Today I spent the whole day at yet another university invitational shiai for high school students (it’s that time of year!). I got up at 6am and was greeted with a cold and rainy Osaka morning. Jamming a banana in my mouth, I bought a coffee at the nearby convenience store and headed over to Kyoto.
As usual, the day went as follows:
– opening ceremony and morning shiai (preliminary rounds)
– lunch break and another warmup
– knock-out rounds
– godogeiko with university students and graduates
Of the different type of shiai I attend, I much prefer these invitational ones to “official” shiai because of the always-included (if short and frantic!) godogeiko session at the end.
Zusetsu Kendo Jiten (A pictorial encyclopaedia of kendo) is a wonderful A4-sized hardback book published in 1970. The book’s authors, Nakano Yasoji (hanshi hachidan) and Tsuboi Saburo (kyoshi nanadan), were backed up by input from one of the most famous kenshi that ever lived, Mochida Moriji (hanshi, judan).
The book starts with some beautiful colour plates including Mochida and Nakano sensei performing kendo no kata at Noma dojo as well as some random snaps from the 1969 All Japan Kendo Championships.
The rest of the book is in black and white and includes lots of pictures of waza and diagrams of this and that. A nice weighty book, it’s fairly comprehensive and easy to understand, and would make a nice addition to any kenshi’s library… even if they don’t read Japanese.
Back in May I announced that I was having a re-think about what to do with kenshi 24/7 and then in September I posted a notice saying that I was semi-retiring posting content… at least for the “time being.” I tried to start a more casual blog on the side, but things in life (work!) are moving at warp-speed at the moment and my energy soon exhausted itself. Perhaps, if I can get myself organised properly, I’ll try to make another attempt at either a re-boot of the main site or some other side project next year.
Still, despite the hectic work schedule I haven’t stopped doing kendo… just not at the 2〜3 keiko/day rate I have managed over the past decade or so. I continue to post original media and share quality content to the Facebook page, so be sure and like it if you haven’t already.
Lastly, thanks to everyone for your continued support over all these years. Whether you’ve read an article, shared something, or bought a publication, I hope we can have the chance to do kendo sometime in the future. Cheers!
The crème de la crème of the Osaka shiai-circuit were out in force today to take part in the Osaka preliminaries for the Kokutai taikai (“National athletic meet”). What that translates to exactly is young tokuren police professionals, jitsugyodan (semi-pro business teams), and teachers. The odd random person tried their luck to (but to little avail): out of the 8 spots on offer (sempo, jiho, chuken, fukusho, and taisho for the mens team, sempo, chuken, and taisho for the ladies) 6 were decided by shiai, and the other 2 (mens and ladies taisho) by recommendation. All the spots save one were taken by professional police kenshi, with fhe final position being won by a prison guard.
I was there not only to support friends who were competing and to take pictures, but also because my students were selected for shiai-jo work (time keeping, score recording, etc.). Anyway, here is a small gallery of pictures from todays shiai. Enjoy!
Information about the Kyoto taikai in English was pretty much non-existent when I first attended, and it was rare to see another non-Japanese person there to either watch or take part in the embu itself, so it was awesome again this year to see so many people from all different countries hanging around the Butokuden and taking part in one way or another.
Before I share a bunch of pictures from this years event, I’ll add it a wee bit of bonus information just for fun!
Everybody that comes to the event is immediately – rightly so – attracted to the Butokuden itself, a beautiful building that was completed in 1899. After WWII it kind of had a rocky patch, but now it’s a designated cultural asset of Kyoto city so we can be sure it will be here for a long time.
FYI, the other (larger) dojo that was on the grounds (built in the 30s) and the actually Budo Senmon Gakko (Busen) school buildings were knocked down by the occupying American forces. The Butokuden spared that fate because the military used it for something or other.
Anyway, what I want to draw your attention today is the often overlooked gate to the south of the Butokuden, which was the main entrance to Busen. This was originally one of the gates on the personal residence of the security administrator for Kyoto in the Edo period. In 1867 that public office was disbanded due to the volatile political situation and eventually the residence dismantled. At that time (I assume in 1898/9) the gate was moved to it’s current location.
The gate does not only have an interesting history, but it is at least multiple decades (or even more?) older that the Butokuden itself. Unfortunately it’s always kept closed now, and the area in front of it is used as a bus parking area. Next time you visit the Butokuden, please go and check it out!
The kendo tachiai are from days two through four (day one is for koryu, iaido, and jodo), and always fall on the “golden week” national holidays of May 3rd-5th (why it’s called golden “week” is a mystery). This is the “main event” of the Kyoto Taikai.
Here are a handful of pictures from those three days.
Free practise in the budo centre
The modern Budo Centre building next door (built in 1986) is thrown open for free use on April the 4th every year. Both large groups and small bunches of friends organise meet-ups on the day and do some keiko in the spacious hall. It’s 100% open, so anybody can just bring their bogu, suit-up, and find a partner to do kendo with.
The Eiga brothers
That’s it for now! I have some video to edit but I’m not sure when I will get around to it. In the meantime, sleep…. !
EDIT: I put together some clips and uploaded them on to YouTube. I neither have the patience nor the inspiration to make serious video, so please don’t expect too much !!