Thursday, April 02, 2015

Cross Training

For a while now, I've been wondering what I could do to make my tournament performance better.  I attend multiple ones throughout the Midwest, but for the most part, I tend to get knocked out in the first or second round.  I look around at the people that tend to do well and I wish I was able to get a piece of that pie.  And when I talk about getting better at tournaments, it's not necessarily to win all the time, but I want to at least not falter when going up.

I realize that there are some people out there that are just good at competing.  I've realized a long time ago that I'm not one of those people and that I needed to put something extra into my training to at least set me on the path to where I want to go.  About a month ago, I decided to put a plan in action.

This is the current cross-training regimen that I've set out for myself:
  • Daily:  Do 100 katate-suburi with my suburito with each arm.  So I don't kill my wrists like I've done recently, I hold it closer to where the tsuba would be if I had one.  I do add 30 more suburi with each hand while holding it at the end of the tsuka, but it's done slowly so I don't injure myself.  I try my best to make sure I don't just do the swings for the sake of it by paying attention to the muscles I'm using and working on my tenouchi.
  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday:  Do a set of pull-ups or push-ups, something upper body at the very least.  I haven't made any specific goals as to how many of each I want to be able to do, but I want to try to make it a work-out
  • Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday:  Take a jog around the neighborhood for about 3 - 6 miles
  • In addition to that, I still go to practice five days per week
I've only been doing this for almost a month now, so the only thing I can say for certain is that I've become physically stronger in my daily life.  I have noticed some improvements in how my attacks are performed, but since there hasn't been too much time that passed, I can't say if it's due to the training or if I'm experiencing some sort of a good streak.  My fumikiri-ashi has improved, I've improved the use of my left hand when executing techniques and I've been able to perform better when it comes to sparring with others...most of the time.  There is one interesting thing that I noticed about two weeks ago.  While I have improved on my physical abilities, there is some lag time with any improvements in my Kendo technique.  It's obvious that I'll only get better at doing Kendo, but it's an interesting development to actually experience.

While I'm more physically able to do the techniques I desire during practice, there is one thing that's missing from my additional training which I believe is the most important part, and that is the mental training.  I could train my body to do complicated Kendo techniques and use certain muscles to get to where I need to go, but if I'm mentally flustered, I won't get so far during tournaments and promotion exams.  Right now, I go between being easily flustered to being too relaxed with not enough attentiveness to what's going on.  Maybe all I need is to just train my body more and exhaust myself enough so that I'm forced to get more spiritual in my practice.  Maybe blocking out some time for meditation is something I need to consider doing.  I don't really know the answer at this point, but the end goal is to have more fudoshin (immovable mind) so I can have more concentration about what's in front of me instead of worrying about potential results to hypothetical situations I think of.

I've had some hiccups with following the training regimen as regularly as I want to, but I've been able to guilt myself into getting back into it as soon as I can.  So far, the results seem good, but there are a lot of things about myself that I need to improve before I reach the goals I want to achieve.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Obligitory Kendo/Iaido Self-Reflection...2014 Edition

Overall, I felt that 2014 was a satisfying one for my growth, understanding and participation of Kendo and Iaido, despite some pretty interesting ups and downs.  I've been able to continue practicing between 3 - 5 days per week depending on the University of Cincinnati being in session.  I've also been able to make some new friends while vacationing in Hawaii and, of course, taking the opportunity to practice there and I've been able to catch up with some old ones by visiting Atlanta and practicing there.  There was one event that happened which will really test my ability to lead and organize though.

Earlier this year, I was given the keys to the Northern Kentucky Kendo Club because the previous leader had to move away for a job opportunity.  I've spent the past few years growing as a person by leading practices here in Cincinnati and offering advice where applicable, and I've been an officer for a few clubs in the past and with our regional Kendo federation, but I've never had the responsibility for running a club.

The good news is that the club is very small at the moment so there really isn't a lot of stuff to handle at the moment.  My goal right now is to try to structure the club a little better, gain more students and make the club more sustainable.  I know it's not going to be easy but I'm willing to stand in the face of this challenge.

One problem with the old club leader moving away is that now I'm without a sensei to teach me Iaido here in Cincinnati.  Of course, that doesn't mean that I will stop practicing.  I've still been able to work with my knowledge through practicing with him and attending seminars when I am able to.  My plan is to try to attend more seminars, gain rank and knowledge and try to grow Iaido membership.  Marketability is tough since Iaido doesn't have the screaming, hitting and stomping that Kendo has so it will be tough.  At least I've been able to do demos at our regional tournaments, so I guess that's a start.

There are two major events that I have to look forward to in 2015 that's Kendo related.

  • I get to see the World Kendo Championship in Tokyo in May.  I've always thought about going for years because it would be a great opportunity to see some of the best Kendo that the world has to offer.  I will be going with a friend of mine who stayed over there for a few months a while back, so she has connections to a few of the dojos she practiced at.  Not only do I get to watch some good Kendo, I have a few opportunities to get some practice in for myself!
  • I will be eligible to test for my 4th Dan in November.  I have been preparing for this moment ever since I passed my 3rd Dan, but I can't help but feel the pressure from the time crunch.  There's still a lot that I need to work on before the test date, but I feel optimistic that I will be able to use my short time to the fullest to prepare.
Other than that, all I can expect is to develop myself through more Kendo and Iaido practices while meeting new people and catching up with old ones.  

明けましておめでとうございます (Happy New Year)!
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