By Simon Larsen
There are two good lessons I saw in this match. Both happen to be problems I had in jukendo.
You can see several times Suzuki makes strikes which a few centimetres short of the target and seem slow (0:50, 1:01. 1:24, 1:52). When I had this problem it always felt like the strike was incredibly slow and the distance was incredibly far. People could always block it easily and I would be off balance at their striking distance.
The solution for me was to ensure my front arm was not too straight and back hand not too far forward. If your mokuju is too far forward from your body the extension to the strike is a lot shorter distance and so your footwork needs to make up the distance. If you have better and faster footwork than me this might not be a problem but I find I can move my hands a metre much faster than I can move my body a metre.
I think the reason I started holding the mokuju too far forward is that I was standing still too much (Suzuki doesn’t seem to have this problem) and holding the mokuju further forward made being defensive easier. A bad habit to get into.
I spent some time practicing moving forward constantly and doing very strong nuki (even in kihon) pulling my hands back further than is correct and that helped a lot.
Ewa has a different problem, where she connects nicely, runs away nicely and still doesn’t score (0:47, 1:32, 1:41, 2:03).
I believe the reason it didn’t score is that on each strike Ewa was pushing with her hands after the strike connected. Not enough shime.
When I was doing this a lot Terada sensei would have me practice striking from sekkin (in close with mokuju pointed up – similar to tsuba zeriai in kendo) with no footwork (or at most a standing still fumikomi). The focus being to snap quickly straight into the striking position and develop muscle memory for that position. This helped a lot. Yamaguchi sensei made me do lots of press-ups and they helped an awful lot as well 🙂