by Ken Chow
Today, from Shoujinkan, myself and Peter Leung entered the 4th Novice Kendo Championship. We took first and second place respectively which has made me absolutely ecstatic.
To be honest, prior to the competition date, I was worried about my preparation since I had just recently recovered from a cold and work had been super busy and tiring. The only good thing going for me, was before my bout of ill health, I had been trying to train hard in haya suburi. It seems that the training on top of a lot of luck paid off.
I was very lucky in the sense that MJ and Danny had come over to help us warm up. Once again, thank you guys, you really helped us out big time. And actually for my first round, I was lucky that Peter pointed out to me my opponent’s weakness. My opponent was over reliant on Men strikes giving me the chance to defeat him with two Do strikes rather quickly. That saved a lot of my stamina to face the rounds that followed after.
I think another important element that helped me get through following rounds was Kishikawa sensei’s advice from the previous day when Peter and I had a practice shiai. The advice was to keep moving on our feet and for some reason, it actually stuck in my head quite well. I tried not to stay in the same spot and keep moving, especially against Peter who was tricky to fight.
Actually Peter had given me some pressure today because we had joked about meeting each other in the final. Since Peter’s shiai’s were all scheduled before mine, by the time my semi final shiai arrived, he had already made it into the final. My opponent was taller than me, so it was hard to out muscle him and so instead I won via a Do and Kote strike. I credit that to being able to hold onto the chushin and making it difficult for him to perform hiki-waza so that we had no choice but to retreat to toma. In toma it was easier to exert pressure and draw him to hit men creating and opportunity to hit Do.
Once I got through the semi-final, I faced our Peter. I think it was safe to say that any dojo niceties were thrown out the door once the shinpan said ‘hajime’. I took the first point via Men but he quickly replied via Kote. Our last point was played in extra time, it was a one point game with no time limit. Lots of thoughts went through my mind, I knew I need to stay calm and not expose myself and I knew my Men strikes may not work on Peter but my Kote technique was not clear cut enough to score Ippon. Then it occurred to me, that Peter probably expects a Men strike from me and so there was an opportunity to draw him to match me with a men strike and hit Do. I raised my shinai, appearing to hit go for Men, then quickly switched to Do. It proved to be my lucky day, as I turned around after hitting Do I heard the shinpan cry ‘yame’. The fairytale final had finally ended. I had actually won a tournament and to make it a bonus, my parents, visiting from Australia were present to watch.
As I said to Kishikawa sensei, the day before, I hope I can report a good result. I think I have delivered. And that is thanks to all our dojo members who train and support each other week in week out, rain or shine, hot or cold. So thank you Shoujinkan, today is only a small step in my kendo lifetime, I look forward to keep sharing my future kendo with you all.