Upon my recent return from a whirl-wind trip overseas, I have found myself back into summertime trainings of Taidai…in full swing!
The training menu does not appear to have changed much in recent weeks, but in preparation for the upcoming Kansai Team Champs on the 20th of September, the quantity of training has increased significantly.
That is to say it has doubled!
Well, at least the blistering heat has remained consistent! Arghhh!
As I write this entry, I am struggling to focus my attention on anything other than my comfy futon and a good ol’ Family Guy DVD, if only to take my mind off the muscle pain throughout my entire body! Strangely though, I can still confidently say that I am having a ball in this environment…especially as my brief time away has left me a little more refreshed than the others in the club, and I am finally able to land a few points on the poor buggers that haven’t had a proper rest in months! (Insert evil laugh here).
With a slight possibility of variation depending on the mood of the sensei on the day, the training menu at Taidai tends to cover the following areas;
Morning Trainings 7am
Tachigeiko/Standing Meditation – 10minutes
Jigeiko/Sparring – 45-50 minutes
Afternoon Trainings 4pm
Taiso/Warm-up – 10 minutes
Suburi – 10 minutes
Basics – 10 minutes
Shikake & Oji waza/Techniques – 20 minutes
Hiki waza/techniques – 10 minutes
Break – 5 minutes
Shiai/Competition practice – 30 minutes
Jigeiko/Sparring – 45-50 minutes
(Ai)Kakarigeiko/attack practice – 10-15minutes
Everyday for the next wee while.
(And despite all this, I am still getting fat! Could it be the beer and curry? Surely not, I’m just getting older…or maybe it’s all of the above?! I don’t wanna talk about it!)
Now, to explain the title of this blog! No need to worry Mum!...
With all this time in training alongside young men and women in the height of their shiai careers, with their dreams of being scouted to become professional kendo-ists…err…Japanese riot squad members/police officers…Certain pressures and mistakes have made me contemplate a particular aspect of kendo that makes the average training a lot harder if it is done correctly; that of being a “reliable motodachi (training partner)”.
My club mates all expect the best of each other, whether they are a nervous 1st year, a poised captain or someone simply trying to keep up, and I am no exception. This started me thinking about all the aspects of a training that total up to be incredibly mentally draining. In other words, the psychological factors that are detrimental to a motodachi’s performance in kendo.
Consider this…next time you run through after an attack, do you find yourself quickly checking to see whether the sensei was watching you? If you are having an off day, does the anxiety of not making a good impression mount up? Do you start to worry more about your own previous attacking performance than the distance (etc.) of your training partner’s attacks?
What about the times where you tune out during those crucial seconds where the instructor announces the next exercise? You take chudan with your next partner and realize that you’re the only person that is on a different page!
How about the “not knowing whats next” aspect? Worried about the possible ass-whooping at the end of the jigeiko session with sensei, using mind power on that rather than the opponent at hand?
I’m sure there are more, but these are just a few of the things I am guilty of today!
The point is, our mind can wonder during training, and there is even the danger at these times of considering kendo to be an entirely individual pursuit!
The toll these anxieties and mini-panics can take on our overall psychological performance during a training session, I believe, is enormous. The possible effects of which being detrimental to one’s own performance, but also conceivably spoiling the training partner’s experience if we are not as (mentally/psychologically) sharp as we should be in the receiving role.
Even worrying about this very thing tends to disrupt concentration, and dull my ability to perform well as a training partner! Seriously!
The funny thing is that I always knew this, as I’m sure you did too. When I was in my role as coach back home, I spoke about this concept a lot. But as my kendo progresses, this concept of being psychologically “on the ball” in order to ensure I return the favor of being a responsible motodachi, is one thing I find myself appreciating more and more in the recent climate of heat and competition pressures.
Concentrating at 100% for a physically full-on 2 and a half hours is quite an ask. I doubt even the sensei can resist the temptation of thinking about dinner between banging the drum!
In sum, like all things in our trainings, practice makes perfect. The essential factor in my opinion is that we remind ourselves of our responsibility as a motodachi as often as possible…and expect the same from our partner!
Geeze, this kendo thing is really hard, eh!
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