I came back yesterday from the wonderful European Bioconductor developer meeting. I catch a lot of interesting ideas and information for my work.
I also managed to contact Olivier Perrenoud the Sensei of Budokan Lausanne Kendo Club. He was very kind to allow me to participate to one of their training session on Thoursday April the 24th. This was the first time I practiced Kendo in a non-English speaking country. I was very lucky because one of the senior Kendoka, Eric, working at the Lausanne University where the Bioconductor meeting was held, picked me up to go to the training.
The training started with an open session of katas. I practiced with Eric first and then I had a nice time with two young Kendokas (I think about 8-10 years old).
It was very interesting to practice with them, and since I am helping my Sensei, in the junior Kendo course I really would like that our young kendokas will behave like them. The limits was my total lack of French speaking.
During kata training Olivier Sensei told me that I have to take care on the position of the left foot, since I loose the stability of the position when a move back and my zanshin is lost. It was a very useful observation, I have to work on it!
During the kata session many persons arrived at the Dojo and at 18:30 there were about 30 persons. I helped them to remove the tatami from the training area and then we started some basic worm up suburi. Also in this case I had the chance to learn something regarding my Chudan-no-kamae. As, highlighted by Olivier Sensei, I have some weakness on the position of the left foot which affect the overall kamae posture.
After the suburi we made the rei. During the rei I was located at the position of a formal guest, at the side of the sensei and at the side of the other trainers, in order to introduce me to them and give me the chance to see, by their location in the row, their level.
After the men (wo) tsuke, I practice with many people, and, although we were really a lot and sometime practicing in group of three, everybody was very experienced to avoid to crash with the neighborhoods. We did some kihon changing the type of techniques in function of the level of the opponent. Olivier Sensei was very kind translating nearly everything in English, although I am very proud that I could understand quite a lot of the overall mixture of Japanese commands and French explanations. After the kihon we did gigeiko. I have to admit that I could do better than what I did, but I was quite tired since I waked up at four o'clock the same morning to reach Lausanne in time for the beginning of the meeting.
The last gigeiko was with Olivier Sensei, I forgot to tell that he is a tall man. I normally practice with tall persons in my dojo, since I am quite small, but .... Olivier is really tall! It was very difficult gigeiko!
At the end of the training Olivier was very kind to give me some advices. Specifically he focus on two points, I have to keep my body compact without changing anything in my posture before performing a technique in order to avoid to make aware the opponent that I am going to hit him. Furthermore, the movement of the shinai tip should be driven by the left and not by the right hand! He also told me that I have to keep more low the kamae when the opponent is tall since I have to force him to keep his kamae also low. This position will give more chances to make various techniques. If I keep my kamae too high I can only make men and the taller opponent will be more faster than me.
After the training I joined the Sensei and some of the kendokas for a quick beer. It was a very nice experience and Olivier Sensei invited me to get back to their Dojo if I am in Switzerland, think that I will definitively do!