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Archive for the ‘Kendo’ Category

28 September 2014

The date marked one of my most disappointing and frustrating days for 2014

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Here we go again

Sometimes I find excuses not to full devote myself to trainings. For me family will always be first. The problem comes thereafter when I procrastinate a lot instead of doing the things I should be doing. After getting a fracture which made me unable to continue training for months, I find myself lagging behind when everyone is so far ahead (yet again). This will be an uphill task but I have decided I will fight for my place, albeit a second time, for the upcoming World Kendo Championships. My ASEAN tournament back when I was 18 was a disaster. Although this is a big jump, I am determined to set foot in Budokan in Japan and challenge the world.

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Don’t strike to win

He who strikes first loses.

This thought holds for many kendokas, even if they chose not to admit it. We were taught in kendo to attack, not defend. The reason? If we have the time to defend, it can be used instead for an attack/counter-attack. However, due to the nature of tournaments and the want to win, many of us resort to waiting. Perhaps, we do not comprehend completely the different techniques used for counter-attacks. Perhaps, as the quote above, we are just afraid of attacking due to fear of losing a point to the opponent.

There are many reasons but I can safely state: Just because it might be effective now, does not mean it will be effective in the long run. Quite a number of kendokas resort to using temporary tactics and the likes to enable them to get a point of the opponent. I am one such person. I admit that I might not have heeded certain advices fully. It might be due to me being stubborn. It might be due to the fact that different people/senseis advice differently that at times they contradict one another.

It is not strange for a kendoka to be stuck at a wall. It happened to me many times but it usually does not last for more than a month or so. Enter WKC training, the first few months was still alright. However, while I have this nagging feeling that something is wrong, I did not pay any heed to it. I soon hit a wall but it did not occur to me at that time that this will be one of the highest wall I encountered in my kendo life. It occurred the period after the 2012 ICT till September. During that period, I was virtually lost. I have no idea what I was doing or why am I fighting in such a manner. I tried using the same methods I have used whenever I hit a wall. This time though, just like fixing a broken object with temporary glue, the problems kept resurfacing.

I do not get depressed but I was deeply saddened with the fact that I lost the one and only match I have in East West Tournament. Yes, my opponent is my senior so it is not strange if I lost to him. What I’m saddened and angry about was the fact that I fight in a manner unbecoming of a Captain, or a senior to some of my peers.

Win then strike, don’t strike to win

“Win then strike” says a lot. Components like spirit, position, posture and such play a large role before one can even think of striking the opponent. My kendo at some point of time change, or maybe it was all along, to “strike to win”. I disregard the fact that I use more right arm power or my footwork is not proper as long as I can get a point of my opponent. In a sense, I already lost the battle before I even began to strike.

Spraining my ankle might have been a blessing in disguise. I was forced to stop training for at least a week which helped me to really sit down and ponder about my kendo. I remembered that I admire the seniors when I first joined NUS Kendo due to the fact that their kendo, albeit a lot of people saying that it is useless in tournament last time, is seemingly more proper than the other clubs. I was telling myself at that time that this is the kind of kendo I aim to have though it got lost somewhere. Thus, my decision has been made. Old habits die hard but I will work towards the way NUS Kendo is supposed to be. Using temporary tactics might be tempting but sometimes, all you ever need is just the proper basics to help you achieve your goal.

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A quote from Munenori Yagyu

If you are to be successful in the martial arts you must purge your mind of the influence of the flesh, and then you will have a free-flowing mind. This is true of all paths.

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April has arrived!

First of all, happy 24th birthday to me! Age sure is catching on fast now and to think when I was a kid, I wanted to grow up real fast. I know I stated that I will update my blog a week after the previous post but I did not manage to get around doing it. This week marks the last week of school before we head for the final exams. Pray that I will be able to survive this semester as well. Sometimes I wonder if the way I’m studying and such is just plain wrong. My memory is like the search function (ctrl+F). I can remember where to extract information from but to get hold of what the information contains is a different story altogether

I want to go Kyoto! =(

Two of my seniors, Weber and Kenneth, are currently having their SEP (Student Exchange Program) in Japan. Envy much but I guess the probability of me going to one is very low as my grades are not superb.  One of the places I want to visit there is Kyoto. I am unsure why but I just feel like visiting those shrines, castles and stuff there. I mean seriously, where in our little red dot can you find a castle? The other one is of course, Akihabara, the haven for otaku. I will probably try Okinawa as well. On a side note, besides helping me buy a few of my requested items, Weber surprised me with a few more!

