a MMB! Kendo Blog: 2005 Hong Kong Asian (Regional) Invitational Kendo Tournament

MMB! Kendo Blog

Friday, March 04, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
2005 Hong Kong Asian (Regional) Invitational Kendo Tournament

Absolutely the best and most memorable kendo trip I have ever been to! It was so much fun in Hong Kong, travelling in this busy city with my crazy kendo friends. I made so many friends in the trip and I also fulfilled my own objectives - to eat snake soup, gai dan jei and poached egg/milk in Hong Kong. Manager, can I take another holiday now?

Anyway, I will try to cover what I have done in the past crazy week in brief.

Michael, Natalia and I caught CX110 from Sydney to Hong Kong. When we arrived, we wasn't able to contact any of our teammates who arrived in earlier days, so we waited at the entrance of our apartment at 47 Conduit Road in Mid-Level - a beautiful and posh area in HK. After an hour of waiting, Andrew, Anna and Jackson finally appeared. We put our luggages in the apartment and set off to explore Hong Kong straight away and also to buy a few extra mattresses so that everyone would have a mattress to sleep on instead of the solid floor. We walked from our apartment to Central CBD and caught MTR (mass transit railway) to Causeway Bay. We walked around Sogo department store and Time Square in search for the camping type of mattress. There were many sporting and camping stores, but only one store stocked that type of mattress and the price appeared to be sky high. So we ditched that idea and decided to go back to Central where the others bought their mattresses. Along the way back home, I fulfilled one of my objectives, to eat "gai dan jei" - a Hong Kong waffle. Afterwards, we caught MTR back to Central and ate dinner there. We were planning to visit Yung Kee 鏞記, a super famous Chinese Restaurant in Hong Kong for its roasted goose. However, due to its popularity, we couldn't get any seat. So we went to the chinese restaurant opposite Yung Kee and ate some soup noodles. While the others were still finishing their noodles, Andrew and I rushed off to the corner store a few streets up the road to buy mattresses. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, it was 9:30pm and the store was already closed. So that night, the guys and Anna had to sleep in their sleeping bags on the floor. Natalia and I were the two lucky ones to have a mattress and a folded bed to sleep on that night.

I don't know how much Yoshinoya 吉 野 家 had paid the Michael Jackson brothers and Natalia, but these guys craved for Yoshinoya the whole day. So today, we had not one but two of our meals in Yoshinoya (breakfast and dinner).

Today, we caught the Star Ferry from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui. I managed to buy the Sony stuff for my brother and Jackson found a tailored-made suit shop in Jordan.

Jaskson and the Tailor

An evening kendo training session has been organised by the Hong Kong Kendo Association at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai. There were tonnes of people training that night (about 100 kendoka) all cramped in to two small dojo. I played Masago Takeshi sensei, Agnes Lee and Joanne Chan tonight. After the training, the girls had a super long shower before joining the others at a local Hong Kong cafe (Natalia took Mike's shoes to shower, so poor Mike had to walk bare-feet to the cafe in drizzling weather while the girls were still in the shower.) Yasuhiko Nozaki sensei who was widely travelled around Asia and Australia joined our table. We had a great time trying to understand each other's Japanese and English and talked just about everything in kendo in Australia. =D Throughout the evening, a few Chinese kendoka went around all the tables to "gan bei" with each of the team's sensei. When they came to our table, they naturally picked Andrew, who was the oldest, and said "gan bei, sensei". Andrew - the NSWKA team shodan sensei! We laughed so much on that night. With Michael Jackson in our team, we were definitely the craziest team there. It was so much fun.

After the late party last night. We all slept in as the 2nd Dan and below competition did not start until 3:15pm. We even managed to do 3 hours of shopping in Kowloon before the competition. I accompanied Anna to Yau Ma Tei to buy some Chinese caligraphy and painting paper, paint and brushes, while the guys went crazy in Mong Kok. We had such a relaxing and fun time that it was hard to believe we would be playing in an important kendo competition later in the day.

The NSW Team - Jackson, Vivian, Anna, Natalia, Michael and Andrew (L-R)

We arrived at the Hong Kong Park Indoor Sporting Stadium at 2:45pm. The competition event for Saturday was the 2nd Dan & below team competition. Andrew (senpo), me (chuken) and Mike (taisho) were in NSW Team A, while Anna (senpo), Natalia (chuken) and Jackson (taisho) were in NSW Team B.

