Seminars, Injuries, and Downtime

August 11, 2011

In the last two months I’ve attended the 2011 AUSKF Iaido Seminar, developed a possibly serious knee injury leaving me unable to practice for nearly a month, and am sitting at the airport waiting to board my plane for the 2011 AUSKF Championships. As my plane doesn’t depart for more than an hour I decided now would be a good time to finally post an update.

This was my first time attending the AUSKF Iaido Seminar and, while initially somewhat reluctant, I am very glad I did. I was able t spend a good amount of time with a couple of Sensei that I highly respect and got a very good behind the scenes look at what goes into preparing an iaido shinsa at the national level (and by extension, I’d imagine it’d be quite similar to regional shinsa as well). I learned a great deal over the course of two days and now have a great deal to practice for next year. It was also my very first iaido taikai and I am very pleased with how I did. My only downfall was the sticky floor that caused me to loose my balance during two kata (uke-nagashi and morote-tsuki). One of the judges immediately after the days events said to me, “if you didn’t trip I would’ve voted for you.” This sentiment was echoed by another judge and it gives me even more motivation to do better next year. My training however soon became sidelined by something rather unexpected.

What originally started as some minor aches and pains in my left knee suddenly, overnight, became sharp and somewhat intense pain each time it was bent with weight on it. This made sonkyo quite difficult and seiza nearly impossible. Wearing a knee brace helped some but each practice left me limping the next day. After speaking with my Sensei, he recommended I take some time off to let it heal and to see a doctor ASAP, especially since he himself suffered a bad ACL injury some years ago. With this downtime, I have started to reflect on everything budo related that I’ve done of the last year started to realize that I have been approaching keiko in a way that was somewhat counter productive. I haven’t been aggressive enough for my level and have been spending too much time being passive, meaning I wait too long while attempting to bait my opponent so I can use kaeshi or suriage waza. While I know I need to be able to execute those waza, I need to make sure I balance it with taking the initiative and initiating more debana waza as well as being more assertive in trying to force my opponent’s kamae to weaken. As my knee get’s stronger during this rest and recovery period, I can start to do some “image” training. By holding kamae and imagining an opponent in front of me, I can try working on these goals as well as slowly reconditioning my body. Better to take the time to rest and recuperate, especially if I want to make sure I can continue kendo for a very long time.

With the US national taikai tomorrow, I am looking forward to watching some top-notch kendo as well as take some great photos, many of which I’ll add to my photobucket account. I’m also looking forward to meeting the Miyako Kendogu staff who have helped me with a few purchases in the last few months. I’ll write a follow-up entry when I return.

2009 SDK Seminar Reflections: Long Overdue

August 2, 2009

Back in May I attended the 2009 Sei Do Kai Iaido and Jodo seminar and promised to share my thoughts and things I learned over those three days. I now find myself in August and still have failed to do so. In short I will say that it was definitely a worth while experience and I wish I could have trained for longer. I learned so much from the sensei’s over those three days, so much that I couldn’t possibly hope to contain it all in my head so I will share the more important of notes soon when I have more time to write a more detailed post.

2009 SDK Iaido/Jodo Seminar

May 13, 2009

Tomorrow I depart for Guelph to attend the annual SDK Iaido/Jodo seminar. I’ll try to take as many pictures as I can (budo and non-budo related) and hopefully my poor brain will retain most of what is said. I’ll be bringing a little journal so I can record my thoughts from each day since I won’t have access to a computer. Hopefully I won’t be too sore when I get back but then again, I’ve been threatened with being dragged to have dinner with the visiting sensei since my friend, who talked me into going, translates for them each year she goes. Now let’s just hope the border patrol won’t give us too much grief for our iaito!

East Coast Iaido Seminar and Shinsa 2009

March 18, 2009

Originally written on February 2, 2009.

So this pas Sunday was the East Coast Iaido Seminar and Shinsa and for those of you who don’t know, I started practicing iaido last summer and this was my first time testing.  Iaido is a Japanese sword martial art that focuses on drawing the sword from the scabbard, cutting down a certain number of opponents, and returning the sword to the scabbard.  Currently, I am just practicing the Seitei Gata, a set of 12 forms that were made by the All Japan Kendo Federation to help propagate iaido and is a standard by which people can be tested for rank.  They were also created from several different traditional sword schools and as a result, each form is very subtly different in terms of their reasoning behind certain movements.  But I digress.

The day began at 5 AM and I was on the road at 6, getting to the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute around 8.  After getting changed and settled in the gym, the seminar began by dividing everyone based on their current rank.  For me, since I didn’t have any, I was all the way at the far end.  Due to space constraints and the large number of people, two groups took turns practicing the forms and this went up to lunch and continued after we ate until mid-afternoon.  By then we began to get set up for the shinsa and I got my number (based on age and current rank if held).

Thankfully I had a low number so I was able to go in the second round.  I finished my forms without any serious mistakes but was still very nervous.  I found out a little later that I was selected to go a second time to try for 1st kyu.  I was able to maintain my composure but while doing ganmenatte, I ended up sliding my saya down my hakama!  I didn’t panic but I’m sure my heart skipped a beat and my eyes had to have noticeably gotten wider.  In any event, I finished the cuts but when it came down to doing noto, I had to take a little extra time to pull the saya out far enough to pop it out of my hakama.  From there everything went without a hitch but when I finished and stepped out of the gym I was really frustrated with myself.  I took a small comfort in hearing someone else did the same thing but theirs got stuck.

The rest of the evening was a bit of a blur as I watched the remaining people take their test and after waiting anxiously after packing up, the results were posted on the wall.  I found my name and saw that I was given the rank of 2nd kyu.  I was relieved that I made it at least that far and that my mistake hadn’t cost me too dearly but I would still like to know if I hadn’t made that mistake would I have gotten 1st kyu?  I’ll try to figure that out later but I’m just happy I didn’t completely fail.  Time to get back to training the basics.