When I saw Kuroda in the sports hall, he looked tired. He said he had a bit of hang-over, from 5 or 6 beers. Geez, he probably had forgotten completely that today is the tournament. Oh, by the way, so he and Yasuko are both competing despite they were in the seminar the "Senseis". Kuroda told me, "Here people call was Senseis, but in Japan only 7th/8th Dan holders are called senseis." But I guess it still doesn't change the fact that some poeple would be horrified if they had to fight one of these two in the tournament
The opening speech took place as usual in a kendo tournament with the kendoka standing in lines. There were a few new faces among the officials. One was Kawamoto-san who I met last night, and the other was Kamemoto, 6th Dan, from Austria.
The participants of the tournament were divided into 36 groups, with 3 in each group, and the top two enter into the knock-out round. One person was absent in my group, so that means I need to only fight once and automaticaly enter into the KO round. Nonetheless, I won the match against Strnadek with one men . He was much taller and bigger than me, and it took me some time to adapt. At the begining I got constantly pushed around, and got a hansuku for being outside. Then when we're at the issoku itto no maai, I leaped forwards and striked men. Men-ari!
So I advanced into the knock-out round. The first match, against Janecek, was perhaps my favourite one of all my matches in the past. I landed a harai-men, with only one step forwards, which happened so smoothly that it's all most like a textbook example. Second point I got was, to put it in a glorious way, a san-dan waza, namely, men-men-men. When we were in the Chikama distance parrying each other's shinai, I suddenly reversed mine and attempted a men-stike, but he blocked it, however, with a bad posture. So I pursue with another one, and another one, with him going backfowards. At this moment I saw an opening on his men, and somehow I had plenty of time to draw my left foot close to me again, so I lauched a men-strike, being almost certain that I could hit it. Bang! Another point.
I lost my next match, against a member of Czech national team, Fritz. His kendo is very beautiful - fast and clean. He first scored a kote-men. At the moment when the shinai touched my kote (it was the wrong one as well) I just froze for a moment, and the men-strike landed rightafter. He won the second point with a do-strike. When I tried to block his attack, he spotted the opening - a lesson to be learned!
Some highlights of the day were, the two Japanese Sensei Kuroda and Yasuko were both knocked-out. Kuroda by Koss, and Yasuko by Walkiewicz. It was tough for Yasuko because Walkiewicz is a very big guy, who took it to his advantage and used a lot of body-check technique, or taiatari. She lost 0-1. But many people were very suprised to see that Kuroda lost. Afterall he trained all of us, and somehow had the "aura" beyond him, since he came with Ozawa-Sensei, and from the land of samurai. However, I'm sure he would've done better if he didn't have the hang-over. The funny thing was, when Kuroda lost, Ozawa-sensei passed by in front of me and Kei, he did the gesture of wiping his sweat of his forehead. Another example of his humour.
The match between Sugino and Mraz were a good one too. Sugino is an ex-Wasada University kendoka, and currently studying in Berlin. Mraz, a past winner of the same tournament, comes from Vienna, who fights in jodan and is very tall. I captured the match on video, so I'll let it do the talking.
Quartar-final: Sugino (white) vs Mraz (red)
Sugino eventually won the title, and in the second place was Yearwood from Poland.
Final: Sugino (white) vs. Yearwood (red)
Just before the final, Ozawa-Sensei and Meguro-Sensei performed the Itto-Ryu Mizoguchi-Ha kata. Kuroda explained to me that it's a kata which is not very well known even within Japan, and Ozawa-Sensei learned it directly from the Soke (宗家) (head master of the Ryu-Ha). It could be performed with many people at the same time, even up to ten. The kata looked like iaido and kenjutsu, with a lot of slicing motion.
There was half-an-hour time for free-jigeiko. I practised with Kenji, whose suriage was again my killer. I realised that to prevent the opponent from a successful suriage, I can first use the harai technique, and then just as I reach for men, if the opponent has a strong centre and raises his shinai to perform suriage, I can, instead of continuing the men-strike, press my shinai against his. If I continue the men-strike, the opponent would definitely brush off my shinai and hit men.
Feedback from Kenji:
- when doing seme, hold the centre. Don't let the kensen wander around.
After everyone finished, Kenji did jigeiko with Takita and Kamemoto-Sensei. I admire Kenji's powerful kendo. First was his kiai. Very deep and strong, like a big wave directing at his opponent. And secondly was his explosion of men-strike.
I went for dinner with the Berliners in a nearby Italian resturaunt. My body and my mind were both dying for some good food, so once I stepped into the resturaunt I smiled from within! There wasn't a big enough table for all of us so we broke into two tables, with me sitting at the same one with Kei and Saskia. Ho ho lucky me to dine with two hot kendo chicks. We kinda spoke a mixture of German and English since I still express more freely with English. We discussed about the seminar, tournament and the senseis as well as the other general things. Both of them were suprised that I've only been in Bogu for six months after seeing my matches.
After dinner some people wanted to go back to rest, but I wanted to go to the city centre, to enjoy my last night in Prague. Kei and Saskia joined. We went to the New Town and the Charles Bridge (again!), just walking around not having to worry too much about preserving energy for the hard training the next day.
This night I slept super sound.