Sunday – training. Yay!
Today we went to Gifu to train with a local jukendo club. You read it right, finally there were some more people than sensei and us. Plus I could witness some kiddies doing jukendo, and although they were just beginning, I can easily predict that they will be awesome in several years. We have practiced with the awesome young ones who, once I put my bogu on, were far from being intimidated by a white girl with tattoos. Yet again I have experienced how gentle and fun jukendo people are, even in shiai. After proving that we know which end to stab with, we begun, as always, with basics and received rather positive comments. Then we did some tankendo, which is really difficult for me, as my body and brain work in a 1-0 system – if I train in the jukendo stance, switching to tankendo one takes more time than I would like to. Yet I know what I should strive for and I’ll try to get better. After a short break, we put the futons back to the left (in my opinion also the right) side, donned out kata, and did some jigeiko.
I definitely need more of that on a daily basis, as even when I manage (somehow, don’t ask) to create an opening, I am rarely able to use it to my advantage. Which makes my opponent as surprised as me. I am surprised I CAN thrust, and he (usually it’s a male, hence the pronoun) is confused why I DON’T follow with the attack. Huh. The last battle was held between team Japan and team Poland (with an addition of a New Zealander). We fought bravely. Nuff said!
Monday means more exciting training possibilities. Indeed, exciting they were, though not in any way we would be able to predict. We were supposed to train in another dojo, but due to some unforeseen circumstances we were stuck in one of the meeting rooms in the same building. It was spacious enough to do kata in it, though.
Nowadays, we seem to be practicing kata everywhere we go, even despite the conditions, so after a whole month I suppose our forms should be rock solid. At this moment, as a shikata, I don’t need as many cues for where to go and how many steps to do, so I’m getting tons of advice about my posture, hand and feet placement, or even on the way I move my feet. All of this sometimes results in me getting lost and having to relax and let the kata flow, rather than over focusing on keeping my elbow in line with the mokuju (and sacrificing the rest of my body to do as it wishes to). Nevertheless, we have successfully done all of the forms, and I’ve also learnt the uchikata side (my preferred one). I envy everybody who is able to keep a poker face throughout whatever happens around – I can’t do anything but smile when something goes wrong or someone says (or does) something hilarious. Which does happen all the time!
This training took place in the Kasugai dojo. I really have missed it, it turns out. We did tons of the variations of the jukendo basics, lots of movement, coming in, taking the centre etc. My kamae has been fixed a bit yet again, it’s even tighter now, and much less comfortable, but I admit, the strike is even shorter and more powerful now. I know what to aim for. This is the point where all of the things we’re doing are slowly getting to work together, but I know it’s not going to happen overnight. This is the wonderful thing in budo – you practice many small elements that in the end form a bigger picture, and one day some of it will be done without thinking, instinctively.
This is real magic, to make yourself react even before the fact that someone is attacking, from certain direction and distance, with certain speed and aim, is consciously analyzed and the signal to act is sent to the muscles. After a brief break, we’ve switched the futons to the right side and did a bit of tankendo, and finally the full set of tankendo kata, in other words: grab’n’stab’em.
The training in the Kasugai Gymnasium. There were only the two of us (Akira and I); therefore our jukendo basics have been thoroughly evaluated. I’m trying to make my right hand go a bit behind my hip (or to the place, where it would be, if I were a boy – and I’m not quoting Beyoncé here), as it makes the thrust shorter and sharper, but such a position is still highly uncomfortable and influences my general picture. Gah. As soon as I think, that I somehow got hold of the whole idea, one element has to be changed (or rather – improved) and the whole thing has to be rebuilt from scratch. As during all the trainings this week, we did some tankendo basics too, this time adding some new paired exercises.
It is really embarrassing to see the videos of an exercise that we did for the first time that day being published, but that’s just sensei Terada’s ideas. I still have to focus on the absolutely core elements, so whenever I’m asked to do anything faster, it all tends to disintegrate. At least it disintegrates quickly 😉 We’ve finished with kata, full sets of tankendo and jukendo forms. We could choose which side do we want to play, therefore I instantaneously picked uchikata. My all-time favourite, though the one to blame if anything goes wrong too.
*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.*