You know when you find that one in a million job, that one that you actually WANT to do, for a company that you WANT to work for, that you see something special in…….well….I just applied for it (I hope my boss isn’t reading this!!!) Not only that, but they contacted me first! Score one for me! 🙂
How much do I really want this job at this company? I was fantasizing about it for most of Saturday and Sunday…. I’m STILL thinking about it…
I went to an introductory seminar on Friday after my current job finished, and sat through an hour of the best intro I think I’ve ever had the pleasure to, and left thinking two things:
“Dear god, I really want to work there.”
“I’ve got to re-write my Japanese resume, and I haven’t done that in over 4 years…”
So, any how, I’ve applied (and noticed a spelling mistake in my cover letter about 4 seconds after sending it……dam you assuming-that-it’s-underlining-an-American-spelling-when-it’s-actually-just-me! I guess we just sit and wait. Even just the fact that they contacted me, and then the act of applying for the job has me grinning like a little boy, though. After the intro seminar I went home and jabbered to my wife about it for 30 minutes as well, just so that she knew too.
(I can’t believe how much I actually want this. I haven’t wanted a job this much since I was 17…… and I could sleep on Saturday night after I sent my resume off…..I’m so childish!)
I feel young again!
And, as a result of this (because I was still in a flying mood yesterday afternoon) practise at the ‘kan on Sunday afternoon was just awesome! I got an awesome tsuki on a guy who was DUCKING to get out of the way. Figure that one out, it’s as weird as it sounds.
Another day, another new year! And another tired Gibbo.
A little radio silence, for the best part of a month, but that’s mostly because work has been a total bugger recently. Not fixed, but sod it, it’ll be sorted soon. I hope….
Anyway, kendo wise, things have been good for the last month. Following on from the last post about grip, I’ve also confirmed to myself that I’m a chubby chaser. That doesn’t mean pulling fat chicks at your local discotheque (unless that’s your sort of thing….) but the size of shinai. I’d been fooling around with a couple of 28mm handles, which ended up just throwing me off. I changed back to full fat, and the gold flowed freely! I’m never going to make that mistake again. Broom handles for the win!
So onward to the new year. First, I’m taking a much needed family week, which just means not doing kendo until saturday. I can live with that.
Forward from that, although the team is still to be announced, I need to get my regime started in the hope that I get picked for the GB team for the World Championships this year in Italy. Thanks to the help from Alistair that I had last year sorting out a number of things about my mental approach, I’ve gone as far as to write up a check list of things to do, and also a time line for my general practise. We start of January consolidating my waza, so purely practising the techniques I want to take to Italy, and nothing else. We also develop my game plans. These are basically set, and revolve around the techniques I’m taking (but I’ve given myself a range of techniques to go for so that I have options that are roughly similar at each stage of my shiai plan).
After this, I begin ramping up the intensity in February, and pushing myself towards generally harder practise, and a focus on controlling the guy in front and taking points.
By April, this will have been going great guns for 2 months, so we keep it going focussing on sharpening up the techniques that are most likely to get points. And of course, keep on getting those points!
May, is a bit of polish, a little bit of an attempt to relax before the big event, and then off we go!
Nice and easy. Well, not easy, and likely not nice, but you know what I mean!
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.
I go and have a bomb of a practise….. it was bloody terrible. My movement felt sticky and sideways, I felt out of sorts, and wierdly tired half way through as well.
It wasn’t a total disaster. I mean, a tsuki is a tsuki, right? Am I right? You know I’m right. And very strangely, I hit tonnes of degote, a technique which I don’t have any love for. And a couple of gorgeous kaeshi dou, a technique I have endless love for.
But nothing felt right. And at the end of the day, that matters. It might just be the combination of new kote and new shinai that needed a little getting used to, something that hadn’t worked by the end of practised, but it all just felt awkward.
It’s been a while, but I think it might be time to resurrect my evening suburi sessions again….
Sometimes, you realise that you haven’t been enjoying what you’re doing. I realised that, but only because I had started to enjoy kendo again, and I mean really enjoy it.
Regular readers will know that at times I am in the habit of being very hard on myself at times, and I hadn’t figured out that this pressure was killing my enjoyment. A couple of months ago, this began to change. I’m talking with a genius of sorts at the moment, and excellent guy called Alistair, who is opening my head up, helping me pull the shite out, and leaving the sensible stuff in there. I’m not going to go into details, but the net result is that by changing the way I think about kendo on a daily basis, he has helped me find kendo all over again. And I’ll have his baby for it.
This came home to me a couple of weeks ago in a fairly big Tokyo taikai, the Tokyo City Dojo Taikai. Using what he gave me, I managed to keep my head in a nice, calm situation for the whole day, enjoy the taikai, enjoy doing my kendo in the taikai (lord knows that has been a long time coming….) and enjoyed supporting and competing with my mates. I don’t even remember the last time I had that much fun in a competition, it was really a breath of fresh air.
As a result, I feel born again! I can’t wait to get in to the dojo, I’m constantly thinking about my practise, I’m trying to analyse and think of ways to improve it, and I’m actually, finally, at peace with kendo again!
This year has been a tough one for me and the art that I love, but with Alistair’s help and sagely words, I really feel like I have turned a corner with it.
In short, I feel awesome again!