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Issue #066 - The 15th World Championship: A Lot of Disappointments??
May 30, 2012
Kendo for LIFE
Kendo-Guide.Com Newsletter, Issue #066 - The 15th World Championship: A Lot of Disappointments??
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I hope this finds you well.
We had some training sessions when it was super hot here in Indiana!
You might know this but I will tell you anyway!
Plenty of water!
We should drink a plenty of water. Not soft drink, coffee or orange juice, but water.
The water should not be ice cold because then we tend to drink too fast and too much. I have no scientific evidence on this but you will have a tummy trouble when you have a lot of cold drink at once. That is what I was told as a kid and also I am talking through my experience too!
The World Champ is over! What did you think? What do I think? I am talking about it in this newsletter.
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- Kendo Q & A -
- sparring without formal training
- Forms of sword related sports
- Shipping ties on a new shinai
- The 15th World Championship: A Lot of Disappointments??-
First off, congratulations to Team Japan! And also I would like to thank all the participants for sharing their fights with us. We appreciate those senseis for doing shinpan all day long for 3 days. And of course, those staff who are always behind the scene. And lastly, thank you, All Japan Kendo Federation, for live broadcasting the shiai.
We have all learned a lot from the championship. Those competitors and shinpan are world-class. They are all representatives of their own country. We did have a great opportunity to learn many things.
I am sure that there were misjudgements, either obvious or not. There were some points that I thought they were not and the others that I thought they should be. There were times that I thought one had to be penalized for inappropriate tsubazeriai. But you know what, that is my personal view at my current level of kendo. Plus I was sitting in front of my computer watching the shiai on Ustream. That is not the same as judging as a shimpan.
Shimpan had seminars at least twice before the champ that I know of. They sacrificed themselves to be a better shinpan for the champ. No one wanted to make mistakes. They made their efforts and they did their best. Just like those competitors.
Besides, those shinpans were, I believe, 7-dan and above. I do not think they are always right about their judges but at least they had good reasons on why they made their decision at the time of judging. And I am sure that they were reviewing their own judgements and thinking how they could improve their shinpan skills. And also I am sure that they talked about how good and/or bad their judging was among them during/after the tournament.
Let's hope that those senseis get together and come up with good solutions.
Booing and Cheering from the Crowd?
Is that their fault? Probably not. That is their teacher's fault. If I go further back, it is a Japanese fault. They booed because they thought they were allowed. They cheered loud because they thought they could.
I wasn't watching the entire tournament from the beginning to the end, so I am not sure if they were told not to do so. If they were told, then the crowd were not quick learners.
What we learned from this is that we must tell the next generations how they should watch kendo; especially big tournaments like the world champ. Many kendoists do bad mouth shinpan right next to the shinpan while the shiai is on duty. How do I know that? I was a fukushin (sub-referee) of that shiai. Is this what we learn from kendo?
We have a lot to work on, indeed.
The Japanese Competitors in the Team Fight Final
The kendo we saw in this world champ men's team final was the kendo not to lose. I am sure that the Japanese competitors were expected to win the champ and of course they were told not to lose. What it means by not to lose is "do not lose points". That is why there were a lot of tsubazeriai in the final.
The Japanese men's team did what they were supposed to do to WIN the champ. However, that was not what the world kendo lovers wanted them to perform.
Probably many of you were impressed by how Takanabe senshu fought in his individual final. If you have not seen it, you can watch it here. But he looked like a different person in the team final. It is because he could not lose. The team was winning and all he had to do was to tie the match. That is why he fought as he did in the team final.
When I was watching him fight, I was thinking,
"Oh, he really is trying hard to not lose for the team"
I was in his position, taisho (the last person of the team) a lot of times when I was young. There were a lot of times if I did not lose, my team could've gone to All Japan Junior Champ. Or something opposite. Even when I lost, my team won this tournament because I got one point from my opponent.
So what is the main reason for the team to come to the World Champ?
For some, to learn. And for others, to win.
