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  • Just Started

    Hey everyone,

    Been reading the forums for the last few days in the lead up to my first Kendo class (which was last night). Wow, really loved it.

    Two problems though, I found the feet shuffling thing really hard to do... lots more practice I guess. Secondly I was really worn out by the jumping men strike (I'm sorry I don't know the name...). Raise shinai, hop backwards, hop forwards, men strike.

    By the end, I was almost dying... Just couldn't keep up. Does anyone have any tips for doing it more effectively? Any other training to build up endurance (heck... its not like I'm even doing fast!)?

    Buying a bokken (love those things), is it worth it?

    Thanks all.

    Anyone attend class in Boulder, Colorado?

  • #2

    Hello Red_Xavier, and Welcome to the Kendo world.

    I'm just a beginer myself, altough I'm now on the bogu section. I still remember my first couple of keiko some time before the summer.

    In my case I almost pased out in the first two sesions, not in the suburi (the cuts that you do after warm up, and before the techniques), but a little latter. And when I mean passing out, I really mean that I needed to sit and to put my head between my legs.

    The jumping thing is called haya suburi. I think that there's nothing like practicing, you will discover quite fast that learning how to do the cuts properly will reduce your energy spending, this whay you will resist more time. But from my little experience, you can try to sincronize your foward jumps with your cuts, and don't try to jump madly, it's more an issue of control your movements than an excerice to spend energy.

    Same thing for the feet, even if in this issue it also depend on the type of skin you have (I'm one of the lucky ones). You can do a simple thing, go barefoot a home.

    The good thing about all of this is that I enjoy each one of the Keikos I do.

    Good luck and enjoy


    • #3
      The main thing to remember is to relax and breath. A simple thing, but it's something that we all forget to do from time to time. If you're too tense, your footwok will suffer, as your legs are so stiff, that you can't move smoothly, and it feels painfully slow. As for all your cuts, try to relax your shoulders. It's easy to check. Do a men cut in front of the mirror and stop it at the end of the cut. Then breath out and relax. If you see your shoulders drop, then you weren't relaxed

      I hope this helps.


      • #4
        Congrats on your first kendo practice

        For stamina, when at home do the 'hop forward, hop back men strike' as much as you can, but keep a relaxed motion. Jogging is also nice.

        As for the bokuto, buy it if you want, you can get it for as cheap as U$10, and will help you to learn the correct grip of the shinai and can be used for suburi (the hop-hop thing) in low ceilings. besides, obviously, being necessary for kendo kata

        Hold on there.


        • #5
          Thanks for all the suggestions. I really want to improve my Kendo, and at the moment I feel like a real novice - understandable since I just began!

          haya suburi (that right?) - how many should I do per training session? How far should I hop forwards? I tend to do quite small hops both back and forwards, I looked around doing the session, and some people were really moving forwards and backwards, and quickly too... what's the best thing to do for a beginner, start small and slowly (like I'm doing) or first learn to do it with a wide reach so that doesn't need to be learnt later?

          Thanks so much for the replies, its good to know that there kendokas out there with such an enthusiasm that they are patient with first-timers, however hopeless they are!


          • #6
            Do about 50 then rest for 10 sec. And then another 50.

            If you can't do it then just do 20 or 30 but do it properly. hop back and full swing back. hop forward and extend the cut fully.


            • #7
              Better to do 10 good cuts than do 50 sloppy ones. Slowly build up your stamina. eg. 30 haya suburi on the first day. Then 40, 50, etc.


              • #8
                Welcome to the world of Kendo!

                Be patience and dont give up. The road is long. Kendo is enjoyable and you will be happy. You will find that Kendo is beauty, also.

                Do your best and invite more friends to join Kendo!


                • #9
                  red_xavier: wow they made you do "haya-suburi" for your first class? hmm.. beginners at our school usually don't do that until their second week.. but anyways.. when you hop... you don't really need to hop "back and forth".. it's more like a little shuffle forward and back while your doing your swings.. I noticed that most of the beginners tend to hop back and forth a big distance whereas the higher belts do a little "shuffle" with their feet..


