So, yesterday, I had an awesome keiko at the ‘kan. And it all centred around my grip. Weird that, as I thought I had it down.

Last year, I went through a lot of suburi to relax my cutting, to great results. It enabled me to stand up straighter, have a light relaxed kamae, and improve the shape of my cuts. Now, what may sound weird, is that I actually went too far in this. I became to relaxed, to the point that it trickled through into my “spirit” and I lost an amount of punch, which I hadn’t really realized.

Yesterday, I was using a slightly thinner shinai than I normally do, a 28mm tsuka width instead of 30mm. It’s funny how the smallest of changes can help. In this case, today I just didn’t feel in control of the shinai, so I made a conscious decision to grip a little stronger. I immediately felt the shinai in a more tactile way in the inner palm of my hands, and BLAM (to use an excellent Batman word!) my men uchi sharpened up considerably…

Hmmm……me thinks, that’s weird. A little extra strength in kamae resulted in a sharper, nicer feeling cut…….ok…..let’s try some stuff out……….

So I switched back to the fatty, and watched my keiko just ramp straight up to awesome, with only the amount of grip I apply to the tsuka as what I have changed (through the last year I’ve managed to learn to relax myself a lot easier, so gripping harder didn’t mean stiffening up completely).

I’m going to experiment a little with this. I’m normally not entirely happy about making changes to things like this when we’re getting close to a big taikai (got the World Championships in May. The team hasn’t been picked yet, but I’m training with it in mind already, and have been for more than a month now. Focus, focus, focus!) but this really struck me as a massive difference, so something that I want to check out.

What also struck me as interesting is how these tiny details (2mm on the tsuka, and, essentially, strength in my FINGERS!) made a big difference to my keiko.