One of the busiest times of the year for my high school kendo club is in March due to the amount of university invitational shiai we attend. These types of shiai are when university kendo clubs invite a number of high school kendo clubs to come to their university for a day of kendo. These competitions are basically commercials for both the university and it’s kendo club: “Look at our wonderful campus!” – “Our kendo club has a 90 year history!” – etc. The shiai are staffed by current members of the university club with shinpan duties and other senior tasks handled by a combination of current members and graduates (occasionally high school students have to referee).
Since these competitions are not formal there is no official representation by the high school kendo association and as such the refereeing can be a bit more relaxed than normal (university students are generally bad shinpan!!). Due to the invitational nature of the shiai high schools from different prefectures sometimes have a chance to face one another (something that happens less frequently than you may imagine).
The highlight of these types of competition tends to be the (often short, always hectic) godo-geiko session afterwards. These are a free for all: high school students, university students, high school kendo teachers, university kendo teachers, and university graduates all mixed up in a mosh-pit like keiko session.
Since these type of shiai don’t really happen outside of Japan I thought I’d share a little bit of information about them as well as put up a handful of pictures so you can get a feel for it. Also, check the video out at the bottom. Enjoy!
Here is a video clip of the same invitational shiai from back in 2012 (different hall):