Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Training Mind

Because of the Labor Day weekend, the Miami Valley dojo and Northern KY Dojo was closed. But that fact didn't matter because I am in Atlanta right now. Despite me being away, I still got to practice Kendo at Georgia Kendo Alliance.

Today's practice was okay. It was pretty difficult to navigate the floor because my feet would slide. Because of the differences in footwork, it kinda threw off everything else a bit as well.

I attended both the intermediate and advanced practices for the night. The intermediate practice went over the principles of kirikaeshi. It was a pretty nice breakdown of the major components of it such as good fumikomi, good swings and proper distance. I put those explanations together with the ones that people in Ohio tell me to really give everything my all.

After that, the advanced practice began where we started off with waza and ended with free geiko. There were two new things that I learned from training yesterday:

  • For the kaeshi waza, the foot must move as you are warding your opponent's shinai out of the center. This should allow you to more quickly get in before the opponent has a chance to react

  • Another point for the kaeshi waza. Whenever I do it, I tend to just try to knock the shinai out of the center. What I should be doing is just letting it slide out of the way before I counter attack to take over the center

The free gieko was pretty nice. I tried to fight against one guy doing nitou but he put his other shinai down when fighting the lower ranked people (I was hoping to get the chance to do it). I also got to fight an old friend of mine who pretty much dominated me as usual.

I did say earlier that one of the things that was holding me back was the floor. Normally, I would have eventually adjusted by the end of practice, but there is another thing that was bothering me at the back of my mind. Gustav is heading towards the Gulf Coast as we speak. I know that most of my family is okay, but just the thought of possibly going back and seeing the city destroyed yet again really sucks. Of course, only time will tell when the storm actually makes landfall where ever it's going. Now I know how it feels to have personal connections to various disaster areas.

This brings up a point about training while something is constantly on your mind. Before every practice, you meditate (command is Mokusou (黙想)) to bring your mind to the kendo tasks at hand and away from the outside world. But, even if something is a bit more difficult to shake than a few seconds of meditation, should you continue practice?

Sometimes it can help to do something completely unrelated to the problem to make you feel better. There were times during practice where I did concentrate all on Kendo to let go of what's been going through my mind. I did what I could to put my all into practice but overall was about 95%.

The difference between most activities and Kendo is that practice depends as much on yourself as the other person you're training with. If you don't do your part, then the other person doesn't get anything out of it and that part of the session just remains empty. Anyone who has done Kendo will probably know what I'm talking about to some extent on this.

But should you continue to practice? I would say that it depends on the situation at hand and how it's affecting you. In most cases, the Kendo can be therapeutic to keep your mind off the issues at home and allow you to deal with them with a vigorous activity.

But there are times where you can't really shake the feelings you have which can negatively affect your abilities. If it's just a practice and you have been finding yourself crying or doing things negatively in your main life, then it's probably best to skip one practice to not add to the guilt of being a bad partner and not doing so well.


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