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Nothing like a little pain

. . . to help work out a not-so-great day at work.

I may have groused recently about the job being a little slow? Remind me never to do that again. I thought I only had about three paragraphs to update in the User's Manual for my project (this release is a lot of back-end stuff that the user's won't notice except for the fact stuff runs a LOT faster.)

However . . .

I found out late Friday that "Oh, we also made changes to X and oh, you've been testing so you might not have seen these changes either."

I now have six SECTIONS to rewrite in the User's Manual. By COB tomorrow, since we release Wed Evening.

And, I just got the release notes from the developers today.

I can't blame them completely, I've been lazy since it looked like it wasn't going to really affect me. Still, a bit of a heads up might have been nice. I put in 10 hours today on that document and I'll probably put in another 10 tomorrow and maybe a couple of hours of rewrites on Wed before we shove it out the door.


So, given all this, I definitely appreciated Kendo tonight.

Of course, first thing out of the gate, I hurt myself again. There's something not quite right with my left knee/calf and when I do a step back maneuver, it feels like someone just jabbed a big knitting needle into the upper calf. I even spent an extra twenty minutes stretching tonight and still dinged myself.

But, I went ahead and hopped into the practice. We did a lot of basic techniques with the beginner class. Even though my attendance has been spotty since I started back, I can feel my muscle memory coming back. The sensei was impressing on the beginners about their "kiai", how it showed their spirit and their determination. So, when it was my next turn to go, I fell back into Sergeant-mode, took a deep breath and held my one kiai all the way through the four passes with my partner. Thought I was going to pass out, but all that calling cadence in the Army and choir/band training I had in HS came back so I was good and loud. I did notice the beginner's volume picked up a bit after that. *grin*

We took a short break before the start of advanced practice because it's starting to get seriously warm in the community center where we practice. Even with the fans on and windows open, it didn't take much to bring up a sweat. I got in to full armor and made it through the first few sets of our practice, but after a bit, I had to lose the men (helmet) because it was just too hot for me. Conditioning has got to become more of a priority for me.

Sensei has been pushing oji waza here lately. He had us work on basic strikes, but after two or three passes, the receiver was allowed to try and react to the attack, while the attacker was supposed to ignore their attempt at a counter and still focus on delivering a perfect strike. What he was having us work on was identifying our opponent's timing. Most people settle into a rhythm and it's up to us to identify their pattern(s) and use it against them. This is definitely well over shodan-level kendo, but it's good because it's forcing me to think beyond my current level and anticipate my promotion test later this year.

Eitel-Sensei is pretty confident I'm going to be ready to test either in August at our clubs tournament or at one in October. I'm not convinced yet about August, but if I can get myself back into shape, I'll certainly give it a try if he thinks I'm ready and the other nidans in the club help get my katas down pat.

My friend Chris, who's my sempai, has a great blog about tonight's practice. I had to withdraw toward the last 30 minutes of practice due to my calf, but he was trying to show them a rokudan (6th dan) level technique. It's very similar to something we've practiced, but it's not just "deflect your opponent's attack and strike", it's "control your opponent's attack and strike". It combines controlling the opponent's weapon, space, and spirit all at once. The hachidan (8th dan) take this concept even further and have what is considered a "bubble" around them and they stop their opponent's attack at a distance, never giving them the opportunity to strike.

Sensei had the class start practicing the technique, but he got called way when someone came in an reported his car had been hit in the parking lot outside. Not sure who was involved, but there's a youth group that meets in the building next door to the community center and I suspect either a young driver, or someone picking someone up misjudged the parking space next to his. He's got a pretty dented door in his car now. But, as he said, no one got hurt and they did come and let him know instead of disappearing into the night.

Came home, took my extra strength stuff (still miss those 800mg Motrin the Army used to issue for everything. "Got a hangnail? Take two Motrin and return to duty. Got a broken arm? Take two Motrin and go back to duty." According to the PA's in the Army, Motrin cures all issues. (Except for some of those things you bring back from downtown. Then it's two Motrin and a shot of penicillin. *grin*)

All right, I'm babbling now. Time to get to bed so I can be Tech Writer Man in the morning.


