Monday, February 27, 2006

Show Off Stuff #2

A nice piece of "Ganbette" paper on the wall of my home studio... Most definitely looking nicer than any of my budo menjo... Besides, that's HK$100 scholarship!!

...That's spending a whole Monday revising, right after the Asian Tournament Weekend. I also spent that day writing my composition. Not surprisingly, it begins with "Watashi no Shumi wa Kendo desu..."

Another 4 months to go before sitting for JPLT yonkyu... The date for the test seems to be on the Sunday before the 13th WKC...!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Asian Tournament Weekend

... Came in at 9pm for this 7-10pm godou keiko session before the actual competition. Last nihongo lesson before the end-of-term test so I had to.

Seeing massive queues for sensei everywhere, all I could do was to spot people and said hello... Finally I got to practiced with Terry Holt-sensei who came all the way from London.

The keiko actually stopped at 9.30pm for people to get changed + get back to hotel by coach. So thats one keiko I got after travelling in a rush... Argh.

... Meant to come and watch shinsa, but overslept obviously (having dinner at midnight last night was no good). Panicked for a while with one fo my shinai going 6 grams underweight with a 37 tsukagawa instead of a 38 one...!! Anyhow for both days I've been only fighting with the other no-as-well-balanced shinai which is 3 grams above standard.

This was the day for 2Dan+below 3-person team matches. Fanny dropped out of my team last minute, being "too exhausted from work"... I was the Senpo with the elder of the Wong twins (who just passed nidan I think) as chuken. Replacing Fanny came Prof. Tsang who just got 3Dan earlier. Haven't talked to him before but he's a rather entertaining person, keeping the rest of us awake.

The entire HK squad from Team A to G did group warm-ups together beforehand. Kishikawa-sensei told us to focus on the things he's said about shiai - move around, seme, getting the right chance, study your opponent, make ippon, etc. One other thing worth mentioning was about "keeping yourself warm". I wasn't going to repeat the same mistake I made at earlier shiai-keiko. Everyone got a nice new HK Team windbreaker, which I'd been wearing for the whole weekend.

My Team C was in a lucky pool, fighting Macau B and Guangzhou D (theoratically, Team A is the strongest, you know...) I crashed both my opponents MM-0, and overall my team went 3-0 & 2-0. No idea why my de-gote went rather disfunctional, but the four tobikomi-men worked wonders. Especially the rather heavyhanded opponent from Guangzhou who kept bashing on the back of my head 3 times when I bent to one side at tsuba-zeriai... I thought I should sacrifice getting bruises to take a deep breath, and cut men when he backed into chudan (I did). After the match, Yung-sensei told me to face the opponent instead of turning my head away, which made better sense...

Next up at the Best 8 match, we were against New South Wales A. Great - me fighting someone twice my height again - their Senpo was Yoon, and was nicknamed "the Bear"by our HK squad :p Nevertheless, our Team B Senpo, Amy, previously gained one 2-0 win against him, giving me a thought of putting up a good show too.

In the end, it was me 0-0, Wong 0-2, Tsang 1-1. Our team lost by 0-1 overall. Bye bye, medal.

Although it's nice to have everyone watching Bear vs Rabbit at the side, telling me about "what a good fight" that was, I do wish I've done more. Kishikawa-sensei said that I should be more confident about scoring, instead of holding for a draw. Indeed, both Amy who fought Yoon previously and the Taiwanese Senpo who fought him after I did, scored KK-0...

For the ending godou keiko, I fitted 3 fights out of 30 mins, which is a slight improvement from yesterday. Struggled to find old friends that I know, but in the end just got dragged by random. Except for Vivian Yung on the NSW team whom I managed to find in the sea of indigo. She caught me with her killer de-gote more than a few times. Following all her matches the best I could for the entire weekend, somehow I feel more moviated. Finally I met someone of the same age + same kendo age to get onto an impressive level for everyone. For me, that means a long, tough way to go.

I spent the dinner party with the NSW team - god knows why none of the HK squad turned up, except some of the sensei + kendo association committee members. Argh.

... All HK squad members were told to come early for a group warm-up at 8am, meaning that I had to get up at 6.30am. I did not remember when was the last time I woke up so damn early...!

The 5-person Ladies Team event kicked off at 9am. I was the chuken on Team B - Takahashi, Fanny, Me, Mrs Horibe, Fifi. Our opponent was a mixed team with a member of JAL, one from ANA, and 3 from Minoo, Osaka... I did a quick glance and sitting on the chuken position on the opposite side was the ANA - Shingo(sp?) zekken, who was one of the girls grabbed me the day before at jikeiko..!!!

On the back of her hakama, "Dai-33-Kai Gakusei Kendo Taikai Shutsujo Kinen" & "Niigata Daigaku - Shingo Keiko"...

