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Thursday, December 15th, 2011
8:38 am
Cornelius Combat Blog
I have been totally slack about posting here.
This is mostly due to me working on an SCA combat specific blog. It can be found here-


Anyway - I expect that the wordpress project will be were my focus will be for a while.


Current Mood: chipper
Friday, November 25th, 2011
2:45 pm
some feedback on my kendo
1. Breathing: for instance one breath kiri-kaeshi - where possible try to do a many cuts in one breath as possible. But also monitor your breathing during gi-keiko - try to follow a routine of sharp inhale and long slow release: only cut on release and be guarded on inhale. This is of course much easier said than done.
2. Focussed cuts: I would almost say lighter but this is not quite the correct description. But if your cuts use less strength then it allows combination passes/attacks to be made more effectively, and to deal with those coming from the opponent egg: kote-men-tai-atari-hikki-men, and easier kakari-geiko. Footwork timing with your cuts is important here i.e: fumi-komi.
3. Become more mindful of your ken-sen and observe how your opponent is effected by application of pressure.
Monday, January 10th, 2011
12:29 pm
the start of 2011

Another year of kendo begins.

Several weeks ago Charlie mentioned that it would be useful for me to play against people sitting on my left (lower ranked) as this would give me an opportunity to see if I could make various techniques work. I mostly end up training with people who are very much more advanced than I am (quite often I am the only non dan level person there) and it is very hard getting attacks to work against them. So while they a lovely and say nice things about how I am progressing – the actual reinforcement of being able to make a successful attack/move/whatever is not always there. This can be a bit frustrating, as my SCA squires can probably tell me…8-P

So the first training session of 2011. There was a bit of free sparring at the end and I had the opportunity of playing against other kyu grades. I still am too static but I was starting to understand some of the timing and range things. I even managed to make some good attacks. So very happy with how I am going. Still total crap but getting there.

I am hoping to be able to attend the grading in Picton at the end of the month. The last grading I attended was in October 2009 so I should at least give it a go.

Eva and Felix were up from Adelaide over the Xmas shutdown week. Felix has really taken on the new (to us at least) style from Hauoc and I am reasonably happy to follow in his wake…8-).

This means a return to a metal basket hilt. I managed to get the balance right this time. My stick post Prova was awful and I went back to a plastic hilt to make it usable.

So a reasonably think bit of rattan planed down and about as short as I have been in a long while. I like it. You do not require that much speed to get shots to stick and it allows you to look at the timing of the fight rather than just racing to find a gap in the defense.

This has been matched with a small shield. I have not noticed any lack in defense moving to the smaller shield and as Rob the Vet pointed out – you cannot be lazy. Beside the small shield is a great deal of fun and will help me improve my fighting.

Added to all of this is a new leg harness. Again modeled from what Hauoc and Mari have at Prova. A single poleyn over a riding boot with a cuisses under the top of the boots. Simple to make and upkeep and looks like they will work very well.

I have also commissioned a new couter and vambrace in spring steel from a chap in Brisbane. I will probably make a shield side couter to go with the new one once it is completed.

Also with this new kit binge is a purchase of a reasonable amount of leather and a new shield gauntlet. We have a very good leather worker (non SCA) who has been advising me on what to use. The standard plain embossing leather that most folk use is not really the best stuff for making straps etc. Redhide is probably the thing to use and I will be getting a side of this at some point. In the meantime I picked up some buffalo leather to make the straps for the new legs.

Well that is almost a totally new kit. I am thinking I should keep going and replace all the other bit of kit over the year. I am already looking to do a new arming doublet, so a new ½ gauntlet , gorget, coif and helm is all I would need to do….helm could be a big issue…8-)

This may all have to be post Festival as I have some sewing I need to get into and I do need a new surcote.

Wish me luck!..C.
Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
10:24 am
Some notes on kendo footwork
Stand with more weight on the back foot with forward pressure. This gives you the ability to spring forward with the right foot and bring up the left faster. I should ain to get a quick forward stamp in a da-dum timing (half beat) rather than a dum-dum (full beat).
Monday, August 23rd, 2010
4:52 pm
Some quick notes on kendo
I have been limited to how many trainings I can get to due to having to be at the shop on Thursday nights – sigh.
Anyway here are some notes to myself so I remember them.

There is a time when you can sense your opponent wants to attack and you wait for them to go so you can do a counter strike. Try this I am always too slow. I need to apply some counter pressure to control the timing of their attack. I understand the theory of this but may take a while to get the practice down.

I seem to be doing a little half step before striking men. This is giving away my intention to the opponent. I need to work on attacking in a single motion rather than doing this pause in closing the range.

