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...

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