The Dutch Kendo Championship took place in Amersfoort this year and was organized by Mokuseikan. Like always we gathered in front of the dojo early in the morning in Voorburg to carpool. Yes you read it right, not only do we use biodegradable shinai, we also carpool. It must be said, Raph was actually on time but of course Sjoerd was (slightly) late. The A4 was closed down and he had pics to prove it, or so he said. After loading our gear in the cars we left for Amersfoort.
After the obligatory speech from the Chairman of the NKR the youth tournament category 1 was off to a very cute start. Since there were quite a lot of kenshi enrolled in the tournament the group was split in category 1, from age 5 to 11 and category 2 age 12 and up. It was S. Saito who won her first national championship in category 1 in which no KKDH kenshi participated.
In their first national championship ever, Geert and Jasper fought for everlasting fame and fortune in category 2. Jasper fought like a lion but to no avail, his opponents were too strong and he did not make it out of the preliminary round. Geert made it all the way to the finals and went on to claim his first title as Dutch National Champion in a nerve racking match. He certainly earned his nickname the ‘crimson reaper’, although we’ll just keep naming him Geert. During the ceremony afterwards Jasper was awarded the well-deserved Fighting Spirit price. A great success for both kenshi and Kendo Kai Den Haag.
After the ceremony it was time for the female competitors to cross swords. That meant it was time for Suraya to compete. Would she fight well or bring shame upon the dojo in her first competition ever. She fought heroically but the odds were stacked against her favor. She was up against some really tough opponents who ultimately advanced and achieved second and third place. Suraya still had a second chance though later on that day. Fleur Smout (Fighting Spirit price during the WKC 2015) took first place in the female league.
The senior league (all those above the age of 17) kicked off after a short break which was devoted almost entirely to a second warm-up by the KKDH kenshi. Rapheal was up first in the first group on shiaijo B, would he be able to prove himself? He certainly did although it did not lead to him advancing to the next round. He had a very tough group, with among other the no. 2 of last and this year’s tournament. He knew it was going to be difficult but didn’t seem fazed. He went down fighting and in style.
Suraya made here second appearance during this championship during the senior league. She fought without hesitation, unfortunately this pool was also just a tad too strong. Nevertheless she showed an unwavering spirit and some proper kendo which gives great promise for the future.
Maurice, who’s always pitted against at least one woman nearly half his size (when you’re nearly two meters roughly half of the population is about half his size of course) fought his way through his group. With a lot less physical kendo compared to last year he was even able to score a point on the Dutch female champion. In the knockout phase of the tournament he met up with Y. Saito (yes reader, that’s a familiar name) and he suffered defeat but nevertheless did a fantastic job.
Chrétien, demonstrated some nice kendo during his matches as he seemingly advanced fairly easy to the knockout stage. Due to the number of participants he had to do an extra knockout shiai where he triumphed and advanced once again. He advanced in a steady pace only to be stopped in the 8th finals by a kenshi who spent several months in Japan and the current number three of this tournament. A very good and well deserved result
Sjoerd wasn’t sure until the night before if he’d participate in the Dutch Championships. A nasty injury sustained 8 days prior left him in pain and impossible to do any form of physical activity including kendo. After some chiropractic manipulation, dry-needling and several massages he found himself looking in disbelief at the board with the draw results at the championship on Sunday morning thinking ‘F#ck, I should have stayed home’ (or as the Dutch say, the courage sank in my shoes). But with some nice and offensive fighting (if I do say so myself) he was able to advance to the next round. Next up was the Dutch female champion who was beat in encho and his winning streak continued until the quarter finals where he met Joeri. Sjoerd knew defeating Joeri was a tall order, and he proved to be a bit too tall (2m+). But what a performance, making it all the way up to the quarterfinals. The Dutch Championship was ultimately won by Jouke from Renshinjuku.
Stan and Jasper’s parents were there for moral support. After all this excitement and fun we decide to grab a bite to eat. We decided on real Haute cuisine, after all, the fries were French at the McDonald’s in Soesterberg (yes, we know they have the oldest drive thru in the Netherlands). After all the waiting and fighting the food tasted delicious.
It was a very nice Dutch National Championship with first places going to kenshi from dojo Ren Bu Kan, Kendo Kai Den Haag and Renshinjuku. The attending group was proud of the achievements that were made by all kenshi from Kendo Kai Den Haag. We’ll be attending next year, we hope so do you!