Ok so last night we started without wearing kote & men, beginnng the practice with suriage exercises, followed by suriage men. During this time I felt confident that the footwork was passable (read: actually using the left leg for propulsion). During the practice I was told I need to relax my right forearm, which forshadowed a 'theme' later in the free practice. We also did men kaeshi men, and also men harai men, which was very difficult to get ki-ken-tai working with, that's one to practice later after more basics are ground in. Mostly from this I took away a confident suriage and a sense of opportunity that may or may not follow from it as we were told deliberately to execute the suriage men as two seperate actions, in order to gauge the opponents reaction to the suriage, then cut if you've made an opportunity.
We then went to the other hall (an unused mirror image of our own room where half the lights dont work), and warmed up with some uchikomi lines practice, which for me felt a bit sickly from it being so cold and practicing without being warm (and being . Footwork here suffered as usual from simple fatigue, though my cutting action felt relaxed with better tenouchi than I ever had during my previous years of practice.
Once we were warmed up the rest of the lesson ws spent doing jigeiko. Again this was mostly a battle with fatigue, but as opposed to previous nights, the mind wasn't entrely taken by the fatigue and glimmers of strategic thought began to shine through the clouds. Two large themes appeared during the practice. The first is that I was very right side heavy. My cuts when I saw an opportunity were as if I was just punching with my right arm and leaving the left still instead of driving the cut with a snappy left wrist. The nice footwork from earlier in the practice disappeared again into my usual right leg hopping while dragging my left along. Bad. Also there were lots of nicely connected oji waza that I didnt follow through with my feet. I need to start running or something. The other main theme was kissaki being all over the shop. Mine and the people I was practicing with. This I believe is a combination of my own lack of control over the shinai at the moment, as well as lesser experienced kendoka doing instinctual (read: quick and untrained) large wavy blocks and parries, which I find very frustrating at the moment not being able to control the shinai well enough to punish the wide openings I'm seeing. This also knackers the living crap out of your wrists from all the insane opposing force stuff that this brings with it. Need to get controlled and snappy asap or die. Asap may take awhile.
Later in the pub had a nice conversation with some old sandan buddies regarding the wristkilling shinai waving kenod of mine and my opponents, and he explained that its not necesarily something to beat myself up about but that practicing with instinctual blocking beginners is a skill to be learned like any other. Also asked a question regarding the size of cuts in jigeiko, and came to a much better understanding of the purpose of the big, fleshed out uchikomi men cuts, in that they're not meant to be used in jigeiko and shiai (that'll explain all the debana kote I was handing out to everyone), but that they're stretched out, uncompressed versions of the cuts used in 'realtime' practice, intended to make sure that all the 'pieces' are still there and practiced, so they find their way into ones real cuts.