Well last night was a blast.
It was very cold (we could see our breath in the dojo), and there weren't many people. We started off doing slow kirikaeshi, and they felt like the worst ones I've ever done. For some reason I could really see my left hand moving all over the place instead of keeping on the centre line. No good. Definitely have work to do during christmas suburi. We then did it fast, and out came the same wooden armwork that's plagued my kirikaeshi for years. Ki-ken-tai was broken, and footwork was totally uncoordinated and distancing was off. Again this is something to be worked on over the course of lots of suburi. There's a certain looseness/flow that needs to be achieved to enable proper technique at the proper speed, and I get flashes of it sometimes, but need to find it properly and learn to cultivate it.
Next we did an intresting exercise in cutting men. The sensei asked us to pay close attention to not letting our left foot do any small 'preparation' steps, and to make sure we were really earnestly launching into our cut from 0. Its amazing how big something can be and yet still live outside ones consciousness. I'd always felt just like I was launching relatively properly, but when focusing on that left foot staying still, it was so hard! Good its out in the open now to be worked on! I feel a similar way about the extra left hand movement tha I get carried away with when I kirikaeshi with good ki-ken-tai.
We then went on to do the 3 hiki waza, first on their own, and then following 1 round of kirikaeshi. Now this was the same exercise at which I absolutely ravaged my left foot with, and we were all expecting this exercise to just go on like the previous lesson, and Iwas steeling myself for the slog ahead when all of a sudden, the sensei called Jigeiko.
And I spent the rest of the evening performing miraculously what felt like a grade and a half above my normal level of practice. It felt like everything just magically clicked. Shikake waza landed. Oji waza were tight, sharp and perfomed on drawn out cuts. Nidan waza were landing two in a row, I was snatching people's bait while avoiding the traps; I felt like all the motodachi of the past who were ordered not to let us do anything. I was just countering people's cuts right at their beginning moments and then cutting the hole that as opened. I can't explain any of it. It didn't feel remotely tied to any conscious effort I was making, It was just like lots of the stuff I normally try to do and fail, but instead it all just worked. I have no idea why the night was how it was and I'm not going to try to understand it now, I just need to remember how it felt, and look at what the conditions are if/when nights like that happen again.
Absolutely cracking evening! Probably the most enjoyable night of kendo I've had in many years.