The 28th European Kendo Championships (EKC) was held in Budapest, Hungary from 12-14 May 2017, and featured 40 nations and 700 participants taking part in in the Junior, Ladies and Men, team and individual competitions.
The 2017 National Kendo Team selected to represent South Africa consisted of 5 men, 1 women and 1 junior. Unfortunately, unlike the previous year, we were unable to send a women’s team to represent our country this year. However, we did have one Junior participating – which was only the 2nd time that it had been done in our SA Kendo history.
Day 1 begun with the Junior Team Championship in which no South African Junior team was represented. However, our excitement mounted as the next day would be the commencement of our team’s competitive involvement in the Championships!
Day 2 started with the Junior Individual Championships in which Andrew Ingle (17 years old and comes from our Cape Town Dojo, Kenshin) would represent the South Africans. Ingle put up formidable fights in his pool matches, beating his Latvian opponent convincingly, and loosing narrowly to his Greek opponent. This placed him 2nd in his pool that allowed him to progress to the 1st KO rounds. Unfortunately, his loss was against a Hungarian opponent, and who has been a product of an illustrious history of strong Kendo in their country.
In the afternoon, the Men’s Team Championships took place in which the 5-man team fought admirably against Belgium and Italy in their pool round, both teams of whom have had members who had been past EKC Champions in the team and individual events. Although the South African team lost, they fought valiantly and even scored a few points against these European Kendo powerhouses. Most notably was the intriguing Taisho (5th position) fight against SA Team Captain, Brendan Dateling, and his Belgium counterpart in which Dateling won the fight by 2 convincing strikes. Although the overall team score resulted in a loss, this together with his performance against the Italians earned him one of the 4 Fighting Spirit Awards for that day – A South African first, yet again!
Day 3 started with the Ladies’ Individual Competition of whom our sole representative, Natalie Morris, took part in. Morris’s spectacular performance in the pool rounds against Sweden and Portugal put her first in her pool that allowed her to proceed to the 1st KO round. Unfortunately, she was pitted against the eventual Bronze Medal winner from Belgium, but not without putting up a decent fight. This performance, combined with her performance at the pool rounds, led to another South African first – Winning one of the 4 Fighting Spirit Awards for The Women’s Individual event! It should be noted that Morris had also won another Fighting Spirit award the week prior to these Championship at the London Cup in the UK, a club competition that attracts Kendo players from around the world.
Later that day, the Men’s Individual Competition took place. Only 4 of the 5 men from the men’s team were able to participate due to the EKC rules. Matthew Price and Brendan Dateling were the only 2 of the 4 men who were able to proceed out of their pool rounds after beating their opponents from Luxenburg and Denmark; and Lithuania and Moldova, respectively. However, both lost in the 1st KO rounds against Turkey and Hungary, respectively.
As in previous years, many rookie mistakes were made resulting in unnecessary points being lost. Again this boils down to a lack of international shiai experience. However, the SA Team put up a sterling performance by winning matches and awards that led to a comment by one of the referees: “By winning (mates and awards), the other European players will be taking note of the South Africans in future!”
The SAKF and the SA National Kendo Team would like to thank all the South African sensei’s who had helped prepare them for the EKC, including Buster Sefor sensei (7th dan, Renshi), Tony Hughes sensei (6th dan, Renshi) and Ray Fleming sensei (5th dan); as well as our German sensei’s, Uwe Kumpf sensei (7th dan, Renshi) who again came out to SA prior to the Championships to help prepare the team.
Thanks must also go out to the Martial Arts Authority of South Africa (MASA) and the South African Sports Confederation & Olympic Committee (SASCOC) for endorsing the SA National team, and for allowing them to proudly fly the South African flag high in Hungary.
Lastly, the SA National Team is grateful to all those SAKF members who helped them in the months leading up to the competition by taking part in the team training sessions, and also the many supporters tuned-in via live video streaming to cheer the team on. Your support was greatly appreciated.
2018 will be the year for the 17th World Kendo Championships (WKC) in Incheon, Korea, and will be an even bigger event than the EKC as it will host all the countries represented by the International Kendo Federation (FIK), including the current top 3 counties in the world, namely Japan, Korea and USA.
Preparation for this championship will begin immediately and the SAKF will work closely with the community to ensure that the 2018 SA National Team is well-prepared to represent South Africa proudly in Korea.
SAKF President & 2017 EKC28 Delegation Leader
Pic 1: SA Team Captain, Brendan Dateling, wins 1 of 4 Fighting Spirit Awards for his performance during the Men’s Team Event.