Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Year's Resolutions

We still have a few days left until the end of the year, but I think that it's still a nice time to go over what my New Year's Resolutions are. Of course, these resolutions are meant to be broken so I see these more of as goals to achieve throughout the year. With the end of my college life coming soon, this would be a great time to improve my quality of life by changing a few things in my life for the better. Well, here they are.

My goal this year is to reduce the amount of Cs and Ds on my transcript to zero. My last two semesters haven't been all that great so I really need to step up my game so I can graduate on time. I feel like I was on the ball though by doing homework in Grissom Hall so I was able to get more homework done than if I were to stay in the dorm room. I need to get off of my lazy ass and go somewhere outside of the room to get homework done so I can reduce the thursday all-nighters and spend more time with Kendo (more on that coming soon).

The largest time waster in my life is the internet. It is so easily accessible these days as just about every computer you walk up to has internet access of some kind. I sometimes spend so much time on the internet that I run out of things to look at and then go to websites that I have already visited hoping for new information or threads to show up. I know for a fact that I could get so much more done by spending less time on the internet. I am not talking about totally cutting myself off from the internet or making a goal of only spending 30 minutes a day on the internet, but I could use the downtime to get many more useful things done in my life.

My goal is to practice more Kendo this year. I feel like I am stagnant in my training so I need to spend some extra time outside of practice doing suburi, sitting in seiza (can't do that enough), working on kata and doing footwork. I could make a goal that I could practice every day but that doesn't seem realistic enough as some aspects of my life is pretty unpredictable. As a result, I just would to at least just add more outside practice until I can find a happy medium from the rest of my life. I also want to do better in the next tournament and last a bit longer and maybe even place if I improve enough. I could go on and on about what I want to do and stuff but the stuff I typed earlier is the gist of it.

I would like to get out of my shell and spend some more time with the online gaming. I get discouraged when I am always placed against people that cheat or have years more experience than I do but I can't let that stop me. Online gaming is the future and I really need to embrace it if I plan on gaming for the rest of my life. My wish is to find a few friends that I can play against from time to time just to have some sort of "safe haven" when I need to get away from the crappy people that flood the intertubes. I also want to beat more games this year. I buy games but I hardly finish them due to waning interest and time. This will be hard if I plan on doing the above things as they can take more time, but it's a goal nonetheless.

Despite me not being in a Japanese class anymore, I still want to improve my Kanji and vocabulary knowledge in the Japanese language. Of course, I can only do this by reading stuff, contacting japanese pen pals, and participating in Japanese forums.

Job Outlook
My goal this year is to get an internship this summer. My grades might bar me from getting one, but I can't let that stop me. If I apply to 50 different companies, there has to be one that will hire me for the summer and possible permanent employment. I will just have to do some massive searching online for engineering companies and send off my stuff. I'll go pretty much anywhere though I hope that I will be within an hour's distance from a Kendo dojo.

This is really all I could think of right now, but the list might increase later. Of course, these goals aren't set in stone so anything can change. So, what are your resolutions for this year?

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Well, Christmas has come and gone so I guess I will spend this time to show off what I got and ask for a small suggestion.

Here is what I got for Christmas
- Wireless Router
- Wii carrying case
- 13 month XBOX Live Gold card
- Final Fantasy XII
- Ookami (狼 - Just wanted to have a little fun with the title :))
- Trauma Center: Second Opinion
- Rainbow Six: Vegas
- Burnout Revenge

Okay, now here's what I want to ask of you guys. It will be hard to play all 5 games at the same time so I want to choose one at a time before I move on to the next game. I am sort of going back and forth on this as to what I want to concentrate on first so I just want to ask you guys what you think I should concentrate on and why I should do so.

I have spend a little time on each game and I think that these should keep me entertained for a while, on and off line. In the case of XBL, I can't find a long ethernet cable for less than $10. Therefore, I probably won't be able to play for another two weeks. I also don't have the headset so I can't even talk to anyone if I wanted to, lol.

Update: I think I will try to settle down with Ookami first and move on from there. Though I still wouldn't mind hearing of your opinions about my choices of games, XBL challenges or whatnot.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

My Kendo Match Video

After months of trying, I finally was able to post my Kendo team match video on Youtube. This was during the team matches at the Midwestern Kendo Federation (MWKF) tournament in Chicago on October 28, 2006. I do lose this match and there are some glaring problems that I really want to fix by the next tournament. But contructive criticism is always appreciated. By the way, I am the one in the white tag.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

World Kendo Championships

If you haven't seen the results yet, click here to see them.

Well, the 13th World Kendo Championship (WKC) has come and gone. But there seems to have been quite a stir within the Kendo community about the results. This time around, the Japanese men's team came in third behind Korea, which took first, and the USA which took second. Before I begin the rest of this entry, I would like to hand out a congradulations to team USA for doing a fine job in representing this country. You guys have made the Kenshi here very proud.

For the uninitiated, the reason why the results are so important is because Japan didn't get first place as predicted by many people. This would be comparable to the US losing to Japan at American football. Of course, we should look at this as a learning experience and not one of those "in your face" things that occur in many competitive sports.

In the Kendo world, it is known that the Japanese have much better opportunities to be good at Kendo. There are more practices (some places might have more than one practice a day over several days of the week) and a MUCH larger pool of great people to fight against. In other places in the world, you would consider yourself lucky to be living in an area that is even a 1 hour drive from a Kendo dojo. It's considered a very special occasion when a Japanese sensei visits a dojo to the point of doing whatever is in ones power to make their stay as pleasant as possible.

The question that we all should be asking is why didn't Japan win like expected every tournament? When we put Japan and Kendo together, we think of them as being untouchable. Of course, there is no one answer to this, but the possibilities are things that we could take with us in our individual lives, inside and outside of Kendo.

