I spent the last couple hours tinkering around with Pixelmator
to make the image below ... the source images aren't very good to start with, and I don't know what I'm doing, and the program seems a bit buggy. For example, it introduced that weird diagonal line into the one photo when I resized
it. Also, it's a demo, so there's a watermark I can't get rid of. Anyway, here you go.
I wonder if that diagonal line is an artifact resulting from changing the image size by an improper fraction or something ... anyway, I'm through worrying about it.
Practice has been good this week, although my legs and toes really hurt after trying to do Sekiguchi Ryu
on Wednesday. To be honest, I am just hopeful that we will do some Niten
, but every week Sensei
is pretty insistent on me learning Sekiguchi Ryu
. And I'm not really in a position to argue. All the same, I don't know if I will ever get the flexibility (and also the necessary leg strength) to do it properly. As it stands, I'm sort of doing it against my will; I think it's really cool, but I can't do it.
I go up to the dojo
with Mr. Sakashita
, who lives in Beppu
and gives me a ride in his car on Wednesday nights. The trip takes about an hour each way, and so we end up talking about iaido
, or Japanese history, or martial arts in general. (Or movies: it seems that Akira Kurosawa's "Ran", one of my all-time favourite films, was shot here in Oita, on Kuju plateau, and a large number of his horse-riding friends were samurai extras! How cool is that??) Unfortunately, since he does most of the talking, I'm not sure whether or not he realizes how poor my Japanese really is, and how much of what he says is lost on me. Occasionally, I'll stop him mid-story, when I've lost the drift of what he's saying, but since I can't say "I have no idea what you're talking about" usually I'll pick the last difficult word he's said, and repeat it in a quizzical voice. Then he'll get out his phone and we'll look up the word in the mini-dictionary, and it will be something like "absolutism" or "fiduciary" which will shed almost no light whatsoever on the subject. Oh well.
Here in Beppu, practice is also going well. For the last long while, the class has been split into two groups. Kawamura Sensei and Sato Sensei take the three who are going to represent Oita in the upcoming All-Japan's (to be held in Okayama in two weeks' time) while Azuma Sensei and Yasumatsu Sensei take the rest of us. Today we focused on number 10 a lot. I'm still not convinced that I'm doing the handle-strike properly; I never used to think too much about it until Tanaka Sensei (in Fukushima) saw me do it once and proceeded to break it down completely; he told me that it must be done like a very solid kote strike in kendo. I could see what he meant when he did it, but I couldn't get it right myself despite doing it over and over again. Since then, I haven't had much confidence, and the kata has kind of gone downhill from there. But today I think I worked out a lot of kinks, although it all still needs to get smoother and more stable.
I think it's interesting how our favourite and least-favourite techniques change over time. I'm not sure why that is, except perhaps that our perspective changes. I hope the techniques themselves don't actually backslide! For example, I used to like number 8, but now I hate it; I hope it hasn't actually gotten worse in the execution but rather that I now recognize some weaknesses that were always there. Meanwhile, I've really come to like Mae, and occasionally do a very satisfying nukitsuke and kiritsuke, although other parts of it are still very bad.
Anyway, my back is killing me today; not just muscle pain, but it seems to be pressure-on-the-nerve kind of pain, and it keeps threatening to go into spasm. I kind of hoped that I was through with that ... this is no doubt my "payback" for having been physically inactive for so long. I will have to make sure to get light exercise every day for the next few weeks until I'm sure I can handle it, and then start jogging and stretching again. Damn.