I must say I wasn't ready for this tournament. It's a shame really because it is actually one of my favourite events on the calendar. It isn't often you get to cross your swords with quality kendokas from all over Europe.
I blame my Easter holiday in Italy for my lack of preparation; spending about 2-3 weeks there doing absolutely no exercise, and coming back to writing lots of essays without much time to practise. Nobody likes coming back to kendo after taking a break, it is such a nightmare. You have to fumble around and adjust yourself until you find that 'feeling' again when you can actually move relatively naturally without thinking about it ... holding the correct kamae, getting your footwork right, lifting and cutting the way that was best for you.
So yes I was dully shoved into the shiai. We started with the team event on Saturday,
we thought we'd have an awesome team but as it turns out Neil has the Musashi-kai seminar on the same weekend, and Yuma was stuck in Japan because of the volcanic eruption in Iceland. Nevertheless the team we fielded was still decent, I was quite happy with the line-up. In the first match, one of the more surprising one, was that Anthony lost in Sempo, and Emily as a Jiho went out and saved his arse. Well done Em! The rest of us won, so we proceeded to the next match, where ... I think we also won my a small margin to make it out of the pool. Somehow my memory of the team event is rather foggy, I think I'm going to stop pretending I remember much about that day. This could be because of the Sayonara party they threw that night. I was quite inebriated. All I remember was I didn't lose a single match, and we got knocked out. So there! On to the Sunday.
The individuals was good too. First up was a match between Jeon and Anthony. Fred and I made a little bet, I banked on Jeon even though Anthony was super confident being his cocky self (which is kind of a good thing to have for shiai I would reckon!). Needless to say, I won my fiver. Zeke also did very well against Nakabayashi, the eventual winner from the French national team. He was a monster. The final was absolutely amazing, Monzelun from Pessac vs Nakabayashi. For the first minute they were all out doing kakarikeiko almost. I haven't watched a match that fast and intensed in a big while. As for my own performance, I got bye in the first round with my opponent having broken his foot (or leg ... can't remember which). In the second round I faced the fearsome Nakamura, also of the French squad. I didn't feel like I gave a good fight at all though, I was too defensive, trying to look for counter opportunities which was not the correct mindset to have. Though to be fair, I still haven't regained my Men cut, which is my bread and butter. Sucks, it was a pathetic attempt by my standard. Matches like these are the reason you want to compete in something like the London Cup, and I felt like I've let myself down a bit. Even more so since, in the next round, Nakamura was beaten by Wilson from Hizen, though fair play to him he won, I didn't think his Kendo was stronger than Nakamura. I did have a good jikeiko with Nakamura afterwards. I was also suitably impressed by a Dutch lady, Ms van der Woude who has one of the straightest kendo I've seen in a while.