Went to a competition at the weekend, the Tokyo-to Kendo (obviously) Taikai, as the taisho of the Shinjuku team.

We went out in the first round…..again. But, and like any character in a Martin Lawrence film, it’s a big but, I was pleased with my own performance. Obviously that means I won my match….but why so pleased?

Weeeeeeeell, this shiai marked a small turning point in the way I do kendo in shiai. Up to now I had kind of been the balls out, overwhelm them with my big white kiai type. This had met with moderate success, and with the old adage, it wasn’t necessarily broken, so I wasn’t fixing it. Until now. This time round, I just kind of settled down and settled in, concentrated on my focus points (I mentioned that in the last entry) and went ahead with the plan that I had. And bingo! Ippon-gachi. Not too shabby.

There are a couple of other reasons why I was happy:

The only thing that I really need to take as an improvement point is stretching to the target. This is a general theme for me in shiai (and one of the focus points for practise from now and until Italy), where a lack of confidence to attack a particular target, or in a particular technique, meant that I wouldn’t stretch to it, in some notion of thinking that it might keep me safe (which is so bloody stupid it defies belief, if you think about it. Being safe by not hitting the target……huuh?!). But like any good problem, the first point to fixing it is acknowledging it. I had been kind of, partly, sub-consciously aware of this, but was never able to put my finger on it. This taikai helped me not only put my finger on it, but grab it and yank it too (fnar – i was only cleaning it, and it went off!). Also, while ironing my shirts yesterday (look at me, all domesticated. I even poop in the toilet!) I was watching last year’s All Japan Taikai, and saw a lot of good examples with which to work from, and mentally slap myself for being so silly.

So, all together, even though it was only 1 match, it was actually a vitally important one for me, because of what I got out of it.

Things just keep getting better and better!