April's Spoils of War!

Straight from Japan! Let’s see, starting from the top, we have a Saber Lily tapestry, a big Saber card, Girls Dead Monster ‘Keep the Beats’ album, Ayase postcard(with a message!), Ayase amulet, Infinite Stratos light novels and Tales of Xillia (borrowed). Pretty swell no? I just shifted house so I have not got about arranging my belongings as I was really occupied with all the deadlines and events for the past 2 weeks. Not to mention we held the annual general meeting on the 2nd of April and I officially took over Weber’s role as a Captain. I hope I can at least do a good and proper job as my predecessors had. The new committee is quite enthusiastic and Melissa will do great as our President. That’s all for now, will be back after my finals.

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Alright, I lied. It is not as simple as it seems. After weeks/months, I finally figured out what is wrong with my kendo and it was further confirmed in today’s training by sensei. It is a pain (no, seriously, it hurts like hell) to have a swollen hand/fingers after every single training due to the kote cut not hitting at the correct spot. One might give the benefit of doubt that it is the other person’s fault if it happens in a single training but consecutively? Gosh, there is definitely something wrong with my kendo. Let’s review when it started.

Probably in May, people kept telling me I seemed to be waiting and I block a lot, which I agree. Thus, I began to attack a lot more since attacking will also give you more opportunities/chances to strike your opponent. That was a huge mistake, as my ki-ken-tai-ichi was in total disarray. Problems encountered and steps I’m gonna take to improve (this is purely for my OWN reference only so there might be mistakes but it’s better to learn through mistakes than spoonfooding)

Holding the shinai

Due to changing the nature of my kendo from waiting to attacking, I totally disregard on holding the shinai properly for god knows whatever reason. Therefore, even when I’m doing a simple small men cut, my left hand might overshoot and is positioned higher than my right hand at the moment of impact. It might be due to the fact I’m using a big grip shinai when I’m more tuned to normal grip but that should not be a reason for me neglecting even the basics like holding a shinai properly. Today I was corrected by sensei thus I will now grip the shinai properly even if I’m not used to it yet.

Small men/kote cut

The occasion where people always hit my hand/fingers when doing a kote cut is mostly in ji keiko. Thus, for the past week (after the entire hand got swollen till I couldn’t form a fist) I’ve been thinking of what might be the actual cause. I concluded it might be due to the fact I kept shooting my hand out first when going for a cut and that might be why a lot of people aim for my kote, albeit it missed the proper spot but with a real sword, my hand would be gone anyways instead of having a simple swell. However, just this simple explanation during training today struck me really hard. Here’s what sensei (I’ll try to phrase as best as I can) said:

When we’re walking, our arms will follow our legs. If we take bigger steps, the swing of our arms would be higher. Therefore, if we do a big men cut, our legs will naturally open up bigger. However, if we do a small men cut, sadly, our legs will follow suit and and we cover a small distance.

I was astounded. This reasoning was not only easy to understand but it also made me realized that I have indeed, cover a short distance when doing a small men cut thus the need to stretch out my arms more just to hit the target. That might also be why I kept shooting my hands out first since I need to time it with my legs whic relatively travel a shorter distance. I need to move my arms first so as to have the same end time for both arms and legs. All these months I have been practically doing that. It might have started when I concentrated a lot on blocking and counterattacks since counterattacks I do not really move that much (like kote nuki men for example) and my body became accustomed to that. Now, I need to fix my footwork when doing small cuts.

Well, for now I’ll work on these things. Might seem little but I believe it will go a long way in my kendo life.

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June 2011 Kendo Grading

After 4 long years, my long overdue status of 2nd kyu has finally changed to 1st kyu. I was nervous as a wreck since I have not even seen last December’s grading and I was praying I wouldn’t screw up the procedures and stuff. Thank god I managed to pull through. Congratulations for those who made it and for those who did not, let’s train hard for the end year grading.

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