The first two classes of the season were spent on rebuilding our physical condition after a few weeks of slacking off* and on improving tenouchi (手の内, lit. “the inside of your hand”). Tenouchi is the term used to describe a specific kind of grip or movement, made using your hands and wrists at the moment when a strike connects. Geoff Salmon-sensei has written a lot about it.
Heeren-sensei reminded us of the importance of training at home. Once or twice a week in the dojo isn’t enough if you want to make real progress! Doing suburi will keep you agile and will help with tenouchi. And making a striking dummy will even let you do basic kihonpractice! You can even do suburi inside, but making a suburito from old shinai parts.
After the usual warmup routing, we proceeded to bogu-less exercises. Motodachi receives and counts men strikes on his shinai, which is held in front of his face. Each person needs to do fifty strikes, totaled up to 150 by rotating three times. Last week we also included two times fifty hayai suburi. Heeren-sensei asked us to do these exercises with three things in mind:
- The upswing reaches all the way back, tapping your rear.
- The upswing has your left hand passing right over your head, almost combing through your hair.
- The strike should be made strongly, focusing on the left hand.
These three factors combined help you train tenouchi.
For similar reason we then proceed to interval training, with each couple doing kirikaeshi all ’round the perimeter of the dojo floor. Each person needs to make a minimum of four rounds. Heeren-sensei pointed out the following:
- It is not a race. It’s not about speed, but about execution. Do kirikaeshi correctly.
- Focus on using your left hand, the right hand is only used as ‘rudder’ (as it should be).
- The left hand must go above your head on the upswing.
- Keep on making kiai! Do NOT stop, because you will run out of breath if you do.
Class is finished with 10-15 minutes of free jigeiko and kirikaeshi.