12 Nov 2021, Fri: keiko log

Participants (17 = 8 youths + 3 ya + 6 adults)

  • Georges
  • Lauren
  • David
  • Henry
  • Alborz
  • Joseph
  • Cindy
  • Alex
  • Michael
    • Adrian
    • Audrey
    • Austin
    • Victor
    • Sean
    • Ian
    • Benjamin
    • Jude

Participants (17 = 8 youths + 3 ya + 6 adults)

enbu 演舞
ashi sabaki

  • ayumi ashi, okuri ashi, chudan no kamaede okuri ashi
  • 5 mae, 2 ato — 4 mae, 2 ato
  • 5 mae, 2 ushiromawari

mawari geikonagara:

  • kihon uchi
  • nidan, sandan, yondan kihon waza
  • yakusoku geiko

hansuu 反芻
With Begay sensei absent, I prepared to combine the groups today so both youth and adults would have the keiko together. As usual, I got to the center an hour earlier to move the tables, and mop the floor in preparation. With extra time and no one else around, I did some stretching on the floor, and then started to do light jogging around the hall. L came little early, and she also joined. The youths stayed in the middle to practice kukan datotsu, because that’s usually what adults do prior to the practice. I told them to join, but I guess it fell on deaf ears. Near the top of the hour, L and I went side stepping, then backward jogging, and then alternating side steps. I know this would help us to warm up earlier, and hopefully make the rest of enbu easier on the joints.

As usual, about 1/4 of the group always arrive late for whatever reason. Without a superior around, I become more conscious of the time, so I started junbi undou 5 minutes after the hour. Knowing one of the members has been having difficulties with ankle, I’ve added an extra stretching exercise that may help with that. I think the warm-up jogging before junbi undou was a good idea, and we should do it more often.

Overseeing 16 people doing ashi sabaki becomes little easier when we have a plenty of space. I can walk behind them and watch their footwork, and watch their posture from the side. They were almost shoulder to shoulder, but we had enough space to not bump into each other. I see some have their left foot pointing slightly outward, but as long as their knees are pointing forward, and the angle of the foot isn’t too wide, I let go. Then comes kamaede okuri ashi. The sword should be held as if it’s heavy, and kensen should not be bouncing up and down. Some of the kids are moving very fast, but they’ve nailed it, so there is really nothing to correct.

During warm-ups, I’ve recently added alternating lunge men suburi and korogashi suburi (alternating left & right foot while doing men uchi) to help younger ones to build up their leg muscles. During ashi sabaki this translates into doing lunges while doing kukan datotsu. I make sure on each reset, they come back to good ashi kamae. Even though they’ve been doing the kihon ashi sabaki for many months, they have trouble coming back on ashi kamae (regular kendo stance) when alternating both left & right feet in lunges.

And then kakegoe, hassei with a kukan datotsu while holding the kiai across the floor ’til they make a turn. This is to build up their stamina, and help them to be trained in producing kiai that comes from their hara instead of their throats. With masks on, this is rather challenging for some, so I have them to keep their right hand raised until they’ve caught up w/ their breath. Once I see that no one has their hands raised, I have them go one more time across the floor. Rei, then 5 mins break. I instruct them to put their dou & kote on when they come back.

We pair up in mawari geiko. Younger ones still have trouble pairing up quickly. Surely, this isn’t their first time, but I guess it’s not in their nature to just to partner up with someone that isn’t their close friend. I’m probably expecting too much too early. Anyway, with a limited time and so many members at once, I just have them do 5 reps of kihon uchi to each other, and then rotate after formal reiho that includes sonkyo. Everyone is standing too close to their aite. We should be 9 steps apart, but I don’t enforce this, since I know the younger ones still lack the sense of distance to tell how far apart they should be. Instead of taking three steps in before sonkyo, I end up basically taking a half step and then doing sonkyo. It’s okay, I’ll find another time to drill that in, but not today. Everyone is starting with a rei and ending with a rei on every koutai — that’s good enough for now. I want to at least get to yakusoku geiko w/ most of the bases covered.

I have them do two sets of each type of renshu, so two koutai, and then move unto renzoku wazas, nidan – kote/men, sandan – kote/men/dou, and yondan – kote/men/men/dou. Rei, then another 5 mins break. This time, men tsuke.

men uchi & kote uchi in mawari formation, then onto yakusoku geiko. men/hiki men/men datotsu. Oh, it’s already 5 mins to the end of the second hour. Maybe I could squeeze in a men/kaeshi men… but nope, S’s tenugui has loosened up and covers his eyes, and he’s calling for help. I let G take the lead, and go to him to help redo his tenugui and men. Yeeks, as soon as I finish tying his men, it’s seiretsu! We finish with a formal reiho.

shinshi 深思
There’s an old saying that students can never grow beyond their teacher. This becomes especially true in the context of a traditional martial art, in spite of the teaching of shu-ha-ri, because as far as I can tell there’s no such awareness, or encouragement for that type of transition. Some even remind me that whole of kendo is one of hierarchy. I get their point, but when you see that over the years, some enbu start to reflect more the conditions of its instructors rather than helping to build up its students to expand themselves, the stagnation becomes inevitable, especially in a place where a kai is like a small pond with no easy access to other ponds, much less any access to the ocean. This is one of the reasons why it’s better for the instructor to get out of the way of the student once the essentials are passed down, and internalized. ’nuff on the didactic method. You can’t make shugyoja out of everyone. The personal cost is high, but we can help to reduce the degree of stagnation no matter.

Published by

Michael Han

Keiko, keiko, and more keiko.