written by: Ricky Daniel Reyes
edited by: Kristopher Inting
photo credits: Ricky Daniel Reyes, Gek Cagatan, Ice Empeno, Dioz Teoh
Editor’s Note: Members of the IGA-Kendo Club were able to participate in the 10th ASEAN Kendo Tournament, held in Penang, Malaysia last August 23-25, 2013. This event is held once every three years, and gathers together kendoka from the different ASEAN nations for three days of friendly competition and camaraderie. This was the first time that the Philippines participated in this event since 2001, and this edition was also the largest so far, with representatives coming from seven other ASEAN nations: Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei & Cambodia. The following article is the author’s personal thoughts on his experiences during the event.
So…ummm…where do I begin?
ZestAir, you…ARGH! No comment. I don’t hate you that much anymore because the flight pushed through and we made it. But again, you are such a headache.
Anyway, onward to the 10th ASEAN Kendo Tournament.
All of us Philippine delegates went, we had fun. So many kendo lessons learned, many kendo experiences acquired, many new friends made, and many many many (and I mean many…as in many) samples of good food that made us shout “no more”…but we didn’t care.
THE 10TH ASEAN KENDO TOURNAMENT
WOAH!! We really sent a Philippine team/representatives to the ASEAN Kendo Tournament. This is a big step for us. Making a mark of what Philippine Kendo is all about. And what IS Philippine Kendo all about? Philippine Kendo is…young.
Yep! Don’t you, kind readers, disagree with me. We are not like other ASEAN countries that have had kendo for much longer than we have. We don’t have many sensei who will teach us kendo every time we want to, we don’t have proper dojos to practice in, we don’t have the gear to use in kendo (or the chance to buy it locally anyway), and hell no with the thought of government support for us! Yep, I mean nothing! Hahaha! And why? Because kendo isn’t a big deal here in our country, our main sports here are basketball or boxing, sometimes billiards and chess. Kendo is really not included in the list of major sports. So yeah, being able to represent our country is a big deal for us as Pilipinos, and being able to attend as a country representative is really big for us Philippine Kendoka. Whatever dojo you may be, it’s not about where you train, it’s about making a mark in the kendo scene around the world.
WHO RUNS THE WORLD? GIRLS.
You may have heard this from Beyonce, but the kendo scene in the Philippines is being dominated by girls. It may sound frustrating for me for I am a guy, but yeah they have better results than us guys so far. I would like to take this opportunity to give a round of applause to the Manslayer and her Manslayerlettes, you really did great again. You didn’t win the championships but you exceeded expectations yet again. So I will focus the spotlight on you first.
WOMEN TEAM MATCHES. They are strong, they are beautiful, and they have beautiful kendo. The Taisho won another fighting spirit award, so congrats again Loida-mama! The current bucho won fights with her men-waza, so nice one Lex! My loving ate and former bucho executed a flawless men-kaeshi-do waza, and in international competition! This is a fatality! Go Ate Dardsie! My kendo daughter demolished an opponent with a TKO-like-Men-uchi which made her opponent lose her footwork and get knocked down on the floor (minus the infamous bunny hop mirror move). Proud of you Ejay! And there is NO WAY that I’d forget the last one. The only one who made it past to the second round of the women’s individual tournament! The silent but deadly warrior, the girl who can withstand the test of (over)time! Cheers to you, “Ice breaker”! So again guys, please do answer my question. Who runs the world?
D) All of the above
TIME TO PUT OUR BIG BOY PANTS ON
Men’s division…ARGHH! As the meme would say, “why you soooooooooo HARD?!?!?!?” And yes, it really is hard to compete with the other ASEAN countries. (And to think that the kendo Titans, Japan and Korea, were not represented there!) Dammmmnnn, they are really good. BUT… *insert smiley here* we are getting there, we are getting noticed. Being able to chat with some kendoka, the feedback is that our men’s team is strong, we really are! We were destined to lose early though, because we were unlucky. Why, you might ask? Because we were pitted against super-strong teams in our bracket, that’s why.
BUT! My sempais can score now unlike last March in Hong Kong! I can manage a hikiwake now against strong opponents! My kouhai can last longer in matches (in spite of losing)! So what does this mean? We are evolving fast! In the span of 5 months since the HK tourney, we can do these sorts of things now, even getting praise from some of sensei and kendoka watching us there. You need to train hard when facing hard opponents, so just like what I’ve said in a previous post (if you haven’t read it, back track NOW!): “I may be fast here, BUT out there, I’m one of the slow people. If you think my footwork is good enough here, OUT THERE, my footwork sucks!” There, I posted it again, but now I’ve experienced how the “level up” that sensei always tells us can happen. Our improvement is showing, it really is, and for it to happen in such a short span of time is really a wow for us. And on behalf of the men’s team and women’s team, we really want to thank Igarashi-sensei for guiding us. We wouldn’t be like this, our kendo wouldn’t be like this if it weren’t for you. Arigato Gozaimasu!