Range – again I tend to allow my opponent to be too close. I need to do something (like attack) if they come in.
Sunday, August 8th, 2010
9:39 pm
A bike update
For some time I have been looking at getting some new forks for the bike. Something lighter and a bit less travel up the front. So I decided on a new Magura Thor for the bike. German engineering goodness and I also was shallow and got some new brakes to match.

So several rides in and it is a new bike indeed. Climbs very well but I will need to get used to the shorter travel and lower front end.

So - hit the main trail at Stromlo today with Dr Nick.
The good doctor had his new machine - a very nice red Kona Dwag. The Dr. now has something that he can peddle up things...

We scooted up to the top. There was some nice fixes to the trails. They are playing with some new base materials and it lends for a solid trail surface that you can rail. Another change was Skyline. The rocky bits in the last bit near the downhill bridge has the new surface down and they have changed the lines with some new grade reversals. This makes that section much faster and a lot swoopier..fun fun fun.

The bike ran brilliantly. and climbs like a climbing thing. I am now getting all the bit together to change over the drive train. So - almost a new bike - WOOT.

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
2:33 pm
back onto bike stuff
kendo training last night was cold, very cold. As a result my back is suffering and I am going to ramble on about bike stuff for a change.

Back in very early 2007 I built up my Santa Cruz heckler. It was, and indeed remains my dram bike. My comments and pic are here http://mr-cvb.livejournal.com/13663.html

The heckler and I have done many miles, had a few offs and a heaps of fun. But the front end was always a bit of a bother. The 66 forks were heavy and I was feeling had too much travel. While the heckler was a better climbing bike then the old ‘dale, it did have its limitations. The front end being so high wandered about on steep climbs making it very techy in the steering. Added to this, I am simply not the sort of rider who would use the 66 to the level they were able to do (big drops off and jumpy stuff).

Despite Dr Nicks comments, we as a riding group mainly did the sort of riding that did not require armour and big travel bikes.

So I have been looking at changing out the forks on the heckler for something a bit lighter, less travel (around 150-140mm as opposed to the 170mm of the 66). This is also (I admit it) looking on adding some new bling to my ride.

So the research was on. I had to add to my criteria list the capacity for a 20mm though axle, as I was not keen on having to get some new hub/wheels.


Marzocchi 55 I looked at these and passed them over very early in the process, not sure why though.

DT Swiss – some lovely carbon fibre and the right colour. I ended up feeling that these would no be robust enough and they only can with 15mm axles.

Fox – this was looking good but I was having difficulty in working out what was what...also I was not keen on the grey..

Magura – hmmm German engineering.....I was initially looking at the Wotans but thought that it was going to be too much in the way of travel. This then brought me to the Thors.

The Thors got some very good reviews in several mags and it meet all the other criteria. Only problem is that they only came in white.....grrrrrr. Anyway - I managed to find them for a resonable price and they arrived last week.

So after figuring out how to swap them around the heckler has a new front end. The first two rides and things are looking good. The bike is going up very well (sorry Nick for those hills) and is going down in a suitable manner. Over all I think it has moved by bike into a much more ‘do-it-all’ sort of ride.
Very happy indeed.
Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
11:39 am
Nagayama Sensei - part two
Monday was the big session with Nagayama Sensei.
I am going to just try to note my recollections on what we did/learnt. If anyone has any other comments/input please let me know…

Footwork – again we started with footwork. This was mainly about keeping our front foot low during fumikomi. I need to develop a sliding motion, driven from the centre/hips rather than a foot lifting stamping step.
I found the exercise of sliding/stepping over an exercise mat very useful and I think I should be able to do some thing similar at home with a carpet mat.

An odd thing was the timing of lifting the shinai. Sensei had us doing this as we stepped forward. I think this was to get the timing happening at slow speed.

Kamae ( and sword position) – Sensei showed us how holding the shinai lower can help with giving you extra range and also allows you to control the centre.

Tenouchi- we did a far bit on grip and how the hands are used to do the small cuts.
I am going to think of the small cuts as ‘popping’ the kensen onto the target. It is not a downward cut but a forward pop and cut motion. Hard to explain in writing but obvious one you see it done properly.
You start by pushing the left hand down and out just a little (about a fist distance), then striking out with both hands. This causes the shinai to whip out and pop the tip down and then out from the target. Important here is to run through with the shinai held high and your left arm parallel to the floor.

Again Sensei talked about seme and controlling the opponents sword before you cut. I am going to use terms I am familiar with – so my apologies for not using the appropriate Japanese terms (if you can help that would grand).

