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If you want to prepare for a shiai, you need to do extra practice besides your regular practice. And not kata.
Shiai practice certainly includes in-house judged matches with a regulation shiai-jo marked out, so you can get used to dealing with the etiquette and the penalties. You also need to have some experience with judges raising flags and calling directions so you react properly. For example, not stopping when you see a flag, that sort of thing.
You might also need some special instruction for team matches so you understand the job of each player, what your role is in a given position and when the score is such and such. In that case you might need to do some drills for those roles. For example, how do you handle the situation where no matter what, you must not lose (ie a tie is OK, a win is better but a loss is not worth trying to win). This sort of defensive kendo is... um... discouraged normally.
So my answer is you need a good regular keiko plus you need shiai keiko.
I believe Neil basically summed it up pretty well, but I though I might add my experience in competition in general. The primary challenge with preparation is it depends on the person and the starting point. If you are about to compete at the 13th WKC the level and methods are going to be different then if you are planning on attending the local federation championship as a 4th Kyu. Below are my recommendations for the studenst in the Dojo I belong to.
1. Practice basics
2. Go to as many practices as you can
3. Light keiko
4. Learn to go through with every hit
2nd Kyu to Sho-dan
1. Refine Basics
2. Ojii waza
3. Shiai practice
4. Kakari keiko
2-dan and up
1. same as above
2. Practice at other dojos
3. Steal waza
1. Practice lightly before shiai (dont get injured)
2. Be Mentally prepared before you leave your house in the morning
3. Watch the matches before you match as if you were playing.
as for your question
1 and 3 (not sure how kata would help shai?)
I hope that this advice will help you for your next tournament:
First, let me comment on that experiment:
The kata group may simply have been stronger players and the keiko group was probably tired from all that keiko haha
Back to the topic. One forgotten element about tournaments is fitness. Do you get enough conditionning, do you eat right, and do you get enough sleep? I try to do conditionning outside of Kendo and eat right leading up to Shiai.
As for in-dojo training, yes, I usually skip Kata for a month or so before Shiai. However, I do not increase Ji-Geiko or Shiai-Geiko. I increase, Kihon Geiko such as Uchi-Komi and Kiri-Kaeshi. Why you may ask?
Because in order to score Ippon in Shiai, your techniques need to be "sharp." Just bashing away in Ji-Geiko doesn't give you the instincts to score an Ippon under a pressure situation. You want to train yourself through repetition to score an Ippon under any situation.
For the US Nationals I did a lot of Uchikomi Men. Big, Small, Harai, from a distance, from close, with two steps, with the opponent moving... you get the picture. I practiced every situation. I did the same for my last grading one year ago.
This heavy repetition also makes you strong enough to last many matches and gives you the ever important confidence you need to win.