Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Mumeishi 3s

Mumeishi 3 report
The Mumeishi 3 tournament is an annual competition for three player teams held in the Mumeishi Dojo in Cranford near Heathrow. One of the most important rules is that each team must contain at least one kyu grade. There is also a ladies individual team and a junior individual competition.

As we already know this year we were unable to field a Liverpool team (which we need to change next year), however two Liverpool players were able to play for Kobudokan who had entered two teams. After much discussion over who would be going I was finally asked to play in one of the teams as sempo. However, when I arrived in Cranford I discovered that I would be playing as taisho of the B team. The A team was strongest on paper, consisting of Rick Edmundson (Taisho), Gregg Barron (Chuken) and Tom Widdows (Sempo). The B team was made up of myself (Taisho), Vera Barron (Chuken) and Johnnie Boswell (Sempo).

We all woke up early on Saturday morning as we had stayed on the cold, hard floor of a classroom but after coffee, bananas and cake we made our way to the dojo. As we entered the dojo we realised exactly how big this competition is, there were teams from Poland, France and players as far away as Ballerat, Australia! We said our hellos to our friends from other dojos and then we warmed up in one of the upstairs rooms. We came downstairs and got ourselves ready for our first shiai.

After a brief team chat which was based on the fact that we didn’t expect to do anything amazing, but to keep our attention focussed on each cut within each shiai and to enjoy the experience wholeheartedly, we found out when we were to fence our first aites.

Shiai 1 – Kobudokan B v Reading
Johnnie went out bravely but very nervously as he felt he had not done enough kendo since moving to the big smoke. He stood up from sonkyo and immediately charged in for men which was countered with a nuki men. As soon as Johnnie restarted it was like watching an action replay as exactly the same happened again. Johnnie looked very down hearted but as he touched Vera’s kote as he came off the shiaijo, he gave a cheeky little grin and we knew it would be ok. Reading were one shiai up. Vera marched on and what can I say – she was amazing, dispatching her aite with a kote and then a men in a very short amount of time. Vera had pulled it back to a draw. Finally it was my time on the shiaijo and after a nervy start which seemed to be being echoed any Reading’s Taisho, I managed to cut men clearly enough to be given the ippon. A very short time later the final whistle went, meaning we had got through the first round.

Shiai 2 – Kobudokan B v Nagamitsu
This time the first two shiai ended the opposite results. Johnnie scored a lovely ippon with a debana kote and with a very spirited display meaning that we were the first shiai up. Vera was then unfortunately dispatched by the Chuken from Nagamitsu with two ippon, so again we were back to a draw. I touched kote with Vera and entered the shiaijo, bowing to my aite. I rose from sonkyo and cut for men. I seemed to a lot of cutting which was landing but not scoring, I was losing my zanshin after the cut and must work on this. Finally, I had one of those moments when you realise what the missing element is and pulled off a degote against the Nagamitsu Taisho and again, I found myself incredibly lucky with the time as the whistle went virtually straight after the restart.

Shiai 3 – Kobudokan B v St Etienne
I was hesitant in telling Vera and Johnnie who we had in this round as I knew that St Etienne are one of the strongest club teams in Europe, but I relish these challenges personally. I knew I would be fencing Pons who is a great player. Johnnie went out with a single kote, however he wasn’t happy with the score, but this is kendo and not football so we NEVER argue with a shinpan. Vera lost to the St Etienne Chuken with two ippon score within the three minutes allowed. Finally I went out and fought Pons. The pressure built up at the start was quite incredible. I hadn’t felt this before but after fifteen seconds or so of sizing each other up, I cut for men. Pons countered with a suriage men but missed. This was the shape of things to come in this shiai, strike and counter eventually leading to a spirited but inevitable hikiwake.

It was only at this point that we realised that although bested by St Etienne, we had gone further than Kobudokan A, which was pretty amazing and really lucky. I really want to thankHolt Sensei for holding the event, the shinpan and others involved as well as O’ Connell Sensei for allowing me to fence for Kobudokan, Tom, Rick and Gregg for being part of a brilliant weekend and Johnnie and Vera for showing commitment and kigurai. I will definitely attend this competition again.

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