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  • Shiai Reactions to 15 WKC in Novara

    Happened to watch the last few matches in the men's team event this morning. No doubt everyone over there are at this time still sleeping off hangovers, or maybe still celebrating!

    The Ustream worked surprisingly well I thought, for me at least. The chat window was moving too fast to read by the time it was Japan v Sth Korea! And an amazing array of languages were scrolling past as well. Well done to all at the AJKF HQ who set this up. I can imagine there would have been some resistance from the old turtles!

    Also, the camera sometimes adjusted its angle! Amazing how, when there's no alternative, you can be so thankful for small mercies like that!

    On to the Kendo. I watched some of the men's individual and none of the women's events. I'm regretting that now as many of the chat-window "commentators" were opining how the women's team even was far superior in terms of skill and decorum to the men's.

    There will be a flare up I'm sure about how the men's team finals were conducted. From my limited view via the internet I couldn't possibly comment on the judging. I can comment on how shocked I was by how vocal th crowd was, and in particular, how partisan they were: they didn't mind booing or whistling to show their displeasure at all. What was that like for those who were present?

    The other thing that stood out for me was how bad the Kendo was. Here I'm really talking about the final. It saddened me to see match after match where kenshi with massive levels of skill and experience were fighting like junior high school kids or worse. Far too much rushing in to taiatari and staying there. Far too much sanpomamori (blocking with the shinai tipi pointing at the ground, hands in front of face). Far too many useless attacks that bombarded the opponent when there was no opening, hoping for a "lucky strike".

    The worst thing however, was more than one Korean kenshi eyeballing the shinpan when they realised the point went against them. One Korean fighter stood almost toe-to-toe with one of the fukushin and eyeballed him for a good 5 seconds before walking back to resume the match. I don't care what the stakes are you're fighting for, and I don't care how many years you've been training or how bad the call was, that kind of behaviour is shameful. I missed whether all the Korean team bowed at the end. Many in the chat-window said there were two who did not.

    Several Japanese kenshi were guilty of playing extremely negative Kendo. Sticking to their opponent in taiatari. Using oshi-dashi as a point winning and/or intimitation tool. Generally not trying to play their own Kendo but simply trying to stifle their opponent's Kendo.

    Credit however to the Korean team member who offered a hand up to his fallen Japanese opponent. That one gesture was powerful enough to almost make one forget his teammates transgressions.

    The only piece of magic I saw was Shodai's hidari-do in the first few seconds of his match. In fact that match had a special feeling even on the small screen. Normally I would think Shodai's performance a bit too bouncy, but it seemed to me that he just exploded into the match and was being carried along by pure energy. His feet literally didn't seem to touch the ground very often!

    But apart from that I really felt no-one won yesterday. The presentation ceremony seemed hollow. I had to turn it off actually. The shinpan's performance, although I can't comment on the rightness of their decisions, but insofar as they are responsible for controlling the match an how the Kenshi behave within it, I thought they were a bit overwhelmed. They weren't terrible, they were adequate. But I think we'll see more and more calls for objective scoring technology to be used as a result of this WKC.

    I suppose I'm starting the ball rolling with this post because I want there to be some sensible, critical discussion about it, and mainly so that young Kenshi don't aspire to this kind of Kendo.

    What do others think? About the different shiai? About the shinpaning? About what it was like there on the day? And did the women display "better" Kendo, in terms on both technique and spirit?

    b

    PS - All credit to the organisers, it looked like a really well set-up and run event.

  • #2
    Just saw a set of videos of the final (I couldn't stay awake to watch it live).

    The Japanese stopped playing nice kendo after losing to USA at WKC13. After that, it became winning first, looking nice second. This is probably the strongest example of that.

    I think it's quite clear that shinpans sometimes become overwhelmed when dealing with Japan and/or Korea. Not just this WKC, but others as well. While there wasn't any seemingly horrendous calls here (There was in the individual semi-final), they instead completely failed to control the match.
    One section of it could easily have been fixed, namely stalling in tsubazeria by the Japanese. As I've mentioned before, they often fail to apply the basic tsubazeria rules at the WKC, although most of what I saw this year was much improved...until the final...

