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Developing strong Presence both during Keiko & Kata

Wisdom is never an instruction, but a guide for your journey.

Wednesday 6th July 2022 Keiko Reflection - Janet

Tonight’s training focus was on:

1. Kihon footwork: both forwards & backwards & swiftly follow up with left foot.

2. Small Men: Remember the striking force on contact with target should be exactly the same as when doing Big-Men, however, we do not need to rotate our shoulders fully over the head, but rather only need to rotate the shoulders to about shoulder height then extend the left arm & wrist & perform Tenouchi.

3. Hiki Waza (Hiki-Men, Hiki-Dō): these are techniques made while stepping backwards usually from Tsubazeriai position & are executed with smaller shoulder rotations like Small Men or Dō while the body’s centre of gravity is going backwards on to the left foot first before performing Fumikomi with the right foot at same time as the Shinai strikes the target. It is crucial for Kyu grades to start getting use to backwards foot work & practice it until we can do it as swiftly as going forwards to ensure we can evade the opponent successfully when moving backwards following strike.

4. Forward Dō strikes: can be done with or without Fumikomi, the key is to be able to move swiftly past & away from the opponent from the side sometimes using Ayumi-ashi to move away quicker.

5. Kata Sanbon-me/ No.3: In this Kata, no one gets hurt or killed. Tonight’s focus for Kyu grades was the Uchidachi part only. Uchidachi is the attacker who initiate the whole sequence of movements followed by the Shidachi. 

  • Starting off in Gedan no Kamae, Uchidachi & Shidachi moves 3 big steps forward towards each other onto the front foot, then gradually move both Kensen up to Chudan level, until touching to feel the pressure. The Uchidachi steps forward once with the right foot to execute a forward thrust with the Bokken turned anticlockwise to a 45 degree angle, aiming into the Shidachi’s 水月/ Suigetsu/ Celiac or Solar Plexus (just below the end of the sternum where there is a complex network of nerves in the abdomen close to some important arteries making this area vulnerable), & calling out “YA!” at the same time. 
  • The Shidachi will step back one step while blocking/deflecting this thrust, then step forward one step to execute a counter thrust aiming at the Uchidachi’s chest in general. 
  • Then the Uchidachi need to step backwards once onto the right foot to avoid this counter thrust while lowering the Kensen to go around the Shidachis Bokken then raising it to deflect/ block the thrust with the outer side (Ura) of the Bokken. 
  • Then Uchidachi takes one more step back onto left foot while lowering & raising the Bokken to go around to block the second rensoku thrust from the Shidachi with the inner side (Omote) of the Bokken.
  • At this stage, the Uchidachi admits defeat & lowers the Bokken to the right side & takes 3 more steps backwards onto the left foot while the Shidachi puts pressure with their Bokken & make 3 steps forward with Bokken pointing towards the Uchidachi’s chest, then throat, then bridge of nose. 
  • Uchidachi will start moving the Bokken back up into the centre line in Chudan & take three steps forward onto the right foot when Shidachi takes the third step backwards.

6. Importance of developing strong Presence/ Vigour/ Aura both during Keiko & Kata, which will help to pressure the opponent from the start.

Even though we didn’t put on full Bōgu to keiko tonight & the physical intensity was less, but mentally for us Kyu grades the brain was loaded with new knowledge of the new techniques, while our bodies tried our best to copy the images of Sensei & Senpais demonstrations.

Special thanks to Sotaro Senpai for demonstrating his Hiki-Wazas & beautiful Dō strikes with amazing form & footwork for us to admire & learn from🙏🙏🙏

Also thanks to Leo & Jeffrey Senpais for being great Motodachi for us juniors to try out the Hiki-Waza, as well as being patient teachers to guide us learn Kata no.3


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