Monday, 7 April 2014

The 2014 JKA Kumamoto Prefecture Championships

The JKA Kumamoto Prefecture Championships
Jodan mawashi-geri.
I really enjoyed the weekend, competing in the JKA (Japan Karate Association) Kumamoto Prefecture Karate-Do Championships. It was the first tournament I have entered in for nearly a decade, so I was very-very `rusty’. The last time I competed in men’s individual kata and kumite was in 2005 (and team kata 2006). I really have to say it was so much fun after not competing for so long; moreover, for those of you have who have entered traditional karate-do tournaments, there is nothing like competing here in Japan.
Chudan mawashi-geri to the back.
Another keriwaza... Having fun...
Above and beyond my own involvement in the competition, I was really happy to see the up-and-coming youngsters on their road to this year’s JKA All Japan Championships; also, to be able to encourage them at ringside. To see what Nakamura Shihan and Nakamura Sensei are doing with them is nothing less than awesome. The level of these young kids is outstanding. Undoubtedly, this is due to the high level training they are receiving on a daily basis. By observing this training and being regularly used to assist, I am learning so much—from an instructional perspective.

How I went... Insofar as my events went, it was a bonus for me to attain second place in the men’s individual kata. While I got the highest scores, two of the seven judges scored me extremely low. While one of the low scores was dropped, the second low score caused me to fall into the silver medal position. Based on my own performance, I think the low scores were very fair as they reflected current execution of Nijushiho: much more work to do!

In the men’s individual kumite, I lost in the first round. My opponent beat me fairly—as I wasn’t really there. To all of those who have fought me in the past, it was a typical case of my `first round jinx’… I either get defeated in the first round or `warm-up’ get to the finals… That being said, I would not have won this time, irrespective of any subsequent rounds—as my heart wasn’t in the match. I didn’t even warm-up before the match and just enjoyed it.... I played around... Accordingly, this was reflected by my use of kaiten uraken in the bout (as pictured below). Anyway, the instructor who eliminated me fought the eventual champion.  Unfortunately though, he was disqualified for excessive contact with a very nice jodan gyaku-zuki. It was just bad luck that he didn’t win through to the next round. I certainly would have given him an ippon and given his opponent keikoku (a cautioning) for muboubi (failing to rationally guard himself).

Kaiten uraken (spinning back fist)...





 Morooka San's awesome kumite: the personal highlight of the tournament for me
Morooka san's cool take down - virtually into seiza - and finish!
Again, Morooka San totally dominates his opponent.
My training partner and good friend, Morooka San, fought beautifully and was `by far’ the strongest in the tournament. But, as it turned out— what I would have scored as two `ippon’s’, were penalties. The final technique he executed, in my opinion, was by far the best waza in the championships. He threw his opponent down, like bowing in seiza, and dropped a large scale punch onto the back of his head. Going by the gasps, the audience was just as impressed as I was. Following this bout, his opponent managed to fight on to attain the bronze medal.

Morooka San's awesome punching attack. No point, even though I  was screaming "IPPON" from the side line.

Morooka San fought brilliantly, but lost the match. He exemplified my motto: lose magnificently. A true budoka and true karateka.
Clearly, due to the excellent training of Nakamura Shihan, and Nakamura Sensei, the dojo won numerous medals at the championships. Two of the juniors won titles in both their kata and kumite events, which was irrefutably an exceptional result. More importantly, the competitors all demonstrated excellent karate-do spirit and traditional budo karate technique. Lastly, I would again like thank Nakamura Shihan and Nakamura Sensei for their excellent training; furthermore, Morooka San (also Sachiko and Rinko), and my other team mates from the JKA Central Kumamoto Dojo. Oss, André 

© André Bertel. Aso-shi, Kumamoto. Japan (2014).
Nakamura Shihan and me after the conclusion of the 2014 JKA Kumamoto Prefecture Championships. Nakamura Shihan was one year junior at Taku Dai under my late teacher Asai Tetsuhiko Shihan... Continuing a tradition!

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