This summary is about the morning practice in Almere.
What with tomorrow’s dutch national championships being right around the corner, obviously we spent some time on practice shiai. Aside from that class followed its usual structure.
Kata practice was very cool, because today we introduced five of our newbies to the first kata. Until now they’d been doing footwork practice and suburi before warming up, while the rest practiced kata. No more! They spent twenty minutes practicing the shidachi (受太刀) side of kata #1, first as a group and then one-on-one with experienced kendoka.
After warming up we spent roughly fifteen minutes footwork practice: okuri ashi. First with normal slides, then with intervals (small-normal-large), then with fumikomi. Eight laps in total. We’ve discussed the most common mistakes:
- Left overstepping right
- “Horse stepping” with the right foot
- The power of fumikomi driving upwards instead of forwards
Seiretsu was followed by kihon practice, where the beginners are again teamed up against motodachi in bogu. Sadly I cannot report on the exercises performed as there was a small, medical emergency to attend to. When the beginners joined the newbies with Ton-sensei, those in bogu (ten or evelen in total) practiced kihon and waza: chisai kote-men, chisai men, ai-men and kaeshi-do, followed by six rounds of ippon shobu jigeiko.
In practicing kaeshi-do Kris-fukushou explained that the do strike actually does not involve a step, but only fumikomi. You receive and parry the attacking strike in place and then strike do while doing fumikomi, standing in the same spot. You then finish your counter by moving forwards and showing zanshin. Of course, “standing in place” does not equal simply standing there and slapping a strike on do! No, you have to show proper attitude and aggression, you have to show intent and zanshin, and your strike should be technically perfect.
The shiai geiko was done with two teams. Every kendoka received some individual pointers from the teachers, to help them in their fights tomorrow. We were also advised to prepare properly for tomorrow: sleep early and well, don’t practice too hard the day before, check all your armor and shinai (repair any splinters etc), make sure you are properly dressed and make a good impression.