It seems strange to me now how much one can feel that they have absolutely no competence in what they are doing one week when the preceding week (or hour or minute) one can demonstrate an uncanny naturalness in demonstrating a technique. Like the story of the centipede who, when asked how he ever walked, found that he no longer could when he gave it any thought, to change, reconstruct and integrate new factors into ones form can lead straight back to being stuck solid.
In this instance it was a period of reforming my shohatto, the only kata I practiced on this particular evening. I was told by my sensei that the mechanics and tempos of what was going on required more attention to their individual emphases, some requiring vehemence, some accumulation, some moderation, some spontaneity...the resultant juggling act had me dizzy.
- The hands need to grip the sword with a feeling of compressing the centre rather than lifting.
- The above however must be done without thought or intention but should be generated by a feeling in the body.
- The projection of the sword with the right hand must be exactly matched by the retraction of the left hand. This must neither be too fast or too slow - the essence of shohatto is suppression and warning rather than outright attack.
- At the right moment however the attack must overtake and overcome the enemy.
- The right hand should fix the mune of the sword against the bottom of the saya whilst retaining a virtual tension to make the sword leap out at sayabanare.
- Up to this point, tame must dominate without the kata losing its exuberance and dynanism.
- The kata must remain un-busy must must also flow and accelerate but retain control and moderation - all the time!
I said to my sensei to please come back in two weeks and that I would need some time on it. He said not to let these points restrict the dynanism of the form - all changes would have to be taken on board with a combatitive pace on and it was pointless to try to integrate them at artificially low speeds. The battle commences....
I spent quite a lot of time trying to implement these factors often finding that they reduced the speed of my kata to a crawl, I think I am going to have to work at these things approaching from both ends of the speed scale and hopefully meet in the middle.
I am slowly getting used to looking down my big nose after cutting to offer the correct metsuke - I had no idea that my snout could create seme towards a downed opponent.
So not wishing to be too pesimistic I will do my best to identify my good points about this form....
Ah yes, I have now discovered how to make the sword reach a horizontal plane earlier just before it flies off to nukitsuke - I'm going to keep this to myself for a while just in case I'm pulling a Eugene but it seems to work quite well and I'm not breaking any rules. I'm gradually getting my right shoulder down a bit at the end of nukitsuke and must work on cutting from the belly to cement that position. I believe my furikaburi is right on the spot at the moment with it's plane of movement back being preceded by an adequate amount of seme and a following continuous cut without it being rushed. Kirioroshi is a bit low at the end and I need to moderate that a bit - I think I'm getting too enthused with cutting big! Chiburi is still a bit unsure and I nearly scalped myself on Wednesday trying to do a Shoden-style ochiburi timing but it is at least getting "stronger" and isn't hurting my arm as much as it used to. Noto comes and goes but I definately need to keep my left hand far more forwards of the koiguchi than I have done in the past - it fixes everything!
More training tomorrow at Hilary's once I have finished fixing everyone's swords....
Have a good weekend dear reader.