There was a saying that I heard a while back. I don't remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of winning too much would cause loss in the end. What it was saying is that winning too much could cause too much confidence in oneself. When you think you are invincible, you don't train yourself as much and you lose sight of the competition who are thinking of ways to trounce the top dog. You could accuse Japan of doing this as they usually come out on top so they feel that they could get any group together and be able to trounce the competition. This reflects badly on the team in question (could be any team of course) as the overconfidence will eventually bite them in the end.

Then there is also the desire to win that has something to do with it. As we all know, if you put your mind to something, you can do just about anything that you set out to do. If you want to win and you train yourself as hard as you can, then you will eventually get to your goal. It could take 1 extra try or 100 extra tries, but it would happen eventually. For years, the USA felt inferior to the Japanese in terms of Kendo finesse. Of course, we have the desire to do the best with what we have but, compared to Japan, the Kendo opportunities are quite small. I'm not saying that Japan didn't want to win, but the drive to win might not have been as strong as other places as they have the good stuffs so to speak. The intense training of team USA and the desire to do the best they can could have had an effect on how well they did, even if Japan had the same intent.

I won't go into too much detail with this one as it's self explanitory. But sometimes, people have bad days. Unfortunately, the bad day for team Japan happened to be on the day of the competition. There really isn't much you can do about that but go along for the ride as fate takes you along.

Does this discredit the Japanese for their prowess in Kendo? Of course not. While they didn't get first place, they still ranked among the top countries in the world namely, Japan, USA and Korea. They still have the same amount of Kenshi available and the same tenacity at practicing Kendo. The only difference is that they got third this time. You must also keep in mind that Japan still did very well as this is only the men's team division that this happened to. What this does mean is that we should stop looking at Japan as the invincible person and just strive to do our best. The USA is full of good kenshi and we need to just keep our efforts to remain a strong force in the Kendo world.

Please keep in mind that I am not saying that these are actual reasonings. These are just some ideas that I came up with after the surprising results. I'm not Japanese, I don't know anyone from team Japan or USA nor am I psychic. For all I know, Japan could have chosen the best team that they had and had a very strong intent on winning. Sometimes, things happen and things turn out the way they do because of those events.

The next WKC should be set to be done in 2009. I think it's supposed to be in Brazil, but I am not sure about that. All I know is that I should make plans on being there. I will be out of college for about a year and a half and most likely settled at my future job (hopefully) so there is a good chance that I can get there with vacation time and such. One big reason why I would love to attend is that I could see this as being a very interesting tournament. Japan will be wanting to bring out the big guns to regain the title, Korea will be doing their best to keep the first place position and the US will go there knowing that they always have a chance at winning. There is always strong Kendo there as these teams represent the best in the country, but it should be especially strong knowing that everyone is in an interesting position right now.

*Note - if you want to see some of the fights, you can easily go to Youtube and look at some videos there by searching anything along the lines of World Kendo Championships 2006, or you can go to Kendo World over the next few weeks to catch some of the action.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Kendo Retrospection

Now that the semester is over, I think that it is a perfect time to talk about how my Kendo has been doing over the past few months.

Practicing over the summer really helped me in getting me out of my rut and allowing me to move on and fix some glaring problems. Being able to practice with different people and going through different customs kind of gives you a jolt as you try to adjust to the way that they do things. Doing this also helped me get into the semester at Purdue in full swing with little time for readjustment.

As far as practicing over the semester, it could have gone better in my eyes but I've had my highs and lows. The highlight of the semester, the MWKF tournament, while fun, could have gone better. I lost both of my matches in the first round (individual and team) so my fighting didn't really last long. I could feel the problems of me getting exhausted seconds into the match, but seeing the video allowed me to see what my problem was. I have been told over the summer that I move around too much and that I just need to worry about having those few extra inches that gives me the center. Of course, I adjusted accordingly, but there is something about actually having a visual of what you are doing that has everything come together. Who knew that one small thing could have your entire form fall apart?

There was also some other problems over the semester that I need to fix. The most important one is that I need to strengthen my wrist (or adjust my hits) because a lot of my hits have come out pretty weak. For those of you that don't know much about Kendo, you can't just bang and hit anywhere and get a point. The hits need to be strong enough to show your intent on making the hit. If the judges see that your hits are weak, then you get no score. I have ideas to fix that including buying one of those elastic bands to exercise my wrists and just doing more suburi when I can. Another problem is my reach. I can't decide who I will fight on any given day so I need to adjust my hits so that I can do correct hits based on my opponent's height. This will take some time for adjusting though but I think I will be able to do it in time. There is also a timing issue with reacting accordingly to someone's slightest movement, but I think that will just come with time, similar to being able to do faster songs and react to different patterns with time.

The practice last Thursday was an important one. We did some jigeiko that night so it was my time to try to remember all of the things that I have learned over the semester. This time around, I concentrated more on not moving so much so I can last more than 20 seconds in a match. For one, I was able to last MUCH longer this time. Instead of dying after one match, I was still going on until my right hand started hurting (I don't think I should be gripping so hard with that) which had to have been match #6 or something. Either that was a good day, or now I know just how much energy one spends just on shinai movement. After keeping my arms in a more relaxed position and not moving so much, I made what I believe were stronger and quicker hits though there are still some aspects that I need to fix in that regard.

Well, this semester was nice in regards to Kendo. Despite me talking a lot about my mistakes and stuff, I had a lot of fun during these months. I wish I could have performed better in my matches, but I can live with knowing what I need to learn. There is a tournament in April in Cleveland (maybe) that I plan on attending so I have several months to work out a lot of the kinks in my Kendo and hopefully place next time.
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