Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pronunciation and Other Difficulties

In Naginata, for a strike to be considered valid you have to kiai the name of the target just before you hit it. One of these is 'tsuki', which is cried whenever you stab a target (as opposed to slice it). However, 'tsu' is not a sound in the English language. It's pronounced like 'su' but with the tongue brushing downward against the back of the top teeth.

I can say 'tsu' if I concentrate, but in most everyday speech i tend to say 'su' instead. And even if I concentrate, I haven't yet been able to pronounce 'tsuki' correctly when yelling. I think because it's an unfamiliar sound I tense up a bit and don't use the lower part of my lungs when I kiai. Plus I'm still focusing on getting my form right; I'm too absorbed with my form to worry about getting my pronunciation right too. Thus I cry 'suki' instead of 'tsuki'.

A couple days ago I went to the school I practice the least often at -- actually, it was only the second time I've practiced there. A boy has joined the Naginata club, and I was put into a group with him and another girl to practice engi (forms). At one point he started laughing, and I'm pretty sure it was at my incorrect pronunciation of 'tsuki'. It's also the first time I've encountered someone who was less than helpful at any Naginata practice. But he is just a teenage boy, so despite being a little surprised at his lack of manners I'm not taking it personally.

I work at my visitation school[1] twice a week, but one of those days is when the club doesn't meet. Because of meetings and holidays, I haven't been able to attend a practice there for three weeks. In that time, the new students have gone from being quite far behind me in terms of knowledge to ahead of me. Or rather, our knowledge doesn't overlap. They still don't know some of the happoburi (practice swings) and engi that I know, but they now have bogu (armor) and are starting to use it. And I don't yet.

Due to my schedule, I can't practice as much as the students. I just got permission to practice by myself in my visitation school's dojo on the one day a week I work at that school that the club doesn't meet. It'll help my form to self-correct using mirrors (as far as my limited knowledge can tell if i'm doing something wrong), but it won't help with anything that requires a partner, including shiai (sparring).

I'm worried about being left behind. But I'll continue practicing with them as best I can.


[1] From now on, I'll call it my "visitation school" to differentiate it from my "base school", which is the one I practice at most often. I also teach at a third school, but they don't have a Naginata club. Also, when I refer to "my Naginata club" (as opposed to a school's club), I mean where I practice with adults at the prefectural gymnasium's dojo.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you are learning this. I studied jiu jitsu and kick boxing for a long time and I don't think I've ever felt as strong as I did during that time. Go you!