The 16th WKC is almost here. Lots of us are on our way to Tokyo and many foreign kenshi are already in Japan for pre-match training. I am about to leave today.
I have spent a lot of time congratulating people who have been selected for their national teams, but have not said much to some of the people who have given 100 per cent to their training for the last 3 years and who were not selected this time. Who knows why not? It may be that the selectors considered there were others better than you. It may have been that they thought you were a strong prospect but that you would be even stronger if kept back for future WKCs. Without asking you won’t know.
Nevertheless, I can emphasise with the way you are feeling now. In 1979, the year of the 4WKC in Sapporo, I was in the third year of training in Japan. At the beginning of the year I was told that I would not be selected for the British Team, which I previously represented, as I was not resident in the UK and therefore unable to attend regular squad training. I obviously understood the logic, but as I was in the best kendo condition of my as to then short kendo career, I felt enormously disappointed.
After moping for a few weeks, I decided to forget about it and to get on with my normal kendo life in Japan. This was a good thing as I was invited to take part in a friendly match between the French National Squad, who were visiting with their trainer and the members of Oji dojo in Kobe. This was a shiai between teams of 10 , (if I remember correctly) and I am glad to say that Oji dojo won every match including mine. I passed 4th dan a week later in the same dojo. Luckily for me this confidence boost put all thoughts of disappointment out of my mind.
I was fortunate to be cheered up so quickly after missing out and not everyone might be as lucky, but the important thing is that kendo is a lifetime’s pursuit. Many of us have been doing it for 40, 50 even 60 years and for those that stick with it there will be lots of other opportunities to prove their worth.
Good luck to the chosen players and those who will be chosen in future. As I am travelling without the benefit of a proper keyboard, kendoinfo might be silent for a week or two.