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.

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