    After the senpo match, there was no way the shinpans could recover it...both in terms of the tsubazeria, but also not clamping down on the bad Korean behaviour....and especially the senpo..how do you penalize a guy, who after losing 2-0 behaves like a twat?..but part of that, they could also have cracked down on earlier. Further, the Koreans have nothing to gain by behaving like that. It does not give them more time, create more openings, etc. so while I would argue that the Japanese at least had a sporting excuse for doing what they did, the Koreans did not and it so very much go against the spirit of kendo and basic sporting behaviour.

    As for the solution: Apply the rules. I cannot comment on the calls/non-calls of points from the video, but I don't think that was really the problem. The problem was simply that the shinpans failed to control the match.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well I was lucky enough to be there as spectator so I give you my impressions. Things were going quite well until the final, we see very good matches were the fight was at the very last ippon, Italy vs Usa and Usa vs Korea in particular were very nice. Hungary Brazil and Canada were also very fun to watch, and they all show good kendo. Until the final Japan show us a very good kendo, almost all their matches were won 2-0 with perfect technique.
      On the korean behaviour I have mixed feelings. In the male individual competition and in the female team and individual competition they do their best to make themselves unlikeable to the public (going to the judge table to complain, not doing the final rei etc) so in the last day most of the public was (me included) supporting Japan. I must say that until the final, yesterday the Korea team had a good behviour, they won some difficult fights (USA above all) deserving it and with correctness.
      So until the final the whole competition was going well, shimpans made some normal errors but nothing excessive. Like I said above at the start of Japan vs Korea the public was mostly supporting Japan, then as the fights go on the support of the public reversed, liking most Korea. This was because of two factors, Judge mistakes and Japan players attitude. The shimpan errors were very big, and mostly in japan favour. The fight with Shodai was the balance point I think. The first korean player kote on his right kote while he was in zanshin (right kote attached to the body) seemed to be really clear, I had the sensation that shimpans had no idea of what to do, it is a quite rare strike after all. The rest of the Japan players close in like a turtle in a shell, we all knew their awesome kendo level and the attacking spirit they can show, these facts makes how they fight the remaining part of the match more umbeliveable and disappointing. But again I think is not mainly their fault as the shimpans consent it. Some korean behaviour are surely to blame but in the end I understand if they are upset, they were the most damaged in all this mess. Maybe we ask to much from our kendo idols (being them korean or japaneese), they are human too after all.

      Comment


      • #4
        I watched it live on ustream and all the matches were great, except the final. Nothing was 'beautiful' in the final. The crowd was noisy (and boo'ing), both Japanese and Korean kendo were not 'clean', and with some questionable calls. I think it's turning into a win-at-all-cost competition now...not something I expected from the elite Kendo players.

        Comment


        • #5
          I was forced to watch on my phone so I can't really comment on whether points were scored or referees decisions were correct or not. There may well have been instances that I thought people socred but no point was given. I think Andy is right, there is a huge amount of expectation on those particular teams, perhaps even more so than for individual success.

          I can't possibly imagine what those guys are going through when they are there, so perhaps we shouldn't be in a position to comment but I do know that I would have been ashamed if non-kendo friends had tuned in on my recommendation to watch the biggest and best kendo event in the world and witnessed that final. It was a poor showing of our arts finest, a display that marred an otherwise fantastic weekend where the spirit of kendo had been upheld.

          I think ultimately we must accept that those involved can do beautiful kendo but the event and the pressure to win overides this. Funnily enough that win at all cost attitude was referenced in this NY Times story just before the Championships began and in particular Ebihara Sensei had this to say:

          “It’s not about how to win. How to be is more important.”
          I think that's what we should all take away from the weekend. We saw some excellent kendo, we saw some awesome fighting spirit, sportsmanship and qualities and the final was unfortunately not up to those standards given the enormity of the situation. I admire all those for putting themselves through that ordeal even if the end result was disappointing.

