Kendo and me - Darrin

Hi Sam

Over the last few months I have been focussing on trying to improve my stamping and my swing for big cuts.

Jeffrey has told me that I tend to lift my right leg up rather that driving forward when I stamp; also that my stamping is not strong enough.

As well as this, I have been trying to focus on not moving my left foot forward when I am about to stamp.

So I'm trying to co-ordinate my left leg, my waist and my right knee to improve my stamping.

The other day you gave me a really good technique to help ensure that I raise my shinai high enough before executing the cut: this is where you advised that we should swing our shinai forward when we see our left fist reach eye level. Generally, I think the problem is that I rush the cut so am not raising my shinai high enough.

Whenever I train with Jeffrey he says "more stamping"; whenever I train with Leo he says "swing bigger", so one of my goals for the end of this year is for Jeffrey to say "nice stamping" and Leo to say "nice swing"!

These two things have been my main problems I think since I started with Kendo and it is a bit frustrating that I am finding them so difficult to correct.

Also, with stamping, I can not stamp going backwards at all. I hope to be able to start developing this skill over this year.

I can't do taitari (not sure of the spelling) very well so hope to improve this a lot over this year too.

Recently Jeffrey showed me that I need to relax my shoulders after executing a cut so that my cut will naturally bounce up a little ('pang') rather than be just a 'whack'. Actually, when I do cut a men properly like this it is really satisfying to hear the right sound and have the right feel, if you know what I mean.

I am also aware too that I need to focus on ki-ken-tai-ichi and particularly make sure that my cut lands with my foot.

With shiai, one of the key things that I try to improve on is my zanshin and I'm still slowly learning how to do this. Actually, I don't think that I can manage shiai very well at all yet but I have noticed that I have improved quite a bit from, say, six months ago. Hopefully this means that I can continue to get a lot better over 2008.

These are my main thoughts about my kendo at the moment although I'm very aware that I still need to work on all the basic skills as well as starting to develop some of the more advanced skills (small men etc).

Thanks Sam

It's great to have you 'home'
See you Tuesday