27-07-2017 – 7th training
No jukendo in the morning, as sensei had to go to Osaka. It felt truly wrong to be sleeping until 8 am, to be honest. I was there thinking about the things I need to improve and wanting to work on them, as the previous day brought those little moments of enlightenment that assured me that I can perform a valid strike.
Naginata in the evening and more practice of basics. After three months I might be able to keep up with the warm-up, as I’ve been shown the fundamental exercises and strikes that are used there. On the bright side, I did some horrendous first attempts at kata, which I certainly love, as I am generally fond of perfecting the prearranged movements. Yet, to perfect, you have to be able to do them, so I’ve tried and there was some light at the end of the tunnel of incompetence.
28-07-2017 – 8th training
It didn’t start so well today, as I felt already tired after the previous evening – don’t ask me why, I didn’t go out drinking, I swear! I got a slight headache and I felt dizzy even before I entered the dojo. This couldn’t end well – and didn’t. I barely remember what we were working on precisely, though I remember the basics and, of course, the things I have to work on. My elbow is much better, though I tend to forget about it when I’m going back after the strike, and fix it just before I strike again. I think that this is an improvement.
The balance could be better, but I’m leaning less and less, and sometimes too much forward, which is not good either. When we did some exercises while moving, my head gave up and the whole dojo started to move all around me, so I barely knew where the floor and my target is. Fortunately, I’ve been told to remove the bogu and I’ve practiced some harai without it, trying to get the hidari one right. I know what I SHOULD be doing, it’s just my body is totally immune to my will. Oh, well, more thinking, more visualisation, and another chance to improve it tomorrow. That’s how it goes…
29-07-2017 – 9th training
It was a hot day, luckily more like hot and sunny than hot and humid, as the latter makes me dizzy just by being outside. Today, everyone decided I need to work on my kiai, so I’ve tried my best to achieve that falling intonation instead of the rising one, and to use the proper breathing – instead of just screaming and keeping most of the air still in my lungs. I was labelled as ‘better’ which means I still have lots of work to improve it. Jukendo does not use excessive or prolonged shouting, so the kiai that I tend to use – one that goes with me all the way back until I finish zanshin to give me some mental courage to attack fiercely again – is useless. I guess it’s one of the new things to learn. What’s more, I started to automatically correct certain things – like feet and elbow – which makes me insanely happy. I can feel that wrong kamae means a shitty thrust and very slowly I can point out which one of my problems results in which mistakes (like missing the target, lack of tightness, etc.). I began dreaming about jukendo, too! I remember analysing the harai techniques in my dream (‘hitting near the kote’) and dreamt about being able to move quickly, flat, with the mokuju stuck in one place in perfect kamae. I just hope it will come near to be true some day.
This was also the first day we were told to put the whole bogu – with men, the helmet – on. My head is somehow weird, very narrow and small (though it looks perfectly fine with the rest of my body, thank you), therefore I’ve yet to put on a men that really fits me. This one is one of the better ones, though I will need a pad to make it smaller. Right now it was a bit hellish, as my head moved inside it quite freely. In kendo, you are standing straight in front of your opponent – jukendo uses hanmi, so you are standing much more sideways, with your head facing leftwards. And here is when the new men got repeatedly stuck. Going into kamae meant manually moving the men with my hand. Putting on the full bogu meant the first attempts in jigeiko, free sparring. I am still amazed by the simplicity of the concept of jukendo and I must say I love it! No stupid trickery, no fooling around…
31-07-2017 – 10th training
Another hot day. I was dripping sweat even before I got to the dojo, which is not an ideal training state, as you might guess. My body still finds it difficult to cope with the trainings and conditions alike. As I am now dreaming about mokujus, I should dream about correcting my (currently, as they are changing) number one mistake – lack of tightness. I tend to lose it whenever I fire up for the strike or when any blocking/diverting occurs. Back to basics! This was the second training with men on, this time for a longer period of time, though without jigeiko. We did lots of striking and receiving, and finished with sensei receiving wave after wave of our attacks. Mine were kinda bad, but one thing I can do – when I hear ‘hajime’ I can rush forward. I can even do that as soon as I see motodachi’s mouth open, which is only slightly better than being late – as they might only be yawning…
Additionally, I have to fix my feet while moving, as I have a tendency to bring them too close to each other and narrowing my stance (sometimes my back leg crosses the line of my front foot). I am not powering my stride through the right big toe, I guess. I must say I can’t wait until I get all the basics at least passable, as I can FEEL what a good thrust is – I just cannot achieve it most of the time yet. But that surge of power that goes through the body into the strike, without engaging my shoulders more than they should be – that’s a great feeling , one that I want to repeat.
My men is still not perfectly adjusted, so I hope I just sweat it more and it will stop getting stuck on my kata and mune. Right now I still have to adjust it by hand while going from bowing into the sideways kamae…
*This is part of an ongoing series of posts by Jukendo World translator and guest author, Klara, who has only recently started jukendo and is undertaking a 3 month visit to Japan to further her training with her partner, Lukasz.*