Monday, May 7, 2012 - Shinsa

This past weekend was the Ito Cup tournament and shinsa event here in Colorado and it was a splendid experience. Just being around so many people who love Kendo really affirmed for me that Kendo is something important that I love as well and I am glad that I participated. Saturday was the team tournament day and Ben Senpai, Amaury Senpai, and I were competing together along with two other kenshi from New Mexico. I am very glad that I was able to be on the same team as Amaury and Ben! We were not sure whether we would be on the same team or not until the day before the tournament because Yamakage Dojo was unable to field a full team this time around. Our other two teammates were both very easy to get along with and their sensei had some excellent advice to give both before and after the competition had concluded. As far as rank goes, our team had two people who were testing for sankyu and three who were testing for ikkyu the next afternoon. Our first match was up against a team which had been fielded by the Kent Kendo Club and we were pretty much steam rolled. The Kent team was the same team which would later take first place in the tournament. But I think we all learned a lot from our matches with them and I know for a fact that I learned several valuable lessons. Among them is that I need to better protect my kote! The final point against me (no points were scored by me) was the cleanest kote-uchi that I have ever received.

Our second round in the tournament was against a team from Chung's Kumdo school and it was a very different experience! I had never gone up against someone who studies Kumdo and I found it a little confusing to deal with. Our opponents on this team felt much closer to our level (though I cannot speak to their actual ranks) but they were also very fast. It was definitely different. I could see the openings but my opponent also moved quickly enough to prevent me from being able to strike them in time. So obviously I need to put much more work into my timing and my poise from here on forward. Begey Sensei - the sensei from New Mexico and whose students were on our team - also told me that I extend my arms too far forward and that this reduces the power and accuracy in my strikes. So that is something I am going to focus on improving as well. I will also work on getting enough sleep before any future tournaments! Neither Ben, nor Amaury, nor I had slept well the night before the tournament. I actually did the entire day on maybe 90 minutes of sleep (with only three hours of sleep on the night before that as well) and I was exhausted the entire time. But at least the exhausted kept me relaxed! We should always look on the bright side. The next day was the shinsa (grading) and the last day of the event. I was not nearly as nervous about the grading as I had been about the tournament. Our approach to training at Yamakage Dojo is very technical and we do very little tournament-style Kendo in our classes. We also practice the examination basics regularly, with kirikaeshi and the kihon. So I was able to feel very prepared. I passed the examination and was ranked third kyu. So I am thrilled about that! Oh! And the tournament was also my birthday!

It feels good.


  1. It's good to read your posts again! Congratulations on your successful test, and be sure to take your tournament experience to heart and use it to improve your own kendo :-)

  2. Always!

    I learned so much from those two matches.