22 Dec 2009

Nabeyama Sensei

This one happens to be one of the most useful practises I've ever attended. This was largely due to the fact that for an hour and a half, me and 3 other blokes had Nabeyama sensei all to ourselves, giving private instructions. It was rather embarassing as well ...

Starting off he's already corrected me on tying my Tare. It has to be loose at the top ... rather than tightly wrapped. Hard to explain, easier to show. Let's move on, loads more to cover.
Then apparently I've also been tying my Men incorrectly for the past 5-6 years. I've always wondered why it looked so much nicer when the Japanese wear them. I've been tying it too low, and need to tie it higher up on my head, about a quarter of the way down from the top. This gives the shoulder bit more room to sort of ... fan out and look big.
Next up is the warm up, my suburi; the next most basic thing after reigi. I wasn't doing that right either, actually it was more the case of laziness. Instead of going up and down by swinging down the tip, I bring it down first then go forward ... again, easier shown than explained. I was able to fix it pretty quickly though.

Then we did some kihon, little adjustments here and there, nothing major.
One of the highlight was the suriage waza. Kote suriage men, it is actually one of my favourite and the sensei was able to enhance it further for me. The fundamental is that it is supposed to be one forward movement, the blocking done in the middle of your Men-cutting flight. What he pointed out that was new, so simple, yet so effective was the block. It is meant to be in the centre, not off to one side (even though I normally move my left arm out and keep my right almost stationary anyways). Seems obvious enough after he said it, but I was never fully aware of it. Then from the block, where your shinai is still in the middle of the opponent's head, it is quite easy, and the distance becomes much smaller mind, to hit the Men. I can't wait to try it out.
The ji-keiko was much better, though I wouldn't call anything I landed ippon. Then Ikeda sensei, my regular, proceeded to run me to the ground and killed me off nicely. The pointer of the day was to keep my chin tucked in ... now honestly, I think this is due to the change in the tying of the Men. I've never ever had that problem before, so bloody annoying. Everytime I try to fix something in kendo, some other thing goes out of whack.
Anyways, for the time being, that's the last I saw of Nabeyama sensei ... I'm sure I'll run into him again at some point in time.

The first time I used the phrase 'sashin totemo iideska?' on a man

20 Dec 2009

Winter Break - Bangkok

My first practise back at the Japanese-association school in Bangkok for the Christmas break had quite a good turn out. All the familiar faces were present, and it was nice to see all the senseis again.

Little to my knowledge, the session had a special guest visitng. Lucky me! It was T. Nabeyama sensei (7dan) from Ibaraki, Japan. Everyone was understandably buzzing as he has competed many a times in the All Japans and Tozai-Taiko. Rumour has it he's even placed 2nd at the Zen Nippon before, al though I can't justify.

After watching him display incredible skills (which translates to whooping the the shit out of everybody) for an hour in the queue, it was finally my turn to have a go at embarassing myself. One ippon and I would consider the ji-keiko successful ... it didn't happen. The only achievement was making him move back with my seme in the beginning. It never happened before with any high ranking sensei, they normally just stand there, probably thinking this guy is absolutely harmless, there's no point ... when do I get my beer.
To be fair, I wasn't happy with my kendo on the day. After 2 weeks without practise, I was noticeably rusty. The Men cut didn't feel right, and the timing of everything was generally out of whack. So after the horrible display, the advice I got was to keep my kamae at all times, apparently I was waving the shinai about too much. Damn university kendo, too much blocking!

Naturally I was rather disappointed and frustrated, after all it's not often one gets such a opportunity. The upside is that ... the day after, I'll have another chance. Better shape up!
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