Thursday, October 21, 2010 - Session Eleven

18:10 PM: Receieved an email from Maestas Sensei, letting me know that he has an engagement that he needs to address this evening, and so official practice is cancelled. I will still be going down to the YMCA to practice though. I will be practicing the first kata, and also working on not leaning forward so much when I strike at men. I am hoping that the woman from last week shows up again. That would be cool!

21:48 PM: I had a great practice session! I spent the first hour working on kata one, mostly on the footwork. I am hoping to get my backward step and forward step to be a little closer together on the men-nuki-men portion. I am evading too far backward and this seems to force me into a lunge as I attempt to recover the distance for striking men. I also practiced striking men from jodan-no-kamae, and I am still rearing the sword too far backward. Right now I am letting the bokuto disappear behind my back, and I should instead keep it higher up before I strike. But I feel good about the progress that I made, and it was a great warm-up for the second hour of the solo practice.

I spent the second hour with my shinai rather than my bokuto, and I was able to bring out our training dummy as well. I pretty much practiced striking at men for the entire second hour, and through in some needed suri-ashi practice as well. I was super pleased to find that my feet are really sliding now and that I am not sticking to the floor as often! Striking men worked out well tonight. But I need to put some serious work into running through afterward. Like some serious work. But I felt like my strikes themselves were strong and on target, and that my kiai was strong as well. I still need to work on closing distance though. I was lunging more than I should have been, and so I was not snapping up my left foot as well as I should. I think that is part of what makes running through more difficult for me. I need to cover more initial distance - before I can even begin to move through my opponent - because my feet are so far apart when my shinai connects with their men.

I worked on closing that gap a bit and I found some success there. So hurrah! I also practiced hiki-men from tai-atari distance and that was a killer good time. It felt very strong and natural. I also had some fun practicing my strike at men from the jodan-no-kamae and gedan-no-kamae stances, and both were very different experiences! I liked gedan a lot. It felt very fluid in my wrists. I did notice that my strikes were very shallow and glancing when I struck from the jodan position though; and all my men strikes are still using too much right arm power and not enough from the left arm, no matter what stance they begin with.

I even managed to take a couple moments to snap some pictures with my phone, so I could better see what I am doing with my feet versus what I should be doing with them. The two photos that are after the strike are actually after the strike to men, and I just held my position as it was when my strike was finished. Just looking at them, I can see that my chudan-no-kamae is a little too high and could be lowered. I also definitely think that my feet were ending too wide apart, and that the third picture shows an improvement, buuuut I am sure there are still numerous flaws with that one as well. Like my posture. Oh well. More things to keep working on! Sadly, no new people showed up tonight. But maybe Maestas-Sensei just let them know that there would be no official class tonight, and they will show up next week. I will keep my hopes high!

Chudan-No-Kamae: Lower the shinai just a little bit.

Men: First attempt. Feet are too wide apart?

Men: Second attempt. Feet are better maybe? But posture seems to have suffered.

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