This summary is for the afternoon session in Amstelveen.
In preparation of the upcoming national championships this training consisted of shiai kihon, enjingeiko and jigeiko. A lot was explained about what a shiai is like and what things to do and don’t.
Before the warming up there was another shinai check. The warming up itself was the same as always except that this time there also was a ki-ken-tai ichi exercise where the object was to first raise your shinai to joudan and then strike, slide forward and do kiai at the same time. This usually is an exercise that beginners do, but since the kendoka do not show proper ki-ken-tai ichi it is good to sometimes do this exercise with all the present kendoka.
Then it was on to kihon. In preparation for the championships the strikes delivered during kihon had to be real ippon strikes, i.e. striking to kill. The order of the exercises was as follows:
- Ookii men
- Ookii kote men
- Men as fast as possible
- Kote as fast as possible, using tai-atari as zanshin
- Ai-men. While doing Ai-waza, both should move ever so slightly to the side (centimeters) to make sure you can pass each other.
- Ai-kote, shidachi immediately does men afterwards. The motodachi must score an ippon on the kote.
After the kihon there was enjingeiko. The object of this exercise is to train maai and timing. Since the opponents are coming in from behind, there is only a small amount of time to get it right. The motodachi have to give the shidachi as little time as possible, but enough for the shidachi to conduct his techniques properly. The enjingeiko consisted of ai-men and ai-kote, shidachi men. Just like the last two exercises of the kihon.
Then it was on to jigeiko after which Heeren-sensei explained some things about shiai:
- The moment to strike is when your opponent is not in kamae. For instance, when he did some waza on you and he is passing you to turn around afterwards, the moment he is turning around he has several openings you can utilize to make a nice ippon.
- Be convincing in the way you conduct your kendo during a shiai. Make sure you stand out to the shimpan so they will pay more attention to what you are doing. If you have their attention, your opponent naturally does not, so if you do waza, the chance the shimpan will give you an ippon is greater. Heeren-sensei said you have to help the shimpan raise their flags for you. And this is easier if you basically show them you scored (through spirit and intensity) instead of just doing a proper technique and scoring.
- Do not celebrate your scoring. This is punishable by hansoku.
Heeren-sensei also explained a few things you should do right before and during a shiai:
- Stay relaxed. Don’t lose yourself in things happening around you that are not in your control. For example, don’t get flustered because the tournament officials have ordered a break right before your shiai. Let your opponent get worked up over it, but just make the best of it yourself. This is part of heijoushin and mushin.
- Take your time right before you have to step into the shiaijou. If you don’t feel ready yet you can still postpone it for a small amount of time to get ready. Step in when you are, the shimpan and your opponent will wait for you.
- When you go down for sonkyou, go down a little later than your opponent. Try to project your spirit over your opponent.
- When you go up step to the right immediately to cover your kote. If your opponent follows you to the right (their left) go for his kote.
- Again, do not celebrate scoring an ippon.