IRELAND. WKC 15 Novara Italy

Well ive been back more than a week now, and I'm over my jet lag and physical/mental exhaustion. So I'll get cracking on this post and try to make it as good as possible!

I want to just say first of all a massive thanks to all Irish kendoka and friends of Irish kendo. WE DID IT.

The 15th World Kendo Championship was held in Novara Italy on the 26th 27th and 28th of May 2012. This was the first time the event was hosted by Italy and it was a really great weekend with fabulous organization and a great competition!

The whole experience was incredible, it didnt hit me untill the last day (watching Japan and Korea) that I was at a World Championship!!

It started with a 2 hour train, 2 hour wait in the airport, a 4 hour flight to Hong Kong, a 4 hour stop over, and a 12 hour flight to Italy. As soon as I landed (8am) I went to Milan and applied for my new visa for japan the Milan embassy was able to completed it in a day, so that was great, a real boost!

I got to see a bit of Milan, but I couldnt go into alot of tourist attractions because I had my shinai with me!

I headed back to meet the rest of the Irish team in the airport (8 pm) and it was just amazing to see everyone. We went to the city of Novara, had some dinner, pasta and pizza and settled in for the night.

The hotel where we were stating was nice, but the breakfast was really poor, no meat, crap bread, crap coffee, crap cereal. no good! But LOADS OF NUTELA!!! So that made up for it!

Thursday 24th

We had training on Thursday afternoon, and the coach let us sleep in and explore the town as we wanted. once we started training though it all got serious!

The training hall was split between Ireland and Argentina and we were able to get a good 45-60 minutes training in. It was very hot, but it was good to shake off the stiffness of the flight. Every one went to bed early on Thursday night as we had a very early start on Friday.

Friday 25th - Men's individuals

We got up a 5:30, ate breakfast and took a bus at 6:30 arriving at the Novara Sports Village for 7:00. As usually there was a mad rush for the training/warm up area. Training was good, if a little rushed and panicy, but its good to get tha out of the system on the first day. My previous experience helped me to stay calm and not get wound up by the pressure.

The competition began at 9am with a great opening ceremony, which was thankfully short. The mens individual tournament began as it ended, with all eyes on Takanabe Sensei! His first match was over quickly and he continued in a very strong fashion throughout the day. Eventually emerging as the Champion.

I didnt win in the Individual competition, unfortunatly.
My first opponent was from Hawaii, and the coaches son. Very stong and fast! My plan was to take my time and build up the fight, but he came straight at me and took a thundering men! And then another!

My second was from Chilie. And he was playing in "nito" Two swords style. Ive only ever fought nito once before and that was a long time ago. I lasted 5 minutes, but my opponent scored a dou. I literally had no clue what to attack, but I was happy with my performance. Looking at videos I can see that I did the same thing many times allowing him to strike my dou, my kamae was also not correct. Good lesson for the future!!

Brendan Hickey, David McGlynn and Sergio Milani also fought in the individuals with each representing them selves and Ireland extremely well! Sergio managed to score and ippon and win a match in his debut for Ireland!!

It was a late day and we arrived home near to 9pm. A quick bite to eat and off to sleep!

Well done guys!!

Next up was the ladies!

Saturday 26th - Ladies Individual and Team

Another early morning! Rise and shine at 5:30n
Kathryn Cassidy and Africa Monton were representing Ireland in the ladies individual competition. The team warmed up and trained together and we stuck with our ladies to support them for the rest of the day. Both Kathryn and Africa fought really well and showed great kendo and spirit but were unfortunate not to win.

I have to say. The ladies team competition was really really excellent. I like ladies kendo as I find it to be more technical. Male kendoka often use too much strength and power to beat their opponents, most ladies don't have that ability so have to depend more on footwork and correct waza to win.

Anyway. The Japanese ladies team fought superbly through the whole day showing some amazing kendo, the Korean team were also excellent and I was really rooting for them in the final! At the end of a VERY long day it was Japan who were the victors!

There were some great performances from some European teams, France and Germany in particular!

We arrived home very late and went to a very nice pizza restaurant for dinner. But we didn't get to sleep untill nearly 12.

