Posts Tagged ‘World Kendo Championships’

OverheadA friend recently mentioned that he was giving up shiai to concentrate on getting his kendo to a level where he could confidently try for 6th dan. This made me reflect on just how compatible success in shiai was with developing high grade kendo.

Conventional wisdom says that keiko, shiai and tachiai for grading examinations should be the same, and at the highest level of kendo this is true. Watch the All Japan 8th dan Championship and you will see some truly impressive shiai that nevertheless keeps to the fundamentals. At lower levels, and I include the World Kendo Championships and the All Japan Championships, some athletes adapt their kendo to a much more defensive style, using the shinai to block overhead or holding it in front at head height extended downwards. Obviously national pride and the prospect of a secure job make the occasional bit of ducking and diving forgivable, but is it kendo?

In contrast I found some notes that were given to me by Inoue sensei , that made the following point. “Ken means to attack or strike an opponent. Tai means to wait while observing the opponent’s movement calmly. Offence and defence are inseparably combined. This term illustrates the importance of always being mentally and physically ready to defend against the opponent’s counter attack while attacking, and ready to counterattack while defending”

In more basic terms the answer is to keep a good kamae and an unfettered mind without preconception of what you or your opponent might do. You should push for openings and then react to them, or whatever might come in their place, rather than rigidly defend throughout your five minute tachiai.

Another opportunity to watch kendo that embodies the basic principles is at the annual Kyoto enbu taikai where the good and great are responsible for showing their best kendo. It is particularly interesting to watch some of the older  8th dans. I have seen occasions where one or two of these highly skilled kenshi have acknowledged “mairimashita” to a point before it was made, because their experience tells them that their opponent’s seme was strong enough to make the following ippon inevitable.

Perhaps though it is easier to be gracious when the stakes are the bill for lunch or a few beers rather than a job promotion or a new car.

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16wkcI am really excited. I am going to the 16th WKC in Tokyo as a referee, which is both a great honour and a big responsibility, particularly when on court in front of a highly knowledgeable kendo audience and in the world famous Nippon Budokan.  This will be an opportunity to take part in a one of a kind kendo event, to witness some great kendo and to meet old friends from all around the world, so I am looking forward to it immensely.

I have attended many of the previous World Championships in a number of different roles but I have the feeling that this one will be special. The venue alone is enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and for competitors to take part in the home of the All Japan Championships will be a life changing experience. In the same way, as a referee, I expect that the seriousness of the job in hand will be counterbalanced by the excitement of the occasion.

Referees tend to keep themselves to themselves during the days of the competition to maintain impartiality, but I aim to build in some time before or after the event to meet old friends. Hopefully there will be lots of keiko opportunities and I am really looking forward to returning to Tokyo after an absence of a few years.

There is a referee seminar in Narita before the competition and another refresher in Tokyo at the beginning of the championship, so the AJKF are doing their utmost to ensure that we are all ready for the task. In the meantime I am trying to fit in as much practice as possible. In fact I am writing this having just returned from Malmo, and refereeing the Swedish National Championships.

I have not yet seen the l list of referees, but I met with Matts Wahlquist in Sweden and he also received the news on Friday morning informing him that he had been selected. I believe that the full list of officials will be announced today.

So as well as having the Christmas holiday to look forward to, I am already thinking about next year’s kendo schedule and how to prepare for such an important kendo event. Having seen some of the pre-event publicity, I have the feeling that this could be one most exciting World Championships ever.

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