Canterbury kendo students win big
The local Canterbury kendo community has proven ‘‘the way of the samurai’’ – the Japanese martial art of sword fighting – is alive and well following a big win at a national competition last weekend.
Kendo students Kai Edwards, 16, Masa Matsunami, 17, Kirk Reyes, 18, and Yuma Tamaki were among nine Sei Tou Ken Yu Kai Canterbury Kendo Club players to attend the Rembuden Taikai in Wellington on October 7-8.
The event marked the end of the competitive kendo season with around 60 players from around the country competing for titles.
Kendo players score points by striking their opponent’s head, hand, torso or throat with a shinai (bamboo sword).
Edwards became the first jodan (sword above the head) player in New Zealand to take the Men’s Junior Dan title after winning all bar one fight.
‘‘The best part was knowing that all the hours of training and the blood, sweat, and tears put into them were worth it in the long run,’’ he said.
The win was followed by a fiercely competitive Team’s Open event where Matsunami, Reyes and Tamaki – one of the youngest teams in the competition – went head to head with Auckland’s Daehan Mudo Kwan team – one of the most experienced teams.
‘‘At first I was scared of versing them, but after we did our team huddle, all our feelings became one and we were able to do our best against them,’’ Tamaki said.
The four local high school students went up against two senior members of the New Zealand representative team, both of whom had been to world championship competitions for kendo.
Reyes said preparing for the final meant thinking about all the things he had learnt over the past year.
‘‘I thought about all of the tips and advice I received from my peers and teachers and thought about what my ‘best result’ is and the things I’m most confident about in my kendo,’’ he said.
For Matsunami, who started kendo when he was just five years old, making it to the finals of the team event was one of his greatest achievements.
‘‘I’ve never made it into a final in the team’s section of the Rembuden Taikai and DMK has won the event for the past two years. It was a massive achievement.’’
Canterbury Kendo Club coach Blake Bennett said he was pleased to see the club do so well at the national event.
‘‘The team has put in an enormous amount of preparation on and off the dojo floor.
‘‘They set goals, developed their communication skills, and focused on strategy. The result was a group of confident young athletes with a very bright future,’’ he said.
Kirk Reyes, 18, Yuma Tamaki, Kai Edwards, 16, and Masa Matsunami, 17, were among nine Sei Tou Ken Yu Kai Canterbury Kendo Club players to attend the Rembuden Taikai in Wellington last weekend.