Kendo club hosts In­vi­ta­tional

The Beacon Herald - - SPORTS - CORY SMITH SPORTS EDITOR

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 derek@choco­late­barrs.com.

CORY SMITH/THE BEA­CON HER­ALD

Strat­ford Kendo Club ath­lete Sa­muel Ap­pavoo, right, com­petes dur­ing the first Strat­ford Kendo In­vi­ta­tional Satur­day at St. Mike's.

CORY SMITH/THE BEA­CON HER­ALD

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.

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