This summary is for the morning session in Almere.
Today started with a pleasant surprise: Hillen has returned to join Loyer-sensei and Kris-fukushou in teaching us. We also had a lovely, large group of 21 today with two fresh faces and four guys still working their way to wearing a uniform. With eight or nine guys in bogu it might not be much, but for Almere that’s a decent show :)
After kata practice and warming up we quickly proceeded with kihon practice. Loyer-sensei took the newbies aside for the basics, while the beginners practiced men, kote-men and kote-men-do on motodachi in bogu. It gives me great pleasure to see that, in mawari geiko, the fundamentals of reiho are now falling into place. Beginners and advanced folks alike take the apropriate approach: bow (onegai shimasu), step into kamae, do your exercise, back into kamae, sheathe your shinai and step back, bow, then bow again when everybody’s done (arigatou gozaimashita) and kotai towards the next partner.
The beginners then joined Ton-sensei with the newbies for further kihon training, while those in bogu proceeded with waza. Chiisai kote-men, kote kote-men, men debana-kote, men hiki-men ai-men and men kaeshi-do. Each of these exercises was performed two or three times and in between were one-minute rounds of jigeiko to further practice.
In all these exercises, Kris-fukushou reminded us of the importance of building tension, of proper footwork and of feeling the proper distance and chance to make your strike. Try to use different approaches in stepping in: sometimes edge your way in sneakily, sometimes boldly step and strike. In debana-kote don’t simply step aside, but first step in when striking; then move aside. In both debana-kote and hiki-men keep your movements tiny, else you are simply too slow. With all these exercises it is imperative that motodachi give his best attack! Without a proper chiisai-men, you cannot practice a proper kaeshi-do! So don’t just try and whack something, make it your best strike!
Class was closed with three rounds of uchikomi geiko (third round was kakari geiko for those in bogu). Everyone was pitted against Kris-fukushou, Hillen-sensei, Raoul-sempai and Charl-sempai.
At the end of class all three teachers had some closing remarks.
- Ton-sensei was amazed by how winded and tired a lot of people seemed in the last rounds of uchikomi geiko. Class wasn’t too heavy and people didn’t seem to be sweating too much. So why was everybody acting so tired? He also remarked that everybody’s footwork went to pieces during these rounds.
- Hillen-sensei remarked how much his wrist and head were hurting: a lot of people are striking with strength instead of speed. You shouldn’t be acting like lumberjacks! Snapping and striking, instead of slamming and shoving.
- He also thought that people were under the impression that uchikomi geiko needs to be hurried, especially when they have to do it in one breath. People started getting very sloppy! Instead, while it seems weird, you should be taking your time! By being more efficient and “clean”, you are wasting less strength and breath.
- Kris-fukushou agreed with Hillen: people are lumberjacking! People are relying on their right arms and using strength. Instead, one ought to be using the speed in their left wrist and lower arm to make the “snap”.