by Gur Nedzvetsky,
A few weeks ago I had the honor of joining the Tokunaga Cup, an annual event organized by the french naginata community. It was my first time to join this event, and until a few days beforehand, I was still not sure if I can allow myself to fly. But, finally, I decided that I must attend.
One of the reasons was that it has been too long since my last competition, and the second reason was that the naginata dojo from Switzerland, led by miss Koch, my student, planned to attend as well and make a debut to to european community. As I entered the sports hall in Paris, I was greeted by many friends. Some people I know for 10 years, others are new. I felt welcome and was eager to participate. The first event was individual shiai. I passed my pool, but was defeated right afterwards by a strong french competitor, who later made it to 3rd place. I then proceeded to team matches, and there I also met the very same french fighter and lost one more time. In the later engi competition I managed to do better, and achieved a 2nd place alongside with Yolanda from Belgium, who was an excellent partner.
I would say that I am very satisfied with the results, or rather with the conclusions I make of them. In shiai, I obviously wasn’t ready for the competition. Living so far from the main european community means that it is very hard for me to practice with people of high level. My students are always trying their best to challenge me, but it is still not enough. That means that I must constantly research and be self aware when I practice naginata. And it is hard. For example: in chika-ma (close distance) I tend to expose my leg by not covering my feet with the ebu. When my students fight me, it is not a problem because they are not fast enough to take advantage of my exposure. But in the competition this mistake cost me an ippon – three times! And there are also those shaky unstable sokumen that never hit the target properly. And striking from too close maai. And not providing seme. So many things to improve! And there was another very serious factor – I gained some over weight. We may not talk about it much in naginata, but 10 extra kilograms are no joke. They make you slower, less stable and certainly do not help your confidence. So, for me the Tokunaga cup was an eye opener. I see that I need to put much more effort into my daily routine. More bogu, more target practice, more cardio workout more waza, more selection in what I eat and much more kihon, kihon and kihon. Because this is the only way for mento improve. It is too early to talk about Tokunaga 2023, but maybe I will be there – and if I will – I hope I will be better.