NOW FOR MY OWN EXPERIENCE
Since the women’s individuals took place on 4 different courts, I didn’t have the chance to watch them all. But during the women’s team matches, I was with them on the sidelines, acting as the helper with the tasuki, shinai, general support, etc. The women’s team didn’t made it to the finals, but they did great. I didn’t have the time to watch the other men’s team (PHI A) because we (PHI B) were having matches as well. We did great! Neil-sempai got a score and Kutch-sempai got a win (despite the controversial but trending ending – sorry I have to put this in)! The men’s individual took place simultaneously in different courts, so I wasn’t able to watch them all, but the only one who won a match is…hmmm…guess who? Clue: he is a so-so-man. Anyway, congrats to all of us for having great matches. Now on to my personal matches since this is my post and I made this article. LOL!
My first fights were during the individual competition. I first went up against a Singapore kendoka (Dax Quah), and then a Malaysian kendoka.
The first match was a loss, which was due to my incompetence I will have to admit. I didn’t notice that the court was smaller than the usual shiai court I was used to (it was smaller so that they could fit four in the venue). In addition, I did NOT have the chance to do warm ups. It really made me stiff, and caused me to rely on hiki waza a lot. I got caught out of bounds twice resulting hansoku nikai, and giving the opponent one hansoku ippon ari. Awwww…I lost focus and became more stiff, tried relaxing but it was too late. He scored a men-uchi on me resulting in his victory. Oh well…moving on.
Next match, I was more relaxed than in the first. BUT oh lord, first time to do a SHIAI with a nitou ryu user (well, not a very good one in my point of view coz I watched videos of nitou ryu when I was studying jodan no kamae and it is nothing like what I saw…no offense to my opponent, it was a great match naman)! And yes, I withstood the bashing of the nitou ryu user. I even attempted tsuki for the first time (in an actual shiai!), because it is open against a nitou ryu user. Lasted 5 minutes resulting in a hikiwake. This made me feel great because even if I didn’t score I lasted in a match with a nitou ryu. Not bad for a first timer, don’tcha think?? ^___^
First day of Godo Keiko, I had a few matches with some kendokas. Thailand’s manager – Thitiwat-san…err…he is the only one I can remember! I had 5 matches, and all I can remember is one?? What the hell? Let’s move on.
Team matches were on the 2nd day. As I was senpou of our team, Kutch-sempai asked me to deliver a good spirit and a lot of energy to start the team matches. I think in general I delivered, what do you think sempai? Senpou match was against Indonesia A’s Jesta Ghandama. After ASEAN, I chatted him via FB, and learned his stats. Scanning…Jesta Ghandama…Indonesian (duh!), shodan. Doing kendo for 9 years, planning to take ni-dan in HK next year (upon which I said good luck to both of us!). Funny thing is, he said he was nervous competing against me (OMG! There is actually someone out there who is nervous about facing me! Holy crap!). Confidence up! Hahahaha! Anyway, we had an exciting match, lasting the full 5 minutes resulting in a hikiwake. This against a 9 year kendo practitioner (and I’ve only been training for 3 years)! SEE!? We CAN compete against such people!! Oh lord…nakakakilig much!
Second team match (still senpou) was against Thailand A’s Chaiyanan Kulchaisit, or Oht for short (sabi nya eh). He won, 2 points, enough said. Thing is, he has been doing kendo for 15 years and I think he is a 2nd or 3rd dan holder. And I would like to think that I made the match hard for him. So it really is an accomplishment for me.
The day ended again with Godo keiko. I had jigeiko with Lai-sensei. Woooo grabe! He is OLD but his reflexes are damn fast, always getting debana men or debana kote on me, not to mention suriage men. Damn! But! ^____^ I scored at least one good katsugi-men, and it went in and he acknowledged it! WOAH!!! GRABEEEEE!!! SARAP NG FEELINGGGG!!!
I had keiko with a Vietnamese girl, whose name I forgot (sorry!). She is good like Ejay. Had fun having keiko with her.
Another one was MAI-sensei. Did I hear his name right? Apologies if I didn’t. Anyway, we were exchanging points, hehehe! He got me with a suriage-men, I got him with a debana-kote. He got me with a debana-men, I got him with a kote-nuki-men. He got me with a sashi-men, I got him with a fake men then gyaku-do! Oh hell yeah! It went in, and he acknowledged it! To be honest though, I think it was lacking proper zanshin. Then he said I’m good but I’m not maximizing my speed and height. He taught me how to hit debana-men, and he said I got the timing right, hehehehe!
