16 Oct 2010

British Open 2010

Having not been in a competition since August in Thailand, ok that was only 2 months ago, but it really felt like forever, I was looking forward to the British Open. (was there a kendo event that I haven't looked forward to?) Shiai is certainly one of my favourite aspects of kendo, so as you can imagine I was really happy to get into the shiai-jo once again.

The British Open is an individuals only competition, which is fine. Somehow I'm accused of doing better in the individuals as compared to the teams, so I guess that suits me just fine. I don't do it on purpose trust me. Personally, I enjoy them both.

In team competitions there is of course the added pressure of trying your best not to let the team down. Having said that, it is also more fun. There's nothing like hearing the good old UCL encouragement of 'man up!' bellowing from behind, assuring you that your mates are rooting for you. Sometimes though, I get a bit complacent. I tend to subconsciously rely on my team mates to do well, so I can enjoy my match. It really depends on which position you play in the team order and how the previous fighters did. There's the, I would dare say, rule of thumb that if you can't win, at least draw so that your team mates can take care of the rest. Obviously a win is the best and desired outcome. You're happy, your team is happy. In any case, I reckon I have to try and fix that mentally, I should try to adopt the same mentality I have as if I was playing individually. Which is to say playing as if you have nothing to lose.
In the individuals, if I lose, I'm the only person who's going to get disappointed. Which is fine. It eliminates the 'fear of losing' ... especially if you come up against an opponent whose level is similar or higher than you. When you play weaker opponents, it's meant to be easier, but for me sometimes that isn't so ... I feel like I have to beat them, so that in itself is a pressure, and a fear. Fear is as a kendoka should know, one of the four shikai or 'sicknesses' (as defined by: Geoff Salmon, 7dan) of kendo. Anger, doubt, fear and surprise. I think every kendoka is suscepitble to these 4, regardless of your level. We do try to eliminate them however ...

After that bit of waffle I suppose I should get on to the reflection of the actual event. Tumbling into Mumeishi Dojo on a Saturday morning, I was still rather sleepy. An easy first fight would be preferable to get warmed up, but right away I was put up against Saf. Thus our grudge match continues, as you may recall he has beaten me the past 2 times we've met, both in the individuals and team at the University Taikai. This is not acceptable and I was determined to bring it back (I've only beaten him once, the first time we played). A spirited start from the both of us, despite the freezing cold floor. Overall I thought I had more control of the match (you can see for yourself in the video below), both of the points I lost I misjudged the timing of my kaeshi-do, silly mistake really especially so when I did the feat twice. I was pleased with the Men cut, al though a faster cut speed would be better. Somehow it looks like everything was in slow-mo. More suburi then.

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