Solo training: variety

One of the most important ways for really developing your kendo is the training you do by yourself. This training falls into two main categories: fitness training and technical training. With either kind, the thing that will keep you doing it is variety. Solo training can get boring, so it's important to work out how to give yourself some variety to keep it interesting.

Sometimes that variety can be quite a small change, but it might be enough to help you reach the end of the routine you have set for yourself. Let me give an example.

You have set yourself a target of 500 hayasuburi everyday. OK so 500 all at once is maybe a bit tough in the beginning. What do you do? Do you say, "oh that's too hard, I think I'll update my Facebook profile instead"? Of course not.

Start with a small amount, e.g. 50 hayasuburi.
Have a short break and then another 50.
OK, now you're feeling good, you've got some energy back. The next 50 will be easy... But at around 39-40 you really start to struggle. Don't get discouraged!
Now break them up.
Do 20 shomen, 10 sayumen and 20 shomen...
Done! Easy.

That little bit of variety helps distract your mind from thinking about getting tired. Instead, even as silly as it sounds, you can look forward to the change from straight cuts to diagonal cuts. I guarantee you'll finish the set much less tired, and looking forward to the next one.

So instead of doing your suburi with thoughts in your head like, "oh man! this is so hard!", you do them thinking, "Ok only 10 more then I can change." Negative thoughts tend to tire you as much as the physical exercise itself. Probably more so. Positive or neutral thoughts allow you to just do what is necessary.

My pattern is to count in sets of 20. That means I think of 100 suburi as being not 100 movements but 5 sets. If I think I only have to do 5 rather than 100, already that makes it seem easier.

Then I think of them as being one set straight, one set diagonal, one set straight, one set diagonal, one set straight. So three sets straight and two sets diagonal. Thinking of it as 3 and 2 is even less than 5! Even though I still end up doing 100 suburi and my brain knows exactly what I'm doing, it's still possible to "trick" myself into thinking the exercise is easy rather than hard.

So either 100 (sounds hard!).

Or 5 sets of 20 (sounds much easier!)

Or 3 sets and 2 sets (easiest of all!)

Try this yourself and let me know how it goes. Let me know what patterns and variety you end up thinking for yourself. b


Andrei B said…
Currently I'm doing 300 double time men cuts before the sun goes down. I take rests at every 100. It doesn't take long and I don't find myself getting bored with it. I plan on increasing the amounts of cuts when I can complete 300 without feeling much fatigue in the arms.

Is this a good weekday night training exercise for non-dojo nights?
Nanseikan said…
Sounds like enough to start with, Andrei. It's important to build up to large repetitions in order to avoid injury.

The other thing to monitor is whether it makes a difference to your kendo and in what ways. b

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