Thursday, May 31, 2007

What the hell did I do to deserve this?

When I was hired by Walmart, I thought that it was the happiest day of the summer. I finally had a chance to make some extra money so I could have some freedom to spend. Later, after I had accepted the job and worked for a little bit, did I realize the mistake I made.

This is the process of the snowballing effect that occured:

1) When I filled out the application, I fixed my availability so that I could still attend Kendo practice while working. It was my assumption that they would either have me work on that day with the availability in mind, or just not schedule me for that day. BUT, because the available times are fixed, that was thrown out the window.

2) There are several days that I wanted off for the Kendo seminar, sister's graduation and family reunion. Unfortunately, because of the way they give out vacation days, I wouldn't be able to attend ANY of them. If I wanted the days off, then my only option is to switch with people, and even then, I don't think that's much of an option.

3) The general treatment of the employees is all but acceptable. When you first start, you can't even clock in on your own for the first few weeks which is a pretty annoying thing to go through. I feel like a robot in an assembly line with my "owners" not treating me, or the other coworkers, like human beings. It's bad enough that I'm working 5 days in a row (8 hour days).

Really, Walmart may think they "own" me, but they got another thing coming. I put in my 2 weeks to tell them that I'm hitting the highway. I'll take the money and just go home. The only way I can see it being possible to work there is if you need the money. If other opportunities come along, then you need to leave ASAP.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kendo Notes 5/19/07

I have been having some trouble sleeping lately. I wouldn't go to sleep till about 3 AM and wake up at 7:30 or 8 AM. And due to the phone ringing and other goings on during the day, I tend to not get that much sleep for the daytime duration. Despite me being tired with a headache, I took a Tylenol and went to Kendo anyways. It ended up being a good decision because I learned a lot today about my Kendo.

- There are quite a few bad habits that I need to break. The most important thing is that I need to pay more attention to what my body is doing. There are times where I wiggle the shinai too much or leave myself wide open after a hit. Sometimes, you concentrate so much on making the correct swing with the perfect hit that you forget the little things. I really need to change that.

- Jigeiko was great as I got some much appreciated one-on-one today. The one thing that I got some great practice in was with the hiki-waza. I tend to falter on that one since I tend to swing and not make the hit and overall falter on the footwork. I got some tips on how to better get the center and position myself to get a better chance in hitting by doing a little rotating and pushing to the side.

- Another thing that I need to work on is making sure that I actually have the center before I go forward. There have been times where I would go on ahead and strike but then get greeted with the kensen. I can get more points by waiting for a bit until I see an opening, or EFFECTIVELY move my shinai in a way that I gain control of the center. In short, I need to concentrate more on getting that one good hit instead of making 20 ineffective hits.

- To leave on a good note, I felt happy about my Kirikaeshi. My hits seemed to make their target as my main concern was to make sure that each strike is distinct and complete. Also, before I left, Arai Sensei pretty much ordered me to take the test at the seminar next month to get my ikkyu. I am planning on taking the test anyways, and I really want to pass.

Well, that ends this Kendo report. Ta ta for now!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

5/17/07 update

There really isn't much going on in the Kendo front right now. A trip to UPS took longer than expected to I was about a half-hour late. This resulted in me losing out on doing a few drills so I had to go straight into jigeiko. Needless to say, I at least made the most out of the little time I had there. This should make the notes relatively quick this time.

- Kan Sensei from Detroit came to visit today. I didn't get to go against him very much, but I went up to him anyways after practice to see what he had to say about my performance. All he said was that I needed to be more agressive and not worry so much about hitting the targets.

- I also got to spar against a variety of people. This time, I made it a point to bump up my reaction time, which seems to be working for the time being. It's been a while since I have actually felt my hits going in at a decent speed, so it seems like there's a little improvement on the way for me. All in all, I didn't feel any big disappointments in myself.

On a side note, I should mention that, over the past few days, I have been having that sort of itch to pick up my shinai and do suburi before I go to bed. It's that sort of feeling where if you didn't do that desireable thing, then your body would explode. Not really seeing that as an issure, I just gave in to tempation and did a few suburi to satisfy my urges. Other than that, I'm trying to make sure I think of something Kendo related when I go to bed to get my mind running.

Well, that's enough for today!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Notes for 5/12/07

Here are some notes that I gathered from GKA today...

- I finally had the chance to practice some serious kata. I haven't done them in quite some time, so I was pretty rusty to start out. One thing that has been bothering me since I have been doing kata is that my body feels extremely stiff when I do them. I don't know why that happens or how to fix it, but it just happens. The end result is a lack of balance and awkward feeling movements. I don't really know if it's something that goes away with time, or if there is some other way that I can think about doing them.

- Before I move on, I would just like to say something about kata. For being as important as it is, Kata seems to be rarely practiced compared to everything else. I can definately understand why, since kata is generally only "needed" during testing verses waza being needed everytime we walk into the dojo. Even so, I would still prefer to practice it more as I can only see the complacency of the importance of kata biting me in the future once I get to higher ranks. The kata drills don't have to be more than an hour. Even 20 minutes would be nice to do some fine tuning.

