I was asked to write an introduction for the programme for next weekend’s 41st Mumeishi Threes competition. This must be the oldest privately hosted kendo taikai in Europe and I started to ponder the reasons for its continued success.
This event is for three person teams with a minimum of one kyu grade in the line-up. It not only gives more experienced kenshi a chance to demonstrate their skills, but by including teams with a mix of levels, it emphasises the co-dependence of juniors and seniors that is central to kendo. It is an opportunity to strive to do our personal best while supporting our team mates. There are also Ladies’ and children’s individual competitions, with younger competitors judged on “hantei” to encourage their best kendo.
The Mumeishi Threes has continued to grow. Over the years it has attracted kenshi from across Europe, the USA and Japan, with over seventy teams competing in some more recent events. This year, at the time of writing, we have registrations from 60 teams, 61 ladies and 40 juniors.
Not content with one action packed day of kendo, an after match party on Saturday evening and an exhausting three hour keiko session that runs throughout Sunday morning completes a family friendly weekend and allows participants to meet old friends and make new ones. In spite of current economic conditions and an increasingly crowded international kendo calendar, the Mumeishi Threes becomes more popular every year.
The “Threes” could not survive without an army of willing volunteers. Court teams, referees and sponsors are drawn from the club itself and its friends from around the world. Last year Sumi Masatake sensei made the trip from Japan to act as shinpan-cho for the 40th anniversary event.
Of course the one ingredient that guarantees the on-going success of the Mumeishi Threes is the untiring effort of Terry Holt sensei, who as soon as each year’s event finishes, promptly thinks about the next one.
I am sure that this year’s event will help brighten a dull November and serve as a celebration of all the hard work we put into our kendo. For competitors and officials alike, there is an expectation that we should do our very best on the day. At the same time, we should not forget to enjoy ourselves and to make the most of being together for a very special weekend’s kendo.