Last Sunday was the 2nd Regional Kendo Tournament. With not much work to handle this week and no dates to go to, I turned up as a spectator at 10.30am. The lateness was due to my failure in getting to the out-of-town venue using an alternative route - which brought me to the wrong side of the harbour...
Yet thanks to the usual operational delays -when I walked in it was still at the first team matches at the first pool in both courts.
"Regional" really means Chinese. It's a Chinese-only tournament with teams from other cities in Mainland China. No Japanese team members in sight except the coaching sensei from representing cities. Apart from Hong Kong Team A-G and neighbouring Macau, we also have Team Guangdong A-C, Shanghai A-C, Beijing A-C and a mixed team. People with odd zekken like Dalin, Chengdao, etc. have been spotted.
They seem to love energy-saving lightings here, which wasn't favourable for photography. So I ended up doing some filming for my ex-teammates.
Comparing to last year, the level of kendo from other cities has gone up. Adding to that, Team HK didn't put any team with five 4-dan in it, which makes the matches more exciting to watch as the result is always unpredictable.
I follow mostly Team B to film which also had Jane as jiho. She is getting used to fight alongside the other 4 boys, and took some surprisingly sneaky ippons that got praised by Kishikawa sensei and the whole lot of us from the same dojo.
Team Ladies was defeated by Guangdong A at the quarter-finals. Senpo Xixi was sick to hold on to the match. Must have set a bad start for the rest of the team members.
Team "A" went all the way to the semis but beaten by Beijing A. The Northerners were on fire.
That only came to Team B's responsibility to be the top Champ. It was going like 0-2 for Wong, 0-2 for Jane (apparently, she hang on against Xixi's tall boyfriend till 3'30"...) - until our Fok came up, lost one more point, which fired him up to get back a 2-1. Then Johnny a quick 2-0 as usual, and finally taisho-sen Yip also delivered an breath-taking 2-1 against Yuding (who went to Fukuoka with us last June).
Observing a more local tournament with an overall level closer to myself, it's not only the kendo that matters. You can still get sucked into the game and enjoy checking the scoreboard. You can shout encouragement whenever necessary and cheer for any players putting up a good show.
We did have 2 IKF 8-dan sensei overlooking the taikai. I reckon the more they come and see for themselves, the more they notice the interest of kendo in Mainland China, which will help the Chinese to set up a proper IKF-recognized organization.
Besides the camera, I had my bogu with me for some light bash at the finishing 35-min of jikeiko. Most visting girls ended up standing in the 8-dan queue with 10+ people in it. In the end I had a Guangzhou guy similiar to my build, and then a Shanghai big guy. Depsite being more junior than me in terms of skill, both of them were a lot more spirited to initiate attacks and such. I lost a handful of debana men just because of that. It's like one of those days where you haven't been into regular training and people keep getting you at ease. It's just a matter of going back.
I do have a feeling that I should avoid regular kendo to concentrate more on jobs, etc. I am having a second thought on what the others told me - "kendo gives you the positive attitude that can be translated to other aspects in life" blah blah blah - simple because it wasn't working. For the past few months without much practice, all work suddenly came to find me.
That's why it's not any worse going to Taiwan just to catch everyone else's fights. Enjoy the fights, the chat, the photo-snapping, the street food, the beer and the combined kendo atmosphere. 3 weeks to go with flights, hotels + tickets all booked. It's rewarding enough for what I've sacrificed (by staying away from kendo).