Saturday 11 June 2022 Keiko Reflection - Janet
Todays Keiko is a true reflection & fine example of “Shi-Tei-Dou-Gyou” (師弟同行) which literally means “teacher & student going together”. It encourages bilateral learning irrelevant of one’s status nor level of experience & is a learning philosophy or attitude derived from Zen Buddhism encouraging Sensei, Senpai & Kohai to work & train together, giving each other their 120% effort towards refining each others kendo. Sensei & senpai will provide guidance, feedback & constantly looking to challenge the Kohais to increase level of difficulty so we can think & learn from our mistakes as we make progress on our kendo journey. This is also an important part of the seniors kendo journey to be able to effectively pass on their knowledge of Kendo to the future generations. While the Kohais need to be constantly attentive & be proactive to learn from the seniors.
Saturday 11 June 2022
For the beginners & Kyu grades, the focus today was on refining our kihon:
1. Suriashi foot work (remember to keep our foot with inner parallel two fists apart constantly. After each push off from left foot & sliding movement with right toe & sole of foot against the ground, we need to following up quickly with the left foot with the left toe in line with right heel & left heel slightly off the ground).
2. Refining Men strikes. First we need to try relax our upper body, & ensure full rotation of shoulders. Doing Joge-buri drills can help warm up the shoulders. Then we need to focus on tighter grip with left middle, ring & pinkie fingers while semi-relax the right hand during kamae & shoulder rotation during swing to ensure most of the forces are generated from the left arm to ensure our swings are sharp & strong, while the right hand only grips tighter at point of strike to perform Tenouchi effectively stop further downward momentum making the Kensen bounce up slightly.
3. Refining Kote strikes. During drill practice, since the Motodachi will expose the Kote, we only need to step slightly forward (less distance compared to Men strikes) & execute the cut right down the centre without needing too much movement.
4. Refining Do strikes. Ensure our shoulders are relaxed. Then almost like performing Sayu-Men but rotating the shoulders & dropping our elbows towards our abdomen from over the head (for Big Do strikes) in one consecutive swing without time lag, cutting diagonally towards the midline of Motodachis Do. During drill practice, we can double check the striking distance by measuring our Kensen from Motodachis Do first before attempting the strike initially to get a feel for the correct distance. Make sure to keep the right shoulder & elbow relaxed & tucked in (not sticking out high) as we swing down & across before performing Fumikomi slightly towards the right side of Motodachi & tightening the right hand to perform Tenouchi before running past.
5. Having strong Kiais to build up sufficient Ki towards executing sharp & strong strikes & later on to help with Seme.
6. Once we can execute acceptable Big Men & Kote strikes, we need to focus on doing Small Men & Kote which will effectively allow quicker & more effective valid strikes as well as give opponents less opening during Ji-geiko or Shiai.
While repeating kihon drills during each keiko may seem like nothing new, but by not having many fancy waza or special moves & just having 4 target areas (Men, Kote, Do, Tsuki) to focus on, meant kendokas need to constantly strive to refine their craft & skills to perform sharp & crispy kihon strikes elegantly yet powerfully. Often the hardest task is to be able to perform the basics to perfection. And this is the true essence of Kendo.
Many thanks to Jeffrey & Joyce senpai for leading the beginners class today
Many thanks to Clark senpai for leading the warm up, suburi & Fumikomi drills
Many thanks to Leo Senpai for leading the rest of the keiko tonight
Many thanks to Kevin senpai who joined in with other senpais helping us juniors with Shido-geiko, providing valuable one-on-one individual feedback to learn & improve & refine our kendo
Special mention to the amazing Ollie, who stayed for the entire keiko from 1:30-6pm not many adults could stay that long let alone a child, who even joined in the adult keiko!! Amazing dedication & true kendoka spirit we all can learn from