More than 300 kendo fighters from around the world descended on Cranford recently for the 41st Mumeishi 3’s International Kendo Championship.
Kendo is a Japanese martial art which literally means 'the way of the sword' and was developed to allow Japanese Samurai warriors to practice with all the spirit and commitment without getting seriously hurt, replacing the real swords with bamboo ones (shinai).
Mumeishi Kendo Club, based at Cranford Community College, was started in 1969 by the Japanese kendo teacher Fujii Sensei and the passed down to Sensei Terry Holt (seventh Dan), who lives locally and is still the dojo leader today.
The first Mumeishi 3’s Kendo Championship took place in 1973 and has grown in both size and reputation every year to become the largest Kendo competition in Europe, attracting teams and fighters from across the world.
This year's tournament saw teams and individuals representing the UK, USA, France, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Norway, Israel, Belgium and Germany among others.
The event saw three competitions – for ladies individual fighters, for juniors in a number of age groups, and a three-person team championship, in which each team is made up of two fighters of any level and one fighter who has to be a beginner.
Points (ippon) are awarded by agreement of three judges (shinpan) for correct strikes to the head (men), wrist (kote), body (do) or throat (tsuki) and be accompanied bu a loud cry (kiai), and the fighter must show the correct spirit (zanshin) for the strike to count.
First up were the ladies, with more than 60 competitors fighting in a knock-out format, the eventual winner being France's Pauline Stolarz, the current European ladies champion, who won a close fought final with Yukiko Mae.
Next up, after the first two rounds of the team competition, the juniots took centre stage, with the four age group winners being Y Hiyama (6-9 years), Rintaro Tanaka (10-12), Konradus Rukas (13-14) and Maurycy Kaczor (15-17).
The back came the teams, having been whittled down from 60 to 16, and the eventual winners were
Kendo Köln, who beat New York City Kendo Club in the final, while the host club shared third place with Oxford Kendo.
For anyone interested in taking up Kendo, practice days are Tuesdays (juniors 7-8pm, seniors and beginners 8-10pm) and Sundays (juniors 10-11.30am, seniors 11.30am-1pm). For more details, call 0208 571 3374, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mumeishi.co.uk.