Sunday 27th - Men's Team

We work very sleepy at 5:30, ate a quite sleepy breakfast and made our sleepy way to the bus where I slept. Zzz

Upon arrival there was mass pandemonium trying to get inside, "the doors don't open till 7" they said, "we got in early yesterday" someone called back; but there was no budge. At exactly 7, they let us in. Jason Vincent Africa and Kathryn went to secure us a spot while we got our equipment for our room.

The training hall was packed. But we got a good session in with everyone looking really sharp and focused. We were training right next to Japan too, and I heard them say "アイルランド、うまいですね?!" quite a few times. :P

In the team competition our pool was Lithuania and Austria.
The team order was:

Senpo. Brendan Hickey
Jiho. John Doherty
Chuken. Robin Deegen
Fukusho. Lee Cahill
Taisho. Martin Kiosew

Subs. Sergio Milani, David McGlynn.

First up Lithuania.

Brendan won his first match giving us the early lead but I was suffering a bit from pressure and lost my first fight, Robin was able to pull it back for us while Lee went on to secure the Victory.

1 down. Next up. Austria.

Austria were the strongest team in our pool by most peoples estimations. So we were talking before hand to just take it calmly and do our best to make it easy for the next man.

Brendan won his first match again, first taking ippon, losing one and coming back to claim victory before time. I went out against my opponent and similarly, score men, lost men, and won with kote men. Robin was up next. And he too took one ippon before losing one and remaining calm to take the next ippon and claim victory overall.

That result left Ireland on top of the pool meaning.....

Ireland qualified for the knockout stages and made it to the last 16 countries in the World Kendo Championship!!!

We were over the moon. That was our goal having done the same in the Europeans 2 years before. Delighted so we were!

We had a break to recover and savor the moment before we came up against Italy. Italy had won their group impressively and were in good form for our match.

I won't go into the gorey details, but we Unfortunately couldn't win against Italy! We fought our hearts out and no doubt impressed the Italian spectators with our spirit and never say die attitude! Lee also gave Orlando a run for his money (and saved us from a white wash!) by only losing one ippon and fighting blow for blow as good as his opponent, drawing more attention from the referees sitting by the shiaijo.

We bowed out of the 15th WKC proud and happy. Knowing that we had reached our goal and done our best to try reach beyond it!

Id like to take a moment here to thank both Jason Clouston and Vincent Long, delegation manager and team coach respectivly. Both have massive experience at this level of competition and did a great job keeping us on our toes and motivated as well as ensuring we knew exactly what was going on at all times. Id also like to thank Kathryn and Africa for being the worlds best team mates, buying us energy drinks and chocolate and keeping us smiling through the whole day!
It was a real team effort from the sempo to the taisho, our debutants, management and the people who were watching both in the arena and at home. Its a another big step forward for Irish Kendo and it really showed that the hard work, effort in training and dedication that is so important to our clubs is showing big results both at National level and International.
From then we could sit back and enjoy the competition. It was a real treat, so much energy in the room. Getting to see the Japanese fighting superbly on one side and the Koreans doing the same on the other! The Korean team really had to fight tough to make it through to the final with teams making it difficult for them the whole way.

Again teams from Europe shone out, France as Hungary (current European champions) but the highlight was the final between Japan and Korea.

I won't get into the discussion on referee decisions or booing, as im sure everyone knows what happened, I'll just say that the people booing really should take a look at themselves before they call out abuse to the top referees from around the world.

The grand finale was of course the sayonara party which was great as always! It was really nice to see Sensei and friends from Europe that I haven't seen for a while! And to hang out with Lee! Making a nuisance of ourselves talking to almost everyone in the room!

The night need quite late with every one walking, and not being carried.... To the busses and hotels!

And that was that. What seemed like a month was only 5 days, packed full of memories and new friendships aswell as ippon!!

Well I've nothing left I say other than a massive

THANK YOU, and I LOVE YOU to my family. I literally couldnt have gotten here with out your help, love encouragement and support over the past 4 years and especially in getting there from Japan. It's been an amazing experience and I think kendo has certainly changed me for the better.

I'll post my matches here and then make a comment on each when I can!



Vs Chilie


Vs Lithuania

Vs Austria

Vs Italy