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7th dan iaido grading due in

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Iaido Training Session 55

The feet have it...

My first night back after a very welcome 2 week holiday. The holiday did wonders for my arms, I couldn't feel any residual stiffness or pain in them. Although I arrived early I decided not to go hell for leather on the first session back and did some Jodo to warm up with the others.

As the session started properly, I handed the session over to Harry for her to teach us some body and feet moving exercises. I won't go into too much detail but these revolved around removing the arms from the equation and focussing on moving either with one foot continually forwards or by stepping. At the end of each step we checked our leg and feet positions, aligned the hips and made sure we weren't sticking our budo bellies out. This obviated many problems in people's posture. For myself I found it a good exercise to work on the straightness of my back and I have a tendency to curve it. We then tried Mae and Ushiro doing just the feet and it was quite hard work but really showed up where and when we were using the hips.

We went through Seitei as usual (in the real order for a change) and tried to incorporate as much as we could from the moving exercises as possible. I am certain it really helped.

For the free practice I went through Shoden and then went around to help the others. Project Delta had some attention and I turned up the strictness on this this evening as I didn't want to appear to be soft with this particular activity.

We finished with George, Alex and Yuki doing a grading prep embu.

Watching the movies that Aurelien took while at the Kyoto taikai was very thought provoking. Most of all perhaps for me was watching Morishima Sensei especially his demonstration of Moniri given what we had been practising on this evening. His swordwork on this form is quite good although I wouldn't say it is far beyond what a lot of people do now. What makes him stand out is his body movement. He makes an impressive amount of movement without visible effort and without his body swaying or losing balance. I have extracted this clip out to demonstrate what I mean...

It is easy to see that his upper body sits steadily, without swaying, on top of his hips. His hips themselves are clearly the centre and focus of his movement and at the end of each cut his feet are properly engaged with the floor - not sliding, not twitching to gain balance but perfectly poised. If I can get a larger element of his style of moving into my standing forms I will be quite a bit more happy about my 6th dan grading...

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