Holy crap what a day!
Today turned out to be a sink or swim kind of situation. The beginner sensei was not able to make it to class again due to work constraints, and the other new beginner student didn’t show up. Every other person that was there was ni-dan and higher. Yikes, what’re we going to do???
Kendo of course! So after usual warm ups and suburi we spent most of class doing kihon-geiko. Kihon-geiko is a way of practicing basic strikes with a partner. One person is motodachi (receiver) and the other is kakarite (striker). In my case, since I am still without rank, and not even in basic uniform (hakama and gi), I was always kakarite. In Kihon -geiko the job of the motodachi is to present an assigned opening so the kakarite can practice striking an actual person in bogu. We did all the basic strikes – Men, Do, Kote, Tsuki and did one combination strike – Kote Men in which you strike two targets in fast succession.
I was also (briefly) introduced to Kirikaeshi – an extremely fundamental and important part of Kendo practice. There are many articles, videos, posts etc on Kirikaeshi that are able to describe it much better than I can at this point so I suggest a quick google search for that. Let’s just say I failed miserably at my first attempt at it (mostly footwork related) and I’ll be spending plenty of time outside of the dojo trying to get better at this.
The final 15 minutes of class were spent in ji-geiko – which is free sparring. This is how the class usually ends for the higher ranks but they didn’t want to leave me out so I was invited in as well. Now, before you start screaming “what were they thinking?!” I actually did not participate in ji-geiko. Whenever I was paired with someone, they altered their geiko into uchikomi-geiko. Uchikimo-geiko is much like kihon-geiko in that the motodachi offers openings. Unlike kihon-geiko these openings are random and the kakarite needs to look for them and interpret them correctly to strike. There is much more of a fighting spirit and a feeling of being in an actual match against someone as opposed to just practicing the same strike over and over.
It was a great practice and I’m glad I was able to rise to the challenge, however, if anything it really showed me how new I am and how much more time I need to spend on basics. It also gave me something to look forward to and much progress there is to be made. What an exhausting day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Header image credit: https://flic.kr/p/5D3ovV