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.