( 7 howls — Howl with the Pack )
Mar. 30th, 2010 06:38 am (UTC)
Must be something in the air! If you read my blog post from over the weekend, you must've noticed the same thing happened to me on three projects last week!
Mar. 30th, 2010 12:45 pm (UTC)
Like I said, it's a combination of me getting complacent and the developers being up to their ears in bug fixes before this goes out. I should have been more proactive about checking what they were up to.

BUT, hopefully in a couple of weeks, I'll be moving to a non-tech writing position (same company/different contract) that I've been trying to get into for the past 10 years.

*keeping fingers crossed*
Mar. 30th, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC)
In our case, we're switching from waterfall to agile development methodologies (and the less said about that, the better), and the info got lost because we haven't really refined how properly to build user stories yet. Info that would've been in the specs didn't fit into the user stories, so, poof! It didn't make it into my head, either.
Mar. 30th, 2010 09:19 am (UTC)
I just had the reverse happen - a rush job completed with hard work and even overtime, but then the whole thing postponed.

Odd the contrasting identities we have, though. Tonight, I take on my more knightly persona and teach a longsword class. Today, I tug my forelock and ease the path of my colleagues.
Mar. 30th, 2010 12:49 pm (UTC)
Between your blogs about your longsword class and Chris's blogs about Kendo, I'm definitely getting a good feel for both the commonality between all the disciplines of the sword and how each one has it's own nuances.

One of the commonalities I've noticed is the fighting spirit. If a person isn't on their game and focused, it's going to be a very miserable practice or a short fight (if sparring with someone). A swordsman's strength is definitely tied to their spirit and a nervous or unconfident swordsman is quickly a dead swordsman.

Enjoy practice tonight.
Mar. 30th, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
...German Longsword emphasises going on the offensive. But the Japanese films I've seen seem to show a lot of trying to get the other person to attack first. What is the shape of your fights?
Mar. 30th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
Re: So...
It's deceptive to watch. Even when you're standing in front of your opponent, you're on the offensive, but not in the standard Norman "scream and leap" mode of offensive.

You have to get a feel for your opponent. There's a lot of mind games that goes with the fight, trying to convince your opponent by the way you carry yourself, by the way you hold your sword directly on center, etc. that he's going to lose the fight if he attacks.

But that being said, there are two basic attacks - the initial attack (trying to land your strike before the opponent can counter) and oji-waza, which is the counter to your opponent's attack.

If you feel you're stronger, more confident, more talented than your opponent, you're better off going on the offensive. Don't give them a chance to hit you, just take them out and move on to the next opponent. The younger players tend to be a lot more aggressive than the older ones. (We tend to conserve our energy looking for just the right spot to kill our opponent. *grin*)

If you feel you're evenly matched or perhaps facing a stronger opponent, then the oji-waza is the better method of attacking. There are a number of different oji-waza. Kaeshi-waza is meeting your opponents blade low on their blade and using their momentum to deflect it while you use that momentum to do your own strike. Harai-waza is a quick deflection high on their blade before striking, Nuki-waza is a quick step back to let their blade pass by and then stepping in to strike, eiuchi-waza is the simultaneous strike. There are a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting.

The most difficult oji-waza for me at the moment is debana-waza, which is seeing (or feeling) your opponent starting to move and striking him before he can complete his attack. This is a higher-level move because if you anticipate too much, you wind up opening yourself up for a strike.

For example, I think my opponent is going for a men (helmet) shot, so I strike out for his dou (body armor). If I'm wrong, he can easily tap my sword to the side and then he has a ton of choises on how he wants to kill me.

So, even when it doesn't appear to be agressive, it's very offensive minded. There are no "blocks" in kendo unless they lead directly into an attack.

But, again, there is something to be said for your observation. Mushashi himself noted, the one who strikes first is the loser. The object is, get your opponent uncomfortable and make them strike at you before they're ready, which means their strike will be weak and awkward. Because you have forced them to move when you wanted them to, this opens them up for your precise strike.

So, even though it appears they're defensively waiting for the other to move, it's actually a very aggressive thing to "make" your opponent move. You don't want them to be the aggressor, you want them to react to your stance, your spirit, your aggressive approach. Make them flinch or make them attack out of synch and the match is yours.

Edited at 2010-03-30 04:37 pm (UTC)
( 7 howls — Howl with the Pack )

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