OK –
The idea is that you work from opposition of your opponents blade.
Range (maai) is everything. Think about closing to were just the tips of the shinai (kansen) are touching so you can feel the intent on the blade (‘knocking on the door’). If your opponent is weak in this (not holding/controlling) centre then you start your strike. Stepping in you keep your sword in the centre and keep the end (kensen and monouchi) on your opponents blade. This will move the opponents sword out of centre allowing you to strike men. It is important to keep in contact with the blade. If they lift to strike your then your can ‘follow’ there blade up, striking as well – this should allow you to retain the centre deflecting their attack.
If they push back on your blade then you have the opening to strike kote.
Each of these also allow you to tsuki…

So – knock on the door – if they open it (do not control centre) come in staying on the blade with your tip. If they are weak, strike men. If they are strong, strike kote. Always stay in contact with your opponent’s blade when you are in this close.

It is also important to continue the attach though. Mainly this is how you establish the strike (ippon) but by moving though you take away your opponents opportunities to attack.

As always – many variations to this (cutting do etc) but this is the main idea.

A reminder to myself about distance – we tend to want to be too close. Try to stay out at toma or just to were the kensen are touching.

Training – I need to do at least ten minuets a day practice. I can probably do the footwork stuff at home with a mat and also practice the small cuts…

So – back to normal training tonight. It will be interesting to see how Nagayama Sensei’s visit will change what we do….

Finally a big thank you to Nagayama Sensei for all the time he spent with us and I hope the next time he is visiting we are playing kendo and not being chicken fighters…8-)

Current Mood: chipper
Saturday, June 12th, 2010
10:46 pm
Nagayama Sensei
This week we have a gust from Japan. Nagayama Sensei is from Miyagi Prefecture (Kendo kyoshi 7 dan, Iaido kyoshi 7 dan & Jodo kyoshi 7 dan) and is in Australia teaching and training.

We had our first session with him today. We just worked on cutting men. He made some very good comments (I hope remember these correctly)-

Fumikomi - this should be like jumping over a big gap in the foot path. Do not lift the knee in some stomping sort of movement.

There is also the normal reminders about staying upright and not hunching as you cut and follow though.

One interesting points was that you can be judged by the shape/space of your back. This is about maintaining the correct posture.

When following though after the cut make sure your left arm is parallel to the floor.

The target is the centre back of the men button.

We do not train anywhere near enough or hard enough.

As you seme, drop the kansen ever so slightly and maintain the centre. This allows you to push your opponents shinai out of centre allowing you to cut.

We are not practicing kendo without proper focus/attitude.....(the chicken fighting comment)

On a personal note - I seemed to be getting better extension on my men cuts.

We have a big session with Nagayama Sensei on Monday afternoon - should be good!
Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
2:33 pm
Some thoughts on excellence.
One of the conversations I had on the weekend was about excellence in the SCA. There were a few comments that Peers have this sort of god-like levels of skill and knowledge that most people could never achieve. I was making the point that our Peers are mostly good amateurs and not awe inspiring experts in their field. Naturally this got a few people wondering what sort of iconoclasm I was sprouting.

There is an argument that it takes about 10,000 hours of considered activity to reach a credible level of mastery in a particular field.
For referances see “Outliers – The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expert

So let us look at some numbers. If I was to be very keen about my fighting then I could go to the three weekly training sessions on offer in Canberra. This would make up for about 5 hours (I am being generous here) of training. Lets also say I did ½ hour of pell work a day. Add in another hour and half of reviewing/thinking about fighting stuff. This is about 10 hours a week. How many of us would spend ten hours a week committed to training and practice (not just chewing the fat at a meeting)?

So ten hours a week, 52 weeks a year. That’s 150 hours. Lets add in another 30 hours of tournaments, wars etc. That’s 550 hours a year. At this level of activity it would take about 18 years to get to the 10,000 hours we need to put in…

So 18 years of very full-on commitment.

So you can see my point. New Peers normally have put in 4-7 years of involvement in the SCA. Peerage is only a quarter of the way to mastery.

Now, I am not going to say that Peers are crap far from it. Most have a very good level of knowledge and skill and we can learn a great deal from these folk. Just keep all of this in some level of perspective…
11:42 am
Training update
Have been getting along to about two trainings a week while WAH is interstate. Things are coming along. I am getting the hang of cutting with the tip more but I still have to work on understanding my range. I tend to cut when too close, this is probably a habit from SCA combat were I am trying to get in on top of my opponent…

The last Saturday training I got my ass handed to me by one of the sensei. I was put on the ground twice in a very intense and rather brutal couple of passes. I ended up grinning like a loon but was totally exhausted. Talking to a few of the others, this seems to be a bit of a right of passage. I hope I managed to pass….