                  • #10
                    welcome welcome... welcome to the world of enjoyable pain >=P .. heheheh... just kidding just kidding... but yes.. welcome you to the world of kendo....

                    hmmm haya suburi..... well.. the distance of your steps should not an issue for you at the moment... what is more important for you at the moment is you doing it correctly.... with relax shoulder, body not tensed up.... big - medium size swings.... and for you.. dont rush it.... if possible do it at your own pase.. (even if it means that you have to do it slower than your club members). Like what Meng said... it's better doing 10 good cuts instead of doing 50 sloppy cuts.....

                    Anyway... happy training....



                    • #11
                      I suggest that for Haya Subari you just hop enough where it is comfortable to you and you dont' feel like you are going to fall over. Balance is a big factor in anything you do in Kendo so if you feel like you're going to fall over, you're jumping too far and therefore it is counter productive. But just as you said, start small and as you get more advanced and start using your left hand more, the swinging motion of your shinai will actually dictate how far you jump. I know that probably doesn't make any sense, but you'll know what I mean soon enough.


                      • #12
                        Welcome to the frustrating yet addictive endeavour known as kendo! There are no shortcuts, so concentrate on the basics and enjoy the journey.

                        A piece of advice that applies to most beginners in my experience; if it feels comfortable or natural, you are probably doing it wrong.

                        Remember to have fun!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by akihiro
                          A piece of advice that applies to most beginners in my experience; if it feels comfortable or natural, you are probably doing it wrong.
                          I don't agree with that at all. You cannot do kendo if you are uncomfortable. Sure there are probably things about kendo (ie keeping your feet straight) that are unnatural, but as a whole you should be comfortable.


                          • #14
                            Yes, it is difficult to kendo if you are uncomfortable, but perhaps I have been misunderstood. I am not good at explanations, so please bear with me.

                            As you pointed out kendo_chick, there are things about kendo that feel unnatural, e.g. keeping your feet straight. Those are the 'things' that the advice was referring to.

                            Why is it that most people seem to make the same mistakes (sticking elbows out during the upswing; placing thumbs on top of the tsuka; rotating the wrists outward when griping the shinai; left foot, hips and shoulders askew to name a few) when they start learning kendo? I believe it is because proper kendo form utilizes many muscles that people are not accustomed to using, therefore one reverts back to what feels comfortable or natural.

                            For example, it would be natural for your hips to be at an angle if your right foot is in front of your left foot at a distance one ft apart and forward. Also, your left foot would have the tendency to face outwards in that position. However, in chudan no kamae, your hips should be facing forward and your feet should be parallel. Doing this usually results in some tension on the inner side of the left leg, which becomes rather uncomfortable after a period of time. Therefore, your tendency would be to rotate your hips to reduce the stress. If you resist this urge to rotate and keep your hips square and your left foot straight, then eventually the muscles on the inner side of the left leg will strengthen and this posture will become comfortable over time. On the other hand, if you disregard this aspect of chudan and keep your hips and left foot at an angle because it is comfortable, then this will become a habit that will hinder your forward movement as you progress.

                            If one keeps in mind proper form from the beginning and continues to diligently train, then what felt uncomfortable or unnatural will no longer feel that way. If one disregards proper form from the beginning because it feels uncomfortable, then the mistakes will become habits and will be difficult to correct in the future. This is why I generally advise beginners that if it feels comfortable or natural, then they are probably doing it wrong.


                            • #15
                              If it feels uncomfortable or unatural for maybe 2 weeks after practicing kendo, you should see what's wrong. Maybe it's your posture, or maybe you're too crisp. Try to be relaxed. At first, it's unatural to put your feet straight, but you will be okay after a while doing this. Kendo is a bit hard when you start, but the more you do, the better you get. Many people stop after one month, because they feel uncomfortable, or they get really tired after hiya suburi.

                              The thing is... not to stop at any moment or say: "I think Kendo is not really for me." There was many beginners when I started, and now there is only 2 that are still practicing.

                              The hard time is when starting kendo and when starting to practice with bogu. But after, you'll find it fun. Those Hiya suburi, you'll fnd them easy. The true fun thing in kendo is when you are in bogu and you do keiko. I love it! I know, you won't start like this at the beginning, but gradually, you'll find it cool. It's not like other sports that you like it at the beginning. You have to win your kendomania! The more you do, the more you like it!

                              About buying a bokken, you don't really need it, because it is heavier than a shinai if you want to do suburi. It's mostly used in katas, and you can use your shinai in katas too. Don't buy everything now (shinai, bokken, shinai bag, etc) because you will need money to buy equipment you will need when being a more advanced kendoka!