Sunday – time for some cultural stuff! For today it meant travelling to Gifu, but not for training (I somehow regret that we didn’t, I had a blast last time!) – for sightseeing! The day was full of adventures, from getting into a Japanese cab to hiking 2.5 kilometres down the mountain on a ‘meditation path’ that was probably really risky and dangerous – but we were unable to read the warning signs, so go down we did.
Somehow, on every Sunday when we’re not stabbing people with sticks, we end up climbing up mountains. That’s the budo way! Strengthening of the body and the mind alike.
Back to the ‘window dojo’ with a mission to polish the basics, improve the harai waza, and add a lot of movement, continuous attack, nidan and sandan waza – which meant tons of work for both sides, the motodachi and the student. This is an extremely important issue, as in jukendo it is up to the motodachi to make the student perform a correct attack, so he or she can learn how to instinctively use the opportunities for strike that will be extremely subtle and elusive later during the shiai. During the basics, the attacks and the openings are usually big and really obvious, to allow the attacker to perform the best and most correct strike without interruptions. It is a chance to work on one’s problems, like correcting posture or ascertaining that the hip did not magically move somewhere else.
Then, with the addition of longer distance, more advanced techniques, and moving opponent, the fundamentals can get messed up, hence we start and finish with them to make sure that no mistakes will get carried over to the next sessions. In the heat of the fight it is obvious that the less experienced you are, the more weird things are going to happen, and it’s completely okay, as long as you go back to the basics to ensure correctness.
Finished with jukendo and juken tai tanken kata. I think we’re getting better!
Back to the Kasugai dojo for a session in jukendo, this time the whole training was spent in armour – which means no kata, although we did a quick reminder of the forms ourselves during the break. I really like that jukendo kata can be practiced without (as all kata in other budo) or with armour and actually striking the opponent. That helps a lot, as one can fix the mistakes of being too close, too far, or losing the posture whenever the mokuju does not reach its goal. Again, we, namely Akira, were responsible for the basics (although it was me who did the warm up – nearly my entire Japanese vocabulary revolves around limited number of body parts that you can either stretch or circle).
Usually the training begins with a standard set of exercises that escalate in difficulty and the amount of movement on both sides – from revising kamae to lengthening the distance and allowing the opponent to move or even strike – in order to counterattack. It might seem tedious or without much sense, yet there is certain comfort in it as well – not having to proceed to the more advanced exercises without going through the basics. What we are also trying to achieve nowadays is the smooth shortening of distance up to the striking one, which should require maximum extension of arms through body that is sideways (hanmi) plus leaning on the front leg with the back one nearly extended, to add those precious few centimetres. Easier said than done! To finish the day and ourselves too, we did some shiai practice, attacking, blocking, and short fights for one or two points.
In two weeks I’ll be already packing my suitcase. Probably, when this part of the diary is revealed to the public, I’ll be back in Poland – luckily I will be able to bring what I have learnt with me.
Today we practiced basics throughout the entire training, as it turned out that we might be having a grading on Friday – two days from now. This time I had the opportunity to conduct the initial segment, which is the revision of the fundamentals – from taking kamae up to striking shiai-style, with two people moving. The commands sometimes still seem elusive, yet I think I managed to fill the thirty minutes of given time rather well. Probably it could be better – “almost ok” 🙂 Then we did lots of exercises on closing the distance, taking the centre, and reacting to the opponent’s movements.
After a short break we proceeded to analyze the elements we will be obliged to demonstrate quite (oh my, really really) soon. Obviously we know them well already, but there are always some aspects that can be done better, hence constant focus on these exercises.
*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.*