With Takahashi losing by 1 point, and Fanny winning 2-0 in light-speed, I fought the 3rd match. It felt long, but I eventually lost 0-2. One hiki-men and another de-gote. Although Mrs Horibe also won 2-0 rather quickly after me, Fifi lost out 0-2. Our team got KO-ed with a 2-3 result overall, and we all switched our attention to the A team on the other court. (They lost too, sadly)
Conversation with Kishikawa-sensei:-
K: Jenny..!!
J: ...You watched?
K: Of course.
J: Sorry I lost...
K: ...Your team drew but on the lead by one point - so you shouldn't be fighting in a hurry. Especially your opponent is of more-or-less the same level as you are...
J: Yeah I know. Actually I fought the same girl yesterday at jikeiko. She got me sharper cuts...
K: So you didn't study your opponent, but your opponent studyed you.
J: Argh.

It was too dark to take photos with my SLR. I spent the rest of the day supporting those on the Men's team.

Incidentally, NSW fought JAL B on the first round, and Yoon was against Shingo...!!! The match was a 1-1 draw, but the girl got knocked over 3 times by the Bear. She definitedly gained sympathy from the audience... Watching from 2 shiai-jo away, I told myself, I lost to her, but my kamae was much better. (what losers comfort themselves with...) Anyhow I am not going to fall over in the shiai-jo again..!

Sitting on 2 shiai-jo away, it was rather exciting to see Ng on our C team winning 3-0 (shushin suddenly cancelled an Ippon - for no reason!!) against the chuken of AsiaKC (Winner of the Day)... The other team consists of some Daigaku OB members, and they are really good.

B team lost in the pools by points. It's a shame that 4 teams were in a pool and only 1 team came out... So the wins must be really great in order to secure a place in the best 8 -- which was almost impossible.

A team went all the way through to joint-3rd, being beaten by Beijing A the Japanese sensei team.

Our very own sensei team (Tomioka, Johnny [who won Daihyo-sen at the 2Dan+below event earlier], Yoshioka, Yung-san, Kishikawa) also lost by points. But somehow I think all these "sensei" hadn't really tuned back into shiai-mode, and fought in a rather reserved/ defensive way instead. They fought Taiwan A + Thailand A (All-Japanese sensei team again). Adding to that, Kishikawa had been ill, sitting on the bench most of the time. He won his 2nd match 2-0 in his usual style, but WHY did he lose to that so-so taicho on the Taiwanese team...!!?!? The refereeing weren't that great at all, with all these 5dan suddenly got dragged to be shimpan (god knows how many sensei who were supposed to be the shimpan went playing instead!?). Bad, excuse. Argh. I jokingly told Kishikawa afterwards, "Sensei, you haven't practiced hard enough..!"

So that ended the weekend with me heading home early due to a fever, missing some good keiko with Komoto-san, Emiko and the lot. It's my first experience to fight with a Hong Kong team zekken, and hopefully it won't be the last...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Squad #21: This Fire is Out of Control

This is the last squad practice before Asian Tournament. Got my valentines dating schedule arranged so that I can train once more tonight.

Oddly enough, we've got Franz Ferdinand playing LIVE in the main arena of the same building... Sensei actually said, hmm, the music is good - do warm-ups at their beats! When we went quiet during shiai (like the gogi time and stuff), I can really hear them sing with people cheering out loud. Yeah I know I am not really focusing...

I did go to Inoue-sensei's seminar last Sunday (no blog entry). We followed the similar format for shiai training today after some shortened warm-ups (yay) and waza-keiko, i.e. team match, followed by jikeiko-shiai-style.

Honestly I felt the need to train tonight with last Sunday's speedy lost against Jay, and losing de-kote x2. I tried to blame my left contact lens being broken when I opened the case... and fighting with a blurry vision made me want a rematch tonight.

Instead I got Fifi (also yondan) this time. Lost a Men-nuki-do on the first point, and then I got my share of de-gote on the 2nd point. The 3-min match finished as hikiwake.

That 30-mins was spent observing the rest of the teammates fighting. It suddenly feels a lot more like a national team as a whole, as we've all been training together for quite a while. Also I got the chance to check out the kendo on the boys' side. With the male/female group format for the squad, I hardly ever practiced with the boys, really.

Over the days I've been trying to do more of that moving footwork. Only proven to work better if I am really relaxed. Otherwise my balance wasn't really there with my feet at the wrong place..!!

At the shiai-keiko, I fought Yu-sensei, Agnes, and Kishikawa-sensei x2. Recalling what happened last Sunday, with my fingers still cold before my match, I know that I should really fire myself in shiai mode if there's not enough warming-up. Especially it'll be cooler this weekend...

I think I fought much better on my 2nd round against Kishikawa-sensei. Well, he's been going for 30 mins, so somehow maybe thats why I can finally hit his kote! This round I felt that I can spot his openings a lot better, but I wasted a few supposedly-good chances - cutting too soft, no kiai, etc. No ippon there but I pulled out a good fight towards the end of the night (the time when yame was shouted and everyone telling you to ganbatte...)

