A souvenir comes back to me

The night falls, the full moon rises on our right, huge and bright. It accompanies us along the road that brings us each one back home.

There are approximately 4 hours of road on the first stage, the same for the second part of the way. The time passes quickly, carried by the animated discussions of shared experiences.

Each memory that connects with our common practice and the experience we have just gone through overwhelms us with emotions and gives us the strength to finish these last kilometers.

This memory is that of Masatake Sumi Sensei, whom I had the opportunity to meet in Bordeaux.

These words resonate in the present as well as in my past and pierce the impressions of this weekend spent in Limoges on the occasion of the French Naginata Championships. I could not recite them with accuracy, but I wished to transmit the essence to my fellow traveler.

He told us that sharing the practice of kendo was to transmit peace in the world. In a duel, no one lies, we show our true face, we give 100% of ourselves. Today, we are living in troubled times between the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and climate disruption.

To have had the chance to participate in these post-covid French championships allows me once again to take hold of this message. To practice Naginata is to be part of a big family that shares this desire of meeting, friendship, sincerity and generosity. This weekend was, once again, the demonstration of it.

Limoges, May 14, 2022: it’s a sunny day, we’re waiting for 30 degrees. Everyone arrives at the blows of noon, we wait to get the keys of our rooms, then after having deposited our business, we find ourselves around a good meal. The control of Naginata is foreseen at 1:30 pm, it is not necessary to delay to finish to settle the last small details to be ready for the event of the year.

As always, the members of the Limoges club give us a great welcome with something to eat, something to eat in case of slackness and as much water as we need.

We entered the dojo under the eyes of the portraits of Charton Sensei and Tokunaga Sensei surrounding a real Naginata. The flags of Japan and France are flying above them. Everyone is busy to be ready, some quickly put on the armor to warm up before the start. The afternoon is dedicated to the individuals and it is the Kyusha who will do us the honor to start the ball.

Everybody lines up for the salute, Dominique Pouchard reminds the rules of the competition. The fight lasts 3 minutes, with two extra time of 1 min 30 and then the referees’ decision in case of equality. Nobody has any questions, we are silent, concentrated.

Under the overwhelming heat, the fighters will give their all in the intensity of the shiai with many twists and suspense. Among the Kyuhsa girls, only one participant logically won the first place.

French Kyu Champion Magalie Volland (J.C Maisons Alfort)

Magalie qualified for the French female Yudansha championships.

For the boys, 9 participants competed in a format of 3 pools of 3, then a final table.

Champion of France kyu: Jérémy Cheveaux (Versailles Budo)

2nd place: Guillaume Tchoukavoff (Versailles Budo)

3rd place: Loick Briand (ACBB)

4th place: Killian Pinson (EC Rocquencourt)

These four people qualify for the French Yudansha championships.

Time to rehydrate, to set up the tables and the tables. The stewards call the future fighters, help them to wear the right Tasuki, a quick look at the referees and we can continue the competition with the Women’s Yudansha. With Magalie’s qualification, we have four people who will compete in a pool of four and then a final table where the same ones will have the opportunity to try their luck again.

Champion of France 2022 : Fanny Hamot (J.C Maisons Alfort)

2nd : Anh Augustin (Versailles Budo)

3rd : Monica Silva (EC Rocquencourt)

4th : Magalie Volland (J.C Maisons Alfort)

To finish this first day of competition, it was the turn of the Yudansha men to take to the water.

With the first four of the Criterium kyu, no less than 15 participants will compete in a format of five pools of three with the first two going to a final table.

French Champion Yudansha 2022: Benoit Laurençon (TUESG)

2nd place : Jean-Mathieu Gaffié (Lec Limoges)

3rd place : Guillaume Dufeil (USB BX)

4th place : Léo Tan (J.C Maisons Alfort)

The day ends with the advice of the Sensei and referees concerning the points to be improved, the small corrections which will make our practice more decisive, less hesitant. After a good shower, we meet for a drink outside, enjoying the summer weather. Evening meal and a good night’s sleep before tomorrow’s team competition which starts at 9 am.

Raised 7:30 am, appointment for a good breakfast. We prepare everything, we recheck the naginatas, small warm-up and it leaves! 6 teams are going to face each other to determine which club will be champion of France 2022!

French Champions by team 2022 : T.U.E.Saint-Germain en Laye (Marc Philippot – Loïc Vargoz – Benoit Laurençon)

2nd : Versailles Budo (Anh Augustin – Julien Bloch – Jérémy Cheveaux – Guillaume Tchoukavoff)

3rd : E.C Rocquencourt (Monica Silva – Eden Pinson – Killian Pinson)

4th : A.C.B.B (Johann Girard – Loick Briand – David Doléans – Emmanuel Dayre)

We all meet again for the awards ceremony, we greet and thank once again the club of Limoges for the organization of the competition, the holding of the tables of sports commissioner. We thank the referees who came in number and we congratulate all the participants for the quality of their commitment.

After a whole morning of fighting, the tension falls. Everybody is getting ready to go back home. We meet one last time around a good meal, we say goodbye and take the car.

It is sunny, the road is calm, we think about these two days. Let’s talk about what goes, what we have to improve. We are already thinking about the future. We have to continue working hard to progress and to be at the appointment for the European championships that will take place on September 9 and 10.

Thanks for the picture