Thursday 3rd January 2013

The first day of Kangeiko was also the first time everyone saw each other after the Christmas break so there were a lot of smiles and stories exchanged in the changing room. New members were looking forward to experiencing their very first Kangeiko whilst old members were looking forward to a practice after being deprived of Kendo for two weeks.

As per Hizen tradition, Kangeiko started with a toast, cups of Sake or soft drinks for non-drinkers were distributed. Everyone present were also given a new Tenugui. These Tenugui has the Kanji for Tsutemi on it. It is the focus for this year’s Kangeiko and for the practices yet to come. The Tenugui is to serve as a reminder to every member to put everything into what is happening at that moment in time and not to get too wound up with the past or future. Without further ado we made one last toast then downed the remainder of our cups.

We started off with a few rounds of Kirikaeshi to warm up, then we did Kihon cuts – Men, Kote and Dou. The pace then started to pick up as we did Hiki techniques. A few Motodatchi were then selected to receive everyone’s Uchikomi and later on Kakarigeiko. Most people had done nothing over their Christmas break so this felt like a good way to get rid of old cobwebs. We had a good turnout as there was a high number of attendees which helped produce a lot of energy during practice.

Re-grouping on Friday, it was evident people found the first day challenging but most importantly, enjoyable. I think this led everyone to push themselves more on the second day though feeling abit stiff. It could also be because there is no practice on Saturday so there is a day of rest afterwards.


Sunday started off with the new Yudansha Cup competition followed by a few hours of Keiko. This year’s taikai took the new Hizen Challenge Seniors format. Rules are simple, all three shinpan have to give the ippon unanimously, there is no time limit, no shiaijo, no hansoku and no tsubaserei. It was also Ippon shobu so everyone only had one chance to score. Everyone thought it would be a good challenge of our kendo and to put into context our new year’s kendo resolution of sacrifice. Names of all dan grades were put into a hat and a draw was made.

After two fairly quick shiai the second half of the draw seemed to take much longer. Frank and Paul were up. Frank having injured his arm decided he was going to fight in Jodan. This fight lasted between 23 minutes and in the end with both fighters tiring, Paul scored on frank and was through. Next up were Chi and Tatos, both wanted to win in equal measure and neither gave ground. It became a test of whose kendo and mental state would lapse in concentration first. After around 16 mins Tatos eventually scored on Chi and went through to the next.

The semi-finals matches were Steve versus Nari and Paul versus Tatos. At this point everyone was expecting all the matches to take long periods as everyone gave their all; how very wrong they were. Steve and Nari as per usual had their mental bout but in a quick fight, Nari succeeded in luring Steve in and hit a kote. In the other semi-final Paul had the shiai in control till was asked to attack more by Humm sensei. Unfortunately Paul didn’t quite perform as expected and attacked instantly without any real opportunity. Tatos was not going to say no to an opportunity that presented itself and hit Paul with a nice men cut.

The finals were between Nari and Tatos. The Finals were initially an explosive series of cuts none of which were deemed by shinpan to be a true ippon (it also showed all competitors how many cuts we wasted during the duration of the competition). Both individuals gave no quarter and also received none. A lapse in concentration by Tatos made him half-heartedly try and hit Nari’s kote. Nari counter attacked with a nuki men and caught Tatos, thus becoming the winner of the 2012 Winter Yudansha Cup. Despite fighting valiantly Tatos couldn’t follow up his earlier win of the Fuzen. With the Taikai over it left all competitors thinking about their kendo and how best to improve it over the upcoming year and the rest of the Kangeiko. After practice everyone headed down to the local pub for a few social drinks.

Monday was when Kangeiko really started, it was a hard practice as it was not only physically demanding, but mentally too. The main aim was still the same – putting everything into cutting and don’t worry about anything else.

By Tuesday, the fifth day of Kangeiko, everyone was tired and were battling aches and pains but this didn’t stop people from trying. It seemed difficult to move but as the Keiko went on it seemed to be easier to move. This could be due to our bodies not able to tense up anymore and (finally)became relaxed.

Throughout the week long practice, as the difficulty of the practices climbed the numbers had gradually been dropping. But Wednesday night saw the numbers drop noticeably. Not only that, the practice was to take place in our old hall because of student examinations. The class started off reasonably light with everyone finding their own space and focus on their own goal(s) whilst Humm Sensei would give one to one advice in how to achieve this. In the second half of the practice, we picked up the pace when we moved onto Uchikomi in small groups – there wasn’t a lot of time for a rest. We finished with Men-Uchi three times each.

The last practice of Kangeiko was challenging. Mental strength was required to battle our bodies fatigued condition. But practicing (almost) every day of the week strangely helped with this. The Motodatchi for the last part of the practice were 4 senior members and Humm Sensei. To finish off the practice, the 4 senior members had a short Keiko with Humm Sensei. Each member started off with a continuous Kirikaeshi for the length of the Dojo, followed by Kakarigeiko then finished with another Kirikaeshi.

This concluded Hizen’s 2013 Kangeiko.