26 Dec 2010

Merry Christmas Mr. Nabeyama

Wow ... some weekend I've had. Probably one of the more memorable Christmases I've ever had actually, not in the true spirit of Christmas I wouldn't say, well actually I don't know. It might well be. It's just not very traditional I suppose. You can tell it's going to be a long blog when, even the writer isn't quite sure what he wants to write about. Actually that's not fair. I know what I want to write, I'm just not sure what to make of it. There we go. The love was certainly all around ... pure unadulterated love as kendokas spread the joy of kendo to one another. (Sounds dodge there!) Bliss, knowledge, and experience were our presents, something money can never buy. (well not directly anyways) So first of all, Happy Christmas.

20 Dec 2010

Winter in the Kok

So I'm back in Thailand, and what have we learned? My first keiko was at Chula. Everyone said I had improved which got me chuffed to bits. Good morale boost and representation of UCL Kendo! To be fair most people there were either my level or lower. So yesterday when I went to the first usual Sunday keiko at the Japanese School, I was swiftly brought back down to Earth. The joys of getting creamed by 5-7 Dans.

It was Yamamoto sensei's last practise.

1 Nov 2010


Since we mentioned Junji in my last post, let's discuss this. Time and again, someone would come along and tell me I should do Jodan. The last time it was Shohei's uncle with an anecdote about how his friend used to be crap like me, but switched to Jodan and is now amazing. This time it was Junji. He argued my hands are faster than my feet (which apparently made my Do easier to hit as a counter to my Men), and of course I have the height. Hiroki then joined in the conversation and added that the only reason he's doing Jodan now is because he was shit at Chudan. What a reason. Well ... what if I become an amazing Jodan player but have never tried?


Another week passes as I search for a job. If anyone reading this is a banker, give me a job please.
At least I've now renewed the contract for my flat so I don't have to deal with the whole moving + flat hunting gore.

29 Oct 2010


So let's do a quick reflection about my kendo thus far. In Japan this Summer I was focusing on how to move more like a Japanese kendoka, just because it looks beautiful. Yes, it is probably also more efficient and effective, but hey ... details.

Kendo = Kufu: experimentation or self-discovery, long road

So I think after a while I was getting more used to it, and I have to start focusing on actually hitting stuff again, rather than my lower body + legs. My accuracy has been rubbish and I havent really hit sweet sounding datotsu. This was clearly evident at the central region taikai I participated in Thailand. I was too busy trying to be a dragonfly rather than getting them ippons. I lost all my matches, bar the one I drew. Fuck that! Time to turn it into something useful for my kendo, because it so can be.

To do that … I must focus on my kenzen. Sounds easy enough, and even obvious you might say. Not really. Like shooting, if you don’t use the aiming thing at the end (I swear there’s a more professional sounding term for it) you’re likely to miss 8 times out of 10. You get cocky, and you start just aim in a general direction. Big mistake. It is imperative that you don’t make it bleeding obvious though. I do know of someone, a certain kendoka, who before hitting a target, he would literally look. Thus you can see it coming from a mile away.
Unpredictability is very much an important aspect of kendo. Using a timing or waza in which your opponent does not expect. In the words of Miyamoto Musashi (oh lord, I did not just use his quote in my blog … I swear it’s pertinent!): “You win battles by knowing the enemy’s timing, and using a timing which the enemy does not expect”

Lastly let’s talk about distance. John has said to me that whenever he gets into tohma, I can already hit Men, which made his life difficult. Well I’ll have you know that’s going exactly according to plan. One of the most influential jigeiko I’ve had this year was with Osato sensei after the shiai I mentioned earlier in Bangkok. All we did was work on my timing and distance. I would get ready for debana men, and the moment he moves in tohma, I will have to strike. If he doesn’t move, I should seme for him to do so. Logical, but it was so good. Also, if I go in and he blocks men, change to Do! A simple enough menu. It required so much concentration though. It just had a huge impact on my kendo …

16 Oct 2010

British Open 2010

Having not been in a competition since August in Thailand, ok that was only 2 months ago, but it really felt like forever, I was looking forward to the British Open. (was there a kendo event that I haven't looked forward to?) Shiai is certainly one of my favourite aspects of kendo, so as you can imagine I was really happy to get into the shiai-jo once again.

