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Building foundations for advanced skills

Saturday 27th August 2022 Keiko Reflection - Janet

For the past few weeks as well as during todays Keiko, Marleen sensei’s plan was to help us develop better body strength (in the core, arm & shoulder muscles) through double Shinai warm up drills & Suburis, in particular, by gradually increasing the amount of Haya-Suburis to challenge & condition our bodies to become stronger. Even though it’s still rather difficult for me to keep up with everyone else’s pace, as my upper body strength is still weak, but I can definitely feel myself improving little-by-little each week, with my body feeling less sore afterwards, so that’s definitely something to be happy about❤️

Main focus for todays Keiko was Kihon (basics), which is the basics or foundation of kendo. It includes sets of kendo technique drills such as Men, Kote, Dō, and Kirikaeshi which gets repeated during almost every keiko. While it may sounds repetitive, but it’s way more complicated with many things to consider especially for Kyu grades. 

The main aim for the Kihon training is to teach us how to perform the strikes for each target correctly & accurately by gradually learn to feel every inch of our bodies, from the head to the arms & fingers, abdomen & to our toes. So that with time & more practice, we can eventually prepare ourselves properly to be ready to use multiple muscles in the body & connect all movements together naturally without thinking to commit to a strike with Ichibyoshi & Ki-Ken-Tai-Ichi.

Some points to remember from Kihon training:

To keep a natural straight body posture (Shizentai 自然体) with chin tucked in & to maintain good Kamae (on guard position) with level of Kensen/ Kensaki positioned correctly with the end projection line pointing towards the opponents throat. We need to use correct finger grips on the Tsuka of the Shinai for both hands so that we don’t unintentionally raise the Kensen too high.

To ensure we focus on our fingers (especially when wearing Kote, as we may unintentionally neglect the proper finger grip) by using the more hard working lower 3 fingers which does most of the work to move the Shinai, with the left hand being the dominant hand, & the more relaxed thumb & index fingers which only tightens during Tenouchi on impact with target. When Tenouchi is done properly the downward & forward cutting momentum from the left arm is stopped by the right hand at the last moment when the Datotsubu of Shinai contacts the target, which makes the Kensen bounce up a little like a recoil. But remember never use the right arm to pull the Shinai back with the left hand as a pivot as this is the wrong use of power entirely.

To develop correct & swift footwork with good balance & correct weight distribution (more on the left foot so we are always ready to propel forward). So we can move around quickly, get into correct distance for strikes, perform Fumikomi with the right distance for each target (larger stride for Men-uchi & smaller stride for Kote-uchi) & showing proper Zanshin. We should remember that the main slicing power from each strike comes from the left foot following up quickly to propel our body, arm & Shinai forward & not actually from our hands.

To develop good continuous Kiai by using our core muscles & learning to take breath at the right moment as well as to maintain good Ki throughout Rensoku or repeated strikes as well as during Kakari-geiko.

Many thanks to Marleen sensei for leading the Keiko today🙏🙏🙏

Many thanks to Sam sensei & all the senpais & fellow Kyu grades for being great Motodachi to help each other as we climb the Kendo Mountain together🙏🙏🙏

Special mention to Jennifer for stepping up as senpai to help Kohais with Ji-geiko today, amazing effort🙏🙏🙏

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