Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Smaller sharper cuts

Last night was a very technical lesson. The main focus of the evening was producing smaller sharper cuts, while retaining proper technique.

The way we did this was de-constructing the cut into two larger portions, beginning with the end of the cut. We began with our shinai on the opponent's men, and in rotating practice just did the last wrist tap of the cut, from the position of a correctly completed cut. This felt quite good, though it felt a bit awkward what with being separated from the normal beginning of the cut. It certainly helped cement the finishing position of a cut.

The second part of this exercise was focusing on the raising of the shinai, and how minimalistic it really should be. Specifically the focus was on how it should be done almost entirely with the shoulders, then followed by the elbowy-wristy downswing. This was accomplished by again starting at the connecting point of the cut, taking a step back, and then returning to chudan. Special attention was given to splitting the two actions. I liked this because it maintained a good distinction between the components of the cut, without "zooming in" by making it very large.

Our sensei also gave us good instruction regarding keeping the tension in the left leg, and about maintaining intensity while staying relaxed, specifically by taking your mental and physical tension and pushing it down into the lower torso and left leg, so that it doesn't interfere with the arms which need to remain fluid.

We then did a small exercise in debana timing, which was a sort of culmination of the previous exercises. We did debana men and debana kote, using the same deconstruction as before but in 'realtime' beginning from a 'live' chudan.

Afterwards I was told by a senior kendoka that I'm letting my right hand slip down the tsukagawa, which is giving my cuts an 'artificial' snappiness. I was a bit disappointed as I was quite happy with how fluid and left handed my cuts were feeling, but if its wrong its wrong, so on Thursday I'll have to pay extra attention to my right hand and make sure it's also contributing to the snappiness of my cuts. It may take awhile to work out as it wasn't that conscious, but its certainly doable and shouldn't pose an overly large problem. The advice to fix it was to keep the right wrist flexible and moving rather than keeping it locked and sliding. I also think that the recent theme our sensei's been talking about lately about avoiding overextension of the cuts will help. The sliding shouldn't happen tooo badly if I'm not outreaching my right hand with my left.

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