So, the Asian Tournament - it has been renamed to Hong Kong Asian Open Kendo Championships.
There's some last minute changes to the local team arrangements, and I ended up being the taisho, with Noyori-san and Lo on the 3-person ladies HK Team C. The ladies were on a completely separate division this year - meaning we cannot be on the 2nd Dan below teams, but the good thing is there is no longer scenes of giant bear pushing little girl beginners all over the place.
My team gets the lucky pool - we can still get through if we placed 2nd in our group.
First, we trashed the Guangzhou team. Afterwards people kept reminding how sharp my hiki-men and tobikomi-men were (actually I think the hit landed on men-gane...), and I'm very eager to watch it in video!!
We get Asian Kendo Club B next. I don't know what exactly is this club about, but heard that they're a group of asia expats who've returned to Japan. We've watched them fight against Guangzhou previously, and I thought, while they're good (and with Japanese last name anyway), they are not as bright as the other 2 university teams.
So fast forward a little bit... I looked at the scoreboard and see that I have to win 2 points straight for my team to draw on points. When I stepped in there, I don't feel my opponent too overwhelmly strong or unbeatable, even though from what I watched earlier she is better than me... Suddenly I quite fancy winning the match. I went quite hyper after getting used to her timing. On ipponme I lost a kote, but nihonme I really made a 3-flag-up kote-nuki-men...!! Maybe if it wasn't of the last failed block I tried and the debana-elbow I lost to (got bruise to prove!), I might draw or even win that match!!
Now we are one step up the match tree, and our next match is against Asian KC Team A (first team of their pool) - so they might be even stronger. I jokingly told Lo and Noyori-san that if we win the next team, we can secure a medal (!).
When it's my turn to fight, my teammates had already lost and so, it doesn't really matter what I do in the court!! When I go all out, I find that spiritual-wise, it pulled my level closer to my stronger opponent. I made good attempts and so did she, but none worked. I lost 0-K, by one point, so it doesn't look too horrible.
The eventual winner is Fukuoka Edu Uni team. Kokugakuin came 2nd. Maybe they'll have a better chance with their original senpo - who injured her leg during keiko on friday night. Li from Macau was their replacement. She's actually quite a nice addition to their team - scoring a really fast debana-men shodachi within 3 seconds on her Fukuoka opponent.
The Guangzhou boys may have bad taste in their totally out-of-place Shinsengumi samurai cosplay team jacket (don't miss the red bulb accessory on their chest, a paper fan too), but their kendo is not bad at all. We always expect Japanese team has the best players, but overall I am more impressed with the performance of some kohai and also competitors from Mainland China. Some of them looked like total beginner last Nov at the Chinese Tournament, yet their current kendo level is on such a great leap. A guy from Guangzhou beat our local favourite Johnny (who won C. Yang in the individuals at the last WKC). Well, you'd never know who's been training harder while you weren't!
There are just too many cups and medals to be given out... Trophy cups + medals for the 1st-3rd place of each division, medals kantousho for one member of EACH team. I'm lucky to receive one of the more practical ones:-
"Shimpan-cho sho" it says, or Chief Referee's Award - 4 for each division. This is the first thing I won in Hong Kong, and therefore very encouraging little present to have.
Earlier we heard the good news about 3 of our ladies sempai has all passed their 5th Dan shinsa. Damn if only I've applied my sandan...! Perhaps I should save this new shinai bag with little sakura print when I receive my sandan menjo?