Shibuya Taikai

I took part in the Shibuya Taikai on Sunday 21st of October representing Michi no Ko in both individual and team competitions.

I had three fights in total, winning two.

The first match was in the individual competition, which is split by grade. The San Dan (3rd dan) devision included a lot of university students making it quite a tough group.

I lost my match to nuki men and kote,, I simply did not put enough pressure on my opponent and he was able to pick me off easily. I was pretty disappointed, and I think I should have warmed up and got my head focused a lot more before my shiai.

In the team taikai I was playing as Senpo for team D. Team D consisted of myself, two other foreigners and two older Japanese players.

In the first round we came up against a fairly young team and were able to win quite easily.

I scored debanna men and debanna kote against my opponent who was a high school student. I learned early in my shiai experience never to under estimate your opponent, especially women or younger players. So I set out to set the tone for our shiai.

I was better prepared for this match and more warmed up after the lunchtime keiko so I felt more focused than the individual match. I was happy with my seme and both of my attacks came of well.

The rest of the team fought well and we came away with a 4-1 victory.

In the second round we came up against a very strong team from Suishin Kai, mostly university students in their early/mid 20's. We had just watched them demolish a pretty strong team from Konoh Dojo and were all having a nice laugh about how we were doomed.

We decided as a team to go out and enjoy our selves, show out fighting spirit, do our best kendo and come away happy.

I took my position on the edge of the shiai-jo feeling nervous but focused. We took our three steps to the centre an made sonkyo, HAJIME!!
We both stood up, kiai-ing and pushing forwards, I felt an opening and went for men, my opponent blocked and we ended up in tsubazeriai.

What happens next is exactly what I said not to do earlier. My opponent had this look on his face as we were in tsubazeriai "oh look, it's a gaijin, no problem" I could tell he wasn't taking me seriously and actually had the cheek to look amused by the barbarian doing kendo.... This isn't the first time I have encountered such an attitude from a younger player in shiai.

We separated, back to to-ma, I pushed forwards again making ura osae and went for kote, I hit the target but not well enough, and fell as I passed my opponent, he attempted a tsuki as I was on the ground.

The referee called yame and we were allowed to restart the match. Straight from the restart I scored men, I don't remember his exact reaction (if he tried to return the cut) but I was able to cut and get through with zanshin. The shocked gasps from his team mates let me know it was a good one. I could hear my team mates clapping behind me and his team mates urging him on "Omiikite!" (cut with full concentration). The shinpan called for "nihonnme" we both pushed for men, I struck first in ai men. Two shinpan raised their flags but started to drop them as my zanshin was cut out by colliding with my opponent, too late however as they had both raised their flags and the Ippon stood.

The next 4 matches saw my team mates give everything but unfortunately our opponents who ended up in the top 4 were just too strong for us. Still everyone was happy with their performance. We made a circle, put our hands in for "ichi, ni, san, OI!" to show our spirit one last time.

It was a good shiai for me, and I'm happy I can take a bit of confidence (which I have been lacking) back into my kendo.

I was pleased with my first men against my second opponent, it was very similar to one Ippon I scored at the WKC, something just clicked in my head and I had that belief for just enough time to make a successful Ippon. If I can apply that belief to my dojo training, hopefully I will continue to improve.

I also hope my opponent learned his lesson too.