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Developing good, smooth, swift Suri-ashi (sliding footwork)

Wednesday 22nd June 2022 Keiko Reflection - Janet

Kendo does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter who we are, once we put on bōgu facing our opponents our intentions are all the same, do our best to deliver our best Ippon or Yūkō-datotsu (valid strike). In order to achieve that goal, kendokas constantly return to train Kihon basics to refine & perfect their kendo.

We need to work on developing good, smooth, swift Suri-ashi (sliding footwork) while maintaining good straight upper body posture with same height & a stable centre of gravity to keep balanced.

Okuri-ashi, is a type of sliding footwork where you push off with your left foot & advance with the right then quickly follow up with the left foot again but the left toe is always in line with the heel of the right foot. It is crucial for the left foot not to pass more than half of the length of the right foot in order to be in a position to quickly get back into good kamae to be ready to defend or attack. 

Having good, stable & fast Okuri-ashi will help us to maintain good Zanshin by keeping the forward momentum going following each strike to quickly move out of the range for possible counterattacks from the opponent as well as allowing us to smoothly turn around & stop in a safe distance to get into good Kamae again before next strike.

To perform Okuri-ashi in all directions with good stability & speed is crucial to maintain good distance while fighting for centre when going against an opponent.

Fumikomi-ashi (stamping footwork) is usually used for attacks. It is important for us to keep in mind & find our best striking distance for each target areas from Issoku Ittou no Maai, as our stamping distance needs to be adjusted accordingly. 

To strike Men, our stamping distance from Issoku Ittou no Maai needs to be at least 0.8-0.9 of one Shinai length in order to reach the Men with the Datotsu-bu of the Shinai while maintaining good straight upper body posture (Kendo math!!!).

Whereas to strike Kote, or rensoku Kote-Men strikes, the stamping distance is much reduced.

We need to quickly follow up with our left foot following the right foot stamping so that the centre of gravity can be shifted mostly to the left to be able to push off from the left again to execute rensoku or repeated strikes.

We also need to work on Dō strikes. Ensure we focus our power on the left arm & not sticking out our elbows while keeping the left arm in the centre during downward shoulder rotation for the strike. Ensure our left hand is lowered to the level of the belly button before extending our forearm to perform Tenouchi on the Dō. When the movements are done correctly, we should be able to hit the Dō even without looking.

* * *

Tonight’s Mitori-geiko on the Senpais was very helpful. They demonstrated the importance of Ai-Seme. Starting with strong Kiai to build up & strengthen their own Ki to fight for dominance even prior to making a move, while trying to kill their opponents Ki before striking with intent. This is something Kyu grades need to start working on to help achieving the best Ippon.

Thank you to Sam sensei & Marleen sensei for leading the Keiko tonight. It was good to be reminded that basics form the basis of everything in kendo🙇‍♂️🙇‍♂️🙇‍♂️

Thanks to all the Senpais who came to keiko tonight, leading by example, showing us what good Ai-Seme is & being good Motodachi for us beginners to learn from🙇‍♂️🙇‍♂️🙇‍♂️


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