Everyone of them was doing what they thought were supposed to do. The competitors of Team Japan were doing what they were expected to do, i.e. WIN.
The way the competitors of Team Japan fought was not the way they usually fight. You can actually see that if you see them fighting in All Japan Champ. They were fighting very aggressively and blocking a lot in this world champ team final. You know why? They did not want to get hit and lose.
Many people did not like that because kendo is not about win or lose. Could not agree more. But we just cannot blame them because they did what they were supposed to do. You know, those competitors are still young and they are still in this shiai phase of kendo. Of course, they want to win. Of course, they wanted to keep the title, Champion.
I am not sure what they were told to do for this world champ. But I assume that they were told to win and remain as THE champ. It is only my guess.
Do I Recommend My Students To Do What The Japanese Team Did?
No. Unfortunately, I cannot tell my students to emulate the way they fought in the team final. Also it would be a big problem if my students start doing what they did in the team final because that's what the Japanese was doing. To make a long story short, what they did conflicts with what I teach.
I also tell my students why they did what they did in shiai. I tell them exactly what I write here.
Even when we encounter such situation that one must win in order for our team to win, I will tell them not to get close in tsubazeriai only because they do not get hit and lose.
Including me, the world kendo lovers want to see THE Japanese kendo, nice and beautiful AND strong. We want to see them to perform the ideal kendo that we have taught by many senseis. Moreover, it is not so important for me if Japan wins the tournament or not, as long as they show "beautiful" kendo to the world.
There is a saying in kendo,
Lost in shiai but Won by kendo
That means you might have lose your shiai but your kendo was nicer and greater.
That is what I want from kendo of Japan. But this may be too much to ask since the world kendo level has become high so that Japan cannot win that easily anymore but they are expected to win. I feel sorry for the Japanese competitors.
They need to be told, "Go and do the ideal kendo. If you lose, that's fine but don't lose without showing the spirit of KENDO.".
There is a big gap between ideal kendo and what we see in shiai. I think that is the problem. I see shiai is an important development phase of an individual to become a good kendoist because he/she can learn a lot about themselves. It is a good motivation to train and most importantly we can test ourselves.
That is why we should really keep one thing in mind. Kendo is not about hitting a target.
I would like to conclude this part by introducing a famous story.
The late Naito Takaharu sensei (the main master of Budo Senmon Gakko) was very worried about deciding who the best kendoist was at the time in a form of a tournament back in 1929 when the first Tenran Jiai (Tournament with the Emperor's presence) was held.
He did not like the idea because such tournaments would destroy the purpose of kendo and kendo would become victory-oriented. He disagreed with holding the tournament but apparently the Emperor gave an order to hold the tournament. Since Naito sensei had a great respect to the Emperor, he could not resist anymore.
And he said,
Kendo of Japan has died.
And he cried.
I am always careful with those historical stories because I was not there. But through reading articles about him, his kendo was Kendo of Ki, which means it did not matter to him if he hit or got hit but he put amazing pressure on his opponent and executed strikes.
So my understanding about his ideal kendo is this. He put more value on the process before the execution of strikes. Hitting a target is only a result. If the process is not good, the hitting a target is not important.
Probably this world champ was a good opportunity for kendo to sit back and think about it.
That Is Why Show More Ideal Kendo to The World
The World Championship is a great opportunity for the world to see great kendo. Of course, now we have youtube and All Japan Kendo Federation and kendo companies like Kendo World strive to broadcast kendo to the world.
But the world champ gets more attentions from all the media in a hosting country and from other countries too. We, kendoists, as well as the world need to see good examples of what kendo should look like and what we should aim at in our kendo shugyō.
Young people of course favour fast and exciting kendo. I think it is a good thing. But it is OUR responsibility to show them what the good kendo looks like. In Japan there is Kyoto Taikai where 8-dan senseis show their fantastic kendo. The world needs that at the world champ.
I would like to introduce two kendo clips from Kyoto Taikai introduced by Kendo World.
Enjoy and feel how deep kendo can get.
· Sakudo sensei & Masago sensei
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