Shochugeiko 2012 report

Last Saturday was our last training for the year, in this, our 10th anniversary year.

We were lucky it wasn't as hot as previous years, although the temperature did climb in the late morning after some early showers. So it was humid, just like a Japanese summer.

Attendance was good and for the first time we had a clear majority of NSK members. Kudos to Peter, Vanessa and Flynn who travelled up from Apollo Bay to attend. I hope you guys got a lot from the day.

We had two objectives for the day: look at the use of the bokuto in Kendo and introduce our newest members to wearing full bogu. We managed both of those objectives I think, but perhaps with a little bit of brain-meltage along the way! I'm very conscious of how much mental effort it can take to remember new sequences of movement such as the Nihon Kendo Kata and the Bokuto Kihon.

As it was we started with Kendo kata, covering katas one, two and four (we will look at number three in detail early next year). Thanks to Reuben from MBK for attending so that we could demonstrate the other seven kata, including the three kodachi (short sword) kata. One thing I learnt from this re-presenting of kata was the big difference between the first three and the next seven. I was already aware of the specific moral lesson of the first three: progressing from 1) killing, to 2) maiming, to 3) controlling the opponent without injury. But I hadn't realised how the starting kamae from the first three doesn't follow classical rules of balance. In the first three the kamae of both uchidachi and shidachi are essentially mirrors of each other. But in the next seven the shidachi responds with a complimentary kamae, e.g. if the uchidachi takes an aggressive kamae the shidachi responds with a more passive one; in and yo (yin and yang).

We then moved into the Bokuto Kihon and made our way through the entire sequence of nine, quite an achievement for those who have never done them.

After lunch we put on bogu and practiced the Bokuto Kihon with shinai and making full-contact -- firstly without follow through and then gradually increasing the pace so the sequence came more and more to look like normal shinai kendo with zanshin following through. The bokuto kihon are designed to introduce all of the main techniques of Kendo, but only one example of each. So we then looked at different forms of harai-waza, kaeshi-waza, suriage-waza, hiki-waza, etc that don't appear in the Bokuto Kihon.

We finished by looking at probably the most subtle and difficult of all Kendo waza, kiri-otoshi waza. Even though this is too difficult for most of us to use in jigeiko, there is value in learning about how to make it work, not least because in order for it to work your cuts much be exceptionally straight and you need to have a clear understanding of the centre-line.

Thanks to Itakura sensei for coming for the last hour and injecting some energy into the final jigeiko. Our final "mohangeiko" ended up going for about 20mins, which was more energy than I thought I had left! I think when you have such a high quality opponent, you forget about fatigue.

After we finished, Reuben and I shot the video you see above. He then edited the two POVs next to each other. It's pretty interesting! And it's the only photographic evidence I've got of the day because I forgot to take any pictures.

Well that's all for this year. Have a good break and see you on the 2nd of February.  b


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