Things to work on. Range and finishing a cut. I am lazy and do not move though fast enough. I must get into the habit of committing completely to the attack rather then cutting and then seeing if I should follow though.

I was in Melbourne running fighting seminar over the weekend. I had a group of about 8-12 people (some drifted in and out). I started by working though peoples harness, talking about how they can make things work a bit better.
I am amused/concerned by the poor level of arming doublets in various groups. People understanding of the underpinnings of armour is poor to non existent and this then leads to lots of gear being poorly attached/organised.
Another point was the lack of understanding on how to make up swords and thrusting tips…

So fighting seminar. Day one I worked though basic shots with moving. Did some closing drills and introduced everyone to the 4-5 drill. I ended the day by running though some strength/fitness stuff as well. Pell squats became the catch cry of the weekend…
Day two was recapping the first day. Some exercises designed to get people to see openings/develop two move attacks. More 4-5 drill. The armoured stuff we covered how to fighting close with the lunge attack/counter stuff that Felix does so well. We ended the weekend by doing lots of pickups/king of the hill.
I think most people got at lest some of what I was trying to get across….they had a video running for most of the classes so I will be interested to see what comes out.
Monday, May 3rd, 2010
11:21 am
More SCA fighting stuff
A good turnout at training yesterday, about nine or ten in harness all up.

Had a very good group of fights against Adam. He is a very solid left hander with a devastating off side attack. However if you can shut down his one good attack, he has very little else he can do effectively. With Adam I was working on being able to close and throw a falling wrap over his weapon side. Sort of getting into position and being able to watch the fight better as we move but not that good at getting the wrap to happen.

I played with a greatsword against Macca for a little. I find greatswords too big and cannot get them moving effectively. Macca is still very new to greatsword, allowing me to control the centre almost unopposed and I was able to work from blade opposition rather easily.

There was also a long set of medium paced work with Sir Brusie. Brusie is excellent at moving the fight to were he wants it to be. He said he wants to come to more Sunday sessions and I hope this happens as he is really the only one here who will push me.

We also talked about how to deal with some of the sand in tactic used by the Sydney folk. We are thinking shield sweeps with turning/pivoting offsides are the way to go. I will be working with Sir Steven to practice this. We are also going to work on how to deal with the Attican deep offside. It is all going to be able practicing the moves so we can do them fast and with confidence.
Sunday, May 2nd, 2010
9:16 pm
First big shiai
Was up at silly o-clock to head up to Sydney for the Australian Kumdo Championships.

Kumdo is basically the Korean version of Kendo. There are some differences but they are mostly cosmetic. It is mainly a thing about 'do not mention the war'.

Anyway -Ill will try to do a full post about it tomorrow. I just wanted to make a few notes now while it is in my head.

stuff to note-

Control the centre
always apply pressure
follow though your cuts
do something about giving your opponent kote
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
10:47 am
Another Edition to the Kendo Fun
So, training last night.
Worked on the casting stuff and getting better extension/reach on my men cuts. One main piece of advice I received was that I needed to relax and bring my shoulders back. I tended to hunch forward a bit when cutting men. So gave that a go and I am not sure how it is looking…..

Managed to do some free sparing with the two sensei’s. I was basically trying to maintain a strong attack/pressure and not to be put on the back foot. I am also trying to get the timing working on the parry-cut do combination. I received some very useful advice from Semmler Sensei about this.

I was being too rushed and was going for the do cut too soon. I need to threaten the men cut (make it look like you are about to cut men or tsuki. This causes your opponent to lift their guard to ward off your attack. Only when they lift do you whip the shinai down into the do cut.

Baker Sensei gave me some very good feed back. He (like me) is a larger build and was talking about the issues this presents for playing kendo. Baker Sensei also mentioned that I had ‘imaginative kendo’. I am not exactly sure what he meant by that but it was a compliment with a caution to keep my form as much as I can.

I also managed to break one of the slats on my good shinai…poo.

So, Saturday, we are heading up to Sydney for a Kumdo tournament. Apparently we have enough for a kyu team. This should be a heap of fun but is also a bit scary as well….

As I plan on getting to training on Thursday night I will have to be very organised about getting my kit washed and everything ready for a rather early start to the drive up on Saturday.

I will see if I manage a post before the weekend.
Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
10:59 am
Sunday – A rather pleasant spin on the road bikes. Headed out to Belconnen via Ginninderra Drive and then around the lake. A coffee at Ha Ha Lounge. Back to Civic for breakfast.

