OXFORD TAIKAI- 27th January 2013

On the early hours of a rainy Sunday morning of the 27th January 2013, a group of young(ish) Hizen members travelled to Oxford to take part in a small friendly competition. The venue was a little difficult to find but everyone found it… eventually.

When all the members were finally present, we only had a short time to warmup. So after one kirikaeshi each it was time for the opening speech of the taikai. First up was Nari against an experienced GB Squad member. After a fairly even fight a brief lapse in concentration towards the end of the shiai led to him losing 1-0.. Next up was Chi against our old friend James Dolan (Former member of Hizen). Chi demonstrated good kendo and scored two clean ippon and was through to the next round. Tatos and Doug fought at the same time but both had excellent results in their first round with a clean sweep. Doug in particular showed good spirit considering his experience levels. Antoine dispatched his opponents quickly and efficiently and so all were through to the next round. Following round Chi and Tatos both came across squad members (who came 1st and second eventually). Both Tatos and Chi fought very well not being intimidated at all and coming close on several occasions to the ippon they so desired. Doug fought valiantly against same opponent who had beaten Chi in the previous round and fought and stood his ground. He showed control above his grade and also gave the squad member a hard time. Antoine however had silently been going through the rounds and was through to quarter finals. He fought very well against the eventual winner and did very well. He showed good kendo form and didn’t get involved in some of the close distance fighting. It was good to observe that all members tried to do good kendo and spent very little time in tsubaserei. Other individuals present made a point of wanting to practice jigeiko at the end so clearly a good sign of also wanting to practice clean kendo. For the Hizen members the individuals were over but the important team competition still awaited and we wanted to make sure we did well.

Jeff Martin from Hizen took part in the ‘4th dan and above’ category where less than 10 people participated in. Jeff looked calm yet assertive in his match, but in the end lost the match to his opponent.

The Hizen team consisted of Tatos in Senpo, Antoine in Jiho, Doug in Chuken, Chi in Fukusho positions and Nari as Taisho.

There were a total of 11 teams and during the course of the day, the organisers made slight changes in both the draws and fighting order. Hizen were drawn up against a strong and experienced team. To make sure everyone in the team was focused and understood what was required of them, the Taisho gave an encouraging prep talk. Everyone was fired up and looking forward to their own shiai bout. But due to a last minute change by the organisers Hizen will no longer be fighting first on the shiajo.

The wait was a little frustrating but eventually it was Hizen’s turn to step into the shiajo. Everybody showed good positive Kendo and brought the practice to their opponents – attacking at every opportunity they could perceive. But unfortunately, the experience of the other team did prevail in this match up and meant that the Hizen team was unable to progress further in this competition.

Despite losing, each member was able to take away something from this experience – be it a valuable lesson learnt or renewed motivation to improve; they all wish to bring this back to their own practices in the dojo.

The support and company made the day a very enjoyable one. Thank you everyone!