I enjoy my Sunday Morning keiko at Mumeishi dojo, particularly when Holt sensei takes the Kihon practice. It means that with the exception of deciding what to eat for breakfast and whether to buy my wife a copy of the Sunday newspaper before or after keiko, I do not have to think.
Even when I am leading the training, it does not take a great deal of conscious consideration, because we have done most of the routines so many times they have become second nature, but it is even more comforting to position myself in the usual corner of the dojo and be taken through a familiar routine without any thought for what comes next.
This combination of Sunday morning lethargy and someone else calling the shots is my ideal antidote to the hectic work week and the preliminary session of repetitive kihon training sets me up for the following jigeiko by taking me to a state where I rely on ingrained technique rather than planning how to deal with each opponent.
I have jokingly suggested that the ideal kendoka should have the stamina of an endurance athlete, exceptional leg and core body strength, lightning fast reactions and an IQ of not more than 80. In reality I believe that it is more a question of temperament than intelligence, but it is true that some of my obviously brainy friends do occasionally tie themselves in knots by too much analysis.
Today one of our Japanese members mentioned that he was having trouble hitting my men. It was difficult to see why, as he has great kihon and posture, very strong kihaku and good timing, but then he confessed to thinking too hard about each attack. For some reason the harder you think about a technique the more difficult it becomes use it. The best thing is to do any analysis outside the dojo in the comfort of your home, favourite bar, or coffee shop and to spend your dojo time practicing with minimal consciousness.
As we have discussed before on numerous occasions, the only way of combatting the Four Sicknesses (Shikai) of surprise, fear, doubt and hesitation is to make or take your opportunity and then to attack with total commitment. The only way to gain the ability to do this is from regular, hard, intense kihon geiko.
We strive in kendo to achieve rin-ki-o-hen , the state in which we are instantly able to react to opportunities and changes in our opponent. For most of us this remains an ongoing quest. Nevertheless the ability to put the conscious brain on hold however occasionally is both good for our kendo and our lives outside the dojo.