« Posts tagged energy

Keiko, koi ponds and bad wiring.


The last couple of weekends have been a big amount of hard physical work in very different ways.

Last weekend I went over for a training session in Cambridge with Jackson Sensei and Gowland sensei in the morning and had a quite different session. It’s a little session that Matt has put together incorporating all 3 of the joined clubs in the area.

The format was really simple. Warm up, three lots of suburi, one round of kirikaiesh then jiegeiko for the rest of the session and a full rotation. Turn out was good, around 14 of us so it took a while to do a full rotation. Eric was doing jigeiko, ichi-gomi-geiko and then ippon shobu. I started and finished with him so I did it twice. Then just to finish off, we did one more round of kirikaiesh.

Now I’d hit that point during my last lot of ichi-gomi-geiko where my body was beginning to flag somewhat. Not really surprising seeing as I’d done a full round of 15 bouts of gigeiko. So when Eric called at the end to do one last round of kirikaiesh, I was really not all there but threw everything I had left into it. As I’ve mentioned before, bad motodachi can really make kirikaiesh crap to do, but up against someone of Eric’s level it’s a pleasure. My first cut was spot on and my saiu-men cuts were quick and on target. As I made my distance back for the next 10 cuts, I felt myself scrape the bottom of my energy reserves and I began to slow down. The first 5 cuts were really slow, but I dragged a bit more out with louder and stronger kiai speeding up towards the end. Making distance, I did my last men cut and skipped down the side of his men. Damn.

We finish and Eric tells us not to take our men off yet, only he is taking his off. ‘What now’, we all think.
Jackson sensei, takes up a place on one side of the dojo and we all have to line up on the other, and do ippon shobu. Nice.

All in all it was a really good training session. Doing that much jigeko really allows you to settle down and concentrate, get into the zone so to speak.

This weekend just gone was a little different. I’ve been building a koi pond in the garden and it’s the first bit of serious garden landscaping I’ve done. Along with digging the thing, 6ft square and 2m deep, I’ve lined it, filled it and put decking all round. This has also been complicated by the completely dodgy wiring going to my garage.
To cut a long story short, in trying to fit the pond pump I found some pretty serious wiring issues going to my garage meaning that I had to lay a complete new bit of armoured cable and install a new RCD unit.

Saturday I worked solidly from 9am to 6pm and finally got it all ready for the fish, kindly donated by my father in law.

I felt a little connection there after the long hours of work going into the pond when I went outside after dark, turned on the outside lights and relax. Mokouso.

As with any activity, I’m beginning to understand the nature of mushin a little more. While working on the majority of my projects, be they work or home, I end up mot really thinking about doing it because I have enough experience that I no longer have to actively engage my mind to the task. When I do this is as Yagyu Munrnori describes as a stop in your mind. You are doing a task or learning something and when you have to think about it, you stop for an instant or even longer.
As you get better at things these things no longer occur and you simply do the things you have been trained to do without thought.
I have lots to think about round the pond now.



Spirit, dojo unity and weakness.

This weekend we were visited by our shihan, Boffa Sensei.
He took us through a fairly rigorous training session consisting of footwork drills and a specific drill designed to make the specific distinction between small and big men cuts. Along with this was a small eureka moment about when and why you would chose a kote or men cut. I’ve always wondered how you can do either from your normal cutting distance. I’ve always kind of thought that I have to be at the correct distance to perform a cut but for some reason I’d never considered that the simple difference is just performing a different distance on the step of your hit. Stupid really.

In all honesty it was one of the hardest training sessions I have done and afterwards we were rightly lectured on the need for greater spirit and unity. The hall we were in was quite a size and as such, we ended up spreading out rather a lot during keiko. Doing this made our rotations slow, kept us further apart and sensei said this reduces the overall spirit in the dojo making us weak.
It’s a very interesting point as I have done more physically demanding sessions but not been as tired or felt so physically drained. I had never figured that the simple physical closeness of the kendoka in the room could build the overall spirit.

I think back now to the old dojo which despite its faults, was a good spirit venue. Being quite small meant that we were close together, fighting next to each other and helping to build each other’s spirit while building our own. We practiced in there in the coldest part of the winter with broken heating, so there must have been something about it. In the larger hall, all spread out, no one else is close enough, you can see only your opponent and as such you become inner focused and the overall dojo spirit suffers.
You could feel the difference on Sunday and Monday. Everyone was a bit tired, a bit injured or both and as such the spirited movement was not there. Despite training everything as hard as I could, when it came to jigeko at the end, I was somewhat disappointing. Sensei constantly told me off for doing something I was trying hard not to do. Even when I thought I was not doing it anymore I was still told off for it. ThIs was even worse on the Monday evening.
It was one of those evenings where I could very easily have thrown my men on the floor and quit for good, because I felt so low. The blister on my foot made everything worse and I didn’t propel myself like I should have done. In short, I felt like I was terrible. If you asked sensei he would say the same, I’m sure.

The flip side of this is though, that I have to feel something good from this weekend and feel like I have learned something. I trained even though I was completely tired, for both days. Monday night was the worst of it though. I ache everywhere and do feel much worse than when I started, mentally and physically. Despite all this I did this because it’s a test. A test of my physical and mental limits. Those limits are meant to be broken and meant to be pushed till you can’t go any further.
Training when I feel weak and not 100% helps to show where I am lacking. I don’t want to do it all the time. Why would I want to train so much it makes me want to quit? I want to enjoy kendo. Sometimes though you have to go to that point. Being so tired and drained that you want to quit means that you have to gather more spirit to come back from that and regain the level you were at.

I’m starting to understand why some people just quit and never come back. Kendo is not an easy thing to do and sometimes the training does kind of chew you up and spit you out.
I am left feeling quite low and despondent after this weekend. It proves that my spirit is not good enough but in order to to get a better spirit I must train harder and raise my mental game.