Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Musashi no Ken, etcetra...

This seems like it will be a long entry since I have a lot to say. Well, let's not wait any longer.

A few days ago, I finally got my copies of Musashi no Ken in the mail from Amazon Japan. I have been looking for this manga for over a year and the answer was pretty much under my nose. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the 5th issue in the 10 part series but I have since ordered it and it should come in soon. With the slowness of my Japanese reading, I'll get the remaining manga long before I finish the second one at this rate, lol. I am enjoying the manga a lot though. There is a lot of dialect inflection here but I am getting the gist of what I am reading, which means I have made some sort of progress. I'm trying to increase my kanji knowledge to have an easier time reading manga and video games. I hope to get some more issues of Kaze to Ken which I also found on Amazon Japan, but funds are VERY short right now.

The combination of this manga and my exploits at the dojo for the past few weeks has only made my yearn for improvement increase. First of all, I need to get off of my lazy ass and start swinging that shinai in order to get things started. But I need something more. I want to practice various waza and kata to keep my ground covered. My main problem is that I have a low ceiling so that limits what I can do inside. I could go outside but I'd have to deal with rough ground. As a result, I thought about buying some tabi though I don't know if I should invest in the outdoor variety with the rubber soles or the indoor variety that's softer. I'm looking around for the answer to that, but I'll just deal with the bare feet for now. There is so much that I want to improve on but I feel that two days a week just isn't enough for me. I've never felt this way before, but it feels kind of nice.

The strangest thing happened to me at the dojo last Saturday. I was in jigeiko and I tried to hit kote. I don't remember if I hit it or not but I sure did hit something else! My shinai got lodged in my opponent's men and it launched it off of his head. It's a good thing that he came out okay though. Some blame it on the fact that he didn't tie it on tight enough but it seemed like it was the safest thing to do then since the momentum was all in the men and not transferred to the head and caused whatever damage might have ensued. We were all able to laugh it all off in the end so everything is fine.

As far as jigeiko ability goes, I need to try harder to get my speed and strength up and not make my style predictable. I want to read that jigeiko article by one of the British kendo clubs but I don't remember the name. I can find it though so it isn't that big of an issue.

I guess I should spend this time talking about my Japanese language progress. I have compeleted the last semester of Japanese that I will be taking but I don't want to stop there. I want to learn more vocabulary, but I don't want to look at lists and memorize them. As a result, I am just learining it on the way and learning Kanji compounds.

So far, I know about 300 kanji. I am going through the 3rd grade kanji list now and doing 3 kanji a day and memorizing the compounds of each. We'll see how far this will take me though. I can't wait until I get to the 6th grade ones. I don't know what I would do at that point though.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Training Epiphiny

Not sure if I spelled the word in the title correctly, but that's not the point of this post.

Over the past few days, I guess I have been having some new thoughts on my Kendo. I have known that there were glaring problems with my jigeiko for a while from people telling me and some of my own experiences.

But ever since I started at GKA, I have been having new thoughts on my Kendo. I see my problems to the point where I can see myself improving them for the rest of my life. I guess the compliments of my performance lately really helps.

For example, whenever I strike, it's too slow, not strong enough, not straight enough, not on target and stuff like that. It's not to the point of over analyzation or underconfidence, or at least I don't see it that way. I kinda see it as getting out of a plateau that I didn't know I was at.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Very hot practice

I have completed yet another practice a few hours ago. The most notable thing about it was that it was VERY hot in there. One of my friends walked out of there drenched so you can only imagine how it was with everyone in bogu. I don't remember the last time I sweated so much! It wasn't very physically demanding this time around so it wasn't too bad.

We mainly practiced a lot of waza today. I did tsuki for the second time ever today as well. I am a bit apprehensive to put any strength behind it since I am not too sure of my accuracy. The flap on the men is supposed to protect the throat from injury, but it only protects so much. For the other strikes, I need to try to finish off less "lavishly" for lack of a better term. I tend to raise my shinai high up in the air after a hit which is something that I shouldn't be doing. I have been praised for my corrections so I have an idea on what I need to do.

The practice finished off with some one-point jigeiko. I got the point for hitting men. I have noticed that I am operating a bit quicker, which is just what I want to do. But I need to take my fighing to the next level. Given I have the opening, I know I can hit the targets, but when I am fighting, I need to use harai waza and such to create openings. I need to make sure that I am faster with my hits to get the scores in. I also need to shorten my reaction time to get in a few points. I feel that I am achieving some of this in some degree, but I wouldn't consider myself totally competent in fighting. Heck, I still need to work on the agression, which should come with better endurance.

I need to make use of that suburito of mine and do some swings every day. It's supposed to be used for strength training since the feel of it and a normal shinai are completely different. But the concepts of good tenouchi still carries through. I wonder how good I would be if I did 100 suburi per day? I'll have to do it kneeling or in a horse stance since I am one of the unlucky people to not have a high ceiling.

People have been giving me good comments on my Kendo, which I am happy about. This, along with the constructive critisism during practice, is giving me more confidence in my abilities which is probably what is helping me rise to a higher level of Kendo now. Basically, whatever I am doing in practice is what I should keep on doing forever (with the necessary tweaks of course).

I wonder how good I will be when I go back to Purdue, or the next tournament for that matter. I should be able to go in with more confidence (and hopefully more agression) and get closer to my goal of placing somewhere. I also want to get my ikkyu ASAP. I was totally nervous last time, but I should be okay this time since I know the basic format of the exams.

Well, it's kinda late now so I better be getting to bed. I have a LONG day of work ahead of me!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Manga and Kendo Equipment

Well, I finally decided to make the plunge and get Musashi no Ken manga. I already have the 7th one already but I think that these are reprints so I'm getting the whole set and sell the other one on ebay. I will be missing the 5th one which is retribution for waiting so long, but I might be able to pick up the difference later. The price is pretty steep due to shipping, but this is the only way that I can get it. There are DVDs that I am interested in getting but they are well over $100 for each box set.

On the Kendo equipment side of things, I am thinking of investing in kote guards. It seems like a viable option for someone with boney wrists like mine. Pain might be part of the Kendo process but there is only so much you can take before it gets damaging. I want to do Kendo for the rest of my life and I don't want any kote hits to ruin that process. I could blame it on the kote that I own, but I don't plan on getting a new set until I graduate from college as a graduation gift to myself.

Training with GKA

It's been a week since I started with the Georgia Kendo Alliance. I must say, I am quite happy as it has breathed new life into Kendo for me. I have been training at the same dojo with the same people going over the same routine with the occasional tournament thrown in for good measure. Since I'm here, I'm going over new exercises with new people.

Doing the former isn't bad at all. But sometimes, when your Kendo feels stagnant, you just gotta go for new experiences.

After proving myslef in the beginner's practice, I was allowed to go into the advanced practices and it looks like that is where I will stay. There are a few things that I have to get used to though since things are done a little differently there like name conventions and differences in exercises. So far, I have done kirikaeshi with dou and learned tsuki for the first time.

I really hope that my Kendo reaches new heights because of this. New life has been put into this lovely activity and this should only make me go further in my pursuit to get better.
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