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Non-kendo and kendo-related exercises a beginner can do at home to build their base?

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  • Non-kendo and kendo-related exercises a beginner can do at home to build their base?

    Hi, my club gave me a shinai today to be able to practice at home. My senpais told me that they try do practice swinging their shinai at home like 500 times and work on footwork as well.
    I'm new, haven't even been a month of lessons yet, and I am very slow and uncoordinated.

    From your experience doing kendo, what would you advise a newcomer to do in their time outside of the dojo to practice to be the most time-efficient?
    I think building the foundation is very important, and stamina as well. What things do you wish you could've done differently in terms of what you should've focused more on, etc.?

    What smaller activities could I do, that would help in the long run or simplify more complex activities in kendo? Like my senpai told me, it might be easier understanding how to strike with a shinai if I practiced just using my left hand because the left hand is where the power comes from.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by internetalias; 26th January 2016, 03:46 AM.

  • #2
    Your senpai have shown you the way. I suggest following their advice. Suburi (swing the shinai) and footwork.

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    • #3
      Squats and leg presses to work the hips, inner thigh and posterior chain (and not the quads).

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      • #4
        How pray tell do you do squats and leg presses without working the quads?

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        • #5
          Most people are quad dominant leading to muscle imbalance, combined with many people doing desk work. Generally speaking, the strongest muscles usually take over for weaker ones, and people use those weaker muscles as little as possible or have no awareness of them. This feeds in on itself where these muscle groups continue to become strong and other weaker groups remain weak. This is the same for the upper body too where people are shoulder dominant for cuts lacking awareness of using other muscles. Properly coached squat movement should already be using the posterior chain. What I am saying to to focus some reps at lower weight to focus on recruiting those muscles as they are weak for those who work desk jobs.

          To do this, you need to target which muscles you use when extending the legs. First you need an awareness of these muscles, then you specifically activate them. That is what I am referring to. Executing a proper hip hinge should allow one feel these muscles activate as a hip hinge does not utilize the quads (same for holding a horse stance, if your quads are getting sore you are doing it wrong). The end result is that you have more overall strength from recruiting more musculature into a particular movement.

          Now as to how to do it, if you push into the heel rather than the toes on an extension, you will activate the posterior chain on both a leg press and squat. That is you will feel the glutes activate as well as the hamstrings and the Iliopsoas (the hips). If you want maximum strength you would use both muscle groups, but you can't do that until you have build up an awareness of these muscles and have strengthed them as well.

          Once you have this awareness and build these muscles, two things happen in a kendo context. First you can pull the body forwards from the front foot without leaning which you can not easily do with the quads. Second the snapping forwards of the rear foot is much faster and stronger which means your attacks go through aite and the person looks and is far more stable.

          Now the quads will likely do their thing, but they shouldnt be as fatigued like they normally be, and instead these other muscles will be fatigued. As a side benefit, you will start to feel them activate once you walk and you will start to feel pulled forwards rather than only pushed forwards. In a judo context, this allows you to get underneath your opponent, without physically dropping the hips to do so, which also yields benefits at tsuba zeriai.

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          • #6
            If you want to exercise the posterior chain, then you should be doing exercises that target them. Hamstrings in particular can be exercised by stiff-legged deads and various leg curls.

            This is a good reference for which exercises target which muscle groups. If you look at the squat you'll see that the target of the exercise is the quads, and the hams are just stabilizers. I suppose if you do the exercise in a particular way you will activate the various supporting muscle groups more, but the point of the exercise is to target the quads, so why do it if your intention is to balance out the leg musculature? Better to use a different exercise that more directly benefits the muscle group you are interested in.
            Last edited by Neil Gendzwill; 17th February 2016, 07:27 AM.

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            • #7
              Pretty much what Ron said.

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