This training started with a shinai check followed by a warming-up that included running a few laps and side-stepping exercises around the hall. Then just before the kendoka had to put on their men, as a follow up on the tenugui explanation of last training, Heeren-sensei asked a couple of kendoka if they knew the meaning of their tenugui to illustrate the importance of the proverbs that are usually written on them.
Then it was onto kihon, which started out with regular men, followed by seme-men and then a yakusoku-geiko where the object was to hit men 3 times in quick succession. The exercises were separated by kirikaeshi.
Some points for seme-men:
- Step in far enough, this seems to be quite difficult since many kendoka thought you have to take one slide-step but you can make more if that is not enough. See the next point.
- Take as many slide-steps as required to get your kensen above your opponent’s kote. If you try to take one big step you usually won’t end up in the desired position. This will cause you to having to leap too far, or you will simply fall short before striking your opponents men, or hitting their men-gane. There are exercises where you have to make men from too-maai (as they like to train in Korea) but this was not the exercise at this moment.
- Try to do the men fast. This time, instead of waiting between your seme and your attack, you make it one continuous movement where you step in to the required distance and immediately go for the attack. In order to make this work your footwork has to be correct so as not to fall short on your fumikomi and your actual attack on the men. Heeren-sensei made a point of this by stepping backwards so your maai became even larger, so you were forced to step in further and more often.
The yakusoku-geiko was a good opportunity to train turning around properly since the exercise had to be conducted as fast as one could and ideally using a single breath.
Some points for the 3 x men yakusoku-geiko:
- Use a single breath in order to prolong your concentration without breaking it. This is also good for improving one’s stamina.
- To turn around properly:
- bring the tsuba to your mouth (like you’re going to drink from it as if it were a cup of tea)
- turn on the ball of your right foot
- pull your hips around to spin around quicker
- finish your movement by bringing your shinai towards your opponent
- end up in a correct chuudan position at the same time as you plant your left foot on the floor with the correct spacing as per a proper chuudan stance.
After the yakusoku-geiko there was free jigeiko which ended with another kirikaeshi as a cooling down.
At the end of the training there was praise for those who participated in the Fumetsu Cup. Especially Davin received compliments for his use of the seme-men technique during the tournament. Even though the seme-men technique has only been taught to him during these few short weeks since the season has started, the effectiveness of the technique was proven as he was able to score several clean men hits with it during his very first tournament.