Posted tagged ‘sports’

Okuden (the third book)

June 20, 2008

I have just read this and I believe is priceless. If you struggle to find time for your life, your kendo and your work, next text is a must.

Written by Ryoichi Shimano, you can find it here:

“I go to Noma Dojo located in Gokoku-ji, Tokyo, every morning. My house is in the northern part of Saitama prefecture and it takes about 2 hours by train to get to the Dojo from my place. So, if I get up around 4:00 am and catch the first train, I can be on time for the morning practice which starts at 7:00 am.

Three years ago, when I got ready for a practice and entered the Dojo, one Sensei came to me and whispered, “Shimano-san, Shimano-san. Would you like to know the secret of how to be a strong Kendo player?” I wondered what he was trying to say and, at the same time, why he approached me, since there were many other Kendo players. I was pretty confused but also curious. So, though I thought that he was acting strangely, I asked him, “Yes. Could you please tell me what the secret is?” The Sensei stared into my eyes seriously for an instant, but then he said gently, “It is to get along with your wife.” Then, he left me and went back to his position at the Dojo.

Now, I became really confused. To get along with my wife? How can that be the secret to be a strong Kendo player? I was completely puzzled.

However, as I spent time to think over it, I realized that how fortunate it was to be able to keep practicing Kendo at Noma Dojo every morning like this. I should, of course, thank Kodansha1 for keeping Noma Dojo open. But, at the same time, I also realized that I could do it thanks to my family. I noticed that I had thought that Kendo was a personal thing, and I had been careless about my family when it came to Kendo. However, I can leave home and come to practice because my home is at peace. I can keep a calm mind thanks to the other people around me. “To get along with your wife” is definitely a secret to be a strong Kendo player. Not only in Kendo. You can do your best at work only if your home is at peace. After I understood this, I became used to telling others “The secret to be a strong Kendo player is to get along with your wife!” whenever, say, I had a chance to discuss about Kendo while having some drink with my friends.

One day, I told the Sensei that I was promoting his great secret. He said, “Oh, yeah!? That’s good. By the way, what do you wear when you go to bed?” I was confused again by his strange question and replied, “Well…” Then, he said, “You should wear Nemaki.2 Not something like pajamas.” I was totally at a loss. What is the relation between his secret and that question? “Remember the scenes in some TV dramas. Characters are always in pajamas when they have a marital quarrel. You cannot have a quarrel with Nemaki,” he said and laughed like Mito-Komon-sama.3

But, why wear Nemaki but not pajamas? Why did he mention it when I was talking about his secret? You might have already guessed it. In the case of pajamas, it takes time to undress. On the other hand, in the case of Nemaki, you can split open the front part easily. Yes, the essence to get along with one’s wife lies in such things, too.

Thus, the Okuden of my Kendo secret is “to get along with your wife,” and the methodology is “to go to bed with Nemaki.” I am not kidding at all. So, please do not take me wrong. If you have any worries about your Kendo, why don’t you look at the face of the one who sleeps next to you once again. To be a good couple seems easy, but it also seems very difficult.

I am determined to practice “to get along with my wife” and to devote myself to Kendo. So, I decided to disclose this as the Oku-den.

By the way, when I attended the wedding reception of my friend the other day, I was asked to make a speech. So, I announced this Oku-den and people told me later that they were really impressed. My gift to the couple was, of course, Nemaki. “


One year ago….

April 28, 2008


Hi all. Today’s post is not about kendo basically. Today’s post is about my daughter’s first birthday. Yes, she is turning one already! Gosh, time goes by so quickly. I know one of these days I’m going to wake up and she is going to be fifteen. Happiness is the world which could define “almost” everything around her -I could complete the list with words such as concerns, worries, tantrums, smiles, surprises.

But my point today is not about my daughter, is about her mother, so my partner, and what she showed me one year ago. Women are the forgotten ones in this story.

One year and one day ago, my partner was, as any other pregnant woman, the most beautiful girl in the world; and she knew that. Showing off her massive tummy, a voluptuous goodness, she was a radiant reincarnation of the mother nature. One day after, she was “just” a new mum, another one. Her body was deformed by having a baby nine months there, she couldn’t walk, hormones going down and down made her be depressed. She wasn’t important anymore, any care, attention, hour, minute second moved from her to that wonderful baby she had inside. As any other new mum.

What happened in between? Nothing bad, only a labour. Maybe for a midwife or a doctor, labours is a common practice. It is their work. To me it was complete revelation about women. How strong they are, how committed, gosh, I could see a authentic fighting spirit. Ten hours in terrible pain: and pushing and pushing and go forward, there is no step back. As bigger the pain, as closer the end is.

My girlfriend had always told me she couldn’t cope with pain, she couldn’t do it, she was really afraid. But she did it, of course she did it. I saw her in every contraction, from the very first one until the one before she experimented the morphine’s pleaser nine hours later. I was next to her the whole time, I was so lucky of being there, I was so lucky of assisting her and watching …. that. That was fighting spirit, the real one.

She wasn’t just a new mum the day after: she was the strongest and most beautiful girl ever. As any other new mum from they partners and beloved’s eyes.

Today it is my daughter’s birthday, a wonderful day, of course, but, also, it is, to me, my girlfriend’s day.

Seme, seme, seme…MEN!!!!

April 8, 2008

This is my third attempt to write a post about seme and I’ve just realized of one thing: how can I dare to write about something which I have not idea at all?

