I would like to take the discussion forward one more step, and look at what we need to do to achieve jiri itchi. The answer is fairly obvious. Practice until the technique, the timing and the opportunity become second nature. Only then will you be able to launch that waza “on demand”, without giving it conscious thought.
When on the few occasions senior Japanese sensei compliment anyone’s kendo, they often do so by saying that “you have done lots of keiko”. Not ” your kendo is good”. It is as if the hours of training you put in at the dojo automatically equate to merit. This runs through to formal evaluation at grading exams where, the pass criteria for almost every grade are subject to the caveat, “must be seen to have done an appropriate amount of keiko”.
It is true also of the requirement for referees who must be active in their own keiko schedules and not just involved as referees and teachers. The view is that if you are not regularly polishing your own repertoire of techniques, you will not be in a position to judge those of others.
Of course it is not just a matter of putting in the time in the dojo. Training has to be correct and strenuous to be of value. I have forgotten who said it, but whoever it was said “the more I do of what I do, the more I get of what I’ve got”. Thinking about this in a kendo context it means that if you spend hours training to do a technique incorrectly, you will master the art of doing it wrong.
Obviously it pays to build step by step on technique training. Start with suburi, practice the timing and distance in uchikomi geiko, learn how to get the technique past your opponent’s centre with kakarigeiko and only then incorporate it into jigeiko.
Chiba sensei when speaking about his training before winning the All Japan Champioships talks about doing 3000 suburi in a single session. This is as a police tokuren who already had extensive high level keiko and shiai experience. Of course the concept of improvement through constant repetition is as old as kendo itself and was most famously promoted by Yamaoka Tesshu.
None of us will ever achieve perfection in our kendo, but trying to do so should be a source of satisfaction in itself.