I managed to get to the dojo extra early this evening with a view of doing some solo iai practice - perhaps the only way I can do it without either wearing blinkers in the dojo or training somewhere else. I was glad to see the return of Cezary Wozniak to our dojo looking healthy and fit.
While I got the others doing some pre-iai jo training I went to the end of the dojo and did some preparatory work which I haven't done for a few years now. I call it Kusawari no Shohatto (Shohatto of splitting grass) and it is basically a repetition of shohatto but instead of using the dojo as a linear reference of direction, I start looking at whatever vertical line is in front of me, in this instance the double doors' split. Each shohatto must focus the whole kata on that line, the nukitsuke, especially the kirioroshi and then the rest of the kata keeping that line in front. Once one kata is finished I then look to either the left (or right depending on the evening) for the next structural vertical line and then do a kata to this line. I keep working my way around until I have just exceeded 90 degrees. It is surprising how many vertical lines there are in a building. In the diagram below I have shown 16 directions but I think I actually did about shohatto about 25 times this evening.
Why do I do this training? Firstly it greatly reduces the monotony of solo kata practice. Secondly, it is surprising how difficult it is to remain aligned when you're not relying on 3 walls in your vision. Thirdly, the vertical line does wonders for focus, accuracy and relaxing the cut. If you cut too hard then accuracy is greatly reduced.
Once this was over and we started the session, we did the blind cutting balance exercise before going through seitei in an abstract order as usual.
We entered into free practice and I started working through Shoden, again trying to only do one form of each so that I could maximise focus. Chris Sensei gave me some useful chiburi advice again, actually quite similar to that which I detailed a few posts ago but with also focus on relaxing the hand and then using the grip to generate the cut. Doing this and focussing on the timing of the body rising adds tremendously to the sharpness of this movement. It's annoying that I am sure I was doing this right years ago and I think my arm injury changed the way I did it for the worse.
I also quizzed him on how tall people should do Yamaoroshi considering the proximity of the enemy. It was nice to see how he did it without compromising his posture, I need to work on this soon as it was a much sharper action.
Anyway, that'll do for now...