          Comment


          • #6
            I disagree with it being about 'win at all cost' for the Japanese team this year...this year it seemed more like "don't lose" at all costs...and that's what made their kendo look so crappy. I agree that the only match really worth watching in the team final was the chuken match. The other matches all had something that just made me want to get on to the next match and hope something better would come along.

            I think the shinpan faced a real tough balancing act between trying to let the players decide the outcome and trying to keep the match fair... especially in the fukusho and taisho matches where Japan started to really stick in tsuba zeriai in earnest...My belief is that if Japan had not done so they might have been able to put the match away in the fukusho match, rather than losing that match. Having said that I have to say that while it seems unusual for that level of kendo it's certainly all too common these days for a team to get up a match and then stick like glue the rest of the way down.

            Regarding sportsmanship. I think, unfortunately just as the senpo match is supposed to set the tone for the team's kendo, in this case it unfortunately also set the tone for the Korean team's attitude. Here's my take on the Korean senpo. Maybe you disagree with the shinpan. Maybe you don't think that kote was ippon.. fine. Don't show disrespect to your opponent by just standing around and refusing the close the match. Furthermore, you can only hurt your _own_ team by behaving like that. As was pointed out there was a chance for the Korean team to turn around their sportsmanship in the chuken match but they didn't do it.

            <flame>
            I am sick and tired of kenshi throwing their head back in the air when an ippon is called. I am equally sick of kenshi glaring in disbelief when an ippon is called. I see this in competitions in the U.S. now I suppose it should be no surprise I see it in the World Champs. I think shinpan need to take control of that. Fair warning to those who compete in matches where I am shushin...if I see that I'm calling a gogi and we're going to discuss whether we need to tack a hansoku on to the ippon. If you're not sure why I can do this, read Art. 16 or the Shiai rules.
            </flame>

            I call on all on this forum who do shinpan to join me in this. We can make a difference and we should.

            Shame on the Japan team for putting not losing ahead of trying to win.
            Shame on the Korean team for acting like a bunch of drama queens.
            Shinpan...well we know they can always improve. As the head referee in the match once said to me...we need more shinpan seminar and
            practice.

            I think despite the sportsmanship issues, Korea showed the better kendo and that was probably what was scaring the Japanese team...and what caused them to go into don't lose mode. I think both country's kendo team organizing bodies need to take a good look at what kendo is all about and hopefully show some improvement in three years.

            Best match of the last three.. USA v. Korea...too mad Korea v. Japan couldn't show that level of kendo spirit.

            Comment


            • #7
              There's the kendo ideal, then there's the fear of getting vilified by the local press/public back in Korea/Japan. Human nature which results in what you saw yesterday. Its one thing disappointing a few thousand countrymen back home.... but imagine upsetting a few million?

              I'm unsure if I can say, hand on heart, that I would sacrifice a team result for a kendo ideal when I know my opponent may not feel the same way.

              At the end of the day the history book says WCK15 Winner - Japan. Any memory of this fallout will fade over time.

              Comment


              • #8
                WKC15 - damn my typo

                Comment


                • #9
                  I was appalled by the lack of manners both on the crowd's part and the Korean players'.

                  Just like we had serious issues with the crowd being too loud and annoying in the 14WKC in Brazil we see now the problem actually escalating. Booing the shinpan, really?? I shouldn't even be surprised, as I know for a fact that some people (dojo instructors for one) actually encourage supporters to be as loud as possible on ANY attempt at a point with the express intention of influencing the shinpan; helping to "tilt the flag", as it were. I think this is completely disgusting.
                  I hear there were cans being thrown in the court in 1988, so that's the new low that has to be topped in 2015, I guess. Hooray.

