Sunday, October 21, 2018

My personal journey to Go Dan exam: - 8 months

Last Thursday I went to the evening practice at Shubukan - Massari, the dojo where I usually practice when I am at home in Torino. The instructor of Thursday practice is Arialdo Bolognesi (7 Dan).

Sumi sensei seminar 2018

Usually the practice is divided in warm up, kion and jigeiko. During Thursday practice usually we have the majority of the people that is below nidan and we dedicate quite some time to basic practice.
This time I was running the warm up and the basic kion. I focused the lesson on the combination of techniques and on changes in techniques repetitions to keep the attention of everybody always high. On the last 20 minutes we had  mawarigeiko. During mawarigeiko I was focusing my attention to seme, inducing my partner to attach. On the last jigeiko I was practicing with Arialdo. It is always very challenging, because I have to find an opening and, although I know that his preferred technique is kaeshi do, there is no way to avoid to be catch by him.
However, this time instead of kaeshi do, I was blocked a couple of times by the tip of his shinai during the attachs.   At the end of jigeiko, Arialdo told me that I was not searching the center and for this reason he stopped me with shinai. He suggested me to add more shinai work to improve my seme. It is something on which I was already working, but as frequently happen, at least to me, during the practice your attention focus on other points and this time my tip was definitively out of my attention. Looking forward to test again the combination of tip center and seme next week.
Last but not least, as frequently happen in kendo, suddenly something you were unable to do for a long time it comes out. I was very surprised that simply changing a little the grip of my left hand on the shinai make me able, finally to strike some decent kote from jodan-no-kamae.
This is the nice of Kendo there is always something new to learn and something that suddenly comes out smoothly.

My personal journey to Go Dan exam: - 10 months

In May 2015 I passed my Yon Dan exam, now the time to test my personal Kendo improvement trying the Go Dan exam is getting near. For the next 10 months I will try to describe the challenging I will try to overcome to be prepared for the June exam.

Concerning Go Dan exam comments I found very interesting and in frame with my personal thought the comments on Go Dan Grading from Andy Fisher between, see between  6.44  and 12:20 mins  in [KENDO RANT] - Practicing for 5th Dan?  . From his comments I would actually highlight, for my personal journey, the following sentences:
  • Not doing Kendo by yourself 
  • Do not attach randomly 
  • Having a conscious influence on the opponent not just a reaction to opponent action
Other keywords from
  • seme
  • zanshin  
At the beginning of September I visited Heijoshinkan  in Voghera and I asked my friend Claudio Scacheri (6 Dan) to make some rigorous comments on my Kendo to identify points to be revised in these months.

It came out that:
  1. my left heel should be kept more near to the floor. 
    •  I tried and I realized that my posture and ability to push improves, now I have to make it part of me.
  2. The other point was referring to seme. In an exam simulated jigeiko Claudio told me that I was not exactly doing seme, since I was simply finding the right distance for the attach, by getting progressively near to the opponent till I reach a position to make my attach. Claudio indicated me that from Issoku ittō-no-maai I have to search for the opportunity to attach then with seme I will step-in to Chikama, inducing a change in the behavior of the opponent. At that point either I strike my attach or my opponent reach and I have to execute an oji-waza.
    • Till now I was focusing on interacting with the opponent and forcing him to react to my pressure. The problem is that I was always too much near to the opponent to make a decent oji-waza. I got the point to keep my pressure in Issoku ittō-no-maai.
An other interesting point of the practice at  Heijoshinkan, was the execution of Bokuto Ni Yoru Kendo Kihon-waza Keiko-ho. Usually I do not practice them usually, but they very useful to fill more the body posture.