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Notes from Sakaguchi-sensei seminar, Detroit, 2009

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  • Notes from Sakaguchi-sensei seminar, Detroit, 2009

    Hey, guys. As you may know, Takesue Sakaguchi-sensei, hachidan, Tokyo police, lead a seminar in Detroit this past weekend as part of the taikai. I wanted to share my notes on the seminar, some great takeaways there. If anyone else was there and wants to add to this, please do!

    -Sensei had only a short time to speak to us. He covered seiza, suburi and men.

    -Sensei talked about how to get in an out of seiza and some of the logic of why we do what we do in zarei (protect yourself, be ready for attack and defense)

    -Sensei showed us how to do suburi and stressed that we should think of suburi not just as a warm-up but as an important part of training. He said, and this is remarkable, that at his dojo, which turns out top competitive kendo-ka, they do a lot of suburi, especially in February and March. He said when his fighters are in a slump, they go back to basics and do a lot of suburi. This was a big deal to me. I've heard this before but it really reinforced it.

    -Sensei showed us cutting men and encouraged us to cut men in a couple of different ways and from different maai, to vary it in part to keep from betting bored with the men cut.

    Anyone else there that'd like to comment?
    Last edited by Charlie; 18th February 2009, 01:29 AM. Reason: edited for tags

  • #2
    Charlie... care to expand and give more details? Sounds like a good time, wish I had been able to make it this year.

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    • #3
      Next time, Mike!

      The suburi part was really riveting to me. He said to make sure you're swinging big, lifting the left hand high enough, and snapping with good tenouchi at the end of the cut - textbook stuff, really. When we did suburi with him he told us all to slow down. He said the thumbs are important, they have to be down and pointed toward your opponent - again pretty textbook stuff.

      He showed us three kinds of men: men from one step out, men from issoku, men from issoku stepping into closer maai. He said to take the same care with these men cuts that you would with the suburi he showed us.

      I just remembered, he also covered kiri kaeshi. Same as the men cut - take care to do it right, cut at a 45 degree angle. Don't go too fast.

      On seiza: be ready to spring up from seiza. When bowing in zarei, be prepared to resist someone grabbing your head and smashing you into the floor, nose-first (I'm pretty sure that's what he said! He was speaking through a translator).

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Charlie View Post

        On seiza: be ready to spring up from seiza. When bowing in zarei, be prepared to resist someone grabbing your head and smashing you into the floor, nose-first (I'm pretty sure that's what he said! He was speaking through a translator).
        Interesting info, it's always good to know the story behind the etiquette of kendo, same thing for the 10 kata.
        Thanks for sharing

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Charlie View Post
          He showed us three kinds of men: men from one step out, men from issoku, men from issoku stepping into closer maai. He said to take the same care with these men cuts that you would with the suburi he showed us.
          He went over some similar points when he visited our dojo before he went to Detroit. It was quite interesting. Charlie, allow me to piggy back on your notes about the three kinds of men-uchi.

          From to-ma: Do these partly as a way to loosen up. Be careful not to step your left foot in front of your right when you take that step in.

          From yokote-no-ma: More experienced and more athletic people should try to cut from this distance without taking a step in. If you're less experienced, you might find it difficult to cut from this distance, so take a step in, but make it small.

          From issoku-itto-no-ma: This is a very dangerous distance because your opponent can strike you as well. Strike from here without moving your left foot.

          Also, he said that when hitting men-uchi, you should try to keep the right hand at shoulder height and left hand and the level of the suigetsu (solar plexus).
          Originally posted by Charlie
          I just remembered, he also covered kiri kaeshi. Same as the men cut - take care to do it right, cut at a 45 degree angle. Don't go too fast.
          He also mentioned the following for us. When striking yoko-men, it's easier to hit the opponent's hidari-men because it's more natural for the position of the arms. Migi-men is a little trickier because you have to cross over your right hand a little bit. He said the trick is to keet the left hand a little relaxed when hitting migi-men.

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          • #6
            Super helpful, Paul! Yes, I think he reiterated these exact same points in Detroit.

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            • #7
              Great points guys! Everything always seems to go back to kihon, doesn't it?

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              • #8
                Geez, it sure does.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by kuzu70 View Post
                  Great points guys! Everything always seems to go back to kihon, doesn't it?
                  right it does, but also with different "focus" and "emphasis". It's like that girl or boy you just can't take your eyes off of, there's always something new and likable about that person every time you set your eyes on them.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Masahiro View Post
                    It's like that girl or boy you just can't take your eyes off of, there's always something new and likable about that person every time you set your eyes on them.
                    So you like the best of both worlds huh?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Halcyon View Post

                      Also, he said that when hitting men-uchi, you should try to keep the right hand at shoulder height and left hand and the level of the suigetsu (solar plexus).
                      Something I've always wondered about this, since Tagawa-sensei says it, too - won't the final placement of the hands depend on the height of your opponent's men? I guess it all sort of comes out in the wash and if you're aiming to end with your hands in this position, you're really stretching them out and rotating the hands to connect to the target.

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                      • #12
                        ..and when attacking from to-ma attack with your entire body.
                        Kirikaeshi .. In order to avoid lowering your hands too quickly don't do tai-atari after shomen. Instead, the motodachi steps back and this allows the kakarite to truly complete the cut.

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