Thursday, December 11, 2008

Johnson Cup Tournament 2008

I've had enough time to let this sink in and gather my thoughts. It's also the time when the planets align just right to where I'm not too lazy to write about this.

Last week, I attended the ECUSKF Johnson Cup tournament that is held here every year around this time. The overall attendance was small, possibly due to the snow the area had earlier along with other commitments that conveniently align itself with events like these that prevents them from coming. But it didn't make it any less fun. It was a day full of great Kendo and fun partying afterwards involving awesome, homemade beer.

I participated in the Mudansha division and actually placed first. I am very happy to be able to achieve such a feat. At the risk of sounding pretentious, it's that very fact that I'd like to talk about for this particular entry.

Some people say that, while it's great to win, it's just as good to lose. When you win, that means your skills were good enough to emerge victorious. If you lose, sure there's that feeling of disappointment, but it's a great time to go find out what went wrong and how to fix those problems. Well, I want to take this opportunity to still go over my thoughts about what I felt went right and how I feel I can still improve myself.

I like to think of any sort of victory as a series of events that happened based on the competition and your own personal skill set, that happened to work out in your favor. What I want to talk about first are some of the things that I kept in mind while fighting.

  • One of the big things that Ariga sensei told me that I needed to fix was that I tend to go into autopilot when I am fighting in jigeiko and competitions. This was something that he has told me over and over again for months on end and, while I would try my best to get a good understanding of what he desires out of me, still fail at it. What I would do is go in and just randomly attack, not really adjusting to the situation at hand. The biggest problem I have with this is that I would also not really remember much about the match. It's the same phenomenon when you are driving somewhere and all the sudden you realize where you are. You're driving just fine, but the lapse in attention span makes you forget the past few miles of road you just did. Basically, I tried to follow my instincts and attack when I felt ready and use techniques fitting with the situation.
  • There's also the issue of holding the shinai correctly. It seems like something that you should have down pat, but even the most experienced people fall into bad habits on the simplest of things. All I tried to do here was make sure my kamae remained low to allow for more efficient movement to wherever I needed to go and keep my wrists turned in for maximum speed and power.
  • I also felt I moved a lot more than I usually do. And when I mean move, I mean taking advantage of the fact that I can also move left and right in addition to moving forward and backward. Using such addidional movements allow you to find more openings and avoid some attacks. On a similar token, I also tried to use the various waza available like harai, suriage and debana. That allows me to take advantage of even more situations by having a bigger skill set. Of course, that only works when you can do it correctly :P.
Do I think that there are things I need to improve on? You bet. I can even use the points described above as a small shooting-off point to finding out what needs to be improved on:
  • It's not enough to just go with your gut feeling and attack when you feel necessary. What I need to try to do is better detect openings and respond to any movements by getting in harmony with the opponent. I also should try and employ less thought into my matches. What I mean about that is I should be able to just react to what the other person is doing and not cycle through my mind what technique I will use next.
  • Forming bad habits is always a part of Kendo. All I can really do here is really pay attention to each small bad habit and work on fixing those one by one. Once one thing is fixed, then it's on to the next thing as I repeat the cycle.
  • It's nice to have a big skill set, but it's more important to know when to use them and improve in one's accuracy on doing them. This is something that I will have to work on for years to come to find out what techniques work best for me depending on who I am fighting.
Of course, I'm not diminishing the victory, but I have the mindset that there is always someone better than you. Of course it's a fact right now, given my relative experience compared to people of sensei rank. But even if I were to win the WKC, while I would be considered the best at that point in time, there are many others that would be spending the next three years finding out how to beat me. If I were to slack off, then the opponent has already won with the tangible reward coming once we physically face off.

And, before I go, I would like to extend my congratulations to everyone that participated for winning and showing good Kendo.


Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger