Posts Tagged ‘Kendo Taikai’

EKF Calendar (300x320)Over the years the number of kendo seminars, taikai and grading examinations has continued to grow. In February alone there will be 10 events in the European zone. In comparison to the few opportunities that were available back in the days when I started kendo this is an enviable situation. The challenge however is selecting which to attend.

Some decisions are simple. If you are planning to take a grading examination the nearest venue provided by your local federation is the easy option. The same thing goes for your own regional championships. If however you are a keen shiai player in search of international experience, you could have a choice of two or three major taikai within weeks of each other.

For those of us who are asked to referee and sit on grading panels, we occasionally receive invitations for several things on the same day and face the dilemma of which to attend. In this case I usually go with the first invitation.

There are several weekends when equally important sensei will be teaching at the same time. In addition to the seminars arranged by national federations there are also a number of club events where the teachers have been invited direct by friends or former students.  Some of these have been advertised ahead of time and some of these are still not on federation websites nor have they been flagged up to the EKF. I know of at least two hachidan visits to the UK that have not yet been formally anounced.

Thanks to cheap air fares and the internationalisation of kendo we are now spoilt for choice. My only reservation is that when famous kendo teachers visit a country we should make sure that a significant number of people are there to benefit from their teaching. I have often heard Japanese kendo friends express surprise that there is no queue for keiko with visiting hanshi, whereas local kendo students in Japan seldom have a chance to practise with them.

I have queued for most of the hour allocated for asa-geiko at the Kyoto Taikai for one practice with a teacher for whom I have never waited for more than 5 minutes in the UK. In some ways we enjoy an enviable situation as international kendo students, but we should be careful not to take our luck for granted.  In an ideal world we would stagger sensei visits, so that they are distributed evenly over the year. Unfortunately this is almost impossible to arrange as visits abroad typically happen in gaps in the kendo and academic calendar in Japan.

My suggestion is that we make the most of as many visits as we can when we have the opportunity. Hachidan are not like buses; you can never guarantee that there will be another one along in a minute.

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I seldom write trailers for coming kendo events, but think this one deserves a mention. Next Saturday will see the 40th Mumeishi  3’s Taikai. This must be the oldest club sponsored kendo competition in Europe and is probably a serious contender globally. It is not only long lived, but it is also a big event. This year we have registered 74 teams and an equally impressive number of individual competitors for ladies and children’s matches.

For those of you who are not familiar the event, the Mumeishi 3’s has a unique formula. It is a competition for teams of 3 people, two of whom should hold dan rank and one kyu grade. There are also a ladies and a children’s individual competition. The children’s matches are split by age and the youngest are judged on technique and fighting spirit by hantei gatchi. Overall the tone of the competition is one of fun and friendship and it attracts competitors from all over Europe and beyond. In the past we have also had teams from Japan, and the USA.

Day two is to my mind even more interesting. A 3 hour keiko session starts at 9.30 a.m. and people are free to come and go as they please. Those travelling home early can enjoy a practice before they leave and those that partied too enthusiastically after the taikai, can catch the tail end. This year Sumi Hanshi and two of our Japanese O.Bs, Hosokawa and Miyagawa sensei will be joining us, so with our friends from Europe we should have an 8th dan and at least 8 7th dans taking part. Not bad for a small West London club practice!

Whilst Mumeishi members contribute a great deal of effort each year, the event is driven by the energy and determination of Mumeishi’s shihan Terry Holt. Every year Terry starts the process to attract participants and raise money for the next year’s event while the last one is still fresh in everyone’s mind. On the day, he can be seen rushing around in several directions at once, keeping every detail under control.

As a long time Mumeishi member, the Mumeishi 3’s holds many memories for me. I have attended as a competitor, helper and referee. Although I have missed a few years during the times I lived outside the UK, I have been there for most of its history and have seen it grow year by year. This 40th anniversary is special and I am looking forward to catching up with lots of old friends and meeting some new ones. Congratulations Terry! Here’s to another 40 years.

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Presentation to Safraz Aziz

I was lucky enough to be invited as shinpan-cho for the British Universities Kendo Championship in Edinburgh at the weekend. In the past, the British Kendo Association has shipped in senior kendoka to act as referees for major takai. Now in these more austere times, they are rationing the number of people that they will provide, leaving the hosting club and the coaches and OBs from attending clubs to fill the organising and refereeing void.

I expected that the organisation would be up to scratch, as the very competent members of Edinburgh University Kendo Club were being supported by the group from Tora dojo that ran the highly successful London cup. So it was evident that everything would be under control with the draw and the court management, but knowing that we were short of experienced referees was an initial concern.

We had 3 godan and 4 yondan to spread between two courts, supplemented by another 5 or 6 sandan. As it turned out it all went brilliantly. After a slightly nervous start, both refereeing teams found their confidence and took control. Their were a couple of minor procedural glitches, but everyone did a great job of seeing the yuko datotsu real time and making sound judgments.

The whole thing ran to time, letting us all get some keiko at the end of each day and most importantly, the referees let the shiai flow smoothly, giving the competitors the chance to do their best kendo. The high spot was the home team, Edinburgh “A” , winning the  team match and I was quietly pleased when Safraz Aziz of Queen Mary College, who practices with me regularly, won the men’s dan individual competition.

The sayonara party was boisterous and fun and playing doubles with Young Park,  I even got to win a couple of games of pool. The biggest lesson for me however, was that given the space and confidence to do it, our younger kendoka had no problem doing everything to the highest standard to make a very successful taikai. The good news being that I and my contempories are a lot less indispensible than we thought we were. Well done guys! 

Thanks to Young Park of Eurokendo for the pic.


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