Saturday, 19 February 2011

Howell Sensei

We are pleased to announce that Sensei John Howell, 7th Dan Kyoshi, will be presiding at the Seminar and Taikai. As the most senior kendoka in the country we are extremely lucky to benefit from his 44 years of kendo experience. Howell Sensei has been Chair of the BKA for 25 years and President for 5 until 2009. He has worked as a Kendo Official not only in Britain, but also in the European and International Kendo scene on the board of Directors for over 20 years. He is also one of only six people outside of Japan to receive the 'Korosho' award, this award is given to mark a lifetime of service to Kendo. We hope everyone will gain much from his instruction at the seminar.

You can read more about Howell Sensei and the 'Korosho' award here:

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Bogu Babies

Well done to Amir and Mulyo for their first full practice in Bogu last night. It shows true spirit that given the option of only having to complete a couple of fences they chose to practice with everyone for the entire jigeiko. I hope they finally see what kendo can be and realise it's all back to square one.

It's a whole new 'stick game' once the armour comes on and it's very difficult to think about all the basics learned up to this point. As beginners, and even more experienced kendoka, it's always important to reacquaint yourself with the basics - footwork, posture, how you cut, tenouchi, kiai and above all RELAX!

It's important to take you time with these things and all the 'big cutting' basics we do in the main kihon practice is the exact same set of skills you employ when you get into armour. Cut big and commit to your attack with full spirit and kiai. If it fails so be it, you learn from the experience and move on. Hopefully the guys will post something up on the forum on their thoughts of their first time in bogu. This is a momentous occasion worth recording for posterity. Sadly my own experience is lost to me but I can guess how they feel, well done and keep going, gambatte!

P.S. kata Monday, I'll put it on the Calendar n'all

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Things to consider for beginners

Week 3 for some of our beginners and you'll have noticed how you are slowly being integrated into the main practice. Direct instruction will be replaced by direct action. You will be lining up with the rest of the kohai ['junior' students] and expected to follow the drills prescribed by Sensei.

At this point you need to remember the instruction given so far. To ensure you get the most out of every drill before you begin check your footwork is in the right position, feet parallel, left toe in line with right heel, left heel off the ground, feet shoulder width apart. Make sure your grip is correct, similar to below with your left hand on the end of the shinai and a fist away from just below your navel. The kensen [tip of the sword] should be aimed towards your partners throat. Arms should be relaxed and bent, shoulders back, head up, chin in.

When you're happy everything is in the correct place push off from your left foot. Unlike walking where we use our front foot to pull our body forward kendo footwork works by pushing forwards on the left foot with the hips driving towards your partner. At the moment you strike the target call out it's name ["men", "kote" or "do"], when I say call I mean shout as loud as possible, everyone can get that right.

Lastly, whatever instruction your partner gives to you to help you improve try to follow it. By setting yourself up like this and trying as hard as possible you will progress quicker and reward those who are helping you. Any questions just ask on the forum and we'll try to help.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Kata focus

It was a fantastic turnout for kata last night, 17 people with just over half beginners. I think that's a record for a kata session and it was great to see everyone trying to get to grips with the 'technical aspect' of kendo. Hopefully you all benefited from the extra training. It's a very different setup with a little more explanation and a slower pace to help digest the amount of instruction on offer. With a bit of luck it will help you with your Wednesday night practice. We've seen good progress from the last group of beginners who also attended kata so we think it's a key component to improvement.

If you want further insight into kata there is a section on the forum devoted to it, as well as waza [which are specific kendo techniques. You can read up on some of the interesting thoughts and discussions here.
Also if any of the beginners wish to jot down their thoughts on both kata and Wednesday night practices then feel free to add them to the forum or even a review on google would be nice. It can be useful to record your progress, although from experience it's often a different opinion from Sensei but useful all the same if only to show that some weeks you can do it!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The morning after the night before.

Thanks once again to our beginners for coming. 10 out of our original 14 were mad/brave/inspired [delete as appropriate] enough to return, with one beginner sending an apology they couldn't make it this week. Hopefully you were suitably impressed by Sensei's words and tuition and we'll continue to see you over the coming weeks and months.

Additionally we had two visitors last night:
Young Park Sensei from Nenriki Dojo, the oldest Kendo club based in London [est. 1966]. Past members include Charles Lidstone and Sir Frank Bowden, founding members of the BKA and kendo in Britain and who's names continue to be associated with National competitions - the Sir Frank Bowden Taikai which we enter each year and what was the Lidstone Taikai is now the Kyusha Taikai, which you're all aware we're hosting.

Young Park Sensei also runs the online kendo shop Eurokendo and will be attending the BKA Seminar and Kyusha Taikai with his stock so please check out his website to make advance orders. He has specifically chosen to attend our event instead of a well known competition in France so make his visit worthwhile.

Also Tom Widdows, from our neighbours Kobudokan Dojo in Manchester, was in attendance. Tom was recently picked to represent Britain at the upcoming 5 Nations Taikai. It was a pleasure to have him visit, hopefully we will see more of him as he prepares for the competition. I know my brief fence with him was extremely enjoyable and challenging, I really should get to Kobudokan more often...

Thanks again to everyone and don't forget it is Kata on Monday, everyone is welcome!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

BKA Seminar and Kyusha Taikai Registion NOW online!

Despite the cyber terrorists [the BKA's website was the target of a malicious hack the other night] the Membership Secretary has managed to get the online registration for the BKA Seminar and Kyusha Taikai in Liverpool [April 2nd and 3rd], erm, online.

You can register here [you'll have to log in to your BKA membership account to do so]. Don't forget if you are competing to also tick the 'Taikai option [which is an additional £5]. Sadly, I think only full BKA members can enter the competition.
Please try to book as soon as possible, particularly those who just got membership, we need to know if their registration will be 'problematic'. Any issues, let me know as soon as possible and I will move heaven and earth to help!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Just checking

As in previous posts I've stated I will always try to keep the Club Calendar up-to-date. Sometimes this isn't always possible so if you have any doubts if Kata, or even normal Wednesday practice, is on then please ask on the forum. I check it numerous times a day in case there any questions from members that need answering so please make use of it.

I would rather answer a simple question on the day and save someone some hassle than field a phone call at 7:30 in the evening where one of you is alone in Crosby going 'where is everyone?', only to worry how you're going to get home and what a wasted journey you've had. Yes, they know who they are ;) So any question, no matter how trivial - ask. We are keen to get the forum used more to ensure that questions can be asked all week, not on a Wednesday when really we should be practicing instead of chatting.