Yesterday, perhaps the biggest yearly kendo competition in Taipei took place in the Taipei Sports Hall. We (Taipei Kendokan) have two men teams, one above 30 years-old and the other under, and two female teams. This was the second time I fought in the competition in Taiwan, which was also the second time I represented the Taipei Kendokan. I feel privileged, of course, because there are full of strong players in my dojo, and still Ho-Sensei and Sempais asked me every time if I want to participate in the competition.
I've been also eager to accumulate competition experiences, since it's always been my problem bringing out anything resembles the level of my kendo in practices. Nervousness had always made my muscles tense.
This time though I proved to myself that I can do it, thanks to my teammates who encouraged me to fight in the final. They could have sent the best five, all at the 3rd/4th Dan level. "Do you want to give it a shot?" Our captain asked me. With a slight hesitation, I nodded. What went across my mind was, "What if I lose? Or worse, what if I can't even put up a good fight and make a fool out of myself and the team?" I don't know. But what I knew was that if I didn't try, I'd never know and never cross that barrier.
I was assigned the senpo position (the first fighter), meaning that my job was to either win or draw. Because it matters to the overall spirit of the team. Up from sonkyo, I immediately applied pressure and striked men. My opponent blocked it, and pushed me to the floor. It was only seconds into the match. I bet my teammates were speechless. They told me from the outside that I should jump a little to loosen up my body, which also refocus my mind. I did as told, which you can see from the video. :) My moment came as my opponent missed a strike and, immediately after turning back, he wanted to strike. I took his kote. What a sensation! Especially from the cheering of my teammates! Though I lost in the end, my teammates were very happy about my performance and gave a lot of encouragement. They went on to recover and finally win the whole match. Wow!
To be honest, I think he wasn't much stronger than I was, but he certainly had more competition experiences than I did. I was pleased with myself that I didn't let my nerve took over, which had been my biggest problem so far. If I can achieve this every time in the future, it will be much easier for me to learn and gain the experiences I need.
(I was the red)
- If the opponent is large and keeps pushing, step sideways so that his momentum doesn't come directly at me.
- Execute hikki-waza immediately when the strike was invalid and we end up in tsubazeiai.
- Observe the habits of the opponent and react accordingly. For example, how he blocks strikes.
- When separating from tsubazeriai, becareful of strikes from mid-distances. For example, the second men point he got in the match.
- Eat more and put up some weight!