The first weekend of November I went to Chicago to participate in the tournament with my fellow Kansas City Kendo Club members, and to test for 1-Dan the day after. Here’s some pictures and a little bit about the event.
Stretching while we waited for the tournament to start. This is the second tournament I’ve been to, the first being back in 2009. There were only five of us this time, but that also meant that everyone got to be on the team during that portion of the event. The first time I went I was very excited and a little bit out of it because of all the newness. This time everything was more familiar and I felt much more confident (not necessarily about kendo, but just being there,) so I got to pay more attention to what was going on around me. Or to me.
Ma came with me this time. She took a handful of pictures, some of which I am posting here. This is everyone lining up at the opening ceremony. I think it’s cool that they do this, because it makes it feel like we’re doing something a bit more uplifting than just gathering to see who is better than who. It sort of makes me feel like we’re all on the same team to some extent.
A shot of just the players, getting a better idea for what attendance was like.
And a grainy photo where Ma tried, for reasons of her own, to get a closeup of me. It does get all of KC Kendo’s team in there, but it looks like I ran it through a Photoshop filter. I just added a ghost hand, for reasons of my own that I don’t remember now even five minutes after putting it there…
Ma had a lot of action shots. Most of them were blurry and not worth posting anywhere. This was the second round of the Mudansha singles tournament (which I made it into via bye). Boy, if I wasn’t wearing a bright orange tenugui I don’t know how I would tell which one was me…
Blurry action shot! And no, it didn’t score. This year I was knocked out without actually scoring a point. I thought I had, but I only had backed the other player out of the ring and he got the warning. The funny thing about a tournament fight, at least for me, is that I have no idea what’s actually happening until afterward when someone fills me in. Was I hit? Did he hit me? Where? Really? What just happened? What’s the score? You mean it’s already over? I lost? Damn. Well, there’s always next year…
No, I’m not in jodan. I’m mid-swing, probably about to get popped in the kote. I don’t even remember what points I gave up, but I know it was 2-0 at the end. I was concentrating on trying to control the pace and wait for an opening. That just did not work for me. My partner had much more aggressiveness and a better sense of what was going on. So, I lost.
Ma didn’t take any pictures of the team match, so here is a shot of the youth singles tournament. I liked watching the youth division matches. But the team match: I won my team match game, which was my first ever tournament win. I took the advice to be more aggressive to heart and determined that if I went down it wouldn’t be for lack of spirit. I don’t remember the final score, but I know I gave up at least one point to my partner. Pretty exciting stuff! We cheered each other on during the match, which is nice to do. Not a lot of teams did that, I noticed, but I think it shows club spirit.
There aren’t any pictures of the testing the next day; Ma went to the museum downtown. The original idea was that maybe we’d have time to go together on Saturday, but the schedule didn’t allow for it. I mentioned being more aware of what was going on than last time. That definitely helped during the run-up to the testing, but once things got started I was just as confused as last time I tested. There was lots of standing around and practicing kata and whatnot, all the time in the world, and then suddenly everyone was running to go line up and I didn’t know what I was supposed to have in my hands. So I took everything.
I lined up and got told where to stand, then where to sit, and then where to stand while waiting for my shinai portion of the test. I wanted to show the same passion and vigor as I did during the team match the day before. I wanted to not get too fancy, but also to show some skill beyond just gunning for men. It can’t have been more than two or three minutes, but I felt like I was going to die from trying so hard! We made what felt like ten thousand passes, and I started to think that maybe they were going to see how long it took me to get too tired to spar, but eventually it did end.
The kata section was where I felt sure that I would have problems. I almost did, actually. They lined us up in pairs and I was thinking that they would watch us one at a time, but after a bit I realised there was a man who was saying something in Japanese, and about halfway through his short speech I realised he was directing us all to begin! I believed I was uchidachi, and was relieved when I saw someone across from me in one of the other pairs assume the basic jodan. There were some distancing issues in a few places, but nothing one or the other of us didn’t compensate for. Over all I think it went fairly smoothly and was glad for a good partner, and that I didn’t forget to center up at the end of gohonme before sonkyo. And that I didn’t totally flub yonhonme, like I often do during practice. The opening part of that kata causes a lot of issues for me.
Everybody in my group passed both parts and got to hand in their papers. If anybody is curious, I wrote my paper on ki-ken-tai. Just like I posted my ikkyu paper on kirikaeshi (which looking back on I think I could have done better writing), I’ll post my ki-ken-tai paper in the Library section of the site. If I get a letter saying I failed based on the paper I will update RA with that information, I guess, but it’s probably OK.