It's been great to see the growth in the dojo and all the various kendo experiences that we've shared in the past year. A lot of those new (to some) experiences are taikai. For a number of us, we've even competed now in Junior Nationals and Nationals! Whether you're fresh into your first few taikai or have been seasoned like me, here are three basic times to attack in your shiai that you should remember and practice getting your timing for to be even more successful:
1) Strike when your opponent 's technique is about to start.
There moment your opponent decides to attack or at least commits to some motion, he or she is vulnerable to catching them in that moment of commitment. So to probe them and also watch their habits or tendencies when they feel "free" to attack and catch them at one of their tendencies before their attack OR cause them to feel comfortable to attack and strike at the moment they do.
2) Strike when your opponent blocks.
Strike the areas that are not blocked. His mind and body are not in position to guard those areas.
3) Strike when your opponent's techniques come to an end.
When the opponent's zanshin mentally, physically and in technique is at a low point, perhaps even exhausted after striking, snatch that chance up to get what you desire.
These are three key times to be most vigilant so that you don't become the victim!
I hope this helps give you some basic areas on analysis and practice to improve your shiai game in kendo and in life!