A number of years ago I talked about a change in my kendo “mode” and in particular my flip-over to a sort of asageiko-main routine (despite not being a morning person). I had been an on-and-off asageiko person since about 2009-ish I guess (from about 2005 I did asageiko very occasionally, maybe once or twice a month, so that doesn’t count). By “asa” keiko I am of course referring to morning practise. Oh, and just to be clear, “morning” means keiko starting at 7am or earlier. A 9am start doesn’t qualify!
After my daughter was born in 2017 I basically stopped going to evening keiko almost entirely, just doing keiko in the morning and at work in the afternoons.
As I mentioned in a prior post my asageiko sessions came to a screeching halt at the beginning of the pandemic as all the police dojo in Japan closed their dojo. After a year with no restart in sight I started my own morning sessions at my work dojo from about March 2021. Eventually the police dojo restarted, and I am now attending two asageiko sessions, averaging maybe 3-4 weekday mornings every week, sometimes more, sometimes less.
My journey from a very-occasional morning keiko person, to an on-and-off one, then an asageiko-main person is complete. I still hate getting up in the mornings (especially in winter) but now even the thought of doing kendo after 6pm seems alien!
In today’s article I want to briefly give you guys a rundown on the content of my asageiko… in case anyone is interested!
Police asageiko (30mins)
First, let me talk about my more organised session. I have been attending the morning session of a central police dojo here in Osaka since 2009. At first I attended on-and-off, but since 2014 (except for a nearly two year pandemic blank) I have been taking part religiously. Because police teachers change every 2-4 years depending, so to does the exact content and length (40mins max, 30mins min) but the general flow is the same. Briefly, the current situation is:
Members: 2-4 hachidan, 90% 5-7dan; Numbers: 30+ max; Time: 30mins (plus 10min warmup before); Frequency: 3 times/week; Content: - Kirikaeshi x 5 sets - Men 3 x 3 sets - Kote 3 x 3 sets - Kote-men 3 x 3 sets - Moshiawase (you choose) 3 x 3 sets - Men uchikomi 5 x 2 sets - Kirikaeshi 1 x 1 set
After keiko those that have to go to work (like me) make a mad dash for the shower, change, and run to work.
As you can see, it is a pretty simple routine. Since there is no time, there is zero teaching, only doing.
My asageiko routine (45mins)
The asageiko session I started at work is invite only for friends and the occasional guest. The biggest difference, for me, is that since I am running the session I MUST get out of bed and attend… with my other asageiko I can go back to sleep if I choose. Mentally, this is tougher!
The content of my session is free – individual members decide what it is they want to work on. As such, below I will write down what it is I am mainly working on at the moment.
Members: 6-7dan; Numbers: 5 max (at the moment); Time: 45mins; Frequency: 2 times/week; Content (George style): - Kirikaeshi 3 men/1 kirikaeshi x 3 sets (see the notes below); - Far distance renzoku big-men 3 x 3; - Far distance renzoku small-men 3 x 3; - Motodachi takes one step back and I step in deeply and strike a small-men 3 x 3; - Normal small men 3 x 3; - Mododachi take on step in and I immediately strike men 3 x 3 - Kote 3 x 2; - Kote-men 3 x 2; - From jodan: katate-kote > morote-men 3 x 1; - Men oji-waza 3 x 2; - Kote-oji-waza 3 x 2; - Men oji-waza vs jodan 3 x 2; - Kote-oji-waza vs jodan 3 x 2; - Mawari-geiko (depends on the number of people); - Kirikaeshi (as above).
Or something like that.
* My asageiko kirikaeshi consists of renzoku big-men x 3, with the third one going into tsubazeriai before doing one kirikaeshi. The second men is from jodan.
* For all my men strikes the concentration is on cutting at the correct distance with an out-stretched feeling.
* For all my men strikes the third men is from jodan.
* The second kote set is from jodan.
* For kote-men, I do one normal kote-men and then two aigote-men.
* For oji-waza the exact techniques change depending on my mood and partner (I am currently working on my men-nuki-dou and kote-suriage-men).
If that seems like a lot packed into a 45 min session, you are right. Everyone that attends has something they are working on and we go through the session briskly. We all have work afterwards so once we are finished we change and go to our respective workplaces (luckily, I am already there!).
As the pandemic restrictions ease in Japan I expect more and more kenshi to be going though Osaka. If you are interested in attending one of my asageiko sessions (sorry, no guests at the police dojo) and you are feeling brave, please feel free to get in touch.