In kendo class last night I felt slow and really off-the-mark, as it were. Viewing the class video this afternoon I saw several key issues that I need to address if I am ever to improve. They are:
- Pushing forward from the hips instead of leaning into the attack.
- Big and decisive swings instead of mincing attempts to just score a hit (as per Musashi’s clarification of the difference between a “hit” and a “strike” – the former being nothing but an accident at best and the latter being a true cut)
- A definite and true kiai instead of a tired exhalation.
I did do one thing better than before, especially thanks to advice from a local visiting sensei from last week. That was:
- Continuation of my kiai throughout the strike. Doing that I did actually push through on a few of my strikes but I still need to focus on continuing my kiai as well as pushing forward from my hips instead of my chest.
My greatest challenge is a fundamental fear of being struck and not committing to the attack. It is an irrational fear in that we are not fighting with live blades so there is no true risk of injury or death. It is a psychological hurdle and one, oddly enough, that I find also when I am lifting heavy weights.
It is something about facing an opponent that makes me tighten up and I think it does illustrate the old saying about one’s greatest opponent being oneself.
It sucks when a cliché is actually true!