                  The Korean attitude is something to be studied. I agree completely with ben, it shouldn't matter what is at stake. Well, actually it should: their honour and face was at stake, more than the trophy, and they managed to lose all three. A positive, 'good loser' attitude would have earned them our respect and admiration in face of a technically disappointing Japan. It's completely obvious that that's not how things are seen in the peninsula, if their top players and senior instructors have THAT to show us. The Korean chuken was the worst, not only refusing to bow at ANY moment but staring down the shinpan as they walked past him after the match! Baffling.
                  The Korean body-language in the shiai-jo speaks volumes of their contempt for the shinpan's decisions. It's nothing short of second guessing, as if the players in the court were to decide the quality of their own points. The worst in this respect was the senpo, but there were several episodes of raising their heads in disbelief , like children.

                  I think a lot of people will say "they practice for years and then they are met with unfair judges", which would justify their bad behaviour. I ask, what exactly are they practising for years? They should be practising their behaviour!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I was disappointed by the failure to show proper reiho and spirit in the finals by both teams at times. I agree with what Ron said about the playing not to lose. While I was watching I was thinking to myself that they were spending almost 80% of the match in tsubazeriai. Although you can say that this is the shinpans fault for not enforcing the rules it is in fact the participants fault for doing it in the first place. The finals match was to me what kendo would be like as an Olympic sport and not budo. I think we all know what it is like to not have a strike called that we thought would be good or to have a strike called against you that you know wasn't really a yuko datotsu, but thats the breaks sometimes and you cannot abandon reiho. Rei is more important than winning and once it is not then kendo becomes merely a sport. You have to honor your dojo, your sensei and all who have come before by upholding rei. It just appears that this was not the case by either team in the finals yesterday unfortunately.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I am not going to argue with you about the bad behavior of couple of Korean players. They, especially, Senpo, sucked and unforgivable behavior. However, that doesn't represent whole peninsula doing same thing at the every kendo. Because one player in Japan does tsubazeriai at the one shiai, I do not make conclusion that whole island needs to practice better kendo. I am from Korea and I don't do that when judge makes bad call.

                      Originally posted by Abramo View Post
                      It's completely obvious that that's not how things are seen in the peninsula, if their top players and senior instructors have THAT to show us.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I still have to say I liked that Men's individual final competition. It was just good fight.

                        I just can't believe how bad it was at the team final, from all aspect.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rainmaker View Post
                          I still have to say I liked that Men's individual final competition. It was just good fight.

                          I just can't believe how bad it was at the team final, from all aspect.
                          I agree, the individual final was great, the sort of match you would expect of top level kendo.

                          The team final was...yea...bad, including the crowd. Loud and booing, really? That was a disappointing end to what was otherwise a great day leading up to the final. But kudos to one Korean player (can't remember which) who helped the Japanese player off the floor.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think it was chuken fight with Shodai sensei. Small but powerful gesture

                            Originally posted by flyingteddy View Post
                            I agree, the individual final was great, the sort of match you would expect of top level kendo.

                            The team final was...yea...bad, including the crowd. Loud and booing, really? That was a disappointing end to what was otherwise a great day leading up to the final. But kudos to one Korean player (can't remember which) who helped the Japanese player off the floor.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by rainmaker View Post
                              I am not going to argue with you about the bad behavior of couple of Korean players. They, especially, Senpo, sucked and unforgivable behavior. However, that doesn't represent whole peninsula doing same thing at the every kendo. Because one player in Japan does tsubazeriai at the one shiai, I do not make conclusion that whole island needs to practice better kendo. I am from Korea and I don't do that when judge makes bad call.
                              I don't think this can be merely singled out as an isolated episode that doesn't fit a general picture. I also think that the ultra-competitive mentality is making Japanese kendo look uglier in general; not only tsubazeriai but also defending, as ben quite accurately pointed out. Whatever happened to "There is no defence in Kendo"? To me it's also obvious this is not taken very seriously on the island...

                              You just show what you practised for, right? Goes for both sides.

                              Comment

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