On June 26th I participated in the 54th Festival of Sport, Hong Kong-Macau Pearl Rever Delta Interport Kendo Tournament.
I was a bit anxious, as this was my first tournament since breaking a bone and pulling two ligaments in my left ankle in March.
My usual practice had not been as regular and was feeling a little pain sometimes still in my ankle.
As a result I did not feel as prepared as I would normally. Also my movement was still a little restricted due to my ankle pain.
However, I decided to try and see what I could do.
I had been working in previous practice sessions to try and relax and take one point at a time. Working on big kiai and trying to complete
the ippon properly with zanshin.
On the day, my first match was good. I won with two men. But my second match was not so good. I lost two ippon to a strong
lady from Macau. I thought I was finished until I learned that 3 ladies had the same points, including me.
Only two could carry on to the next round, so we had to fight each other again.
Unfortunately, I could not get through.
Although I was a little sad, I was also pleased that I participated.
Kishikawa Sensei always teaches us that Kendo builds a strong mind. In doing so we are able to face our own difficult challenges.
My challenge for that day was to try and relax and not to feel under confident. That was a very difficult thing for me to do.
I feel very tense during competitions, and I was not feeling in the best of mind since my ankle injury.
But I tried very hard from the very first match to control my breathing and to focus on one point at a time. This made me
feel more in control of myself and also more aware of what my kinsen was doing!
Although I did not get through to the second round, I feel that I won another tournament. That of ones’ own challenge.
This experience has left me feeling very much ready and motivated for the next step of my Kendo life.
It has also given me a little more confidence about my own ability and the strength of my mind.
I think this is very important for us all to experience and learn from in Kendo. Kendo is much more than
fighting with other people. It is about fighting our own fears and emotional battles.
I hope that we can all continue to support each other in this way in the Dojo.
這次比賽在下午,shiai的過程中卻快如閃電, 還沒回過神來,兩場的比賽已經完結。升上初段的組別,比想像中難鬥,對手的能力,自己心態上的準備,毫無疑問是比自己高和嚴重不足!心態在shiai是非常重要的!!! 在我個人而言,Shiai不是生,便是死;不是贏便是輸,當然會有和局,但自己的表現如何,心中有數吧!
Just returned home from the gym. The music playing is no longer eye of the tiger but soothing jazz. Looking at my shinai in the corner of the room, 26/6 seemed like years ago, yet it was only the day before yesterday.
I turn my head and look at the ‘fighting spirit’ medal hanging on the door. The colour is bronze, not gold. Damn.
I think this feeling more or less sums up the feelings of the contingent who participated in Sunday’s tournament. The line between victory and defeat is so thin, it becomes unavoidable that feelings of regret are harboured. But at the same time, for myself, I feel that I didn’t lose. At least not in spirit.
12 hours before the tournament, Sensei had given me some last minute homework. To find my fighting spirit, my soul which had for some reason became dull compared to before. Taking sensei’s advise, I mokusou for half an hour that night to clear my head. By Sunday morning, I had found my spirit again, my eye of the tiger. I can confidently say that all of the opponents I shiai with to a certain degree, were afraid (ok, maybe except for Daniel).
My first opponent feared me, I could see it in his eyes, I could feel it because I was always in the centre of the court and he was dancing around it in circles. My second opponent feared me, he commited two hansoku’s by stepping out of the boundary. And I would dare say so for even my final opponent. My kote strike had actually hit him hard, but unfortunately it was not ippon. So although technically yes, I did lose, I conclude that it is more like prey has escaped rather than being defeated by the opponent.
If this has made me realise anything, it is that fighting spirit or mental conditioning is of utmost importance. It is what pick s us up from defeat, it is what makes us want to improve our technique and forces us to polish ourselves until we can find perfection.
So the next person I shiai beware. Unless you also believe you are a tiger, I will eat you alive.