If you haven't seen the results yet, click here to see them.
Well, the 13th World Kendo Championship (WKC) has come and gone. But there seems to have been quite a stir within the Kendo community about the results. This time around, the Japanese men's team came in third behind Korea, which took first, and the USA which took second. Before I begin the rest of this entry, I would like to hand out a congradulations to team USA for doing a fine job in representing this country. You guys have made the Kenshi here very proud.
For the uninitiated, the reason why the results are so important is because Japan didn't get first place as predicted by many people. This would be comparable to the US losing to Japan at American football. Of course, we should look at this as a learning experience and not one of those "in your face" things that occur in many competitive sports.
In the Kendo world, it is known that the Japanese have much better opportunities to be good at Kendo. There are more practices (some places might have more than one practice a day over several days of the week) and a MUCH larger pool of great people to fight against. In other places in the world, you would consider yourself lucky to be living in an area that is even a 1 hour drive from a Kendo dojo. It's considered a very special occasion when a Japanese sensei visits a dojo to the point of doing whatever is in ones power to make their stay as pleasant as possible.
The question that we all should be asking is why didn't Japan win like expected every tournament? When we put Japan and Kendo together, we think of them as being untouchable. Of course, there is no one answer to this, but the possibilities are things that we could take with us in our individual lives, inside and outside of Kendo.
There was a saying that I heard a while back. I don't remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of winning too much would cause loss in the end. What it was saying is that winning too much could cause too much confidence in oneself. When you think you are invincible, you don't train yourself as much and you lose sight of the competition who are thinking of ways to trounce the top dog. You could accuse Japan of doing this as they usually come out on top so they feel that they could get any group together and be able to trounce the competition. This reflects badly on the team in question (could be any team of course) as the overconfidence will eventually bite them in the end.
Then there is also the desire to win that has something to do with it. As we all know, if you put your mind to something, you can do just about anything that you set out to do. If you want to win and you train yourself as hard as you can, then you will eventually get to your goal. It could take 1 extra try or 100 extra tries, but it would happen eventually. For years, the USA felt inferior to the Japanese in terms of Kendo finesse. Of course, we have the desire to do the best with what we have but, compared to Japan, the Kendo opportunities are quite small. I'm not saying that Japan didn't want to win, but the drive to win might not have been as strong as other places as they have the good stuffs so to speak. The intense training of team USA and the desire to do the best they can could have had an effect on how well they did, even if Japan had the same intent.
I won't go into too much detail with this one as it's self explanitory. But sometimes, people have bad days. Unfortunately, the bad day for team Japan happened to be on the day of the competition. There really isn't much you can do about that but go along for the ride as fate takes you along.
Does this discredit the Japanese for their prowess in Kendo? Of course not. While they didn't get first place, they still ranked among the top countries in the world namely, Japan, USA and Korea. They still have the same amount of Kenshi available and the same tenacity at practicing Kendo. The only difference is that they got third this time. You must also keep in mind that Japan still did very well as this is only the men's team division that this happened to. What this does mean is that we should stop looking at Japan as the invincible person and just strive to do our best. The USA is full of good kenshi and we need to just keep our efforts to remain a strong force in the Kendo world.
Please keep in mind that I am not saying that these are actual reasonings. These are just some ideas that I came up with after the surprising results. I'm not Japanese, I don't know anyone from team Japan or USA nor am I psychic. For all I know, Japan could have chosen the best team that they had and had a very strong intent on winning. Sometimes, things happen and things turn out the way they do because of those events.
The next WKC should be set to be done in 2009. I think it's supposed to be in Brazil, but I am not sure about that. All I know is that I should make plans on being there. I will be out of college for about a year and a half and most likely settled at my future job (hopefully) so there is a good chance that I can get there with vacation time and such. One big reason why I would love to attend is that I could see this as being a very interesting tournament. Japan will be wanting to bring out the big guns to regain the title, Korea will be doing their best to keep the first place position and the US will go there knowing that they always have a chance at winning. There is always strong Kendo there as these teams represent the best in the country, but it should be especially strong knowing that everyone is in an interesting position right now.
*Note - if you want to see some of the fights, you can easily go to Youtube and look at some videos there by searching anything along the lines of World Kendo Championships 2006, or you can go to Kendo World over the next few weeks to catch some of the action.