In March 2007 I had the opportunity to travel a lot. I was in Chicago at Northwestern University for a brief lesson on "microarray data analysis and mining" as guest of Platania's Lab. During my stay I had the opportunity to visit two dojos.
I contacted Sakamoto Sensei at the Choyokan Dojo and I joined their Sunday Practice at UIC Sports and Fitness Center 828 S. Wolcott Avenue, (South of Polk near Damen).
In my opinion it was an high level training session and I was very happy that they allowed me to participate even if I was a beginner. In March 2007 I had only one and half years of kendo practice and I was still 2nd kyu. As usual everybody was very kind with me.
The lesson was two hours long and it was hard, at least for me.
We started with some basic kion techniques. That part was easy, but after we started uchikomi geiko with a lot of practice on complex actions to counteract an attach. I found this part very complicated due to my limited coordination to keep a correct tsuba-zeri-ai and my poor hiki waza techniques.
After that there was mawarigeiko. At that time, I was mainly doing kote since I am quite short and I found difficult to reach the speed and the correct position to make a good men on a tall opponent. Furthermore, I was unable to create the right timing and occasion to perform a good technique.
The jigeiko with Sakamoto Sensei was very useful. After it, he told me that my feet were feeling to be too young with respect to my age (I was 46 years old). After his comment I realized that I was just moving my feet back and forward on the same place without any effect on the full body and it was useless. An other very useful observation was related to the need to keep the center of the opponent with the shinai. Those hits were very useful to improve my overall way of doing kendo.
At the end of the training I was a bit depressed and embarrassed of my low level of Kendo but happy to have practiced with persons more experienced than me.
Anyway the two hours of training were exhausting.
A collection of videos from Choyokan Dojo