November, the leaves had fallen and the autumn splendor was replaced by a dormant forest landscape, when we gathered in Hagaparken for a training day on Saturday.
The morning session started with us having to stand a little longer in Ritsu Zen than we usually do. Then we had to choose a Yuri that we would do with smaller movements, a small-Yuri. Yuri, as well as Neri and Hai, were also performed for a little longer than usual.
After that we challenged each other's Ritsu Zen with attacks and were asked by Sensei Åke to give feedback on each other's reactions and blocks. The focus was on having our awareness and intention on Uke before the attack, in order to be able to start the blocking in time and to be able to meet the attacks with flow and control.
We also discussed the size of the blocking movements and in which situations it is good to make a slightly smaller or larger response to Uke's attacks. Hooks and uppercuts are also something we found needed some extra training. Then we had lunch and continued our discussions in Fjärilhuset's restaurant.
After lunch we were in OKK's dojo. It was a dear reunion as several of us have not been there since the pandemic broke out. Here again we had to challenge each other's Ritsu Zen, but this time we stood on a kick pad so it was more challenging with our balance. We also tried to attack each other from the side and to attack further and further from the back to see at what point the defense becomes too difficult.
Thereafter, the rest of the session was devoted to weapons training. Two by two we had to do Sanbon Kumite with Bokken against Bokken. One in the pair attacked with a predetermined pattern and the other defended with blocks and counterattacks.
It was a great way to be able to do a little more focused and challenging attacks while maintaining good control. Some of the blocks we tested were: Mukae-te in response to a strike straight from the top, moving the sword away in response to a strike straight from the top, stepping backwards and falling out of range of the strike, and Sashi-te in response to a straight thrust.
Then we were instead attacked with the Jo-staff and we discussed what differences and similarities it gives for Nage's defense and counterattacks. I experienced that the similarities are quite many, but that the distance will of course be a bit longer and also that the right Ma-ai might be an even more important aspect.
Finally, we made a Randori with Bokken against Bokken, where we had decided in advance who would attack and who would take care of the attacks. It's fun to try out what parts of our knowledge and abilities we are able to perform a little more freely in this way.
Finally, we rehearsed Kihon with the Jo's staff and attacked a Bokken that the other held up as a target. It was a fun and fast-paced session.
After the training session we watched some films. The films mainly showed how some famous Senseis instructed. It turned out that Sensei Åke had chosen today's exercises based on these films. For example, we saw Sensei Kallenbach and Sensei Krieger instruct in the exercises we just tried. It was interesting and gave us the opportunity to reflect on the exercises again from both a student and a instructors perspective.
It was a good end to a interesting training day with many exciting challenges.