Joso Kendo Taikai - Sept 19th 2011 - Toride

Tomorrow i will take part in the 36th Joso Kendo taikai in Toride city. 常総剣道大会

It is supposed to be fairly big, and there is  quite a few people from KamisuKen going! there will be competitions for, elementary school, JHS and adults. Im not sure if there is an adults team event.

This is my first taikai in Japan, and hopefully not the last. I dont know if any Irish person has ever competed in Japan?

My goal is simple. Kendo starts and ends with Rei. So if I can go there and do proper reigi at the beginning and end of my match then I will be happy. Im representing my country, club, and foreign kendo in general. I want to show that we know what we are doing and how important reigi is to kendoka outside Japan.We dont just know how to wack each other with sticks!!

Being realistic, there is little possibility of me doing very well. Tomorrow is a national holiday, so I imagine this is a big deal for a lot of people. Im expecting tough competition! I have represented Ireland twice, once disastrously, so I know what state of mind I have to be in, and hopefuly I can keep cool tomorrow and get my self focused. Of course I want to score an ippon, and win a match, but if I can come away with a good performance ill be happy.

I did quite well and Mumeshi last year and in the INC. I hope I can find that kind of form/confidence again while I am here, but it will be a long steep path! I hope tomorrow is a good learning experience for me and that I can do myself and Irish Kendo proud!!

Ill have whole troupe of JHS kids supporting me too! YEAH! GO KIDS!

Ill update this post tomorrow after I come home!!


Ok so yesterday was a great day! I really enjoyed my self!

We met at 6am at Kamisu city hall, Suzuki Sensei, Onuki Sensei, Noguchi Sensei and Terashima Sensei were all there as well as about 12 ES and JHS kids, Terashima Senseis son was also there. Onuki Sensei works at the city hall and had borrowed a bus to take us to Toride. We followed the Tone river most of the way, which was pretty quick i have to say (might be worth taking that route to some other places rather than pay for highways)

On arrival the JHS kids took all the stuff off the bus and went to mingle with their kendo mates, I stayed and talked to Terashima sensei and his son, who, like his father appears too cool for school!

8 o clock came and Suzuki Sensei said it was time to go. We headed for the sports complex which was up some cool stairs. After the stairs, came the stares. There were loads of people there waiting out side the building and i got many second glances!

from the bus

cool stairs, lots of them too!

dojo statue and crowd

statue, looks like something from Robots!


Sports complex map

Once we had got in and settled I went with the kids to help them warm up, they then had to line up for the opening ceremony so I returned to our seats. The kids had to sit through about 45 mins of speaches and then demonstrations of Kendo no Kata and some Koryu! the whole time in seiza!!

after warm up
opening ceremony

The Taikai had competitions for ES Male and female, JHS male and female, HS male and female, and adults 3rd dan and below, and 4th dan and above. I didnt notice any ladies in the adults taikai, but there may have been some! There were 8 shiai jo and the competition ran as smooth as a whistle all day.

Our seats were right above shiaijo 1, so i got a great view of the HS competition, there were some great ippons scored and some almighty Highschool style flourishes. The matches lasted 5 mins, after which there was a 2 minute encho, after which there was another 2 mins encho, and after that hantei.
Im 100% sure if that happened in the JHS, but i saw hantei in the ES category. There was even hantei in the sandan below devision, but I only saw it once.

About 30 mins before the start of the sandan shiai Hiyashi Sensei asked me if i wanted to go for warm up practice. I went with him and Otsuka-san to a small but beautiful dojo where there were many people practicing and warming up. I was once again stared out of it, especially by a group of HS girls! (not strictly a bad thing!)
We did about 20 mins of warm up, kirikaeshi, men, kote, kote men, dgote etc. Hiyashi sensei is unreal, he is 26, godan, probably weighs 100kgs, an absolute power house and his kendo is excellent, he is the sensei at Kamisu HS, and im really hoping i can go there for keiko regularly. Otsuka san was 24 and yondan, also very good, but not a tank! His kote was brilliant!

Practice room (this was after my shiai)

I went back out to the main hall, met with Terashima-san who was also competing in 3below, we got our Kamisu Budokan tasuki and went down to the competition floor. Again stared out of it, by all the cool dudes and referees, but sure fook it.
I was in the 4th shiai on my shiai-jo so i put my men on straight away. Hiyashi sensei and Otsuka-san had come down to support and the JHS captain came down too.

The shiai before me was a buy, so I went to the line to get ready. I wasnt nervous as such, as I have represented Ireland before and lost, so the fear of defeat wasnt really an issue. But I knew I was being watched.
My opponent came to the line and we stepped in. I made a nice sonkyo and stood up quickly after Hajime. I imediatly put pressure forwards and went for feint-men kote, I got the opening but I hit the tsuba. I heard a reassuring OOOHHHH from the supporters above me. My opponent was very strong, especially in tsubazeriai, I tried my best to keep my feet moving and hands strong rather than pushing and shoving, and we separated back to distance. Ine the beginning I was attacking more and trying to create openings with harai and osae, but his kamae was very strong. He kept trying to hit men from far, so it was easy enough to block or try to get a counter attack. I was trying to get debanna men (or at least ai-men) but he wasnt taking teh bait. Id say I lasted about 3 mins before his first ippon which was a thunderous Kote-men. HIs second came about 10 seconds after the restart, I went for men (which i thought i got) then I went for de-kote. From tsubazeriai he got a hiki men, I chased quickly but I knew it was an ippon. I stopped, nodded shinai and went back to the line. I made sure to do propper sonkyo and reigi on the way out and that was that.

I wasnt disappointed really as I hadnt been expecting anything. Noguchi sensei was there and said I could have scored men, but maybe my Ki ken tai was a little off so they didnt give it. He was happy enough as were the rest of the sensei.

Ive only been here 2 months, I didnt do any preparation really. But to be honest, I think next time I will at least score an ippon. My thoughts during the match after the first minute or so, were focused on the aite,  rather than focusing on my own kendo and trying to be the one to dominate/make the oportunities, putting him under pressure. I started to watch my opponent too much. This led to me waiting, and eventually led to his ippon. Tsubazeriai is the worst part of my kendo too, and he was alot stronger there so I have to work on that more.

My opponent was defiantly stronger than me, and he went on to be in the best 8. From talking to one of the mothers who I discovered spoke good English I found out that he was joining the Police via kendo.

The rest of the day was free time so I relaxed and watched the shiai, Terashima-san won two matches and scored some really great ippon. He is only 20 and pretty strong. Hiyashi sensei lost his first match and went out. One of the JHS boys got best 16, and one girl got best 8!

stage and Sandan/Yondan quarter finals

The Sandan final was great, but the guy I had been following all day lost :( , He had a similar dou to me, so you know, respec...

The yondan plus final was fought between Jodan and Chudan. The jodan guy had been demolishing people all day, he was seriously strong. He eventualy won the match in encho with a really good two handed kote. A bit bendy and definalty very shiai, but if you watch the video, you can see its a really well executed cut, pretty nice technique!


Final Encho

closing ceremony

The closing ceremony lasted about 30 mins, and there were not nearly as many people there by then.
Once everything was wrapped up, we got our gear packed away and went to get the bus home. It took around 2 hours to get back, and I slept most of the way. Arriving in Kamisu just before 8 we said our goodbyes, the sensei's said their few words and congratulations and off we went. I went from some food with the other ALTS, and after that I slept. Like a baby.

I put the videos in once they are loaded on youtube!