This weekend I've been helping out at the HK Asian (Regional) Invitational Kendo Tournament, the second largest kendo event that I have ever been to (the no. 1 is of course, 12th WKC).
Before the shiai on that Friday night was Godou Keiko. I got strongly advice by my sensei to "go practice with the girls, especially the university students"... Though it was really crowded and I practiced with one from Shigakukan Daigaku (3 years ago they visited Mumeishi before - but of course not the same group of students). At other times I had a go with boys and girls from Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore at all levels. It was so crowded that I stepped on/ hit on the back of my head more than 5 times... They had 2 gyms for keiko but I chose NOT to get stuck at queuing for 5Dan+ motodachi (because sensei said "go with the girls"...). So that was 6 keiko in 2 hours. Not too bad.
Shinsa was on Sat morning but I didn't go due to some family matters. Tho I heard everyone from my dojo passed - expect a Japanese boy who just happened to drop his shinai in the middle of his nidan shinsa...
In the afternoon there was an over-run referee seminar that shows a lot of interesting things about refereeing - like how flags should be rolled up and stuff (that I usually don't notice much..). The Sat afternoon went the 2Dan & below 3-men team matches. There is no one in particular that I am watching out for. Most of the time I was practising my calligraphy skill with a marker pen on the scoreboard... and taking photos everywhere. There were 30mins jikeiko but chose to watch more and go around for more photos (so that the day after I don' t have to).
At the welcome party buffet with free beer (since all helpers get free accomodation at the same hotel) I had my first decent English conversation in a month with Dr Alex Bennet and Michael Komoto... They came to do research/survey with Uehara sensei about views on Kendo in different parts of the world... If I didn't talk to them, I probably won't feel how hard it is to be responsible for such important research to promote kendo in foreign countries.
Then I moved table and got introduced to the HK team coach, Kishigawa sensei (Brazilian).He does not remember me at all (no one does - since I only practice a few times every year...) but apparently my sensei has been talking about my name a lot. He complained, "You've been back for a month, I don't understand why don't you attend any squad practice!!" I had nothing to say apart from kept nodding my head...
The other morning I got an extra task to "get people on the chartered bus"....!! Everything - everything that happened on Sunday reminds me of the 12th WKC.
Say, the day starts off with 8 girls screaming at their pairs at 4 courts... It was the 5-person team events, with Ladies first. When my court finishes I hopped over to see the HK team A with my sensei as Chuken. In the semi-finals they went to a tie against Singapore A. The Singapore Taisho has brilliant kote-men, but the only point she lost was against HK' s Taisho's nuki-do (timed so well that goes in between her 2 cuts of kote-men)... Tho in the end at "golden goal" HK (A) losted by a point.
Final was Osaka Prefecture Uni vs Singapore.. Level is quite different, and I found it was a lot less exciting than the previous matches. I guess it's the matter of "fighting someone as good will push your skill to the max" type of thing...
I finished with the names of scoreboards early before the pools of the Men's event, so I did get more time to go around the back and watch whatever I like (privilage of a helper). The most interesting people are at the court where Dr.A and Komoto-san went refereeing this day - a few jodan players and also one Nito (!). Also I was surprised that both Beijing and Shanghai can fill up another (strong) team all with Japanese surnames. Unlike HK where you get businessmen mostly, I think at the other cities they do have a larger university student presence (just like London).
At one side of the Semis was Shigakukan A vs B. All 5 matches went really tense. There I witnessed another scored TSUKI (last time being WKC).
FInal was Shigakukan A vs Osaka Pref. Uni's team. Everyone stayed really close and watched breathlessly. On the Taisho-sen, Shigakukan was 1 point up so they hold until the last second - and therefore they were the eventual winner.
At the semi-finals and finals I was really focusing on observing how they all move and do fumikomi. I did not analyse it much but I found the sound they all made amazing. At the Godou keiko I intentionally found Dr. A and Komoto for a bash - and I can feel my fumikomi myteriously went stronger too. I am cutting stronger, responding quicker - even though most of the time I lost 1/100 sec of debana waza, but I can still pop the cut.
Tho Dr. A's comment was that, I am not going 100% into the cut. "You are like a cat that only does things to annoy me. The best thing to do against a cat is to pour a bucket of water!" urhmmm.... Points noted. I got tsuki-ed 3 times as well... grrr.. And I have to stop having sensei or senpai giving analogies using animals!!