, except that by the time the Fumetsu-contestants had to do kakarigeiko with him they would be tired and were not able to conduct proper kendo anymore.

Points for kakarigeiko (and uchi-komi geiko):

  • Continue your attack regardless of your environment.
  • Do what attack you feel you should do.
  • Don’t give up.
  • You should have the same attacking attitude during shiai, meaning that you should have an incredibly alert mind, and a lot of kiai. It does not mean that you must always and continuously attack.

After the uchi-komi and kakarigeiko there was jigeiko.

  • Make sure your kendo is proper.
  • Practice what you learned during kihon.
  • And don’t forget to focus on courtesy as you have been told at the start of this training.

At the end of the training Heeren-sensei explained another part of etiquette on folding your tenugui before you do mokusou. He told the kendoka that one’s tenugui is not just some piece of cloth to wipe one’s sweat with. A tenugui often has something written on it, such as a proverb or some other sort of encouraging message. And if there’s nothing written on it, it probably has a meaning to the kendoka personally. Therefore you should not just pull your tenugui off of your head after you’ve taken off your men. But you should fold it properly and carefully place it back inside. This is also a part of heijoushin.

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