Kendo club hosts Invitational
Derek Barr wants to make the Stratford Kendo Invitational an annual event.
Saturday’s first attempt went better than expected, considering there was an ice storm that prevented some of the 45 registered competitors from making the trip to St. Michael Catholic Secondary School.
Those who did compete came from clubs in London, Toronto and Detroit, as well as five from the Stratford club.
“We’re very fortunate, and kendo in general is a very helpful group,” Barr said. “We’re all part of one association and we all bend over backwards to help each other as much as possible. We’re even luckier in the fact we have two older clubs in Western University Kendo Club and Forest City Kendo Club who help us out as well because that’s where I used to train before I started the Stratford club.
“Next year hopefully we can run a bigger tournament and have more competitors and a larger base of competitors. That’s the idea.”
Stratford’s club has 15 members, which hasn’t changed since a training tournament was held in the city in January 2017. Barr said beginner sessions will be offered next month to attract new members.
“It almost feels like a second family, the camaraderie, because in a sense it is a much more unusual martial art than something people recognize like judo or karate,” Stratford member Georges Kovari said. “You do tend to have a little more off-the-wall personalities who are drawn to this.”
Kovari, 37, grew up in Burlington and has bounced around clubs since taking up the sport 10 years ago.
“When you do play in only one club you tend to recognize everybody else’s style within your club and you know how to counter them,” he said. “By going to tournaments ... the more advantages you have because now you’re seeing various kendo (styles), and each sensei has their preferences as to what they like to teach and their favourite techniques they pass on.”
Several national team members were also on hand to ensure the event ran smoothly. They also practised with the competitors.
“It’s very important to have competition in kendo so the players have something to strive towards and work towards,” Team Canada women’s assistant captain ManSan Ma said. “Not only that, but an event like this helps the community (learn) how to run a tournament, how to run courts, and when you do shiai (fight) you recognize what your weaknesses are and what your strengths are, and it helps clubs come together as a team for team matches, so it supports each other in that way.”
For more information, visit Stratford Kendo Club on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stratford Kendo Club athlete Samuel Appavoo, right, competes during the first Stratford Kendo Invitational Saturday at St. Mike's.
Five members of the Stratford Kendo Club competed in the first Stratford Kendo Invitational Saturday at St. Mike’s. From left: Samuel Appavoo, Damon Kropf-Untucht, Georges Kovari, Zac Carter and Jack Dingwall.