24 March 2013

End of term 1 2012 beginners' course

Another very successful beginners' course has ended. I'm very excited to see so many people in the dojo and I hope you will all continue on next term. What makes me really happy is seeing such a mix of ages training together, especially family members. And of course having a dojo that is getting almost too full is really, really great. 

It's a good sign that with my back against the corner of the dojo, I still can't get everyone in the frame in this photo!

This term we used the bokuto kihon as the basis of our introduction to Kendo for our new members, and if you scroll down a bit you will find a previous post with an excellent video and the list of what the techniques are, for your future reference. We will revisit the Bokuto Kihon regularly, as well as looking at Kendo Kata.

Throughout the term we also played some games, like the now world-famous tama-komigeiko (tama meaning "ball" in Japanese)! It's always good to have games from time to time, as well as serious technical training.

Last lesson we transposed the Bokuto Kihon to using shinai. We only had time to look at the basics cuts of Kihon ichi, but we will return to using the Bokuto Kihon as a way of practicing all the other attacking and counter-attacking waza. We also practiced the difference between the Bokuto Kihon (and indeed Kata) approach, with its sliding footwork (suriashi) and zanshin moving backwards, and the more dynamic "sëmë"* kind of practice, where we step into distance, cut, and follow through dynamically using small, continuous footwork. The latter is how we perform Kendo generally with the shinai.

We also learned about taking apart the shinai, as well as how to put away the bogu. All these procedures have a particular method in Kendo, and it seems a lot of stuff to remember at first, but once you learn it, it never changes.

Finally, it's good to have so many people in bogu. Thanks to our experienced members for helping out so much with the new members and for putting the introduction of Kendo to the beginners ahead of their own personal development. It's also fantastic to have so many people returning to regular training.

So during the holidays, please keep up your solo practice. Here is last year's video which is a good template for what to do while you're waiting for next term.

Have a Happy Easter and I will see you on all 20 April.

* seme is a hard word to write in the Roman alphabet. If you write it just as "seme" then the first-time reader thinks it is pronounced "seem". Perhaps just keep in mind that when you see "seme" in a Kendo context, it is pronounced "seh-meh". :)

17 March 2013

Two more great kendo videos

This is a recent upload of a doco I've not seen before. It's probably from the 1970s and features rare footage of a competition between members of the Imperial Guard at the Dojo of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. From a rough old video but still well worth watching.

This one's a bit more recent. It is interesting because it is of an entire training session at a private Kendo dojo in Tokyo called the Kobukan. The top of the screen seems cut off but it is actually the mezzanine level where everyone's equipment is stored. The dojo actually makes up the bottom two storeys of Ozawa sensei's house in Nakano ward. Ozawa sensei finally passed his 8th dan after 10 years of trying.    His father was 9th dan in Kendo.

Outside the front.

Ozawa sensei

My favourite emergency exit door in the world.

The corner of the dojo right underneath where Mihori san set up his camera to make the video of training you see above.

9 March 2013

For our new beginners... Bokuto Kihon homework!

Since we have started the Bokuto Kihon kata, here is a video from the All Japan Kendo Federation with all nine kata. It's in Japanese, but you should be able to recognise the sequences you have done already. And as you can see from the screenshot above, there are captions with the numbers for each kata. The caption above reads, "Kihon 5, Nuki-waza". Then underneath it says what the attacks are: "Men nuki Do (migi do)", in other words "a strike to the head which is countered by escaping underneath to cut the right-side of the opponent's torso".

One thing lacking in the video is the kakari-te (attacker) calling out the names of the kata in advance, e.g. "Kihon go!", "Kihon yon!" etc.

So far we have done up to and including kihon roku (6), which is suriage waza ("rising slide technique"). Next week we will do kihon nana, kihon hachi, and kihon kyu.

The full name of these kata is bokuto ni yoru kihon waza keiko ho, which means "practice Method that utilises the wooden sword for practicing fundamental techniques." Hence we call it Bokuto Kihon for short! Below is a list of the whole sequence.

  1. kihon ichikihon uchi waza: men, kote, do, tsuki (basic striking techniques)
  2. kihon ni — ni dan waza: kote-men (2 step technique)
  3. kihon san — harai waza: harai-men (sweeping technique)
  4. kihon yon — hiki waza: men-taiatari-hiki-do ('pulling' techniques, i.e. techniques moving away)
  5. kihon go — nuki waza: men-nuki-do ('escaping' or 'passing through' technique) 
  6. kihon roku — suriage waza: kote suriage men (rising slide technique)
  7. kihon nana — debana waza: debana kote (forestalling technique)
  8. kihon hachi — kaeshi waza: men kaeshi do (returning technique)
  9. kihon kyu — uchiotoshi waza: do uchiotoshi men (striking down technique)