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  • First lesson in bogu

    Not sure I've put this in the right place, but ah well.

    Basically, I'm rather a newcomer to Kendo. I started in February, but have only just recently managed to afford bogu, (I'm a student). Tonight, I had my first proper session in bogu and I figured with 5 1/2 months training, I wouldn't get too much of a nasty shock when in bogu. I wasn't expecting to be very good but...well, to put it bluntly, I sucked. I didn't get a single hit in any of my fights (and there were quite a few), and whilst I understand many of the people there were much much higher grades than myself, it still gave my pride and drive a bit of a beating. I feel slow and stupid and am generally cracked with a men before I even know it's hit me. Having trained for years, others can clearly see the "calls" of what I am about to do, so I can't land hits, but I just can't react fast enough to what they are doing. I just get rings run around me all night.

    I am desperate to do well and stick at it...but I did fancy just going home and weeping for a bit. There are others who have started after me and seem to have taken to it a bit better. I was wondering if people here took to Kendo as well, or if they had a hard time when first in bogu and if they have any tips on general improvement. Should I keep at it or does it sound like I am just not meant to do Kendo?

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    One thing I really enjoy about my dojo is that we test for each piece of the equipment. It allows you to get used to each piece you wear. Sounds like you are just thrown into the entire set. I couldn't imagine trying to do well fully suited without much practice. The kote alone throws off how it feels to hold a shinai.
    Sounds to me like you were thrown into gear before being ready. I am personally doing very well and picking it up quickly, but I started in January and am still without Men. It is the only piece I have left to wear and am pretty happy I wasn't thrown into it. Allowed me to learn far more then I would have this last weekend at our summer camp. I was the only one without men and because of that all of the Sensei spent much more one on one time with me.
    To put nicely as well, I was the lowest rank, but I did not feel anywhere near the lowest in skill.
    At less then a year in kendo I would expect to get destroyed going against anyone with more time put into it.

    Worry more about form and learning how others are getting points, instead of the points you aren't getting.

    Comment


    • #3
      If you value your wrist wear a thick tennis wristband under your right kote. I remember first time I was hit on kote I almost dropped my shinai from pain. After practicing in bogu for a year I stopped wearing my wrist band, but after getting hit by my senpai who does nito and doesn't do tenouchi, guess who is still wearing it? O.o
      As far for the speed don't worry about it, everyone RE-learns kendo from the beginning after they get into their bogu.

      Comment


      • #4
        Welcome to kendo. Now the learning can begin. You should keep at it. 5.5 months is no time at all. Furthermore how other people do is unimportant. What is important is for you to do better each time. My suggestion is to stop worrying about winning when you do jigeiko. Start worrying about how to attack properly. JIgeiko is not fighting, it is practice. I know that if I practice with a beginner and it is clear they are trying to beat me they usually won't get any mercy from me. And then after the practice I ask them why they thought they could/should be trying to defeat me given my 20+yrs of experience...and suggest that if they show me something close to an attempt to just do correct kendo they might just get to strike me.
        If, on the other hand there's even a spark of I'm trying to do my best and to practice what I've been learning...how to strike correctly, then lo and behold I reward that by getting struck.

        SO....next time you do jigeiko..think about what you are there to do. Apply _how_ you have learned to hit and don't sacrifice that for just hitting.

        Best wishes and learn to enjoy getting hit..each time you are struck is a learning opportunity.



        Originally posted by Little_Fox View Post
        Not sure I've put this in the right place, but ah well.

        Basically, I'm rather a newcomer to Kendo. I started in February, but have only just recently managed to afford bogu, (I'm a student). Tonight, I had my first proper session in bogu and I figured with 5 1/2 months training, I wouldn't get too much of a nasty shock when in bogu. I wasn't expecting to be very good but...well, to put it bluntly, I sucked. I didn't get a single hit in any of my fights (and there were quite a few), and whilst I understand many of the people there were much much higher grades than myself, it still gave my pride and drive a bit of a beating. I feel slow and stupid and am generally cracked with a men before I even know it's hit me. Having trained for years, others can clearly see the "calls" of what I am about to do, so I can't land hits, but I just can't react fast enough to what they are doing. I just get rings run around me all night.

        I am desperate to do well and stick at it...but I did fancy just going home and weeping for a bit. There are others who have started after me and seem to have taken to it a bit better. I was wondering if people here took to Kendo as well, or if they had a hard time when first in bogu and if they have any tips on general improvement. Should I keep at it or does it sound like I am just not meant to do Kendo?

        Thanks in advance!

        Comment


        • #5
          You have really just begun. Ron (rfoxmich) said it quite well. I would say don't worry about getting hit, you will get hit a lot. And sometime in the near future you will also be able to get some hits in of your own. Try not to be too impatient ( I know its hard) but I think most of us felt slow, clumsy and unable to do the things we did before we had bogu on. It takes some time to get used to and to build your spirit. As Ron mentioned look at it as a learning experience and you are in a steep part of the learning curve right now.

          Please take care and try to enjoy. Best regards!

          Comment


          • #6
            I think your experiences are pretty normal. Everyone sucks just getting into bogu, it's awkward and changes your mechanics a lot. I'm one of the slow learners in my dojo, and it's very frustrating at times but then again, out of the group of 10-12 who started with me, I'm the only one still practicing. That in itself is a small achievment. I've realized that to continue the struggle is more important than being good at it although I still hope to one day be good also. It does take a lot of time though. Nobody gets good fast and kendo is such a deep and subtle art, that even even after a few years, you're still really just a beginner. Make short term and long term goals to help you stay motivated. However, trying to score points on the advanced people is harder than you think, so you should consider that a long term goal.

            Comment


            • #7
              It is almost 9 years now and I am still suck.