6 Jul 2010

Bowden Taikai 2010

Surprise surprise, I was pumped up for yet another shiai. I had an especially good feeling about this one though considering the team we have. It was the best I've been a part of in a while, on paper at least

We journeyed to Reading from Waterloo station for the Sir Frank Bowden Taikai. It was a hot day and very dry. Summer time is upon us!

5 May 2010

London Cup 2010

I must say I wasn't ready for this tournament. It's a shame really because it is actually one of my favourite events on the calendar. It isn't often you get to cross your swords with quality kendokas from all over Europe.

I blame my Easter holiday in Italy for my lack of preparation; spending about 2-3 weeks there doing absolutely no exercise, and coming back to writing lots of essays without much time to practise. Nobody likes coming back to kendo after taking a break, it is such a nightmare. You have to fumble around and adjust yourself until you find that 'feeling' again when you can actually move relatively naturally without thinking about it ... holding the correct kamae, getting your footwork right, lifting and cutting the way that was best for you.

So yes I was dully shoved into the shiai. We started with the team event on Saturday,

12 Apr 2010

Relationship with an Object

I’m still not sleepy, and it’s half past 8. Ok! Let’s do a double post today, I’m on a roll. My train of thought has now led me to what I was reading earlier in the toilet, Murakami’s book  Kafka on the Shore.


So! Insomnia kicks in once again. Actually, that's not a fair statement, it's more like I've had too much sleep during the day as I went out in Switzerland last night, and had to catch an early train back to Milan (yes, I'm on holiday away from London, Easter break!) … so naturally, now I can’t bloody sleep.
Since I can’t sleep, my mind starts to wander all over the place; and of course I can’t help going down the kendo road. As I watch the web for news of the European Championships (EKC), my kendo withdrawal symptoms worsens. It’s been almost 2 weeks now without a practise. Kendo really is like some sort of drug. Fabrizio Mandia has managed to win the individuals for the second time, and France got their revenge for the ’09 London Cup in the team’s. To be honest with you I’m jealous of the guy. It makes me kind of bitter that he’s

22 Mar 2010

British Universities Taikai 2010

At last, the event I've been training for the entire year rolled round once again! The British Universities Taikai, affectionately known as the Uni Taikai. This year the event is held up in Edinburgh. I've always wanted to go to Scotland and what better excuse than to compete in a kendo tournament!

The UCL squad was quite upbeat for this event, we feel it's about time we win it again seeing that we're entering quite a strong team too. For the journey North, some of us took the coach, and the others took the train from London.

Straight into the competition, first up on Saturday, we breeze through the pools, and the first round for that matter. We were expecting the SOAS team (who were on the train with me) in the quarter-finals, but it turned out they were knocked out by Queen Mary, which surprised us a little. Easier task for us may be?

Or so I thought ...

1 Mar 2010

IIGT 2010 & 2Dan Shinsa

Finally the weekend of the International Irish Goodwill Taikai (IIGT) 2010 came round. I haven't had a competition since the Summer in Thailand! I hope I won't be too rusty in shiai situations, but not only that, it is going to be a big weekend for me in another aspect. My 2dan Shinsa! Gahhhh ... I hope I pass. I hate gradings, that's why I've never done it up until a year and a half ago when I got my Ikkyu.

After a massive delay and hanging about in Heathrow for longer than is healthy, Aer Lingus shuttled us across to Cork. Being the last flight of the day to arrive, it took us a while to get a taxi. Even more annoying was a bit before that Shohei got stuck at the Immigration for ages, they're real arseholes! Probably really bored with nothing else better to do but harass innocent passengers.

The competition was first on Saturday, we split up into 2 teams of 3s. It took us a while to do so, arranging the order and what not, we were also unsure whether or not

24 Jan 2010

Packed Practise

Yesterday, our relatively small dojo hosted what was the last practise for Honda sensei and his students for their London visit; the turn out was amazing. At first this was quite a sight, more and more kendokas from all around London kept turning up as we went along, but pretty soon I began to realise this was probably not such a good thing afterall. For one there was literally no space to practise. Half the time I was hitting other kendokas that wasn't even my opponent. Also, selfishly, what you want to be doing is practising with Honda and his students on their last keiko! Ok, I suppose I'll always benefit from fighting other people I don't normally get to practise with, but even so! May be another day, today is UCL's turn to have a go at these guys.

