A weekend full of new experiences in Braga!

by Conny Izquierdo

When I saw the invitation issued by the Associação Portuguesa de Naginata (the Portuguese Naginata Federation) for a Seminar, Kyû Examinations and two tournaments in Braga, being the Portuguese National Tournament and a Goodwill Tournament, this at once sparked in me the wish to join and be part of it. Of course, my fellow Naginataka and Portuguese niece Joana Da Silva had even more reason to come along!

With family ties living in Trofa, it was of course very convenient making a ‘hop-over” to Braga. Therefore, my decision was made up and I welcomed yet another chance to develop my naginata skills, this time under the kind direction of Charlotte Vandersleyen, 5Dan. Of course, networking with the Portuguese Naginata friends came as a great goodie on top of it all !!

Participants of the seminar could already join a regular Friday evening training on June 10th, which I unfortunately could not join due to an indigestion…! Of all the things… well,….. somehow, I tend to have that kind of karma!! Nevertheless, I used the time to watch and practice Mitori-geiko – the “training art of learning by observing”, at least as far as my health condition allowed…!!  

Saturday morning started off with a clear and sunny sky, next to a sound stomach, which made me confident to be able to manage a full day of training even after an unpleasant night.

The seminar started off after regular Kihon with shaping up on basic movements of Taisabaki, Happo Buri, the posture & and it’s influence on the accuracy of striking. All of this with focus on improving the Engi performance with regard to the upcoming examinations and tournaments. Hereby we all gained valuable input, each of us on their specific level. I had learnt about eliminating unnecessary movements or postures that seem to have sneaked into my habits without noticing. One more “to-do” on my list of chores I took home to Germany .

Just before lunch the Kyû written exams were executed and in the meantime hardworking helpers made sure the lunch would be ready once exams close.

In the afternoon we had bogu practice with equal focus on the upcoming practical examination and tournaments. As practical exams were next on the agenda and dear Joren Zandstra from the Netherlands was missing due to illness, I was asked if I would care to take over the task of moto dachi. Very honoured and almost more nervous than the examination candidates, I led through the Kihon and the different parts of the practical exam under the kind guidance of:

  • Charlotte Vandersleyen, 5Dan
  • Eduardo Brito, 3Dan
  • Eduardo Pereira, 3Dan

To me it was a new and great experience; actually, it was only the second time I had done this in my “naginata life” and the last time was really long. Therefore, I was super grateful and awed to have had the chance for such an experience. Congratulations to all examinees for your good results!

Now that both examination parts were done, the seminar participants re-joined in more bogu- and engi training sessions with even more motivation and energy, relieved to have passed the difficult part. The day was almost done – we summoned our last forces to build the shiajo and prepare for the tournaments to follow the next day and then left the dôjo for the fun part of the evening: Sayonara Dinner @ Restaurant O Gato do Rio!

Sunday, June 11th marked a major milestone for the Portuguese Naginata Association: The very first Portuguese National Tournament ever was inaugurated at 10am in the morning!!!

It was a remarkable feeling to be part of such an event, though small but a super important step of development for a sports federation. Here Charlotte Vandersleyen, Eduardo Brito and Eduardo Pereira led through the specific tournament disciplines (Engi and Shiai)
Of course, such an event can not do without helpers, and here I would like to highlight the diligence of Filipa & Ricardo at the referees table and Jonny who was noting down the strikes on the tournament tables. All of them supporting throughout the entire day without a break, bravo – bravissimo!

Please find the results of the Portuguese National Tournament:

ENGI:   Shikae / Ôji
3rd place Team Matias Vítor Matias & Manuel Rodrigues
2nd place Team Martins Vasco Martins & Mario China
1st place Team Da Silva Joana Da Silva & Joana Ribeiro
3rd place Manuel Rodrigues
2nd place Mario China
1st place Vasco Martins
  Joana Ribeiro

Following the National Cup, the Goodwill Open Cup Tournament was kicked off. This was organized in a round-robin format, meaning a good amount of shiai to enjoy for all, giving each the valuable experience of having several encounters to try their best. Here I had another chance for a competence build, as I could join the tournament as ‘Fukushin-in-learning’ and did my very best to consider all requirements both within and outside of the shiajô.

Please find the results of the Goodwill Open Cup Tournament:

3rd place Manuel Rodrigues
2nd place Mario China
1st place Vasco Martins
  Vítor Matias
SHINPAN: Charlotte Vandersleyen, 5Dan, 3shuEduardo Brito, 3Dan, 3shuEduardo Pereira, 3DanCornelia Izquierdo, 2Dan Joren Zandstra, 3Dan (absent, due to illness)

This weekend was so rewarding to me, with a lot of new experiences, meeting a lot of new naginata friends, recapping with old friends, making me grateful for the chance of such an experience. A VERY BIG THANK YOU to Charlotte, both Eduardos and the supporter team – it was fun working with you! I am looking forward to the next chance to visit Portugal, Braga and the Naginata dôjôs!!!