Monday, February 20, 2006

8th Annual Detroit Open Kendo Tournament

So far so good. I get up an hour before anyone else does and unlike last year's stupor, I make my way to the weight room for a light lift and after, a morning swim. When I get done I wake up Henry and we're the first ones down for breakfast. But then that's good to not rush through the meal and we're left with time to get warmed up.

Though Henry and I were the first to be ready, the slow morning pace always seem to get someone behind and our vans leave the hotel late. We arrive at the Seaholm gym just after the start of morning ceremonies and our club quietly sneaks into the back row for warm up and kihon (drill practice). After a pledge, an anthom, a few works from Tagawa Sensei, the tournament begins.

I help out the newer members find their way around and get to their respective courts. I look myself and find that I'm in Court E. I stretch a little more and was startled by a tap on the shoulder. It was Tei Fujiwara who had been in our club before moving down to Detroit and joining the Detroit Dojo. He had taught me a lot in my early days of training and so we wish each other luck.

Looking over the tournament schedule again, I see that I have the first round bye. What luck? I take that time to meditate for a short moment and then tie up my bogu (armor) and get ready to fight. In the second round I face W. Tang from the University of Waterloo-Ontario Kendo Club. I had seen his fight from the previous round and he earned his spot to this round by ruthlussly pounding his opponent with a flurry of attacks. He basically outpowered the other guy to win his way to me. My strategy was simple, stay calm, stay relaxed. I followed this mantra throughout and I won the match in just under a minute with two hits to his men (head).

By the third round I was facing J. Hankins from the Central Kentucky University Kendo Club. He was much faster than me but he was rather tense. With no points scored, he knocked me out of the ring and I was penalized a half point. But before the match could go into encho (overtime) I got a hit off his men. Since there was still some time left, I calmed down and attacked only when needed and so I hung on to the only point scored and won.

Detroit Kendo Open Bracket

A year ago, I lost out in the first round and now I'm suddenly in contention for a place. However, in the fourth round I would be pitted against a familiar acquaintance in W. Debruhl from the Eastern Michigan University Kendo Club. I had met him in other tournaments and even got to know him better at the National Championships last year. We had a similar amount of training and had both failed our shodan tests just months ago but the big difference, and I mean big, is that he's over a foot taller than me. And if there wasn't already more pressure in the matter, Sugawara Sensei was the head judge in the match. I fought what I believed was a valient fight but alas, I was not able to get a hit on him. His men was far out of my reach so I tried for kote (wrists). On a few hits, I saw a flag up for my point but with only one judge's call, it wasn't enough to score. Grimly, I lost and went out in the fourth round.

In the Teams Competition I took the ever so important roster Chuken spot (third member) who is responsible for winning the point and keeping us in the match. Augelli took the first spot, followed by Tia, then me, John, with Mike taking the last match. One by one we faced the tough and highly skilled fighters from the Etobicoke Kendo Club and one by one we fell to each point. In fact, Etobicoke's Chuken had earlier won first place in the shodan division. Though we lost, I don't think we can be faulted for trying our best against a very tough team.

After the closing ceremonies, the medals and trophies were awarded to the top finishers. This left us going home nearly empty handed if it wasn't for Mark having earned a third place medal for his win in the sandan division. I would say of this experience we improved vastly over last year's results. All of us, especially myself included, had overcome our own personal goals and the long road back will be a time for reflection.

8th Annual Detroit Open Kendo Tournament
Gallery | Movie

Activity: 3 | Energy: 3 | Friends: 3

8th Annual Detroit Open Kendo Tournament


Post a Comment

<< Home