21 Jan 2010

New Year's Chores

So I took today off, 5 days of Kendo in a row would be a bit much. UCL Monday, Tora yesterday, skived UCL today ... Tora again tomorrow, and UCL on Friday. No Wakaba this Sat I don't think. But it's a special week as Honda's contingent is in Britain, luckily they're up in Oxford today. I mean I don't normally visit Tora that often in a week either!
Anyhoo, as it's still the first month of the year, there's lots of chores to keep up with. Renewed my BKA membership, thank God they finally caught up with the whole online payment system, otherwise I'd probably still be scrambling for my cheque book which is only used once a year.
Then I booked my flight to Cork, where the Irish Open (IIGT) is being held this year in February. Also registered teams for UCL and rang people up to make them come along. I will also be taking my Nidan there! So, if you're reading this, wish me luck! Had to bloody make a copy of the massive menjo I got for my shodan, request letter of permission blah blah ... such a hassle.
I also have to book the train up to Edinburgh at some point ... we must win it this year! Last chance to be a double winner of the Uni Taikai.
I also downloaded the form for the Ozawa seminar, he passed the message through Neil that I'm expected to be there again. To be fair I don't mind at all, really enjoyed it last year. Bollocks ... so I do have to find that cheque book afterall.
And now I'm wondering where the hell Bastin is ... he's disappeared off the radar! Ooh and can't forget, the registration for the London Cup should be coming up soon. Need to do that as well. Rant over.

20 Jan 2010

Fukyōdai in London

The Japanese contingent from Fukuoka led by Honda Sensei landed in Britain on Monday. They were far too tired to visit us at UCL that night, so I had to pop over to Tora the following day to meet them.
I got to tell you, it's always great seeing friends from afar again. I dropped in late as usual, but just in time for jikeiko; which is all you want really from a session with these guys.
My first keiko I ran straight in for Taro, had a hearty hug and a good fight. The bugger is still shit-fast as always, but you wouldn't expect anything less. Managed a few nice kote, he kept the tsuki on most of my Men cuts so I guess I'll have to work on improving it ... just as I thought it was getting better as well. To be fair though, both Honga and Joe did say it was better, so there must be some truth in it.
Then I lined up for Tanaka, Kubota sempai ... and kept the best for last, Honda Sensei. Since the queue was so long though I only managed a minute in with him, I was a bit tense I guess as I really wanted to impress him and show improvement since I last practised with him, managed to create two opportunities, but missed hit just like that! Rubbish.

Taro gave me some fancy chopsticks, and the main tip for the day was to bring my hind leg in faster after a cut. Hmm ... same thing Nabeyama said back in Bangkok! Then Kubota topped it off with the whole 'relax more to go faster' speech. Great pointers! I'd consider that a pretty successful hour if you ask me.
The pub was good too. After socialising, only the Wakaba senseis were left and I got them discussing my kendo. Katsura sensei's advice was to free more of the 'I am a big motherfucker' spirit and be less afraid to get hit. Right. Back to the drawing board then!

*All photos in this entry were taken from Honga's facebook

4 Jan 2010

The New Year

So the first practise of 2010 was out of the way. It was an unusually hot January Sunday in Bangkok, and it was rather difficult to breathe inside the dojo as there wasn't much ventilation. The practise still went well nonetheless. Some bloke from Mazda visited, reminded me how to hit sashi men the way I used to ... lately I've been focusing on proper big men cuts, it has somehow slipped off my mind.
After an evening of drinking with my old sensei in Pattaya, discussing kendo, I was constantly trying to maintain my centre in all the ji-keiko I did, with good results I must say. However as always, there's still much to work on. Which brings me to our next agenda ...
During the head of the dojo's new year's speech, he suggested we all make kendo resolutions. So I've been thinking about mine. It defnitely has to be something achievable, in terms of difficulty and time. I've come up with these 5:


  1. Pass 2dan shinsa in February
  2. Win all my matches at the Uni Taikai in March, this year in Edinburgh (hopefully the team will place gold)
  3. Make better use of my size with my seme
  4. Straighter kendo, minimise the flair
  5. Improve speed & leg strength
We'll see how it goes ... wish me luck!

1 Jan 2010

Happy 2010!! Best of luck and much success in the new year. True to form, I got plastered. Hope everyone has had an equally good farewell to '09

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