Had a match with Neil-sempai. Exchanging ippons like what we usually do in Arena. ^___^
And just like during my HK trip, where I got a tsuki-ari on a nana-dan jodan user, I also had a highlight moment during Godo keiko! The moment: I had a match with my newly found kendo friend, the men’s individual champion Masayuki Shii of Thailand. Stats…scanning…Masayuki Shii…yondan…21 years old…been doing kendo since he was 6…son of 1 of the 3 founders of kendo in Thailand. So basically 15 years of kendo experience. He is fast. Damn fast. He wouldn’t be the champion if he wasn’t. Anyway by the time we had keiko, he has exhausted. I think he gave only 80% effort on me, but still he was damn fast with his moves. I felt could read him though, for some reason. Damn. Since he was tired, he requested an Ippon shobu (one point match, one point then game over). We wound up doing 4 exchanges:
1) I tried doing sashi-men, but he countered with a debana-kote that missed.
2) He faked kote, but I reacted and tried to hit his kote. He managed to counter with a kote of his own. Both missed.
3) He faked a men, and then went in with a men-uchi anyway (that missed). I tried doing nuki-do but it missed.
4) For the last strike, I faked a kote, and he reacted with a kote uchi. I countered with a katsugi-men, and (OH LORD!) IT WENT IN AND HE ACKNOWLEDGED IT! T_____T Damn…I scored a men strike on the AKT CHAMPION! I know he was not 100%, but his 80% was already on par with my 110%! So scoring on him was really a big deal to me! Now I can tell my grandchildren that I once beat a kendo champion! LOL! Bwahahaha! It was a nice match. And I was honoured to have a match with him, regardless of the outcome.
Then the day ended. We were all exhausted. But we have one more match. The last match with whom you may ask? Nah, not with a whom but against a what. FOOD. Sayonara party WOOOT!
The food at the 360 Degree revolving restaurant at City Bayview Hotel’s roof deck was great. The people we met during the party were awesome! The drum taiko kurenai were good and cute (yup, delegates should be able to understand this!).
But it was during the after party where we had the best time. The food, for one, was really better outside the hotel. After buying our favorites, we went to the “Coach’s Room Party” and it was a blast! The murtabak was good, not to mention our favourite mushroom rotti and rotti cheese! The Philippine delegates favourite drink of the night was Teh Tarik. The rice noodle which was really hard to spell and the kropek-like food (the name of which I forgot) were really awesome. PIGGIN’ OUT IN PENANG IS REALLY GREAT! But then again, all that pigging out has consequences. “What you eat in Penang, stays in Penang.” Fufufufufu ^_______^
THE AWESOME MOMENTS ASEAN
The Crack of the Day, which the whole venue heard! A shinai broke in half as a competitor attempted kote, but his shinai slid into the do of his opponent who was moving forward. *CRACK!!!!!!!*
The Awesome Tsuki of the Hachidan Kondo-sensei, which made not just the opponent back off but the whole aite line as well.
The Jodan versus Jodan Quarter Final Match, which had the most “malutong” na sound of any men-uchi the tournament.
The Final Matches of both Men’s and Women’s Individual Divisions.
The Awesomeness of Suresh-sensei’s Kendo. OH MY LORD!!! The DO…nothing to compare with…the timing, the quickness, the flawlessness, the real beauty of a simple DO strike! It is really LEGEN…wait for it…oh, and his second point where he executed a makiotoshi-men which almost made his opponent’s shinai fly off his hands…DARY!!! LEGANDARY!!! *fist bump*
The Eye Popping, Jaw Dropping Taste of Ate Yoli and Ate Rose’s Bandung Cincai! It was a stroke of good luck that brought us to their cafe near the tournament venue! By the way, Ate Yoli (Malaysian) stayed in the PH for 15+ years. She lived in Manila, San Pedro (Laguna), and Batangas. She speaks fluent Tagalog and Batangueño (ala eh! Hahaha!). Ate Rose is a Filipina who migrated to Malaysia by way of Davao. Hehehe, THE BANDUNG CINCAI experience is really at the top of the charts! Plus they gave us free bandung cincai on the last day of the tourney.
The Comedic Entrance of Akita-sensei in the Waiting Area. With toothbrush in hand.
The EPIC Banana Crunch McFlurry.
The “50-Dollar” Chant. LOL!
The Door Number 2.
The Mirrored Bunny Hopping.
The “So Basically” Interpreter.
The “No Doping” Speech.
The Missing Bogu Bag.
The Forgotten Passport.
The Trending Taisho Match, in which a certain event is erased by selective amnesia.
The “I Thought You’re Dying” Line.
And too many more to mention. Hayyy…
Again, CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF US!!! Win or lose, we keep on evolving. We will achieve glory in the future as we grow and as our kendo progresses. And, as I’ve said in the HK post, next year it might be YOU who will get the recommendation for shodan exam and tagging along our adventures out there, where the kendo you know is different! Bwahahahaa!
LET’S ALL TRAIN HARDER AND ALWAYS ENJOY KENDO!!! ^_____^
About the Author: Ricky is definitely one of the more (if not THE most) enthusiastic students of the club. He hopes to channel that enthusiasm into greater things for his personal Kendo and for the club in general. Keep on fighting Ricky!