Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Injury Recovery

For the past few weeks, I have been skipping out on Kendo and Iaido practice due to a back injury.  Essentially, while doing things to take care of my stiff muscles in my back, my spine kind of just locked up.  I have been visiting the Chiropractor to get things fixed and things have been improving with each treatment so I should be able to return within the next few weeks.  According to the doctor though, I must have been living with a misaligned spine and muscles for quite some time, which actually sounds kinda creepy in retrospect.

However, even when I do return, I can't really just immediately start putting on my bogu and go at it.  Once I finish the adjustment segments, I need to get some therapy to strengthen the muscles I have since they are going to be operating differently.  I will be able to return to Kendo, but will probably have to spend that time just working on my basics and taking things easy until I feel more comfortable to get more active.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing because I will have an easier time concentrating  on all the basics, such as my footwork and suburi through either my own work or helping out any beginners that are attending practice.  It would be interesting to see how it all plays out once I'm able to join the main practice though.  Because the nature of Iaido isn't all that physically demanding, I'll be able to return to practice quite easily.  Heck, I could do it now as long as I'm not in pain on that particular day.

But, until I recover to that point, I'm stuck at home while I recover.  This has given me opportunities to catch up on some games I've neglected, but I've also been doing several things to keep my mind up to speed about Kendo and Iaido.

The biggest thing I have done was buy this book from E-Bogu.  The order was actually in addition to an Iaido hakama and new bokken set so I could save on shipping ($13 shipping vs. a $15 book + free shipping...hard decision...).  It's in Japanese so it's slow going as I actively translate everything, but there's lots of cool pictures drawings in there.  Iho hanshi (the author of the book) does a lot of comparisons between Kendo and various mainstream sports in terms of teaching some of the basic mechanics, though I'll have to see how that plays out as I continue reading.  I have also been reading various blogs and watching tournament videos on Youtube to keep things fresh and reflect on my own abilities. 

I am awaiting the moment I'm able to return to practice.  I'm honestly sick of having to sit around and wait but, if this prevents further injury and makes my body better than it was before, then all the wait time will all be worth it.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Kendo and Physics

Anyone that does Kendo can understand that even the most basic themes can be difficult to understand or perform.  Someone might tell you over and over how to hit a better men or make better use of seme, which is something you possibly could perform given enough time.  You might be able to do it, but do you really understand what your instructor is talking about?

Sometimes, whenever I am given advice on something during training, I can get told that my body has to be in position X when I start, then it needs to be in position Y when I finish while, at the same time, I need to be thinking about Z to really carry things through.  It really works for the short-term understanding to be able to try out what they are telling me for that particular practice, or even the following couple of practices.  But, I must admit, just saying that I have to be in certain positions or thinking about certain things can sometimes ring hollow to me for the long-term to aid in personal development.  Thus, I have been thinking of certain ways to aid in understanding things in terms that have more of a personal meaning to me.

Whenever we learn a new concept, one of the highly recommended methods for memorization or better understanding is to use mnemonics which is the concept of using aids to help your memorization and understanding of new material.  The most common thing to do is to take a new word or phrase and assign it a word, phrase or concept to make it easier to understand.  So, when it comes to Kendo, doing something like men turns into basic mechanical physics concepts like vector forces of the tip of the shinai and radius of rotation and their related equations.  Or, a concept like tame goes from just storing up my energy before I attack to thinking of springs and how they operate.  Things like this really helps put things into perspective and makes everything less daunting to understand.

Another benefit of this is that, whenever I have to relay the information to others, I can have an easier time explaining it since it makes much more sense to me.  The main caveat is that, because I understand it in terms of physical concepts, relaying the information may be a bit more difficult to others to understand that don't have the same science background that I do.  Of course, any looks of confusion allows me to backpedal a bit and explain it differently if I forget who I am talking to.

Either way, the most important thing is that I turn what was previously hard to understand concepts into something meaningful and, thus, easier to understand.  Doing so allows me to rely on my own devices to aid in improvement, regardless of the type of advice I get.
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