practice makes perfect

Spent all day in honbu dojo today. Came in at about 10 am and helped a bit with Ando-sensei's class. At 11:40 the first group of visitors on the neighborhood tour came by, so about 30 people packed into the side of the dojo and Ando-sensei gave them a quick speech about what we do. Showed some grandmas my sword, watched as they put fingerprints all over the blade, and then we demo'd some kata before the took off.
Grabbed some riceballs for lunch and then watched Niina-gosoke and Yamada-sensei practice kusarigama. During downtime I practiced with my kusarigama, too, trying to hit the pillar from 10 feet away. I'm up to about a .300 average; not bad for baseball but no good when failing to incapacitate your opponent means a sword moving quickly towards your head.
In the afternoon the second tour group showed up, so again Ando-sensei did his speech and this time Niina-gosoke and Yamada-sensei did a quick demo. Finally I did some cutting to wrap up the day.
By now it was about five so I scootered home and did some more practice cutting in the basement, trying to get ready for the demo tomorrow.


From my brother:
The explicit aim of the Lomographic Society is to study and document the world's surface by taking millions of snapshots of it.


Niina-gosoke started us on Kusarigama today. Total madness. You've got a wooden handle about as long as your forearm. Sticking out from that is a double-edged straight blade, with a metal handguard below the blade. On the other end of the handle is three and a half meters of rope with a weight on the end.
We started by trying to hit the pillar in the middle of the dojo. Niina-gosoke just stood there laughing as we wrapped ourselves up in our ropes, smacked the floor, the ceiling, the back of my head...everything but the pillar three meters in front of us. Every now and then by luck the weight would fly gracefully, with minimal arc, and thud satisfyingly into the pillar, but then the next time I'd start spinning the weight and clock myself in the knee.
After an hour of being mocked by an unmarred pillar, we did the formal bowing ceremonies and the first kata, ishiki: Enemy comes to cut you down, you step back and wrap the sword with the rope, then when the enemy thrusts forward, you yank the sword off the centerline, step in, go down on one knee, and drive the blade into his solar plexus.
I get the feeling it's going to take a long, long time to get the hang of this one.

hot and alone

Sounds like a bad personals ad, but actually I took the day off and spent all afternoon in Honbu Dojo practicing. But of course because I skipped lunch and it was so hot, I had a pounding headache and couldn't practice too much. Which is a good thing because it was so hot in the dojo, and I had to teach at 7pm, I probably would have been useless.
Class went well; took our time going through all the basics, trying to figure out the right body mechanics of moving from the hips and not using the arms too much. Always interesting to teach beginners. They don't know anything, and so haven't developed and bad habits. Whatever you teach them, they have a hard time understanding but usually pick it up quickly, so to be a beginner and start training at Honbu early is a great chance to lock in a solid foundation. I'm jealous.

ginza shopping

Hiroko and I went to Ginza to try to buy a knife block and a frying pan. No luck finding the knife block, did find the frying pan. Decided it's best to just find both on the web. Managed to find the frying pan on but could only find the knife block in the lack of globality of the web really bums me out!
I think Yu-ching still works on the kitchen section of so I'll ask her if she can get the knife block added to the catalogue.
At Matsuya they were having an umbrella sale, it being the start of typhoon season.

it's all in the hips

Managed somehow to get up early and went to Kiyokawa-kun's class. It was me and all the college students; Iwata-chan, Misawa-kun, and Wakabayashi-kun.
Kiyokawa-kun is serious about iai; all he does all day every day is practice, and when he's not practicing, he's thinking about practice. It shows: he's damn good.
My biggest problem is I have too much arm strength, and end up using that instead of letting my hips do the work. Also, my stepping is too shallow; I'm trying to keep from over-reaching with my upper body, but the result is I don't step deep enough now.
It's fun to really get into tai-sabaki, the body mechanics of how to effectively use the hips to drive the sword. Too bad I suck at it.