Saturday, December 20, 2008

Today's Practice

Today's kendo practice was one of the best so far in Toyohashi... but I forgot why... Haha, stupid of me, eh? Now I really have to think hard and try to remember, I can't believe I forgot within an hour what it is I learned today.

Oh, I remember, I understood one of the ways how to create openings. We did a drill of moving forward slightly to fake an attack, and we did this drill for quite a while, so while I didn't get to become good at actually faking, I understood really well from experience why it works so well, when the other person was faking.

Today I thought about something that I'd like to show my friends at the UofT dojo when I go back. During warm-up we always do this drill that I is really good. I think we did it at UofT a few times too actually. It's nice to do it every practice though. Basically what we do is lunge and hit men (or kote, or kote-men, or do), but don't go though. Instead we stop as soon as our shinai would have impacted with the target. And then we repeat it again. I think it really helps with awareness of your own movements, as well as with controling the force that you put into your cut. It was really hard for me at the beginning to stop, it still is, but it's getting better, because I am starting to be more aware of how to control my movements.

Today, for the second time in 4 months I got to do jigeiko with the junior high school students! It was really interesting. The first guy I fought was all right, but he was using a lot of force and pushing, and his movements weren't so well controlled. The second guy I fought is one of the best among the junior high school students, and fighting him reminded me of fighting Bill. He isn't as good as Bill, I think, and he moves differently, but in any case it was a lot of fun fighting him. I am so glad I got to fight with the students today.

We also had a shiai today too. It was really weird though. We didn't actually fight, we weren't wearing bogu either, and all we had to do was move (suriashi), and attack sometimes. It was... weird... But I guess it's good practice.

During jigeiko with the sensei today I had to do drills, and got tired really fast, but I felt very good after, it felt like I am straightening out my kendo a bit. I am so so glad I get to do so many drills, I think it really helps me, because I feel like I didn't do enough drills up till now for my body to learn the movements well enough and to respond without thinking.

Funny, it took me three years to get this whole "don't think" idea that the sensei and my sempai have been teaching me for so long now. I guess it's not a thing you can understand with reason, you just get it one day.
I think this is why I love kendo so much. It's a completely different way of thinking. In everyday life I am used to applying reason to everything, but some things don't necessarily work that way, and kendo is one example. You can learn the mechanics verbally for a long time, but really, one day your body just gets it, and before that you don't get it, even if your mind thinks you do. So you just have to keep practicing and trying new things. Of course you use your brain to figure out good ways to learn this thing you are learning, what to try, etc., but in the end it's like the part of your brain that's responsible for reasoning is by-passed in this learning process. I am talking about learning basics, of course kendo requires a lot of thinking too, but learning basics are a complete different way of learning. In a way it's actually scary and frustrating to learn, I think, because it's like your brain gets it, but you can't do it, and if you are a person who likes reason, you wonder, why is it that I can't do it even if I understand what to do? It's like you have no control over your body, until that moment when you finally learn how to do it. At the same time though it's very liberating to try and not worry about the reasoning/logic-based way of doing things, and I am glad that I have a chance to experince this through kendo.

I think art is a little like that too. In your head you may have an idea of what you want to produce, but unless you practice and practice, draw and re-draw, your hands won't be able to make what your mind created.

Ok, enough about kendo. I need to go clean some more, and eat, before I Skype parents tonight.

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