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Old 04-02-2011, 09:35 PM   #5
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Boston
Location: Peterborough, NH
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 653
Re: Bokken Exercises

FWIW, here's my sword practice right now:

Warm-up, swinging the sword loosely.

1000 kesagiri. I was working on form recently and would do these in sets of 200 to keep focus. Now the form is settling in and I'm doing them in sets of 300-400. Eventually I'll go back to 1000 straight through.

My teacher's sword style is strongly based on Kashima Shin Ryu, and they emphasize kesagiri a lot. I find it makes me focus on moving from the hara (and moving the d*mn hara), connecting the center to the hands (and the sword) without letting arm strength get in the way, and getting my hanmi low and solid.

Some subset of: 50 shomen from chudan. 50 from gedan. 50 from jodan. 50 chudan alternating bringing the sword up on left and right.

The straight shomen cut is great for working ki extension--lifting the sword without arm strength or raising the shoulders, extending ki up the back and over the head, cutting without force or over-extending.

50 kesagiri left and right from gedan. Kashima kata use this a lot as the initial strike and I always found it awkward, so I practice it.

Chained strokes: kesagiri, kiriage, do--diagonal down, back up, across. Focus on moving from the center and keeping it loose--it's easy to tighten up on the chained strokes.

Sometimes I'll grab two of those foam rollers (I usually practice in my gym's aerobics room) and stack them up to make a 6-foot tall target. A couple of dozen strikes of each attack, checking for accuracy and that I can strike relaxed, full force, and yet stop without knocking the rollers over. I'll increase the distance bit by bit, seeing how far out I can start and still hit the target with a single step.

The rollers also make a good target for Saotome Sensei's exercise: left yokumen, block, right yokumen, block, etc.

If I'm learning a kata, I'll run through it 3-4 times, taking both sides.

End with shiho happo giri a couple of times around the clock, starting slow. It's the move for shiho nage, it's the footwork for irimi, it's good practice for keeping center while turning. Do it barefoot on asphalt and you'll the the foot placement for irimi down very quickly.

Takes a little over 40 minutes, usually. On all those counts, I am counting every stroke.
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