Note: this is a guest post by Jon Fitzgerald.
This year saw Tora Dojo host the 6th London Cup. Once again we were lucky enough to be joined by kenshi from all over Europe, including various current and former national team members. Countries taking part included France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Over the years we’ve been amazed and touched by the support and interest in the competition. This year was no exception, the taikai had 175 registered participants. 33 teams in the team championship, 32 ladies, and 125 men registered. We also received the continued support of John Howell Sensei 7th Dan Kyoshi, Geoff Salmon Sensei 7th Dan Kyoshi, and Terry Holt Sensei, 7th Dan Kyoshi. As well as the matches themselves, which ran on Saturday and Sunday, there was ji-geiko on Friday evening and each day of the Taikai after the matches. Many competitors also joined the regular Tora Dojo practice on Thursday evening, where we had 45 people taking part in the keiko.
It was great to see so many people not only enjoying the shiai, but also the ji-geiko together. As a goodwill taikai the most important thing to us as organisers is letting people come together and enjoy kendo together. Making new friends, seeing great matches, and experiencing kendo that they might otherwise had not had the chance to.
In the team event this year, a mixed team from France, and Sweden took the gold, after a close fought final against Tora Dojo’s A team. The final saw fights between German, Swedish, British, and New Zealand national team members, as well as a former French national team member and rival club level fighters. The were also Nito and Jodan fighters! So it proved to be a very varied showcase of kendo at a great level. Bronze medals went to North West a mixed team from England, and Scotland another mixed team. Both teams were made up of British team members and their dojo mates.
Regardless of the finals, the event saw some great players all throughout the rounds. Especially a mixed team from Switzerland that consisted of national team members from Switzerland and Germany, and Mumeishi 1, a very strong team made up of high level Japanese competitors 4th Dan to 6th Dan.
The individual events also offered some great matches, with some very close fights all day. This year saw Sabrina Kumpf from Arrau take gold in the ladies event, and for the first time a non Japanese fighter took gold in the mens individual, Dominik Christ of Tora Dojo.
Once again we would like to thank everyone who came to London and made the Taikai so special. Without the competitors, who also helped as Shinpan, the event would be nothing. Thanks also to our Sponsor Sankei International who have supported us with fantastic medals and trophies over the years.
We very much look forward to another exciting event next year, and hope to welcome many more of you to London in 2014!
1st Place – Sweden/France combination team (MMM)
2nd Place – Tora A
3rd Place – North West 1
3rd Place – Scotland
Fighting Spirit – Sarfraz Aziz, Mumeishi Dojo London
1st Place – Sabrina Kumpf, TenDoKan Aarau Switzerland
2nd Place – Yukie Williams, Oxford
3rd Place – Melissa Keranovic, TenDoKan Aarau Switzerland
3rd Place – Masumi Owa, Wakaba Dojo London
Fighting Spirit – Laure Bellivier, Shung Do Kwan Geneva, Switzerland
1st Place – Dominik Christ, Tora Dojo London
2nd Place – Mathieu Schoch, Tshiku Sei Kan Basel, Switzerland
3rd Place – Jon Fitzgerald, Tora Dojo London
3rd Place – Hirohito Tanaka, Mumeishi Dojo London
Fighting Spirit – David Bryce, Scotland
Photos courtesy Debbie Bevan and Chris Seto.