Last night was a training out of the ordinary. Seeing how it was the last tuesday-night session for 2012, the turnup was smaller with only one sensei appearing and the group totaling out at roughly fifteen people (nine in bogu). While Roelof-sensei kept an eye on everyone for details, Kiwa-sempai led the advanced group in what I found to be a tremendously educational class.
The first half hour of class was spent on practicing kendo kata. I’m not aware of any pointers given out to other couples, but these are some that Nienke and myself received while repeatedly going through kata #3. This was under the watchful eye of Onno-sempai, Roelof-sensei and Kiwa-sempai
- When lowering and raising the bokuto, do it slowly. Build tension.
- When attacking, step in deeply from the hips (which is something Ran-sempai also corrected me on).
- When defending and pulling back, you can either step back deeper and pull back through the center, or you can compensate for a too-small step by pulling back the bokuto off-center. The prior appears to be preferable.
- When countering, the pattern is right-left-right-left-right, as opposed to what I had been doing: right-right-left-right-left.
The next half hour was spent on learning the bokuto ni yoru kendo kihon waza keikoho, also known as the kihon bokuto waza. This set of exercises is relatively new and targeted mostly at beginning students and lower-ranked kendo. Here, one practices the various techniques in kendo in a more realistic as well as entry-level setting: unarmoured and with a bokuto, which is shorter than a shinai. Much more information can be read in this excelent PDF. In class we practiced kata #1 through #3, which are:
- The four basic targets: men, kote, dou and tsuki.
- A successive kote-men.
- The harai-men technique.
The last half hour was dedicated to jigeiko. The beginners’ group joined Roelof-sensei for kihon practice, while the advanced group went through their desired routines. Roelof-sensei closed class with remarks regarding the fact that most people still over-use their right hand and that they need to focus more on the left hand. He also reminded us of the year’s closing, the fact that first class of 2013 is on 05/01 and of the buffet on 12/01.