Thursday, January 15, 2015

24th Midwest Championships
So we have just finished competing in the 24th annual Midwest Championships.  What a great time and a great finish for myself and Zakiah.  The only two who went.  Anyway, the week previously MSU hosted the founding senseis the Hayashi brothers  Hachidan kyoshi for a visit to the midwest.  This was one of the highlights of my kendo career.  Without these two senseis kendo would not have started at MSU and Ron would not have found it, then I would not have found it.  So I was looking forward to their vist.  For me it started on saturday as they visited Detroit Kendo Club.  They were amazing instructors and took the time to teach and fight harder then you could imagine for people in their 70s.  Next they visited the MSU club and those who went can share their stories.

After that they visited us at Eastern.  Now, running a dojo is one thing, when your kendo grandparents come to visit for the first time is an entirely different thing.  What a night.  From their comments on men to the jigeiko and then the daini dojo for discussion and fun, one of the best moments in my kendo life. 

Then it was on to the tournament in chicago.  After a 6 and a hlaf hour drive, normally 4, to chicago I got there in time for most of the practice they were hosting with the Hayashi brothers.  Another great practice and second dojo later it was time for the tournament on saturday. 

The taikai starts with sandan and above so we were up first.  I fought against Zhe from UofM and fought my way to a victory with a men.  Then I was up against an old friend of mine Okanda san from Chicago.  We have fought a good deal of times and I have always managed to get a point for victory.  This time I did get a men but it was not enough.  The shimpan were not as adept as usual for this level and missed a kaeshi men of his and a kote of mine.  But as it goes, that doesn't matter and when I dropped my guard he got a do.  Now I had to make it up and he got another do to end my matches in the divison.  It was a great fight.

Then shimpan all day.  At that point I saw some great matches from Zakiah who took home the gold in the Junior divison for teams and individuals.  Great job.

After lunch it was on to the teams.  Now, I was there alone so I was asked by Chicago to be a part of their team.  You have to understand that these are the people that I grew up in kendo with and always admired.  Being on their team was like your big brother asking you to go to the game with him or something. 

The team matches were awesome.  We fought against Detroit D first and I was able to get a men and then get my opponenet out of bounds twice.  Two points for me and we went on to win the rest of the matches.  Next up was Wisconsin A.  I was up against someone who was good but a strong pusher.  No big deal as I got his men and then threw his shinai out of his hands into the crowd.  After that we won the match and the court.  Third place guaranteed.  We were then up against Battle Creek.  Matsuura sensei and Travis Hill for a chance to be in the finals against Choyokan. 

First up it was Ronan vs. Matsuura.  Ronan did a great job of holding him off and then Matsuura got one point just before the whistle blew.  I was up next against Trusevich.  I knew he was going to try to hold and get a tie so I went hard.  So did he.  As the match went no one got ippon.  I went in for men and he ran his shinai into my chest.  This caused me to lose my breath and to have to ask for time.  I did and then got back up to fight.  After some more, not very clean kendo from either of us, the match ended in a tie.  Then Travis took out Condon and we were down by 3 points.  Shio was up next and she took care of her opponenet so we were down by 1 now.  It was Inoue vs Chaffin and I knew Chaffin would try to hold for the tie.  He did and that was the end of the match.  We took home third.  I later found out that my rib was factured from the missed tsuki but that's kendo.

After an extremely late night banquet the exam was the next day.  Zakiah passed his shodan exam and the ride home with a broken rib was lots of fun. 

Overall, it was like doing kendo when I started, fighting with my old friends, and visiting with the Hayashi senseis.  What a week of kendo.  I am now out for 2-3 weeks but cannot wait to get back on the floor.  Gambatte.

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