Finally the weekend of the International Irish Goodwill Taikai (IIGT) 2010 came round. I haven't had a competition since the Summer in Thailand! I hope I won't be too rusty in shiai situations, but not only that, it is going to be a big weekend for me in another aspect. My 2dan Shinsa! Gahhhh ... I hope I pass. I hate gradings, that's why I've never done it up until a year and a half ago when I got my Ikkyu.
After a massive delay and hanging about in Heathrow for longer than is healthy, Aer Lingus shuttled us across to Cork. Being the last flight of the day to arrive, it took us a while to get a taxi. Even more annoying was a bit before that Shohei got stuck at the Immigration for ages, they're real arseholes! Probably really bored with nothing else better to do but harass innocent passengers.
The competition was first on Saturday, we split up into 2 teams of 3s. It took us a while to do so, arranging the order and what not, we were also unsure whether or not
Neil would arrive in time to participate. Anthony took ill suddenly, shivering and turning pale. Nobody had a clue what it was, not even one of the doctors there (who happened to be a competing kendoka). Neil really had to turn up now, otherwise one of our teams would hold quite a disadvantage. In the end not to take any chances it was me, Shohei, and Yuma manning one team, Anthony, Emily, and a scratch for the other. We gave them the easier group.
They did quite well going to the quarters, after they lost his shinais, Neil arrived just in time to take over from Anthony, who worryingly isn't getting any better. We underperformed. I was rubbish. So was Shohei. Yuma was the only one doing any good, and for that reason I selected him as our rep to fight in the individuals. The shiai experience would also be good for him too as we'll be relying on him in the UniTaikai. To be honest, I also lost confidence to fight that day, man up right. Neil was completely right in saying that it's all mental, there's nothing wrong with my kendo on the day, I just have to get it going. I guess I am rusty afterall!
Yuma started off slow and tense, after winning some matches though he was visibly calmer and better. He went on to win bronze for us, not bad at all! The level was quite high too, those Irish squad members were tough.
The Sayonara party (I still don't know why they all named it that, doesn't make much sense) wasn't that great. It was really loud (some kind of a nightclub) and it took us ages to get in as the minimum age was 20, Yuma forgot his ID, we had to trek back to the hotel to fetch his passport etc. Once it got going and we had a few drinks in our system it was slightly better, started mingling with the locals a bit.
The shinsa on the next day went rather successfully. I thought we all did really well, and after weeks of extra Kata practises it really paid off. Everyone from UCL who took it, passed their exams. Well done us! So now I am officially 2dan and looking forward to the UniTaikai. Edinburgh, here we come!