NK Kendo 2012

Dear Renshinjuku members,

On the 4th of November the dutch, national championships will be held in Vlaardingen. Individual competitions for ladies, gentlemen and children for all levels will be held.

If you would like to compete, please contact Heeren-sensei so he can submit our dojo‘s entries to the NKR. The deadline for your email to Heeren-sensei is 30 October 20:00.

More details about the event can be found here.

Centrale training

Our sensei heartily recommend that all of our members attend the upcoming Centrale Training in Amsterdam.

At Centrale Training all NKR members are welcome to join in the communal training. Attendance is varied, with kendoka from many dutch dojo joining in. This weekend’s CT includes a chance for beginners without bogu to join in!

So come one, come all! If you’re missing out on CT, you’re missing out on valuable experience!

The Centrale Training is of course included in our calendar and includes relevant details such as the address and times.

Lexicon: keiko

For many of our new members, all the Japanese terms used in class can be confusing. From my own experience I know it’s taken me months to get to know most of the common terms. Of course students can find help in the glossary compiled by our teachers, but at times a bit of extra explanation may be helpful.

We’ll start off this series of lexicon posts with the types of keiko.

The word keiko itself means “practice”, “study” or “training” and consists of two kanji, 稽 (kei, to think/consider) 古 (ko, old). One could say that everything we do in the dojo is keiko.

  • Jigeiko (地稽古) Often called “free practice”, jigeiko allows you to practice any technique you would like. The kanji 地 has many different meanings, though in this case “real life” or “true nature” would be the closest meanings to apply. In jigeiko one does not think in terms of “winning”, it’s not a true fight. Instead, both kendoka work together to get the most out of the day’s practice.
  • Sogo renshu (総合練習) At Renshinjuku, sogo renshu is a type of jigeiko that is often suggested to students. Sogo (総合) stands for “integration”, or “putting together”. By practicing the techniques studied earlier in class you may attempt to integrate them into your own kendo.
  • Shiai geiko (試合稽古) A shiai (試合) is a match, a competition. Thus this type of geiko is meant to closely match shiai conditions: instead of practicing techniques, students attempt to win while at the same time not losing. This sets it apart from all other types of keiko, where you never worry about losing. In shiai geiko all normal competition rules apply.
  • Uchikomi geiko (打ち込み稽古) An exercise performed in pairs, motodachi will show openings for kakarite to attack. The goal is to improve both your technique, your footwork, sense of maai and your zanshin. Two readings of the kanji 打ち込み seem relevant: “put your heart into” and “invasion/drive into”. Regarded separately the uchi is conjugated of utsu (打つ, to strike/hit) and komi is conjugated of komu (込む, to go into). In a recent class, Heeren-sensei and Kiwa-sempaidemonstrated the use of seme techniques in uchikomi geiko.
  • Kakari geiko (懸かり稽古) While the kanji 懸かり have multiple readings, in this case “attack” would seem appropriate. Also, the verb kakaru (懸かる) can also be read as “to deal with”, which is apt as in kakari geiko it is your goal to break through your trainer’s defense. Sensei will not show openings, instead sensei will only allow strikes that are correct to connect and will fend off everything else. You must go all-out, while ensuring that your technique is correct. If your technique is sloppy, you will not be allowed to hit your partner.
  • Mitori geiko (見取り稽古) Believe it or not, but simply watching class from the sidelines has its own name. Do not be deceived! There is a difference between watching and observing, because by truly paying attention to your fellow students you can learn a lot! Also, the verb mitoru (見取る) means “to understand”.
  • Kata geiko (型稽古) The kanji 型 stands for a mold, e.g. something used to re-create in a standardized shape or form. In kata practice, we learn certain essentials of kendo by reproducing predetermined choreography. Each kata focuses on one or more important things to learn.
  • Mawari geiko (回り稽古) Mawari is literally “rotation” or “circulation”. Exercises performed with two people, for a set amount of time or strikes after which one rotates towards the next partner. This occurs in our dojo, when all students line up in two rows across from each other. After each short practice the lines move one position and you meet another partner.
  • Enjin geiko (円陣稽古) Everyone forms a circle (enjin) around one kendoka in the center. Either the center kendoka fights everybody in turn (often occurs on special occasions), or with every quick fight the winner stays in the center while the loser is sent away.
  • Moushiai geiko (申し合い稽古) A type of enjin geiko, where the winner picks the next person to practice with.