Acording to my sensei, the simplest definition of seme (presure) is to provoke someone to do something. Nothing else. And he does it, he moves his kensen one inch or moves his body slightly, and I rise my arms instictivily, opening my do, or my kote, or I lost the center pointing my shinai somewhere else, or my kamae. When I try it, there is not answer from my counterpart at the moment, of course. Why??? I move my shinai and nothing, showing my loudest and most enthusiastic kiai, nothing, move my body forward, result: nothing. Am I not scary enough? Surely not. Is it, perhaphs, a matter of confidence, attitude, good kamae, good waza and, my biggeste weakness, calm and cold blood?.

Seme is one of those misteries I’d like to discover. Or, at least, scratch its surface. Or scratch the surface of the surface of the surface. I think a good starter is calm me down and think twice before going bersek looking for any hit. In fact, good seme seems that work; one of these days I’ll post a video from my very first shiai: the only moment I stayed calm and I did “something like seme”, it was the moment I got my first point ever.

By the way, I’m moving home, my flat is a mess plenty of boxes. This, plus catching up a lot of things means 10 days with no kendo. NO WAY!

Breathing (Kokyuu)

March 29, 2008

Sometimes, it looks as the world spins about the same topic. In this case is breathing (in a kendo way, of course). Recently, I read again Honda sensei’s articles about Attitute to Jigeiko (reading these articles is a must for any kendoka) and, among a lot of stuff, Honda sensei spots that kata-geiko is the best way to learn breathing. The night before my last practice, looking for new links to this blog, I found these articles about mokuso and correct kamae (spanish only) which remarks the importance of breathing and, surprise, surprise, first half of my last practice was about breathing. What is going on??

I am not very interested about this aspect at the moment, I have more important aspects to improve and to be focus on, but, once I got some basic information, why not keep on eye? Who knows, maybe, one day, it becomes natural…

Kendo breathing is based in diaphragmatic breathing and, for a number of reasons, it isn’t new for me. In fact, I have a good basic knowledge about how it works and I practice it almost everyday for five minutes with one of my students in the High School. A good diaphragmatic breathing provides your body a bigger income of oxygen, therefore, it can help you to have more energy, recover quicker when exhausted, be more concentrated, sing and raise your voice without damage your throat (perfect for teachers), relax yourself… (nothing about understanding your partner when she is in a mood, sadly)

Trying to do kata or kihon with an adequate breathing pattern (some ideas clicking here) drives you to a another mind state. I am not talking about karma or something like that, but who have practiced apnea before knows what it is about. On the other hand, being concentrated in this new way of breathing, made me have a lot of silly mistakes such as footwork or proper cutting. Kirikaeshi is ok, I am not able to do it in just one breath but I try to use one of the pattern that Honda sensei taught us last year (Breath, men, Breath yokomen, men, breath yokomen men turn finish breath). However, attempting Ji-geiko using this breathing is, to me at this moment, rocket science. Enough with my footwork, kamae and wazas to try to discover the rhythm of my opponent’s breathing and keep mine.

Kirikaeshi study

March 25, 2008

Right, first proper post. 

I’d like to have a quick look to my grading a few weeks ago. To begin with, I must say I am very happy with my performance, I did my best in spite of being nervous. I couldn’t make it better so this is the best kendo I can offer you.

I am kakarite. I was lucky enough to have as motodachi Dez, probably the finest kyu of my Dojo, so it made things really easier. 

Today I would like to focus in the kirikaeshi stage, leaving the jigeiko to better moment.  

Good things I can spot: Concentration, spirit, kiai (always!), breathing, cuts (maybe).

Areas to improive (so not good things): kamae, correct maai and footwork, footwork, footwork… Gosh, I had not realized how bad my footwork can be at the moment. Above all the first mens before the yokomen. I’m crossing legs 50 cm!!! I’m raising my arms where I’m moving my left foot!! I don’t need to do that, it’s the other way around. And I have strong legs, I can reach without that impulse.

Any other comment it is more than welcome.

My way to shodan. Hello everyone!

March 22, 2008

Last Tuesday I had a not good practice, nothing worked properly. I was so pissed off with myself. Same faults again and again, always on a rush, not goo d posture, no good breathing, no good cuttings, no goog anything…one of these days, definitely. And then, as I normally do, I took my bike, loaded my bogu and took the way back home. While riding, I was thinking about the practice I wanted to do something and, why not, write about it. 

 Recently I achieved ikkyu. Good for me! Well done! Clap, clap, clap. It is a motivation to keep on doing my kendo, to be happy about my progress, but it is also a good moment to think twice about things. Think about doing things properly, no more crappy things, lazy kamae or careless waza, at least on porpuse. Or more imporant, think about respect, respect kendo, respect your sempais and kohais, respect your kendo community. Don’t know, but I believe there is a responsability around this, when you have a grade. 

 Next step, shodan, involves too many improvements. After having sessions like last tuesday or watching my grading on a dvd, these improvements are more that I thought and I should start right now. It is the moment to take some aspects seriously.

 Yep, I decided to create my blog about Kendo and my way to shodan. Sounds good, isn’t it?. The only problems is how I could find the time to write here. I am just working full time, studying teaching, studying English, raising a wonderful wee daughter, having a life with my partner…

  Neither today nor tomorrow, but I like to write about a lot of things: Kamae, footwork, attitude, shiai… my thoughts and worries about kendo. For how long? I expect one year, but you never know, maybe less, probably more.  But I am sure of just one thing, the last post will be “I got shodan”.

 Have fun, enjoy it.