Practice over the past two weeks has been up and down as Ive been trying to hone a more flexible kamae.

Last night I tried to focus on my left hand and the angle of my hips. Over gripping with my right hand has led to a bit of pain in the elbow, always a sign of bad form, so last night I tried to be all about the left. I think this made for crisper men-uchi in kihon-geiko, and in ji-geiko I seemed to have better kensen control when it came to minor adjustments and trying to channel seme with the shinai.

The other focus was trying to calibrate my hips. If I had to say what was really different between those days when Im on point and when Im bunk, Id say it comes down to how I carry my hips when I fight. Its not a decision per se, or Id choose to do it all the time, but on those days when its really right, my kamae is ready, like a cocked gun. The rest of the time, which is most of the time, Im pointing a gun that hasnt been cocked yet.

Put another way, instead of having to overcome inertia by stomping on the gas, setting the attack in motion, the attack should be constantly in motion, wheels spinning, and waiting to be set on the ground. Its less a decision to go forward and more a removal of an inhibitor that is checking a force which is already going forward.

That may be a good working definition of seme: The pressure generated by a force which is being kept from moving forward, like water inhibited by a dam.

Come to think of it, these are things which Kim Taylor, my iaido sensei in Canada, used to talk about. He named his club Sei Do Kai, which refers to the concept of quiet or stillness in action, and conversely action in stillness. One of the other things Kim often speaks about are the angle of the hips.

So to wrap up Ive been trying to calibrate my hips and keep them rolled forward, belly out, same way you sit zazen. On my rare good days, this sort of happens naturally, and Im more dangerous for it. The task now is to keep up that focus and make it second nature while also reducing the shoulder and arm tension problems Ive been having.

Snap your fingers to the song of the day if you've got a minute.