With many thanks to Zicarlo for advising on the additional meaning of various kanji.

Summary of class 1, 13/10

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”.

Exhibit “Samurai”

From this month onward into spring, Wereld Museum in Rotterdam runs the exhibit “Samurai”.

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The Samurai exhibition transports the visitor to feudal Japan where warlords, the Daimyo, fought each other by employing the services of fearsome samurai warriors.

Impressive armour, spectacular helmets and swords that were deemed to be the “soul of the samurai” illustrate the highly developed warrior culture. War banners, nobori, of the Kitamura collection which are painted with family coats of arms and protective mythological figures, identified the samurai on the battlefield.

The code of ethics, Bushido, imposed a lifestyle of honour, loyalty and respect within the warrior class. The samurai elite devoted themselves with equal dedication to various arts: calligraphy and the tea ceremony and they wore delicately crafted netsuke and Inro lacquerwork. The mystical No theatre, the official form of theatre among the samurai, uses animated masks to depict legendary warriors who came back from the dead to the battlefield. A surprising element is the Dutch influence on the samurai warrior equipment, caused by the special bond between the two countries.

On the occasion of the Samurai exhibition, a substantial, richly-illustrated catalogue has been edited by curator Bas Verberk with a contribution by Dr. W. van Gulik.

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Text quoted from this webpage. The exhibit runs from 1 October 2012 until 24 March 2013.

Summary of class, 09/10

In the absence of Heeren-sensei, class was led by Tsuyuguchi-sensei with Ran-sempai handling the translations. And with Kiwa-sempai gone for the day, Loek-sempai took care of the warming-up. Emphasis was placed on basics: kirikaeshi, oki-men, hayai-men, hayai kote-men. We also practiced intervals of men-hiki-men men-hiki-kote men-hiki-do. Tsuyuguchi-sensei impressed upon us the need for:

  • … striking the men in the proper place. Too many of us strike the mengane instead of the top of the head. This does not count as yuko datotsu.
  • … holding the center. Too many of us swerve left/right on the upswing, thus losing the center. When striking, go up through the center and come down through the center.
  • … feeling maai. Before attacking, build tension between the two of you. Try to sense your distance and feel when you’re at the right point to make a strike.
  • … proper receiving. If motodachi does not receive well, then one cannot properly practice. For example, in kirikaeshi hold your shinai vertically and snap it side to side. Don’t hold your shinai diagonally as this completely misses the purpose of it all.

After a further twenty minutes of jigeiko, class was closed with parting remarks by Roelof-sensei.

  • In jigeiko he saw many people struggling, or being too focused on scoring points. Remember that jigeiko isn’t necessarily practice-shiai. Jigeiko is meant to practice techniques you have learned. Don’t focus on not being hit, instead do your best to try the things you learned in class. And if you’re too tired, talk with your partner to make arrangements over who gets to try which techniques.
  • Left hand, left hand, left hand. Too many people still over-use their right hand.

Düsseldorf taikai 2012

On the 3rd of November the NWKR (Nordrhein Westfälischer Kendo Renmei) will host the 20th edition of the Düsseldorf taikai. This convention is an excellent opportunity to learn and practice kendo together with kenshi from different countries and dojo.

A number of Renshinjuku kenshi will participate this day, so they can use your support! Unfortunately you can no longer enroll to take part in the training, but mitori geiko is also a very valuable way of training (it’s also free).

More details can be found over here.

Six years in Almere


Six years ago, yesterday, was the founding of Renshinjuku’s satellite dojo in Almere.

Thanks to the continued efforts of Loyer-sensei, Kris Lazarevic, Hillen Oost and Ayumi Saito their small group has grown to about fifteen permanent students. Every year a few more people stick around, so growth is slow but steady.

With many thanks to Kris for the archival photograph.

Fumetsu Cup: RSJ duel

Today’s Fumetsu Cup was closed with a Renshinjuku showdown!

Our own Zicarlo van Aalderen and Nick Kistemaker faced off in the day’s final fight, after their team members had already fought. In the end the team of d’Hont, Linnenbank and Kistemaker won the day, with Karnadi/Simic/van Aalderen taking second place.

With thanks to Peter Kistemaker for the photography (gallery over here).