a MMB! Kendo Blog: Nippon Sport Science University Goodwill Keiko

MMB! Kendo Blog

Saturday, March 12, 2005

忍耐 + 掌握人生
Nippon Sport Science University Goodwill Keiko

A 139 strong Nittaidai delegation visited Sydney for a series of cultural exchange demonstration and training this weekend. Amongst them, 42 sensei and students were from the Nittaidai Kendo Club.

A goodwill geiko between Nittaidai kendoka and NSW kendoka was held today at the Sydney University Sports & Aquatic Centre. About 50 NSW kendoka participated the training session.

We had a 10 minutes group stretching and suburi session, led by a Nittaidai student. After that, we had a short opening speech from Andrew van Hamond representating NSWKA and also a speech from Yagisawa sensei on behalf of Nittaidai. The Nittaidai then presented NSWKA with heaps of shinai, which we happily and readily accepted.

We then went straight into warm-up in bogu. The guys played against guys and girls played against girls. We did kirikaeshi, kihon-men, kihon-kote, kote-men. Unlike last year, we did not have to try out hand on tsuki and katate-tsuki. While queuing during the warm-up, I watched the many Nittaidai students execute men-cuts. All of them pushed their arms straight forward after the men-cut instead of lifting the arms up in the arm. Their good techniques and zanshin after the cut probably rubbed off to me and I felt I did my best men-cut and zanshin and I wasn't lifting my arms up in the air after the cut.

Straight after the warm-up was shiai-geiko. There were 2 Dan team , 1 women team and 1 Kyu team competitions. I was selected to play in the NSW women team against Nittaidai. Shoko played senpo, Da-Seul as jiho, Anna as chuken, Natalia as hukusho, and I played taisho.

Although we lost all our matches, we played very well as a team. Da-Seul had a particularly interesting match. She played against a jodan opponent and managed to hold up very well, losing only 1 point in her match.

I was really looking forward to my match against Nittaidai women team taisho - Takano Aiko. I knew Takano would be more superior than me in skill, but I still wanted to see how far (or close) the gap between us was. I tried to play what I was taught, applying seme, holding my centre, and keeping the concentration high. I reckon we were in chudan no kamae 40% of the time and the other time we were in tsubazerai or at very close distance attacking. I remembered I tried a feint-do-men cut on Takano and the shinai connected to her men, but the cut was too shallow. While some other men cuts were too deep and weren't clean at all.

Takano also did 2 to 3 feint-do-men cuts on me. It was pretty funny how we used the same feinting techniques on each other. She nearly got me in two occasions but I dodged violently, almost a full squat in the second dodge. It was definitely not a good display of kendo and I should really try to get rid of this bad habit of dodging or bending. But when I went on court, I just subconsciously did all those bad habits again. When I did my almost-full-squat dodge, I could hear the roar from the crowd and I actually saw the Nittaidai girls giggled and looked at each other for what they just saw. I really needed to look after my posture during training if I wanted to get rid of this deep-rooted posture problem. Roberto Kishikawa sensei, the Hong Kong team coach, said I tried to avoid getting hit too much which had compromised my posture. He said I should try to play correct-postured kendo and he was super right. I dodged too much and I need to correct this problem, particularly after cutting kote.

My taisho matched ended with Takano getting 2 points off me. Although I lost in the end, it was a much more enjoyable match than the previous year's Nittaidai matches from memory and the match was much closer. I could appreciate more on the application of seme and mental side of kendo rather than thinking primarily about trying to cut my opponents.

A 30-minute jigeiko session followed the team shiai matches. I played a further 3 Nittaidai girls - Ishi, Hashimoto and Sakurai. Those matches were very enjoyable for me as each of them had some sort of special techniques and it was fun to explore what techniques they had up in their sleeves. I wish there were more time for the jigeiko session. I would certainly like to play a few more Nittaidai girls before the end of the goodwill keiko.

At the closing ceremony, the NSWKA presented heaps of wine to Nittaidai and both sides made a thank you speech for the keiko event.

All the Nittaidai sensei (Shizawa sensei, Yagisawa sensei, Hakamada sensei and Sakurai sensei) invited me and any interested kendoka from NSW to come to Nittaidai and train with them in September/October if we were to visit Nittaidai. I would dearly love to train with Nittaidai. Being offered to train with the best university kendo students was not something that any normal kendoka would have and I would not want to miss this opportunity. Now I have to do some serious thinking about the prospect of visiting Nittaidai. Hopefully, I could get some other NSW Kendoka to come along.


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