- Now on to the regular practice. We did a lot of different drills that tested my endurance and drive for perfection. Without getting too specific about the lessons learned, I was told to extend my left arm more. It's another thing that I should keep in mind to make sure that I increase my speed and strenght without decreasing my style.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I really need to come up with better titles...Just some Kendo Progress Updates

I went to GKA last night and was allowed to practice with them. It was a really great experience because I actually felt like I was doing something with my life instead of surfing on the internet, watching TV, playing videogames and running family errands. My life is a little balanced now so I am able to move on. It was great meeting up with the people I haven't seen for a while and getting in some actual training.

In keeping with my promise of charting my Kendo progress, I will put down some things I noticed about my training.

- First of all, it has been about three weeks since I have done some very hard Kendo practice. In that respect, I felt a little rusty in the beginning, but quickly warmed up as practice began. I guess the small amounts of self practice really helped in at least keeping me in the swing (no pun intended) of things.

- During the free geiko, I noticed how I was able to react a bit better to someone's advancing attacks, or at least realize when I have an opening but not necessarily go for it.

- My hiki waza is okay when just practicing them one on one, but it's not so great when actually doing it while sparring. I either trip up going back or I don't have as much of the center as I thought I did and the person ends up blocking. The footwork is confusing enough as it is. Integrating the swing and the zanshin makes everything a bit harder to accomodate. Some ways of fixing that could be to be faster with movements and also not be concerned with missing. I also have the option of hiki-kote and hiki-do, which can also be useful for getting out of a jam.

- During the practice, I noticed that there were a few people that don't hit very hard. But the thing is, their hits were spot on and they showed zanshin. Of course, everyone's philosophy on what makes a point is different so I really can't say if one is better than the other. I'm not the strongest person in the world and I am continuously told that I need to hit harder and harder. While it is true that I could hit harder, maybe I can concentrate on getting effective hits in other areas. I can still use the suburito to do swings, but instead of specifically trying to whack the living daylights out of a person, I should work on using that strength to make my hits stronger in the form of being clear and crisp.

I am pretty sure that there are a few notes that I could be missing, but then I think I would be missing the point of charting my progress. I need to concentrate on the things I learned without being nitpicky about my Kendo so much. All it will do is cloud my mind as there are millions of things that I need to fix. I have years upon years to fix things so I just need to concentrate on a few at a time and move on to the next when I feel satisfied with how I'm doing them. Then I can go back to those techniques at a later date and do some more refinement when I gain some better insight to my techniques with increased Kendo knowledge and ability.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What the hell is going on with me anyways

It's two weeks into Summer vacation, so how are things going on so far?

For the second time ever (how sad is this?), I got a 3.0 semester average on my report card. And I also didn't have any Ds on it either. There was one class, AAE 440 (Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics) that was giving me the most trouble with hard exams, long homework and a teacher who is too full of herself to be that helpful. In the end, I still ended up with a C, so I am very happy about it. I am happy now that I can go through a summer without worrying about my GPA. Keep this up and I can actually graduate next semester!

Due to my hectic schedule over the past week with turning in job applications and taking care of Grandma since her operation, I haven't gone to GKA yet. I have done some practice at night in the form of doing some waza and suburi to strengthen myself. I do plan on going tonight to ask for permission to hopefully join them today, and then I can definately start the hardcore practicing. I also need to get in contact with the head of the dojo that is closer to here to try to train with them in addition to GKA for some extra practice.

I have a position at some job agency that will put me in jobs that come up. But that means that I may only have to wait a few days, or a few weeks for something to come up. I am still job hunting for something a bit more stable. If I get this job, then I should be able to go to the Kendo seminar that's coming up next month. I have the money now, but I'm afraid of all the sudden expenses that are coming up now :(

Monday, May 07, 2007

Yet another Kendo update

As promised, I am posting an update to my training. So far, I haven't joined any dojos here since school didn't really end for me until Saturday due to a few projects that lingered on after my return home. But that hasn't kept me from doing some short practices by myself before I go to bed. Here are a few notes I've made.

- This may sound a bit crazy, but I found a way to increase my speed a bit. Ever since I started, I was always told to only use the left hand to do everything and the right only guides. It is true, but I found it to be an impediment to speed since I was only moving forward with my left arm. I can increase my speed by making my right arm a bit more active by using the force from it to move out faster than with just one arm.

- I've been doing whatever I can to strengthen my wrist and arm by doing katate suburi with the suburito and moving it up and down with the strength of my wrist. All I can say is that I really need work on that. We'll see what happens since it probably won't be until a few weeks when I know the results.

- As far as cross training is concerned, I have access to some free weights (no bench) a treadmill and one of those elastic band things. I'm really not sure how I can use the weights and elastic band to the best potential and the internet really isn't helping as there's too much information swimming around so it seems to be mostly on hold for now. On the treadmill side of things, I want to run like a mile and a half every day to keep my heart pumping and maybe give me any extra energy I need for fighting. I'm pretty sure I can do more with that, and I will increase it when I figure out that I can or should do more.

- For the remainder of the summer, I know I am going to have a lot of time on my hands. I tend to spend my days in front of the computer screen (like now), playing video games and watching TV. I might as well spend some of that time practicing Kendo for maybe an hour or two a day on my own time except for the days I go to practice. My goal is to go back to Purdue much better than when I left as well as get somewhere in the next tournament and I'll do just about anything to achieve that goal.
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