Friday, September 3, 2010

Wado World Cup: Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Nagoya, 14-15th August

Peter Here;

On 14th and 15th August the World's Wadokai elite filled the Aichi Prefectural Gym in Nagoya in the hope of winning glory for both themselves and their country. I had traveled to Nagoya the day before, enduring a crippling 8-hour train ride in the process, and met up with the England Wadokai squad to travel to the arena with them on the opening morning.

Nagoya Castle - Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

The Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium is established among the grounds of the Nagoya Castle, which in the humid-heavy Autumnal haze gave an impressive and intimidating setting.

It was very hard not to be swept into the competitive nature of the event, even before the opening ceremony. Even the mere observation of squads doing warm-ups made me want to reach for a dogi and join in (a good thing, surely?). I sat down with the England Squad supporters (I was going to root with Japan, but their area was filled to capacity with kimono-clad supporters) and watched as the day's events unfolded.

England got to a decent start, with several people going through to the next rounds, but an unlucky few facing an early elimination. For Shiramizu's old guard though, Carl was first up. Unfortunately, just after about half a minute in, his knee gave way again and he was forced to withdraw. Worse still, despite doing his best to continue, Carl also had to withdraw from his Kata event. Everyone's heart went out to him. Fortunately, Amy got through to the last 8 in her kumite event, for her to participate the next day.

Also in Men's Kata was Fabian Sensei, Who had an extremely unlucky draw against Japan for the first round. His Seishan was incredibly well drilled and precise, but it didn't stop his opponent from going through.

Next up was Women's Kata, with both Amy and Louise taking part. As you can see, their rivalry was incredibly fierce.

Both of their Kata looked sharp, Louise's in particular drawing coos of admiration from the England group. It was funny, but as you train next to someone, you spend so much time concentrating on yourself to notice the other person's form. With this opportunity I saw really how astonishingly good Louise's Kata was. Amy was knocked out just on the verge of last 8 placing, but Louise went clear through, with some convincing 5-flag results from both of them on the way.

While I was here I had the opportunity to become acquainted with not only some of the world's best Karateka, but also some highly experienced people from each country. From England Carl introduced me to Sensei Sakagami, who is the Head of Aiwakai in England (Aiwakai was my home Instructor's association, and Sakagami Sensei was my Sensei's instructor, so this was something of an accomplishment).

Also, I met a friendly face in Mike Spain, who had returned to Japan to take his nidan grade after the competition. Mike, who trained with Shiramizu while Lawrence was the intern, also brought along one of his students, with the intention on showing him the wider picture. It was great getting his experiences of Shiramizu training as well, and hearing how it still affects his teaching (which may be for another blog, perhaps).

The later afternoon was Team Kumite. England's Ladies' team were through to the last 8 and didn't need to fight before the finals on Sunday, but the Men's team lost out to the Iranian team despite a spirited performance.

After the close of the day, shattered after watching and participating, the Intern, the ex-interns and a few new-found friends went and got dinner at a local Ramen bar, before retiring early to look forward to the next day's events.

Amy's kumite draw had lead her to eventually fight a familiar face for a place in the final: Rie Hirai, who is also a former Shiramizu member,Utsunomiya Bunsekai Girl's High School graduate (famous for producing very strong female athletes) and current All-Japan National Kumite team member. Although no longer at Shiramizu, these two get on really well outside the mats- although with the pace of the fight you wouldn't guess it! Hirai-san eventually won the round, and went through to win the event, Congratulations! Amy is also due congratulations too for winning bronze, an excellent achievement that was made double by the England Ladies' squad earning a bronze medal place as well.

For Kata, Louise managed to get to the semi-finals before being eliminated, but that meant she was a bronze medal winner as well! Furthermore, Katrina Wilson from the England Squad won her Cadet Kata event, making her a Wadokai world champion, so congratulations there too!

Unfortunately, despite being on holiday I was on a very tight schedule. Between this world cup and the following weekend's Wadokai national championships, I had arranged with Setsuko-san (one of my Eikaiwa students) to climb Mount Fuji with her, so I had to rush off to catch the train back to Tokyo!

The Following Pictures are courtesy of former Intern Carl.

England Ladies' team Kumite place 3rd, while Japan takes gold, with Hirai-san part of the winning team.

Rie Hirai wins the Individual ladies' Kumite event too, with Amy placing Bronze.

Louise takes the bronze for her Kata, though personally I thought she deserved higher!

England's Katrina Wilson wins gold at her event, Cadet Female Kata World Champion!

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