Friday, October 19, 2007

Kendo Tournament and Testing Results

It's been a while since the tournament, but I shall talk about it anyways. A few weeks ago was the MWKF Tournament in Chicago and I must say that it went really well this time around. I did my best to make sure I was prepared by doing suburi whenever I had the chance and arriving to practice early to get in some suburi that I otherwise wouldn't have a chance to do due to not having the head room.

I made sure that there was enough time for us to get there and not have to rush about getting there on time. Because of that, we ended up arriving about an hour early and virtually nobody was there. After waiting around for a bit, people started arriving and we got dressed and waited around for the ceremonies to start.

We found out later that the mudansha division started later in the day, so there was time for a lot of us to relax and stretch out a bit. Most of us used that time to warm up a bit and fool around a bit until our turn came up.

My goal for the tournament was to just make sure I made it past my first match. In the end, I made it to the third, but it wasn't without its problems. Each match had to go into encho, so that made it more than 10 minutes worth of fighting for me. The long fighting times plus the poor ventilation of the gym equaled a bad time after my match. I lost due to going out of bounds twice during encho. By that time, my hits felt weak as they kept getting deflected by my opponent. I tried my best to make every hit count which didn't amount to much. In the end, I don't know if my body gave up so I subconsiously went out or I just lost awareness of my surroundings. I bet on the latter scenario though as I know I was trying despite my complete exhaustion.

After the match, I felt dizzy and overheated. I took my men off and quickly walked out the gym searching for cold water and any way for me to cool down. I couldn't stop walking cause I needed that small breeze. I was going for water like it was going out of style by drinking it and wiping some on my forehead (which felt very good by the way). After a while, Ryan found me and we chatted for a while until my body cooled down and team matches began.

The team matches were short lived. The team I was on lost on the first round since the people we fought against were so good. The person I fought used jodan. I did my best to try to hit open targets, but I usually don't know how to handle myself when someone does jodan. I really need to practice fighting those people more to get a better handle on fighting different styles. Either way, all of his hits were hard and solid. It made for an interesting match.

After the tournament, I hung out with Milo and his friends and watched the massacre of a Football game and played some Smash Brothers. A few hours later, we went to his house to practice kata for a bit and go to bed.

The next day was the day of the exam. Naturally, I was pretty nervous after failing the test twice before. I wanted to make sure I followed directions to the T and that all my equipment was in order. But I ended up forgetting to replace my men himo since it's almost about to break into two and my shinai wasn't loose enough. They didn't say anything about my men himo, but they did tell me about my shinai.

After the test in appearance, it was time to do Kirikaeshi and sparring. I tried to make sure that my form was in tip-top shape, but the floor wasn't treating me well since I was falling all over the place (or at least appearing to do so). After that, we had to wait until they told us who gets to move on to the kata. After calling out random numbers telling who goes where and what kata we will be doing, we figured out that everyone passed that segment. The kata portion was more strightforward. I was the shidachi so I had the easier steps for kata #3. That went over pretty well, save for the floor problems.

Once everyone was done, they gave us the whole speech about what to improve on. For the most part, we needed better kiai and better use of the waza we learned while learning kendo and, of course, paying more attention to how we look. They were going down the line with their speeches, they gave the appearance we all passed. Then someone said that it's not the final result so that increased the nervous factor. After everyone was done, we all bowed out with no indication that we passed until I confirmed it with someone there. As a result, I am now an Ikkyu!!!

All in all, I was really pleased with the results. I passed the test so I have a rank. Getting to the third match was also pretty pleasing too. Maybe, if I work hard enough, I can make it to the fourth match or later. I just need to find a way to do Kendo once I get a job. If things go well, I might be moving to Patuxent River, MD which makes the closest Kendo dojo about 1.5 hours away. I know that I will do my best to make sure I make it out there at some point or another. Another good side to it is that there are also iaido dojos in that same area, so I can try to learn it while I'm there.


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