Tuesday, October 14, 2008

1st Annual ECUSKF Student Tournament

This past weekend marked the 1st anniversary of the East Central United States Kendo Federation (henceforth ECUSKF) Student Tournament. The purpose of this particular tournament is to better cultivate the Kendo of the younger people by allowing them to fight each other in an environment made just for them.

Before I begin, I would like to congratulate all the participants. You fought very hard and made the spectators very proud!

Of course, being 23 and not a student in any way, shape or form, I was only there to do score keeping and make myself available for any other help that might be needed. This was the first time I ever got to score keep as well, so there was a bit of learning on my part. The scoring for Kendo is more than just saying that someone got a point and won the match. There are marks for what kind of score they got, if they had a penalty (hansoku), a no-show or whether or not the scores were judged by matches. Nagata Sensei asked me to do it in Japanese, which was really no problem at all. I got to learn some more Kanji and vocabulary from reading the instructions (the Japanese version was a bit more clear...hmm...) so that was pretty fun.

Being there was a blast! Seeing the little kids beating each other up or competing in the basics (kihon) tournament really put nothing but smiles on my face. They all fought very hard and looked like they were enjoying themselves the whole time. Seeing this sort of lit my kendo fire a bit.

After the tournament, we had a joint practice which was really just an hour of free practice, so we just go up to whoever we want and fight them for a few minutes before moving on to the next person. I was sort of freaking out a bit because, I was just going and going with one person after another with what I felt was a lot of spirit. The strange part was that I was really able to keep going after practice was over. I'm not sure if it had something to do with seeing the tournament (my spirits tend to go up after a tournament or exam) or if there may have been something in the Lexington water.

Of course, I can't finish this without any sorts of things I need to fix. There were three points that was made to me:
  • I need to know when to stop and complete my hits. This is really more of a recent phenomenon, but I sometimes get into a hitting frenzy where I tend to hit any chance I get. While that fact isn't so bad, it can count against me cause it could cancel out any sorts of points I may have made with my first hit by trying to fit in a second one. A more specific example would be a nidan-waza like kote-men. We do that a lot during practice and it tends to get into our minds to do a kote-men, no matter what the outcome might be with the kote hit. What we eventually need to get to is that we have the mindset to do one hit, but follow up with the second one in case the first one doesn't hit.
  • I seem to be tensing up a lot with my arms. Can't really explain it that much other than the fact that it tends to happen if I'm high in energy and ready to go. While it might feel like I'm going fast, the tensing up only slows me down and tires me out quicker. Looks like this is a big one to finish.
  • I could try to make use of shikake (offensive) and oji-waza (countering). Those actually tend to be my weak points since I'm either not fast enough or not accurate enough for them to become useful (Koizumi sensei noted this issue). These can be very important tools to grab the center if I happen to be at a disadvantage so I should make better use of these techniques.
I would definately like to congratulate Elizabeth and Nagata-sensei and all other people involved in planning and running the event for their efforts in getting the tournament going with very little issues. Everyone was very impressed and definately wants this to happen again.

Well, good night peeps!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Crazy Kendo Week

This past week has been pretty crazy for Kendo and Iaido:

  • Early in the week, the soreness in my left foot went from a dull soreness like it was overworked to a slight sharp pain. It wasn't a showstopper, but it really affected my Kendo to the point where it was kinda detrimental. I set up a doctors appointment for the following Wednesday (and skipped Tuesday practice just in case the pain is something larger). According to the symptoms, the doctor said that it was most likely a swollen tendon or something. Since I can't take anti-inflammatories like Aspirin or Ibuprofen, I'm out of luck in this regard.

  • Wednesday was the first part of a taping for a Public Access program in the Northern Kentucky area (which means I won't see it) called Men of Bronze and Fire. I know nothing about the program, but Atkins Sensei wanted to do something to hopefully boost membership. Of course, trying to do some stuff with the little experience I have is a little daunting in front of a camera, but considering the target audience, I don't have much to worry about.

  • I decide to try out Kendo on my foot the next day. It wasn't too bad, but I wasn't able to perform in tip top shape which is pretty frustrating. I later decide to skip on Saturday practice to aid in healing my foot as fast as I can

  • Sunday was the second portion of the taping that featured the Kendo half of the program. Things could have gone a bit better if I had realized a bit more about the timing and knowing what I could and could not do during the whole taping part, but it was okay overall. The good news is that the target audience won't fully understand what's going on, but hopefully would be inclined to start practice to increase membership

Hmm, well there really isn't much to say here for the moment. I guess if I learned anything from this past week, it would be to listen to my body better to make sure I can identify and fix pain ASAP so I'm not out for several months.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Getsumei Seiki

It's been a while since I posted anything anime/manga related, so I'll post something about a manga that I have read over the past few days.

The name of this manga is Getsumei Seiki: Sayonara Shinsengumi. The story follows the life of Hijitaka Toshizou as he follows his desires to become his definition of a samurai and eventually lead the famed Shinsengumi. The story takes place around the Bakumatsu era, around the time when Perry and those Black ships came by.

Unfortunately, only the first 17 chapters of the manga have been fan-translated so far, which can be found here if you want to take a look. As far as I know, the manga hasn't been picked up by any company in the US for official translation so, if you're interested in reading it, then you'll have to break out that Japanese dictionary.

I really enjoyed reading what little I could of it and felt hung out to dry after that last chapter. I do have plans to buy the rest of the series, but hope that the Japanese isn't TOO advanced for me to read without trouble. What I have enjoyed most about it is the relationship development between the major characters in the manga. Of course, the fact that Kendo and swordsmanship is in it kinda helps too :).

I guess if any of you have anything to say about this manga, then feel free to say something. If it's a spoiler, then I'll use my super secret Ninja techniques to kill you!
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