My team were drawn to play in Pool C. We had one win and a draw in our pool, but trailed the Hong Kong B Team who also had one win and a draw by one small point. We initially thought our run for this event, which we had the highest hope of going beyond the pool, was over and became really disappointed. When the officers ushered us to get prepared to play in the knockout round, we then realised that the 2nd placed team in each pool would also be promoted to the knockout round and played against the 1st placed team of another pool. We accepted our good fortune with high spirit and were determined not let the chance to slip by. We played extremely well in the subsequent knockout rounds, taking a clean 3-0 sweep in each of the team match to reach the team finals.

It was really special to play in the final of my first ever overseas kendo trip. I felt so special to be one of the final 6 players on court, while over 200 people surrounded the court, watching and cheering for every good kendo moves. The match was so close against Hong Kong A team. We both had 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss, but when it came to the small point count, we narrowly lost by 1 point. So Hong Kong A came 1st and NSW A came 2nd.

There was free jigeiko at the end of the day and I played Jun Takeuchi sensei and Lai sensei from Hong Kong.

That night we went to Shum Shui Po where Jackson returned his friends PS2 mini for repair. We then had dinner at a local Hong Kong cafe, where there was no English menu. So I had to translate all the dishes on the menu for everyone and ordered food according to what type of meat, rice or noodle, fried or steamed, for all 6 of us. Howard Cheng, a former UNSW member also joined us on the night. We then went to a dessert place where Jackson shouted everyone a couple of yummy desserts.

The girls woke up at 6:45am while the guys slept till 7:30am. We arrived at the Hong Kong Park Indoor Sport Centre at 8am. The day began with the official opening ceremony. Then the womens team competition followed. We played Singapore B in our pool. Unlike the 2nd Dan & below competition, the womens team competition was a 5-player team event. However, the NSW team only had 3 womens. For us to move to the next round, we had to win every match we had to play. I had a good 2-0 win over Wong (taisho of Singapore B). Unfortunately, it was a monumental task to fight back from 2-0 down to begin with, so we didn't advance to the next round. But I had a great time playing out there nonetheless.

Anyway, the taisho of Singapore B team later clinched the all-important ippon from Hong Kong A team in the representative match to advance to the final. So I felt happy that we lost to a strong 2nd place team afterall.

The Men Open Team competition began after the conclusion of the women event. Natalia, me, Andrew, Mike and Jackson played senpo, jiho, chuken, hukusho, taisho respectively. We were drawn to play in the same pool as the eventual winning team Kagoshima Shigakukan University A team. This Japanese university team's kendo played really strong and beautiful kendo. When I played my match, I could completely feel the overwhelming presence of my Japanese University opponent. He seems to become much bigger on-court than he was off court. I think after about 10 seconds on court, the match between me and that Japanese Uni guy was already finished. That guy took 2 points off me from 2 cuts (1 men, 1 debana kote). It was the quickest shiai finish I have ever experienced so far. We also played another team in our pool. We lost 4-1. Who won the 1 point? Andrew did. He was certainly very pleased of that one point.

Tournament Group photo

After the closing ceremony and getting our team trophy and medals (Andrew also won the fighting spirit award), there were time for some jigeiko. I played 2 ladies from Kagoshima Shigakukan University. Just when I was taking my men off, Michael Komoto sensei came over and I was so glad to have a chance to play him. Komoto sensei was the regular writer in Kendo World's Kendo Clinic section. Anyway, I quickly put my men on again, but the tenugui wasn't tie up properly as I was rushed by the announcement that the jigeiko session was over. So in the end I only had a 1 minute short jigeiko with Komoto sensei. How I wished I had not taken my men off before so that I could play Komoto sensei for longer.

We had our celebration party/dinner at Rainbow Seafood Restaurant 天虹海鮮酒家 on Lamma Island. We caught the ferry from Queen's Pier at 7:30pm for a 45 minutes ride to Lamma Island. On the way, Andrew and I had a good long chat with Alexander Bennett sensei and Michael Komoto sensei (both editor/writer of Kendo World magazine) about almost everything in Kendo. I even went into discussion with Komoto sensei about plantar fascitis and flat foot and how kendo would improve these conditions. =P Crazy! Anyhow, my ultimate dream was to become a sport physiotherapist, so any discussions in this area would only be beneficial to my long-term future. tehehe.

The seafood dinner was absolutely fantastic. The seafood was most fresh. We ate bamboo clams, prawns, lobsters in baked cheese, sashimi, etc etc. Everything was so fresh. All the Japanese sensei who were seated in my table kept saying that the seafood was super nice. If the Japanese, who were famed for eating seafood back in their home country, were saying good things about these seafood, then the stuff I was eating on that night must be superb. And it really did taste so nice.

