Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Australian Kendo Championships

Since I have some downtime in my Osaka hotel I thought I would try and share my experience from the Australian Kendo Championships.

The weekend was a great learning experience for me. I think I learnt more about my own kendo than anything else, especially what areas I need to work on and what I am working towards.

The Saturday morning was cold, especially the gymnasium floor.
I started my warm up early and I thought it was a solid warm up, however in hindsight I was having trouble with my nerves. I have always thought that a bit of nervous energy is a good thing but as I was soon to find out, the controlling of it is not always that easy.

The opening ceremony was something I`ll never forget. Walking out to represent my state for the first time - in a line with my team mates and standing proudly and singing along as the national anthem was played is stuff of schoolboy dreams. A wonderful feeling.

My pool matches were well into the draw so I had plenty of time to watch others play. I was surprised at the level of kendo - not that it was good or bad, but it seemed to be very mixed. There were obviously some really talented individuals but also others that seemed out of place.

My first match came up and I felt that I had everything ready - the body was warm and the mind seemed calm. However I just couldn't seem to get into the match. I suppose flat would be the best word to describe my performance. I was playing a very reactive style and it wasn't good. I went on to lose the match 2 zip, (2 kote). Certainly not the way I wanted my weekend to start - over as soon as it began.
Fortunately for me the guy who defeated me lost his next match which gave me some hope.
This time I was feeling different. I knew what I had to do.
I thought I played well in this match - winning it 2-1 (two men cuts) however the conceding of a kote spelt the end to my individual campaign. The other two played a tie breaker with the latter dude (sorry I forgot his name) going through to the next round.

As I said earlier I really discovered parts of my kendo that I could work on - both from a physical side but also a mental side.

The rest of the day went by with me taking photos for the organisers. the Dan Individuals was very impressive to watch and I managed to take some nice photos which I`ll share with you all later.

The next day was the Team events. Kyu were up first and I turned up to the venue in keikogi and hakama all ready to go (sans a change of clothing for later too).
During warm up with Burwood Mike I managed to cut my big toe so the last few moments of warm up I was busy strapping up a bloody toe but that was OK. It wasn't the best way to start the day but what can you do.

Our first match was against South Australia - I was playing third and by the time I was up the scores were one a piece. I scored a kote early but conceded two men to lose the match. I thought I played pretty well. My only criticism of myself was I was a bit predictable going for the winning cut. Elaine and Phil played exceptionally well to win both their matches and put us into the 2nd round against an understrength WA side.

With WA only able to field 3 players it was a strange match to be involved with. I think we lost the first match but won the remaining (including the 2 forfeits). I played Alison Craven and won the match 2-0. A men and a kote (which shouldn't have been paid but that happens). This put us into the final against ACT which incidentally was the ANU team that gave us the 5 - nil drubbing at Macquarie University last month.

Ephragm won his first match, Mike went down in his. I was up next and again I thought I played pretty well. I was certainly attacking more than my opponent however he picked off my kote on one of my men attempts (I was too close again...).

The last minute or so I felt I was really putting the pressure on him and I think I went close a couple of times but alas it was not to be. The siren sounded and it finished 1 zip.
Elaine and Phil both played well but in the end ACT finished up being victors. They were a very strong team (3 members finished in the top 4 of the individuals if memory serves me correctly) .

All in all I thought it was a great effort by NSW. Everyone brought their best kendo to each match and gave it their all.

The NSW Dan team were very dominate in their matches and went on to win the title.

So that was the weekend - from a first timers perspective. I didn't go into the details of the Dans, Women's and Veterans matches as I was just there to take it all in but the whole weekend was a wonderful experience and something that will hopefully benefit my kendo in the long run.

I will fill everyone in on my training here in Japan later this week. I had my 3rd and final training session in Hamamatsu last night and I have a training session in Osaka tonight. There is already plenty to write about but I will save it all for later