Monday, July 30, 2007

Kendo Update and New Anime

Okay, it's been a while since I posted something so I apologize for that. So here's a quick rundown of what's happened since the last posting (which really isn't much).

- I took the ikkyu test, but I failed it again. Quite naturally, I was pretty disappointed in myself since I thought that I did a pretty good job this time around. I asked some of the judges what I did wrong, but they ended up being the ones that passed me, but I did get some useful advice. The most important advice given to me was that I needed to control the situation better. If the person you are fighting doesn't do well, then you need to react accordingly. So while you might not be doing anything wrong, if you can't adapt, then the other person could aid in your failing as well.

- Just the general Kendo stuff. I had to skip last week due to having a sore throat late in the week. The latest practice was nice since the purpose of the class was to concentrate on the footwork as something to improve on. The main tip of the day was to improve quickly by setting a goal to improve something and try to carry it out throughout the practice. It's easy to get caught up in the swings and the movement and sort of forget what your body is doing, so it's a nice way to gain some perspective on your body's movement.

- There has been this anime series that I have been looking for for quite a while. But this isn't just any normal anime, it's an anime based on Kendo. And this isn't one of those that they just have it for a few episodes as a club activity for the characters. The whole anime is based on one's journey to become the best Kenshi in Japan. The name of it is Musashi no Ken. The manga was made in the early 70s to early 80s with the anime to follow around '85 or so.

The anime was never hard to obtain. It was just prohibitively expensive. For some reason, it costs over US$500 to obtain the Japanese version. Just days after finding the first seven episodes on BitTorrent, I found the Taiwanese version for US$30 for the whole series, which apparently has been available since this March. Naturally, I decided to swipe the series up, and it has been in my hands for about two days. Here are my first impressions.

This is the first and only series that I have where I have read the manga in its entirety and have the opportunity to see the anime and their differences. The amazing thing is that the voices that I have running in my head while reading the manga is almost spot on with the voices used in the Anime. Not really sure how that happened, but oh well.

As before, I did say that it is the Taiwanese version. But for those Japanophiles out there, the packaging, DVD menus and subtitles are in Chinese. The show seems virtually untouched from the Japanese version as the language is, of course, in Japanese. Of course, if you know chinese, you have the leg up since you'd be able to understand what they are saying. For us English speakers out there, we are out of luck. Though, even if you know Japanese, you might still have a hard time understanding it since regional dialects are used here. Unfortunately, there are very few resources available for learning specific dialects, so everything has to be taken from context.

Right now, I'm only on episode 11 or so, but I am seeing that this series is definately spot on with the manga. Even so, it's nice to have a different representation since literature and TV can express things differently. If you like the manga, I am pretty sure you will like the series though.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

AUSKF Kendo Kamp: Day 2

Today ends the second day of the summer camp. I must say that it was an extremely fulfilling experience as I learned a lot today about myself and my performance of the basics. What I did realize was that it is easy to just do the basic stuff any old way in lieu of the more advanced things and forget to think about doing them. It was a nice way to look at things in a whole new perspective. Below are some specific notes that I mentally made throughout the day. After the group suburi practice, we were divided into groups based on rank. Since I was in the Kyu group, we touched on many basics from the importance of presenting yourself correctly to holing the shinai to some fumikomi.

  • While swinging the shinai, it is important to remember to keep the sword alive. When the suburi is finished, don't just let it rest in position. Keep it strong and moving (only a little) to put some spirit into the shinai.
  • For seiza, pay special attention that the back remains straight, no matter how tired you are. It is important that you don't show others how tired you are as it shows a sign of weakness. This is done by taking a half step back and lowering yourself down on your left knee followed by the right. That is when you flatten the top of your feet and sit down on top of them.
  • When bowing after mokuso, keep the back and neck straight but also don't raise your butt in the process. The difference between bowing to the shomen and your opponent is in the deepness of the bow. The bow to the shomen is about 35 degrees while the bow to your opponent is about 15 degrees. Also, keep your eyes on your opponent at all times.
  • In hayasuburi, the focus should be fast swings. You don't necessarily have to do shomen while doing hayasuburi. But don't forget that each swing should be strong.
  • The wrists should be turned in while in kamae. This makes it easier to extend the left arm when swinging. Also, one way to gauge the distance between hands on the tsuka is to put the tip of the tsuka on the inside of your elbow and grab the tsuka with your hand. The position of the hand is where the right hand should be.

There was much more to be remembered, but it's getting late and I must rest for day three of the seminar. Besides, there was way too many points to remember that whole day so it's unrealistic to catch them all long enough to write them down.
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