Andrew - Breathing and the No-Bogu-Keiko
I did try to do my "homework" last week but have found it difficult to write, i think I needed some time to digest it all (the camp).
A few things stick in my mind from the weekend.
Number one -Inoue sensei. Like most advanced masters I have seen he has a very deep understanding about - everything, I feel grateful to attend a camp which such a teacher. I have been pondering over the breathing exercises - these were difficult, they developed not only lung capacity but strength of mind, (willpower), i also feel that working on breath control like this reminded me of breathing practices of Zen meditation and the ability to fill the hara with ki to bring the mind to a steady state. Breathing is the original kihon. When we are born it is the first and when we die it is the last.
Kendo is indeed difficult in that it is not only a moving meditation like for example tai chi but it is one where we do give everything physically and yet need to remain centred. Staying mindful is hard enough to do sitting with the eyes closed, let alone combatting an opponent. So I am understanding more the importance of coming back to the basics - perfecting the technique. I was told my left hand in Kirikaeshi is not centred enough on the left strike and to 'put more body into my kirikaeshi' as well.
The other thing that stuck in my mind was when Blake sensei (senpai?) and the nidan had a match (blake minus the bogu) and how the mood changed (became quite serious) and we were told by Inoue sensei this is the attitude we should have when doing Kendo. I hope some of what i have written makes some sense to you.