Preparing for Ishido Cup (part 3)

Still one month to go. 

Today I watched some old features of Ishido Cup finals from 2014 and 2015 on youtube next to my training from last Saturday.  And I realised that I’m on this interesting point when you feel and see that your training is improving and that there are other iaidoka’s who’s iai is incredible strong. Perfect mixture for improvent 😄

I had some great feedback that helped me to look at my perfomance and alter those little habits to a higher standard. Still..when you think you got something under control another little thing pops up and you go again. But that is the beauty of iai, never ever you will be perfect..the way you go is the perfection. 
Here are two video’s of last saterday’s training:


Non verbal Transfer

Last Sunday I attended the last national iaido training for 2015.
We, the group of sandan and higher, were delighted to receive the teachings from a sensei who just recently came back from Japan where he passed for his 7th dan exam.

It was not the first time I received the instructions and teaching from this sensei. I always enjoyed his way of focusing on always different specifics in the iai performance.
But this was the first time I experienced the non verbal transfer in training iaido with him.
The first time with this sensei  that is. I did experience it once before with another sensei (7th dan Renshi).

But what do I refer to with a non verbal transfer.
when we enjoy a teaching or training we learn most of the ingredients through the examples and explanations that are given to us during these training hours. We listen the best way we can as to absorb as much information as we can and then try to transform this information into our own performance.
It is not always easy and absolutely not always a successful due to the fact that our old habits find it so hard to leave us alone and somehow we are all to fond on these habits because they make us feel save. But every now and then we manage to take the leap and we surprise ourselves with an improvement in technique, posture or swing that we feel we actual reach a new level.
How indulging can we make it for ourselves…..

But, every now and then something special happens. Special? well, it is only special because we became so unfamiliar with this way of teaching that we now only can refer to it as being special. But it is actual a very old and known way of transfer a sense of understanding or knowing.
What basically happens is that when you are fully open in mind and spirit you create a direct connection to the teachings and in this case the teacher. You don’t have to be aware of it, most likely if you would be aware of it you will immediately close the reception with your logic trying to understand what is happening. Also the teacher doesn’t have to be aware of it. Most likely he or she isn’t.
You could say that it is more like a subconscious transfer of data from one person to another.

The first time this happened to me was when I took some extra training at the dojo from Sensei Aad van de Wijngaart. During the class I experienced a more than normal focus and clarity. As if I literally was absorbing all the information without any resistance or restrains. I wasn’t thinking the data over or trying to test it to logic but just took it the way it came.
When the training class was over and i was driving to the beach to meet my wife and daughter I felt incredible. I felt so in peace. So happy. Really happy for no reason. And when I say I was in peace…I was stuck in a 2 hour traffic jam in a distance less then 2 kilometers. the place was jammed with traffic. But I was fine… When I finally reached my family my wife asked my, “what took you so long?” When I explained the traffic she wondered why I wasn’t stressed and I answered; “i just received the most amazing training I ever had. As if I received more then I asked for.”
It really was an amazing experience.

And now, last Sunday, it happened again. Not as intense as the first time but again I had this high focus and clarity and after worth I felt much in peace and happy although I had an incredible headache…..

Preparing for Ishido Cup (part 02)

This is the second week of preparation. During the first week’s training I noticed some important points in my performance that needed attention:

01.  the nukitsuki is to soft. one could hardly see it as an first attack/warning.
02. the kiri oroshi is to narrow and to fixed. it should be bigger and more wide.
03. My posture can still create some more grounding.
04. I should really make the semen and zanshin stronger.

These are the 4 major points of attention for the coming weeks.
Of course each kata will get separate attention as to improve the overall performance.

Here’s a video of the last training:

Your inner Coach

Today, one of the beginning iaidoka of our dojo made a very interesting point when he came back from a mudan tournament.

He’s words were; “if I had a coach I could have been informed about the repeating mistakes I made during all the takai”..
After the tournament one of the judges had told him that all his kata were really good but at each kata he adjusted his hands just after kiri oroshi.

Competitions and tournaments are indeed great opportunities to study one’s own iai. Personally I would say that winning the takai is more or less inferior to the self reflection that is made possible during the whole tournament.
It is very understandable that one feels the need for a coach during any sort of tournament or competition. The coach can (re)direct you, give you valuable feedback that indeed might give you the difference between winning and loosing.
But the absence of a coach is actually more effective for your iai.
During a tournament you will be performing under pressure. Pressure that is coming from several perspectives. And you have to perform your kata as good as possible within this pressure. This basically means that your kata as well as your inner nature must be well balanced.


A kata you will learn through practice. you repeat the same motion over and over again without the knowledge that it will get any better. An effective way to keep your awareness on top of this process is that your focus with each time you practice should be the same as when you learned that kata the very first time. This way your attention is open at all time and you can alter the movements, the motion the intentions where ever needed.
Whenever the practice becomes a routine all the unwanted inner, most of the time unconscious, habits start to manifest itself in the kata. And because the practice became a routine, these manifestations are so much harder to recognize.
It are those inner “distortions” that become visible under moments of stress like tournament, competition or exam. In a way you can say that these are the time your inner demons are brought to the surface.

It is during practice that you can find the possibilities to pay attention to those ‘demons’ and use them for a greater good. unfortunately this demands a great deal of discipline from the iaidoka and the ability to some introspective skills.
But when this is done and the inner demons are indeed becoming your companion in battle, like a tournament or so, not only your kata will be performed in a much more convincing manner but you are indeed becoming your own personal and inner coach.