Last night we began with a bunch of joguburi, which I always find a nice way of warming up and stretching out the arms especially on a colder session like last night. We then went on to exercise in different sizes of cut, starting off with joguburi style cutting of men, followed by smaller wrist snappy cuts, and then interleaved, with the point of maintaining distinction of sub-movements in the arm, while contracting them into a smaller overall cut.
We then focused on maintaining distance when the opponent moved, stepping forward and back, at random but without trying too much to catch each other out, as the point of the exercise was just getting used to the feeling of maintaining proper distance. The next logical step of course, was to put actual cutting into the exercise, so the motodachi would lead with the stepping and occasionally give up the centre (as subtly as possible was advised by the sensei), at which point the response should be a cut. This went on for awhile and was a very good way of focusing on who's got the centre without noise ratio typical of jigeiko. One thing this illustrated particularly for me was just how small an opening in the centre can actually be, and really helped me 'calibrate' my sense of scale when looking/feeling for openings. The next step of course was a very nicely restricted jigeiko free practice, essentially with both sides leading/following. It was a well pared down jigeiko, and really was a good live exercise that had built on the principles examined in the time leading up to it. In addition, despite the word jigeiko thrown in, everyone I fought seemed to keep to the actual exercise rather than just having a ruck, which isn't a common thing for free fighting.
Over the course of the night I was paying special attention to where my feet were placed and how extended my arms were. I was doing my best to keep the arms up and in a little bit more. I certainly felt they were lacking the excessive tension that I always have felt, even while wearing kote. As long as I'm not holding the shinai up too high, it should be an improvement, though I suspect its going to take some attention and tuning. as for the feet, it was a constant battle to remember to keep the left heel right up, though it 'felt' better than previously, again its going to take practice. From last night I can already tell the key isn't to put the mind on where the feet 'are' per-se, but rather ensuring that I put them in the right place whenever going into chudan. So it can be approached as a component of properly stepping into chudan, and stepping properly while in chudan. The other thing this is bringing me to is keeping the feet the right horizontal distance apart, which I wasn't focusing on so much last night, as the objective was to bring the back foot up, so I'll have to give that some attention next practice.