The last day of the summer holidays in Poland – hard to imagine that while I’m happily stuck at the other end of the world, where, for all this glorious time, I could forget that warm clothes exist. I am totally aware of the fact that I’m going to suffer so much in October, when we get back – there can already be snow in Poland! I’m definitely not prepared for a temperature shock.
Buuut back to Japan now. We’ve trained in Kasugai and with one addition to our group of five – the sensei with many shiai tricks up his sleeve. I pulled some muscle or so (the mysteries of the human body) nearby the left side of my ribs, therefore receiving became really painful, and I only did jukendo kata, some basics and several rounds of kakarigeiko before being forced to take off my bogu and trying to make the pain go away. Luckily, tankendo uses different kamae – which also means we receive thrusts more on the right side or the middle of the body, which was doable for me.
So – tricks followed! In the only martial art I somewhat know – kendo – the kamae is frontal, so the three shinpan (judges) are more or less able to see the correctness of the strike – whereas in jukendo or tankendo, with their sideways kamae, a judge (or two, depends on how the triangle is situated), are prone to miss the crucial aspects that can weigh in their flags going up or remaining down. I’ve learnt that in tankendo, when the opponent is pinned down by the arm, we can dance him around to make the judges see our amazing thrust. Or, on the contrary, make our strike seem so powerful that even without seeing the details the judges are going to award the point. But these are tricks and I’m too inexperienced to even try them, so I focus on the basics and let these advice be saved somewhere in the depths of my memory, one day to emerge – if ever needed.
Back to school – but not for me, as I’m enrolled in an intensive course already:) Today we were back to Kasugai Gymnasium, it’s a nice and spacious dojo that I become to like. The sensei that visited us yesterday decided to join us today as well, therefore we had an exciting practice full of good advice and some crazy moves. He is really shiai focused, though his basics are also flawless – and he has got a good eye for spotting the elusive small movements that impede our progress by making our strikes or movement not as efficient and strong as it should be. We are doing more and more tankendo now – jukendo is my one and only love at this moment, but I don’t mind improving my weak spot (the short stick) as well.
I really really adore all the senseis here, they are amazing people that are incredibly patient with me, even with my lack of language skills, and show a lot of appreciation seeing that I really try hard to do it as best as I’m able to. Moreover, they make me feel like a winner every time I improve, even if the improvement barely resembles what a certain technique should look like. That makes me feel motivated and keeps me focused. I am surrounded by great teachers and I cannot voice my gratitude well enough – I am honoured!
The months turned out to be just numbers in this diary, the time is measured by the trainings here. We travelled to Chita today, the dojo that I call the ‘hot dojo’, due to it resembling a sauna during the most awful days. We were joined by Hisatsune sensei, who is yet another of the great teachers that I’ve written about in the previous post. We worked on our jukendo basics, and this time we stripped them down to absolute rudiments, like feet movement and placement.
My brain and body work best with analogies, so kicking an imaginary ball with the back foot helped a lot – that allows for the transfer of power, and the quick movement of the right foot that follows the left (stompy) one. I still have an overbearing feeling that everything in my kamae and thrust is awry, yet there is nothing else to do than train and try to fix the issues one by one. I still remember how long it took me to stabilize the straightness of my left foot. Lots of repetitions, fighting with my own muscles and joints that are prone to go back to the comfortable position as soon as I stop paying conscious attention. Gah. After the break we proceeded to do tankendo, from the basics to movements that can be used in shiai. The most important advice from today is to… relax, as if it was easy:) Especially if you don’t want to disappoint your teacher. Thankfully, they know how difficult is to learn these movements and techniques, and they laugh with me if I do something ridiculous – and that helps a lot!
*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.*