              Comment


              • #8
                You might try practicing some of your basic movements at home with your bogu on, like suburi swinging and basic footwork. This might help you get a feel for how it is to move while in the bogu, it obviously takes a while to get used to. I remember really being shocked at how odd if felt to wear the men and kote for the first time, especially to try and move and do kendo! Also, your bogu will be stiff and needs to break in if it's brand new.

                Everybody goes through a similar experience early on. When I first started most of my 'dojo-mates' were 3-dan through 7-dan; they basically opened up a target and I had to go for it before they closed it up again. There was no way I could actually try to 'compete' with them during jigeiko... not a chance.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Around 5 years now...I still can't hit the broad side of a barn and take almost every shot thrown at me.

                  Here's a little excerpt from a book called "Deshi":

                  "There are different types of pain. My sensei has shown me that. Is there a benefit to this insight? Sometimes I wonder. Years ago, I had once protested, but Yamashita looked coldly at me. "What did you expect when you took up the sword?" he asked. It was something I tried to remember daily. It tends to put things into perspective."

                  Bruises to the ego are a common injury in Kendo...but seriously, does anyone honestly expect it to get easier once they get into 10lbs of hot, bulky armor with the sensei/senpai starting to return strikes?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If you say that you just wore the bogu for the first time and beat one good men against your sampai, you are one lying son of bitch.... Let me tell you, you will get beaten and beaten again and again for next one year. Most people in bogu quit during this time because they think they will never get better. But you will get better as long as you go to practice and do your stuff. It will be harder when you get shodan, nidan, sandan and yondan... But your worst enemy is not other people. It is you that you have to fight every time. Every hit, every fight and every practice, shinsa, shiai and keiko, you are always fighting yourself. No one will tell you to quit except yourself. Good luck...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Little_Fox View Post
                      ... I figured with 5 1/2 months training, I wouldn't get too much of a nasty shock when in bogu. I wasn't expecting to be very good but...well, to put it bluntly, I sucked. I didn't get a single hit in any of my fights (and there were quite a few), and whilst I understand many of the people there were much much higher grades than myself, it still gave my pride and drive a bit of a beating.

                      I am desperate to do well and stick at it...but I did fancy just going home and weeping for a bit.
                      Thanks in advance!
                      When I talk to people after their first time practicing in bogu, I tell them that this is normal because they have to understand that even if they've been coming to kendo practice for 5+ months, the first night you are in bogu is the first night you're doing kendo.

                      Everything up to that point, running around and waving a shinai, isn't kendo yet. So of course nothing is going to work, nothing is going to land, and on top of that, you have an extra weights on your body, so all of your balance is off.

                      What I then normally tell people is that you have to go back to the first day you came to kendo, and run through everything you were taught, because you have to relearn everything with a different balance and weights on your body. Its harder too because normally you won't have someone instructing you directly or holding your hand, and that you're expected to do this on your own.

                      Also, @electronegative, this isn't actually very good advice; many of the people who are wearing hidden additional protection under their kote have become unaware that they are hitting too hard, and are perpetuating the problem, and in some ways are making original problem much worse. Ideally only children and people with a medical reason should be wearing additional protection. In any case, probably a topic that will have to be brought up soon during instructional meetings....

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Almost everyone I know in Kendo has been shocked at how slow they are when they practice for the first time in Bogu. When I first started, everyone above 1st Dan was able to hit kote-men on me before I could get my shinai up to block or swing. One of the things that was frustrating was that I never seemed to get any better. In fact I was getting better, but so was everyone else. It wasn't until the next batch of beginners started wearing bogu that I realized I wasn't the slowest kendoka in the universe.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by enkorat View Post

                          Also, @electronegative, this isn't actually very good advice; many of the people who are wearing hidden additional protection under their kote have become unaware that they are hitting too hard, and are perpetuating the problem, and in some ways are making original problem much worse. Ideally only children and people with a medical reason should be wearing additional protection. In any case, probably a topic that will have to be brought up soon during instructional meetings....
                          Disagree. People who hit too hard (of which I was one for entirely too long) can receive perfect hits all day and think they are doing the same. Or hard hits and think they are being gentle by contrast. Feedback from partners/instructors is the only way you really learn that you yourself are hitting too hard. Feedback and a willingness to listen, of course.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            5.5 months. I believe bogu should be put on in stages with the men last. practice in the do, tare and kote and finally men. I would suggest it`s too early for the majority of people to be doing any sparing 5-6 months. especially against higher level people. practice with higher grades is fine naturally, basics, waza and uchikomi. But sparing I think too early. maybe against fellow beginners would be ok.
                            Higher grades should be trying to encourage you to hit properly, using basics and everything you are being tought. Your kendo will develop naturally in this manner.
                            Sparing too early can be the start of bad habbits. you dont want to be hit, you block or go backwards. Or you try to hit with just your arms leaving your feet behind etc.

                            I would suggest next time you are sparing to limit yourself to big basic type men or kote type cuts. but try to give 100%+ full of spirit.
                            Dont block and try not to move back. When they come you go. At 5.5 months if you are put in that situation you are going to be hit.
                            Some higher level people dont care and will go to town on you, but others I`m sure will give you oppertunities to hit and improve. try to spar with those guys.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks for the responses, everyone! The "bogu on gradually" thing is interesting - we just put it all on as soon as. I guess I'd forgotten that getting a hit really is like saying I expect to win against 3rd Dans and such. I will invest in a protector as my wrist is literally blue this morning and I think I'll just have to suck up the pride-bruises for now. I do tend to feel rather hopeless in fights and move back or try to block, which I know I shouldn't. I will practice at home and see how it goes. I guess my goal right now should be to get used to bogu and pick up my speed.

                              Thanks again for the advice everyone! I'll try not to get so frustrated...

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