On the day following one of Europe’s worst terrorist atrocities, we held the 43rd Mumeishi 3s, with competitors from all over the UK as well as Ireland, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Lithuania and Israel.
The 3s is as much a family day out as a kendo competition. A ladies individual event is followed by 3 person team matches which must include one kyu grade and we have children’s shiai in four age categories covering the range from 6 to 18. The youngest are judged on hantei. This mix of ages and abilities does not detract from the quality of shiai. The fighters include national team members from a number of countries as well as Japanese players with some impressive competition records back home.
What the Mumeishi 3s however does offer is flexibility, with some teams formed on the day to give visitors without the requisite number of club mates with them the chance to enter, so for example, we had one Israeli, German, Japanese team.
This was the first year since the death of Terry Holt, the events founder. Terry always put enormous effort into organising the day, so the members of Mumeishi kendo club and his son David had a lot to live up to. I hope that we delivered. From my viewpoint behind the shinpancho’s table it all seemed to run like clockwork. From opening speech to clearing the hall, everything ran to time and there seemed to be a lot of happy competitors tucking in to our local pub’s new curry menu within minutes of the competitions close.
For Mumeishi, it was almost the perfect day, with a winner in one of the children’s categories and our team nearly making it to the gold medals, gaining silver after losing by one ippon in a daihyo match after a final where we led until seconds before the final bell. I am sure Terry would be smiling at the outcome.
Between Saturday’s shiai and Sunday’s keiko my mood changed as I heard the news about the carnage in Paris, apart from initial concerns for people I know who could have been caught up in this horror and an overall feeling of sadness for all the victims, my thoughts ran along the lines of how lucky we are to be part of kendo.
At our small club competition this weekend we had friends from numerous countries; between them were followers of all of the world’s major religions with a healthy sprinkling of humanists and atheists. We spent a weekend where people showed ferocity in the dojo and shiai-jo, but treated each other with kindness and respect off court. This is perhaps similar to the way any groups with shared interests might behave, but I would like to think that it is special to kendo.
*Border security allowing I am catching an early flight tomorrow, so this week’s post is a day ahead of schedule.