Recently I practised with an old bear of a sensei at a Sunday morning practise that I go to on and off. It turned out that he was actually Ozawa sensei’s sempai, from NittaiDai. Who referred to the big O as “Ozawa-kun”, which I chuckled at……
He also gave me a funny little story about this sempai of his who, at a previous hachidan grading (he is still nanadan I believe) got through the first round, a very big achievement in and of itself. He found out that his next opponent was a uni friend from the same year, so he went over to him and said “let me hit you, I want to pass!”. Apparently the friend considered this for a moment then said “No way. You let me hit you, I want to pass.” Obvioulsy, they couldn’t agree to let each other pass, so they decided on the only possible option, shobu. And proceeded to basically ignore the shinsa they were in (the second round of the hachidan exam…….) and knocked seven bells of shit out of each other instead.
They both failed. Nice.
My last post was about, essentially, how shit I have been recently. In fact, maybe my last few.
What is strange, is that, following that and the (thankfully very) minor neck injury, I had two frankly awesome practises, one straight after the other. Friday evening and Saturday morning. Just like that, as Tommy Cooper would say. If he wasn’t dead.
I have an inkling why, let me share it with you. Its appallingly simple, actually. I simply concentrate on attacking seme (ie what I always god dam well preach myself, seme that forces a reaction, and makes them move the way you want) to create better opportunities, and then on the attack, concentrating on getting my legs to the target, bring back some of my speed and distance.
Keiko, in short, felt fantastic.
And then, on the way home, I realised, quite correctly, that, I haven’t gotten better, I’m simply doing the kendo that I was doing half a year ago before the slump I had fallen into gripped me in it’s dirty arms and dragged me down. But then I guess that is the nature of the dreaded kendo slump, you have to get back to where you fell down from in order to try that first step to a higher level again. So, back to that old place I was.
An interesting upside is that I’ve managed to retain a lot of the shape and technique that I had been working on in the absence of success, so I guess it does do well to train your balls of through the slump, and not give up. It’s funny that it all came and (hopefully) fixed itself in a light-bulb-above-the-head esque moment of clarity.
Now all I need to figure out is what I need to do to get moving forwards again…..One step at a time, Gibbo, one step at a time….
I’m having a very mixed experience trying to get to grips with re-firing my kendo. Although I am getting all sorts of advice in many different forms right now, I think the overall theme is that (probably as a result of my attempts to be solid and immovable) I am just not making enough seme.
Although I have fairly strong opinions about what consitutes seme, it IS a problem at the moment. I’m running over a lot of it in my mind, watching my old videos to see how I used to move before, and generally trying to pick up my activity levels again (though the summer still lingering isn’t helping my fatigue levels…).
I think it’s getting better, but my seme still doesn’t feel as effective as it used to. This came out in spades last night when one guy who I usually enjoy practising with. Maybe he woke up on the wrong side of bed, but he was angry with me pretty much from the get go (a theme with him recently…..I can’t quite figure out why, though I’ve noticed that he’s generally an “angry man” since passing his nanadan recently…..) which ended with him doing a fairly over the top kakarigeiko that resulted in me injuring my neck. It’s ok-ish today, still a bit stiff, but I’m going to try keiko anyway…..(because I want to! Yes, I know I am dumb!!) Anyhow, the net result is that it still illustrates that I have a long way to go……
Just keep at it for now I guess.
or the drawing board, but I need a re-think.
Yesterday, I was in the single worst shiai that I have experienced since coming to Japan. Out 2-0 in the first round.
The result I can live with, but everything that caused it I can’t, and it points to a lot of work that I need to do.
First, my mental approach was just rubbish. I ended up thinking too much about the little niggles that I had (eg I knew the guy I was going to fight was pretty good, my legs felt heavy, I felt sleepy, my wrists – which have given me trouble recently – were stiff) and coupled with a longer waiting time than usual, giving me even more time to work myself down, meant that I was not going to win by the time I stepped in.
The technical kendo itself wasn’t bad, I kept my hands down, had fairly good seme, got the reactions I wanted, but all the rubbish at the back of my mind got in the way. Not only that, but I felt quite heavy, immobile, and unable to deal with the very agile opponent that I had to deal with.
So what now? Well, I’ve gone too far down the solid and steady route, and I don’t think that my kendo carries the threatening nature that it used to have. That changes now. I’m going to get back to energetic and dynamic, more moving, more feet, more pressure. This is definitely a kakarigeiko and jigeiko based change, so I need to make sure that I am getting a good balance in my practise (this shouldn’t be difficult).
The other side is the mental aspect, which is going to be a lot harder. I think I need to research some proper stress management techniques (any specialists who want to point me in the right direction will be welcome!) and find out how to control my mental state. It’s all over the place right now….I need to get my old control back!
They say the first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging and understanding it. Well, here we go! I’ve got another shiai in 3 weeks, and then another 3 weeks after that, so I’ll have plenty of chances to see how I do.
Thanks to Taiphoon 6 coming 2 weeks ago, the weather since then has been great. A total lack of burning sun, only ruined by the high humidity, but it has made keiko for the past two weeks just about do-able….
So I’ve been at it good and proper. Went to Noma to hammer about with the old men, went to Alsok to battle with the young fellas, and went to the ‘kan for the big kihon menu with the wood cutter. All good.
But now I’m knackered instead! But it’s a happy knackered. I’ve got a seminar demo type thingy tomorrow at one of my sensei’s mid-high school, and then a lazy sunday…..then back into the fray at the ‘kan on Monday! Things are pretty good!
I just need some more sleep…..oh, and I was told that I”m not allowed in the Tokyo prelim for the All Japan’s because I’m not Japanese. Cheers then. I guess they don’t want honky ruining things for them……sigh. Things like this put a crimp on kendo man.