Alexander Bennett (Kendo World magazine editor) with his chick

Andrew, Michael Komoto sensei (Kendo World magazine's Kendo Clinic writer), Alexander Bennett (Kendo World's editor)

Being the craziest team in the whole tournament, the guys went to the Osaka Ryokenkai team table and declared a drinking challenge between NSW (Michael Jackson and Andrew) and Japan. The drink in that challenge was - chinese rice wine. According to Andrew and Mike, and the face of the Japanese, that chinese rice wine didn't taste all that nice. Both sides drank a few cups. It was really funny to watch the pushing and shuffing of that bottle of rice wine. All the tables was pretty much watching this crazy wine challenge between the NSW guys and these Japanese uni students. It was such a funny sight and we surely had a lot of fun.

The NSW vs Japan drinking challenge

The NSW Team, Yasuhiko Nozaki sensei (front middle) and Harry (right)

On the return journey back to Hong Kong Island, Eda Chen told Christophe Haist (a German who was now working in Singapore) about Lan Kwai Fong - a famed place in Hong Kong where all the "gwei lo" went to the pub. So when we arrived back to Hong Kong Island at 12pm, Christophe, 2 Osaka Ryokenkai ladies, plus the NSW team less Andrew went around the pubs in Lan Kwai Fong. Christophe was really excited and surprised to see the Michael Jackson brothers' acted so much like his two German Kendo friends whose names were Sasha and Young. He didn't expect anyone anywhere in the world would be as crazy as his two German friends. Now that he saw the famed Michael Jackson brothers, he took a couple of videos on the Michael Jackson brothers to take it back to Germany and show them to Sasha and Young in the future. Anyway, we went to Bit Point which claimed to be a German pub. Anyway, Mike bought us the first round of drinks. After that, we then went to another bar where there was a dance floor and good loud music. I was feeling pretty high already after just one drink and Christophe was really eager to go and dance. So we went to dance while the others kept on chatting. I met this white cap guy on the dance floor and he was so good at dancing. He taught me a few dance steps and it was absolutely fun. He told me that he did puppet moves during his day job and showed me a few puppet moves. He was really cool. How I wish I could dance.

We went home at 2:30am that night.

I slept in till 9:30am. Went to visit my auntie in Kowloon Tong and went to lunch with her at a Japanese Restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui. Then we went shopping for souvenirs for my friends at a Chinese Department Store in Tsim Sha Tsui. After that we went to Sham Shui Po to eat snake soup - another one of my eating objectives in Hong Kong. After finishing my snake soup, I took some photos of a live snake in the front of the shop. The woman, who was probably the store owner, saw me took photos of the snake and offered to take a live snake out from one of the many wooden snake boxes. Of course I accepted the offer with great excitment. So my auntie took heaps of photos of me handling the snake. The snake store woman who watched on kept on saying that I was one of those very few girls who wasn't afraid of touching a live snake. She kept asking if I was scared or not. I was having too much fun patting the snake and taking photos to answer the owner's question every time she asked. tehehe, and all the customers in the whole store was probably thinking what the hell this girl was doing with the snake. Anyway, after the snake drama, I had dinner with my grandparents, uncle and aunties at a restaurant in Sham Shui Po. After dinner, we went to have chinese desserts at the really famous "Chong Kee" dessert store, also located in Sham Shui Po. The chinese desserts were really nice and I bought two extra boxes of desserts for the Michael Jackson brothers and Nat. When I returned back to our apartment at 9:45pm, I got a call from Jackson to come out to Time Square to watch the movie "Constantine". I had to quickly rush out of the apartment, caught a taxi and arrived at the cinema at 10:10pm - just before the movie started. I also brought the dessert along with me and we all finished the two boxes of desserts in less than 2 minutes. That was super fast. About the movie, it was alright. I found the movie storyline weird but interesting. Anyway, we got home at around 12:30am the next morning.

Snake Soup. Yum!!!

We slept in till 11:30am. I had lunch with my Godmother and visited my high school teachers at St. Paul's Co-educational College. I was so happy to see my teachers again and had a good long chat with them. After I finished all my friend and school visits, I went to Mong Kok to meet up with Jackson, Mike and Nat and came straight back to our apartment.

Training at Queen Elizabeth stadium tonight. The advance class was scheduled to start at 9pm, but we planned to go a bit earlier so that we could watch the earlier beginner class. We left the apartment at 7:30pm. Just when Mike was checking if the apartment door was locked properly. Jackson and I realised that we both left our apartment keys inside the apartment. So we had to call a lock picker from Sheung Wan to open the door for us. That delayed our trip by 30 minutes plus set us back HK$350. Fortunately, we still managed to arrive to the Queen Elizabeth Stadium an hour before the scheduled start.

