The news is confirmed and tomorrow we are going to have our grading. Hopefully everything will go all right and nobody will hold the mokuju with its butt facing forwards. As a preparation, we’ve done lots of basics with a special focus on the order of the exercises, the timing of the command and strike, the footwork of both, the student and the receiver. Although we have been doing those every single day for quite a while, there are still some details that are elusive and need work – and that’s wonderful, as we never get bored.
The first part of the training was again a preparation for turning us into near-future teachers of the stabbing stuff. Sensei tested us by doing so many things wrong that it sometimes was hilarious, seeing a hachidan hanshi with his bogu put on all wrong. We have finished with kata, this time we practiced all that we’ve learnt – jukendo, tankendo, and juken tai tanken forms, without pausing for correction or explanation. Our training on the roof surely does pay off.
Last training before shinsa meant a lot of polishing the stuff we are supposed to show, focusing on the problematic details, different for each one of us. I have what I started to call ‘the hobbit syndrome’ – my arms go up every time I strike somebody – if I’m practicing striking without anyone in front of me, the hands stay low, as they should. Fortunately, the issue has been found and temporarily fixed by advising me not to use my left hand and concentrate on my right one, moving quickly and in a straight line (and not up!) forwards. This allows for a more efficient power transfer, assures that my position will be stable and proper throughout the strike, and lets me follow the strike by using my body, not pushing with my arms. We have finished with some tankendo basics plus fixing a few of the forms of kata.
Shinsa – the grading – we did on sensei’s driveway, under the watchful eye of two soldiers from the nearby base. We had to demonstrate that we know the basics of jukendo and tankendo, plus we did a full set of tankendo kata, probably just to show off. Despite the extreme conditions (that we laughed about a lot), everything went rather smoothly. We even had the chance to learn something new from our guests (and judges), as they couldn’t keep themselves sitting and watching – they had to grab the mokujus themselves!
A day without training, without sticks, and even without much cultural stuff – eating and sleeping are on the top of everyone’s list during such days.
*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.*