Monday – Being a public holiday and mid autumn it was time to go on a minor epic so it was off to Wingello State Forest!
A small group of Uncle P, Miss C and I lined up for the start of about 40km of lush riding. Wingello is in the Southern Highlands about two hours north of Canberra in the car.

The trails are a mix of fire road and flowing single track. There were a few big climbs early in the piece with the fire roads giving us some full speed descents into lush fern gullies with the inevitable slow grind back up.

Some of the highlights were the sections of ‘Great Wall’ that looked like you were riding though a set from ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’, the bits that were from ‘Lord of the Rings’ and the sighting of a lyre-bird. It was well worth stopping every now and again to take in the lush scenery, but the trails just begged you to go faster….

In the end we missed some bits of the trail but managed to do the entire single track (will it ever end?) and it was a tried but happy bunch of us who piled back into the car from the long drive home.
10:42 am
Kendo Update
Again it has been some time since I have written an update on my kendo activities.

I probably have now settled into the routine of being a kendoka. I am managing one to two training sessions a week. I expect that this will drop to one once the shop opens in a month or so (poo).

My progress is steady and I am gradually getting the hang of the basic waza (techniques). Each week I try to work on one basic thing. This week it is about me trying to ‘cast’ the tip of the shinai. I have a tendency to ‘drive’ the sword forward in my cuts. I can improve the speed if I think more about moving the tip to hit the target.

Last weeks training we work extensively on various do-uchi-waza (hitting the body).
Towards the end it was difficult to keep the cutting sequences in my head in addition there was the constant weight shifts required, I really had to concentrate to get though it all.

I am not sure if I have mentioned this but I final got around to ordering a new bogu (kendo armour). This is part of my financial silliness, as I probably spent far more than I needed to, but I am getting some very nice gear and it will look good. Nothing too flash, just understated armour goodness. I have also discovered that I can order custom shinai with coloured tsuru (string holding it together) and binding on the tsuka-gawa(hand grip), so I can get something that matches the colours of my bogu…..
OK – so this is all appealing way too much to my consumerist tendencies.
Thursday, March 4th, 2010
10:21 pm
Boarder War was a lot of fun - Ill do a write up on the weekend.

Kendo training was mainly free sparing tonight. I am doing ok at this, mainly as I have a little bit of a combat brain so I can sort of read the fight well enough to get some blocks in. Sometimes I am evan able to getting a good strike.
Still crap though....

I am having to get used to compleatly different ranges. In kendo I need to strike with the end of the shini (but not the tip) at full arm extension. This means I need to be starting much further out than I am used to. It is now about teaching the lizard brain some new things.....

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
10:53 pm
Kendo training
Starting to understand my range/distance....

I need to keep my shoulder relaxed and back, do not lean forward into the cut.

Strangely leaning into the cut shortens my range and mucks up my form.

So - keeping my left hand dominant means I am able to get good extension on my cuts.
Moving from the centre also means I get good distance.

must now try to make this part of every cut........
Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
10:49 pm
Headed down to Tasmania over the weekend to do some training with the folks down there.

hobart is a wonderful town - the weather is civilized, there are nice old buildings and the place has not been taken over by the regular chain stores that infect the urban landscape.

Friday I spent the afternoon with Dan. We mainly worked on some ideas around range and what you can do with it. Sliding shots to close the range and the long range casting shots to tag people as they come in with out thinking about it. i also introduced 'comfy speed' work to him and we did a number of different drills.
We also chatted about the differences between training, practice and fighting.

Sunday I had a larger group for the whole day. Firstly - these chaps are not used to doing real warm ups and exercises...yes OK, I was being mean making them run...
We worked again though a lot of the range stuff again. Some bits on basic shots, the 4/5 drill and some defensive mode drills. I would like to think everyone found this useful, at least the chaps said they were getting something out of it.

Sunday (yes day three) was the Baronial fighter training. Mostly very new people here. So it was the basic attacks, some movement/footwork stuff, shield work and I started on doing some offensive shield stuff as well. We also recapped all the drills I had done on the first two days.

So - rather tied. This sort of thing does work better if I have Ray along - the ability to tag-team the sessions means you are not feeling so trashed at the end of the day and also means you do not miss anything.
They have asked me to go back sometime in the first half of 2010. If I do go (and I would love to ) I will try to talk Ray into also heading down.

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
11:18 pm
I should post somthing about kendo training tonight, but way too tied...(that means it was a good session)

The warm up was about 700 or so cuts...the warm up..........
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