The advance class was taken by Roberto Kishikawa sensei, who was the Hong Kong team coach. We started off with Shiai geiko between NSW and Hong Kong. Mike, Nat, me and Jackson rotated to play 6 rounds of ippon shiai geiko with the 15-20 Hong Kong players training on that night. Following the shiai geiko session was the jigeiko with sensei. I finally had a chance to play a 10-minute jigeiko with Kishikawa sensei. I also had a chance to play Joanne Chan again and Eda Chen. The training finished at 10:30pm.

The Hong Kong kendoka seemed to go to supper after every training session. We went to the same local Chinese cafe we went on Friday. I had a chance to chat to almost all the people training there on that night. During the chat, I found that TVB (a Hong Kong channel) was making a kendo TV series and one of the Hong Kong kendo sensei was assisting in that series. The Kendo series was going to be released later this year or early next year. I was certainly looking forward to watching that series.

Mike, Nat, Jackson and I also had some good discussion with Kishikawa sensei about how we played and what we need to improve and aim for in our kendo. The comments and advices that Kishikawa sensei made were opened up some new perspectives of how I should view and train kendo. I have compiled a list of what Kishikawa sensei said during that night. To make the list easier for me to review in the future, I have grouped all the sensei's comments at the end of this post.

All of us slept in till 12noon. We went to Yung Kee 鏞記 to try the famous roasted goose soup noodle, thousand year egg and ginger for lunch. I knew Yung Kee was pretty large, but I didn't know it spanned at least 4 levels as we had to take the lift to the fourth floor to our table, and the fourth floor wasn't small at all. All the tables around us were people in formal business attire, while we were a bunch of really casual-dressed tourists. Our table was absolutely the odd one out in such a formal dining surrounding. The lunch was good and the roasted goose was really nice. Anyway,after lunch, the Michael Jackson brothers went to Mong Kok to buy mobile phones, while Nat and I went to pick up Jackson's suit and ate poached milk/egg at the Australian Dairy Shop in Jordan. I was so happy to complete all my eating objectives in this short Hong Kong trip. We then went back to our apartment for the last time before Jackson and I went to check-in for our flights back to Australia, while Mike and Nat check-in to their hotel.

So yeah, here you go. A story of my one crazy Kendo week in Hong Kong.

Quotable Quotes from Sensei:
  • Kishikawa sensei - one should eliminate the fear of being cut, especially in training. In shiai, it's acceptable to dodge opponent's cut, but in training, one should aim to perfect each move and should not worry about being cut, but should learn from being cut.
  • Kishikawa sensei - there are different levels of ippon. There are the good ippon and the superb ippon. We could get away with good ippon in the lower grades, but at the higher level, like the matches in the Mens Team Finals, all the ippons must be superb.
  • Kishikawa sensei - At the moment, all of us had only one type of men-cut. We should explore all types of men cut - big cut, small cut. One type of men cut might work on opponent A, but not on opponent B. Basically, different cuts work on different opponents and we should explore all different types of men-cut when we are still young.
  • Kishikawa sensei - kendo is more than just a sport, because it encompassed more than just the physical dimension, but also the mental and psychological aspects of human. And that's what makes kendo special and interesting.
  • Kishikawa sensei - shiai is like two animals fighting for its prey. It is a life and dead situation. And that was the mentality that the Japanese University players were playing in this tournament. They were fighting with high intensity and spirit, like animals going for their prey. When you think about kendo in that way, your kendo will come to life.
  • Kishikawa sensei - When you realise a problem in your kendo, acknowledge and fix it so that you can improve to a higher level in the future. Ignoring it can only temporarily mask the problem but the problem will never go away and your level of kendo will forever stay at the same level.
  • Nozaki sensei - after men-cut, left hand should be like punching the opponent's throat. Do not lift the shinai up.
  • Nozaki sensei - be conscious of the left-leg footwork.


  • Wooo...that was a wonderful account. :)...You guys sound like you had so much fun! I'm envious XD....

    Well congratulations on the good kendo you did :)...

    Now I want to go overseas again for a holiday ^^;;;...

    By Blogger Quoth the raven, at Sunday, March 06, 2005 8:05:00 PM  

  • Its sounds like you had a fabulous time.

    But ewwww snake soup *shudders* im sure its lovely but I dont think Id be able to eat it.


    see you at training

    By Blogger MissBecki, at Monday, March 07, 2005 7:54:00 AM  

  • Excellent write-up Viv! The sensei's comments are very helpful as well.

    There are some interesting name combinations in NSW. First we have "Michael Jackson". Now we have "Baek Choi" or "Buk Choy" in the NSW kyu squad! :D

    By Blogger Andoru, at Monday, March 07, 2005 2:27:00 PM  

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