Well, I am still coughing after weeks of medication... The taikai was a week ago, and I can only get some proper sleep now...
My sensei signed me up for the annual Hong Kong Asian Open Tournament, so despite having a runny nose and super cold, I still have to fill in for Team HK.
I missed a lot of action on Sat for the 2nd Dan below 3-men team event, because I had to take my motorbike class. It was really raining heavily when I ride on the streets. My jeans were soaking wet when I got home to change for the tourney's welcome party. This wasn't helping my sickness at all!
The party went nuts when the guys from Ajiken (Asia Kendo Club) played their kendo jan-ken-pon wearing a tablecloth!
My sensei spared a bed at the hotel so that I can make the team warm-up at 7.45am on Sun. So I had a good night of rest (and overdosing the cold tabs).
You can see that by the tone of what I said, I didn't feel like going on the taikai. It's the same story for the pass few months - wrist injury, lack of practice, being sick, etc. It seems like I was never in shape for the previous few taikai last year...
But things changed when we get to the warm-up in the morning. Somehow doing it in a group got me in the mood. I was doing my serious suburi, irikaeshi, kihon and uchikomi just like the rest of the team.
Strange things was that I got arranged into Team C at the ladies with Noyori-san and Eda-sensei (!). Definitely not a winning team on first sight. But in the pool we got a Beijing team and a Guangzhou team to beat.
Beijing senpo, Liu, was a tall girl and I've seen her before. For the whole day I've been using my current tokui-waza, which is a plain-and-simple tobikomi-men. I'm still working on the "seme" Minejima-san taught in the class aaaages ago, but it's proven to work with success.
Me - MM vs K - Liu
I lost that kote immediately after "nihonme", because I want to bend over for kote..! That was a bad move.
Noyori-san went on to fight Yasuda, a Japanese girl my height but in JODAN. She was not *that* strong, but Noyori-san was not too prepared for that.
Noyori - 0:2 - Yasuda
Eda - 2 :0 some girl.
On to the next match will be one of Guangzhou's team. There's a bit of a mess for the logistics, and we were left cooling down for 4 rounds of other teams fighting before we went on again. But then there was a long encho right before my fight, and I was so bumped up when it was my turn.
Me - MM vs o - Guangzhou girl (in 10 sec)
Our team got a straight 6:0 in the end (I reminded everyone to score everything to stay on top of our pool of 5 teams). The Guangzhou team gave us dou-stickers, and apparently someone runs an online shop for that!
We were now facing Minoh (Osaka) team B, composed with some older ladies (late 30s-40s)
Senpo was similar height of myself and not fast. However I'm too eager to hit and lost a lot of opportunities to cut spot-on. Towards the end of the match I felt out of breath (my nose was blocked) and exhausted. Coffee-high was gone and I only got a hikiwake from there.
Me - 0 vs 0 - Senpo
Noyori - 2 vs 0 - Chuken
Eda - 2 vs 1 - Taisho
The helpers replaced the scoreboard paper so fast that I miscalculated the points, and told everyone that we were over. Not until the ladies from Minoh came say thank you and "Gambatte kudasai" that we realized we have to fight on - to the semi-finals!
Our opponents were the Thai. Well, actually I think the first 2 are Thai-Japanese with a darker complexion, and the third has Thai lastname. The Japanese I got was quite strong, and I lost because my skill was worse than hers (nothing else to blame).
The chuken from Phuket was also good, but we were more impressed with the Thai girl in Taisho from the previous match we watched (she won against a Japanese). Though Eda-sensei scored on her.
Me - 0:2
Noyori - 0:0
Eda - 2:1
So we were out (at last!). We lost by 1 point (unnecessarily) and the thai team or the winning team (Minoh A) didn't seem "unbeatable", say, comparing to university students etc.
After that I gave my wrist a lot of massage - I didn't feel the pain during the match, but I know I have some flexiblity problem there (hence I can't cut kote properly). The whole lack-of-practice issue has not been solved so far, and I am stuck at the same level (or worse) 1/2 year ago when I got my sandan. In recent practice, I find it more difficult to keiko with some kohai who are a lot more attentive. Also that in shiai I can only get a draw to someone who is around my level, which is evidently saying that I have shown no improvement.
OK I know after all that whining - it's all about going into the dojo... Or should I fix my wrist first..?
I spent the rest of the time supporting the boys. This is a great year for Team HK, with Hamazaki + Minejima san's G team going to Bronze for the team event.
The winner was the fav pick - Ajiken A. Some of these guys were definately on a nasty hangover (remember what I said about them at the welcome party?)
With the sickness, I only picked 2 people to fight at godou keiko. One is Yasuda the Jodan girl, whom I tried a good handful of tsuki on. And also my old friend Danny from Glasgow who came all the way from Fukuoka. A mad friendly fight was what I needed.
Now I'll getting ready for a non-kendo vacation for 2 weeks in March. I hope my wrist can take the time off, and I can get back to proper training when I come back (and I need a miracle healing in between). There are lots of visitors coming, including a Mitsubushi team, and Kansai Student Renmei I heard!