Yoooshiii---!! Fighting both 2nd Dan & below + ladies division. Team list not announced yet. Pantient...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Countdown Keiko

After today there will be 3 keiko left before meeting those at Asian Tournament. I wasn't too focused at work, and it's rather surprising that I got there earlier than usual, i.e. not late.

This practice is really very kihon from footwork to basic cuts. Of course that means I can concentrate on improving smaller details, like balance, coordination, etc. I know the worst thing about me right now is my kiai... It's getting into a habit that I find it hard to get rid of...

The ending 3 jikeiko with the girls are actually rather enjoyable. I was serious against all of them and vice versa. They'd have a good practice before shinsa, and I was preparing myself to shiai. It was more than half a year ago that I set my feet in a shiai court. Not sure if it's pressure or nervousness... Anyhow I'll need to overcome that.

There are a few dojo mates going for grading on the 18th - I think I should go and support them. Maybe it's time to watch out what I'll need for sandan too (that being a year away tho).

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Squad #20: Fight the Boss!

Following the Chinese New Year break last weekend, I join the squad this morning again. During weekdays it's been even harder to make to the evening practices, as I've been doing some freelance work which requires a very strange work schedule... With the delicious Chinese New Year food over the days, I definitely need more keiko to drop that extra 7 lbs I gained!!

Eda-sensei went to Fukuoka at a seminar with Sumi-sensei I think, and me, Leo and Amy from Seishinkan dojo were told to look after Pik + Jane, as they've been invited to the squad. "Rumors" said that everyone who attend the squad would be in a team for the Asian Tournament. Still, I'll have to wait till the last training before the Taikai (Feb 14) to find out whether I am really on it...

It was a well-attended training today, with about 18 of us. Thanks to the upcoming shiai-keiko which usually takes up more time, we got half of the "normal" warm-up cut down to, half of the suburi variations, and then 100 hayasuburi.

Even thought it was as physically+ mentally demanding, the kihon and waza-keiko part all went really quick. It feels like there's about 45mins left for shiai keiko...!

We were then divided into 2 groups, one went with Wong-san for juniors of less shiai experience, and 10 of us seniors went to the Kishikawa-sensei group, with Lai-sensei at the shimpan side. First of all we had a 3-person team pool. Somehow me, Leo + Amy were in the same team. It feels great to be with them who all started kendo the same time at the same dojo.

I was the Taisho and the first round I fought Mr Chan (Derek's father - should be 5 Dan or something). Quickly after shodachi, he opened himself up and I just went for my trademark Tobikomi-kote. At nihonme, it was an Ai-men, only that I came down faster from further away. Mr Chan is of taller, so I am rather happy to get this Ippon. Well, KM:0 for me in 20 seconds!

Second person I was up against was Matsuura-san (who is I think, about 4-5Dan, and I used to see him wear some Yokohama Daigaku zekken...) This match was actually a reverse of what happened the first round because I sooooo quickly losted a debana-men and then an ai-men. I did experiment with moving more with the feet and the sword, thought it seems like the wrong time to do so!

The general comment is that we are not going 100% for the cuts, and lack the confidence to convince the shimpan that we've scored. I saw the same thing for myself too, but it is really difficult to overcome this problem in the game.

Not sure why everyone is expecting it, but Kishikawa-sensei told everyone to go on the opposite site, because he's going to eb alone on his "team", fight the 10 of us!!!

The first round he smashed all of us 2:0 except Ng, who surprisingly caught him offguard twice, and took 2:1 off the boss! As for me, I learnt to stop standing like an idiot, which helped delaying my defeat.. I mean at least the match went rather long and exhausting, it was a sharp de-gote, and then a very silly tobikomi-men I lost.

For Round 2 (still, Kishikawa vs all 10 of us), Sensei went into Jodan which sent everyone into a very exciting mode. There were individual Ippon scored on our side, but unfortunately none of us really made 2 Ippon in a match. I was the 7th on the queue, and the first to actually attempted tsuki. Fighting sensei *always* become so intense that I feel I can't really reach into him. Everything went so fast ...and I forgot what ippon I lose out on...

3rd round. I was the first person to notice Kishikawa sensei using right-foot-forward Jodan at the start of each match, and at nihonme he swopped hands and went into Gyakute Jodan (i.e. left hand on top..!). Anyway, despites all these strange stuff happening, he still destroyed us with either 2:0 or 2:1. I tried to be smart and went for do/gyaku-do but with no luck. Argh.

After class, Sensei did advice me to work on more of that move-around footwork. I should also be reading the opponent more during the match (say, in the first 2'30'' of a typcial 3-min ladies match), there's really no need to go so fast...

2 weeks to go.