Thursday, August 12, 2010 - Session Three

Almost two hours later and I am still feeling flushed! I had another training session alone again. Not that big a deal since I think Justin (Sempai) is dealing with University finals and anyone else who is in the area during the summer is probably doing the same. I still would like to know a reliable way to get in touch with Maestas Sensei but that will happen when it happens. For now I have seem to be making minor progress practicing what Justin showed me. I did manage to hold center a little bit more effectively as I practiced suri-ashi, though my hips seem to pivot when I move either forward or backward. So I need to work on not wiggling around so much. I also found that both heels picked up off the ground once I got moving backward and forward more fluidly, and my right heel was matching my left heel in height. I get the impression that I am moving too much like a dancer or European fencer - and not enough like a kendōka - with my forward movements. Using the mirror at the YMCA has helped a lot in keeping my torso straight and in place, but I might need to bring a video recorder in case I end up practicing alone again. I could use the extra eyes so I could sit back and look for bad posturing and such. I also have noticed that I feel as though I should be lunging with a strong push from the back whenever I try to originate momentum with my left foot rather than my right.

I lasted about an hour on my own. This was like the last time. I drilled out some sonkyo drills until my knees were hitting the floor with each squat, and managed to get out thirty five good ones with proper posture and strength. But now my legs are gelatin again! It might sound crazy to some people, but ending a practice session with weak legs feels so good. I can even appreciate the painful stiff legs that follow for the few days afterward! I also practiced (suburi?) striking men, very slowly, with my shinai and I think I am beginning to understand how to strike with the left hand while guiding with the right hand. It is very backwards to what my arms and hands want to do with the shinai but I think I got a bit closer to doing it correctly this time around. First I attempted suburi while standing but I was wobbling all over the place even when I attempted nothing but slow strikes to practice form. Then I practiced it from sitting in seiza and I was able to coordinate my arms much more effectively, and put more strength into the slow motion strikes. Hopefully I will be able to sit down with someone who is more experienced soon. I might attempt to make it down to the Ito Dojo this coming Sunday so I can practice with a few more people. I can afford the gas for the drive for a Sunday or two each month, at least until I make it into mortuary school and become committed to an hour long commute several times each week for school. But it could be good until then.

Oh, and after I was done at the YMCA with my practice, I stopped over at the Boulder Aikikai to check out their Aikido class. It came across as pretty straightforward and I got a good vibe from everyone in the class, though I only observed. Their setup is real nice and I will admit to having had a brief fantasy about attempting to bring Boulder Aikikai and Yamakage Dojo together ... buuuuut that all came crashing down once I saw that their floors are firm mats rather than hard wood. I think that I might head down there next Wednesday for a pick up class and see how I feel about practicing Aikido there. I have just enough experience with it to know that it is something I will enjoy, and it looked as though their training methods could really improve upon my endurance. Since both Kendo and Aikido both ultimately come from the swordplay traditions (or so I was told once upon a time) I am hoping that practicing one will not produce bad habits when I practice the other one.

Suri-Ashi: 45-60 minutes, Unsure on repetitions
Sonkyo: 35 repetitions
Seiza Practice: 5 minutes
Suburi: 5-10 minutes, Unsure on repetitions

Improvements Needed: No more hip pivoting when moving forward or backward during suri-ashi. Keep the right heel closer to the ground. Continue working on learning to use the left foot for momentum rather than the right foot. Strengthen up the arms, and continue strengthening the legs with the sonkyo drills. Start doing those drills at home to build up strength for practice!

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