With the relaxing of mask mandates (requests) by the Japanese government this month and the ZNKR following suit, we are starting to see progress on the returning-to-normal front. Kendo-wise, the ZNKR have said something to the effect of (abridged):
You don’t have to wear masks during kendo anymore but, if you choose not to, please wear a shield.
The Japanese government will reduce COVID-19 to the same medical status as influenza starting on the 8th of May which, in theory, should allow us to abandon both masks and shields. However, the ZNKR has stated that the current mask/shield wearing guidelines will stay in effect for another year. Yes, you read that right. So, if you intend to visit Japan for kendo soonish, I’d suggest you bring both a mask and a shield with you just in case.
Note that this years Kyoto Taikai is not open to non-participants yet. If you are participating in the taikai then you are allowed to stay on site and watch on the day your embu is on, but not on other days. This is a vast improvement on last year. I expect it to be back to normal for next.
Pre-pandemic I wrote about how March is always a super crazy month for me. Although we haven’t returned to anything like that yet, I did manage to squeeze in a couple of shiai, a godo-renshu, and had a few guests round, so it’s not been all bad. Like I did in past years, let me share a handful of photos.
This is only our second invitational this year. In the past we’ve had up to five. Unfortunately pandemic restrictions were still in place, with the boys and girls competitions being split into a.m. and p.m., and no godogeiko at the end (the best part of these types of competition). My girls team managed third place!
If you read about my super crazy March above then you already know the format of this shiai: two team competitions and two individual competitions. The individual competitions are for “beginners” that is, people who started kendo in high school (April 2022). In normal competitions they have next to zero chance of winning, so this is a nice chance for them. I personally believe that all prefectural kendo organisations should be required to do more competition for less experienced students.
My boys won the team even last year, but this time the girls won it. We also placed 1st and 3rd in the girls individuals. Only five days since the last competition, my girls were on fire!
I really should step back a bit but..
Lastly, as I noted in my crazy March post, back in 2019 I was looking to ease my kendo life up. After two years of that being enforced due to the pandemic, I am a little bit wary of everything ramping up again, especially as my daughter is still young. However, last year and this, the young kendo teachers that I was using to offload jobs onto have been moved schools… I do have a couple of other teachers that can help, but it will basically be me running everything by myself again from now on. It used to be this way a few years ago, but I didn’t have a kid and I was younger and fitter. I am a bit wary of the busy kendo year to come.
Anyway, that’s all for today’s mini article. Another longer one will be out soon tackling a potentially dangerous subject! Keep your eyes peeled.