Due to a wedding reception and lots of booze I was only able to attend the team competition on Saturday. Sunday was a write off with a horrible hang over, i'm glad I didn't sign up for both days.
This year I was fighting senpo for our 'B' team and was the first time I've had the responsibility of setting the pace by fighting first. I was hoping to put in a good show to try and settle a couple of team members nerves who'd never fought in a competition before.
Well, that was my plan.
Our first opponents in the pool stage was 'International Men'. This team comprised of a mix of Swedish and Greek (I think) fighters. They had already fought and beat our second opponents (UCL A) before we lined up in front of them.
I wasn't feeling that nervous when I entered the shiai jo. However, on the shout of 'HAJIME!' all I can say was I froze... I felt like a rabbit in the headlights and not in control at all. The guy I was fighting was very nippy and attacked at speed, I seemed to be second best the cut every time. I could suggest that he was already warmed up from his first fight but he was simply much better then me. I was finished off before the bell with two men cuts. The rest of the team tumbled to a whitewash with the exception of Oli (our Taisho) who managed a draw.
I was very disappointed with myself and felt I'd let the team down. Saying that, 'International Men' ended up taking third place so we were fighting experienced players.
Our second match against UCL A was straight up after. I was determined to give it a better go so tried to increase my kiai and aggression. I cant really remember much of the match but I recall chasing the guy around the shiai jo every time he did the old 'cut and run away' thing, it must have looked amusing from the sidelines. I managed ippon first, I think we both went for men but I snuck my cut in first... unfortunately, he took a point back with a men after I performed a dodgy kote. Drat.
The rest of the team gave it the best but we defeated in the end with three losses and two draws. Unlucky chaps.
It was nice to see our team members gain experience in the competitive side of kendo and for the first time I kind of enjoyed the fight. I didn't feel the terror of previous years, I just need to start winning some matches.