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Welcome to our newest Beginners

29th October 2022 Keiko Reflection - Janet

Today’s Dōjo atmosphere was one of excitement as we welcomed many Kohais joining in the intermediate to advanced class. We are all travelling on this kendo journey together, to climb up this mountain, so the more people the merrier as we can all help to lift up each other along the way😊

Marleen Sensei introduced the long history of Waikato Kendo Club since 1999 & the legacy that was left by the many hard working awesome Senpais before us. Therefore, we’re encouraged to look up to them, to uphold the same fighting spirit that were passed down to us; dare to try & never give up on this journey of self-improvement & be humble of achievements; be proactive to learn from Senpais & Senseis; show appreciation for each other by always give our best effort to maximise our training during Keiko. 

Marleen Sensei kindly shared with us her journey through illness, which really puts life into perspective. We all have our own struggles in life, be it big or small, but Sensei truely highlighted what Kendo can teach us through her true Kendoka spirit & positive attitude & inspired us to think hard about what kind of person do we wish to become? What roles do we want in life to better contribute to society? And what sort of legacy do we wish to leave for our future generations? so the world can be a better place where we would like to live in. Certainly gave us food for thought.

Todays Keiko menu consisted of warm up drills & double Shinai Suburis led by Marleen Sensei. The purpose of the weight training was to help us build up our stamina & strength in our arms & core muscles so that our bodies can handle the more difficult Kendo techniques that Sensei will teach us later on.

Sensei emphasised the importance of using correct hand grips on the Handle/ Tsuka of Shinai, ensuring the “V” shape between the thumb & index finger of both hands are positioned on top of Tsuka aligned with the midline as the Tsuka is supposed to represent the handle of a real Japanese Katana which is a long oval shape, so this is the most efficient & comfortable way of holding a Katana/ Shinai to better perform clean sliding cuts with proper Tenouchi. 

We must concentrate the grip on the left hand, with the lower 3 fingers working the most, then on impact with the striking target, tighten the grip by joining the thumb & middle finger together, using the right hand as the brake to stop the downward momentum of Shinai with Tenouchi. When Tenouchi is done properly the strike should produce a dull “Bo” sound rather then a sharp clashing sound & the Kensen should naturally bounce back up like a recoil.

We then joined in for some footwork team relays, concentrating on keeping good Kamae with straight upper body posture (Shizentai/ 自然体/ Natural body position) & smooth balanced Suriashi sliding steps with the correct weight distribution (pushing off from the left foot when moving forwards then pushing from the right ball of foot to move backwards, never expose the right ball of foot to your opponents as this would make your movements slow & unstable). 

We are reminded that for most effective Zanshin following a strike & run through is to be able to quickly turn your body around back into Kamae position. In order to do this, we must retract the Shinai & position it close to front of our body in an upright position before making a turn, as this would decrease the radius of the circular motion thus increase the centripetal acceleration making the turn much tighter & faster.

We then progressed onto a combination of Kihon-, Uchikomi-geiko:

1. Kirikaeshi

2. Big & Small Men

3. Kote-Men

During Shidou-geiko/ 指導稽古/ Teaching or guiding training, we had the chance to line up & train with our amazing Dan grade Sensei’s & Senpais, who will provide individualised training objectives matched to each Kohais levels & provide honest feedbacks for us to learn from effectively. Therefore, in order to maximise each other’s training time efficiently, we must remember to put on our Bogu as swiftly as possible & then quickly line up in front of a Sensei or Senpai we wish to train & learn from. We must appreciate our Sensei & Senpai for always prioritising Kohais training first before their own, therefore we should do our best to not waste their time & efforts by taking initiative & give our best at all times. Also, while lining up behind each other to wait for our turn, we must remember to watch the rest of the Keiko attentively as there are often things which we can only see & pick up from the side lines, making this the perfect opportunity to do Mitori-geiko. We must always keep in mind to not totally relax & sit on the side lines to rest while Keiko is still in progress as this is considered very rude in the Dōjo environment, so always remember as a sign of respect for Sensei, Senpai & the others who are still training hard, we must remain attentive & observe the ongoing Keiko at all times (the only exception is when you’re feeling unwell & had Senseis permission to retire to the side to watch).

Many thanks to Marleen & Sam Sensei for leading the Keiko today & to all our Senpais for being patient Motodachis & provide good training menu & feedbacks during Shidou-geiko. 

We are truely thankful/ Hontoni Arigatou gozaimashita/ 本当にありがとうございました🙏🙏🙏


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