France National Championship

by Jeremy Chevaux

For once, I wake up before the alarm that was supposed to wake me. It’s still early, but a long journey awaits us. I hop on my metal steed and head to Brussels to pick up my co-pilot and comrade, Guillaume. The intense training of the past weeks and the previous day gives us confidence, and we will discuss various exciting topics together: naginata, expectations for the competition, music, the new Netflix series about the world of sumo, Sanctuary (which I recommend, by the way)… etc.

A coffee and the usual toll booth and tunnel racket whose name I don’t know later, we arrive at Rocquencourt, determined to put into practice the result of a year’s hard work at the dojo.

The tournament opens with the Kyu criterium. Beginners clash with fervor, the clash of bamboo blades against armor resonates in the dojo. Damien, Guillaume, and Thimoty take their place on the podium after good fights. Unfortunately, my journey ends just after the pools, which seemed like a good start, giving me the opportunity to reflect on my weaknesses and what I still need to improve. The path is long and difficult; everything can end in an instant. I recall a quote from my sensei that would have been useful: “Better to have one valuable cup than a thousand cups that are worthless.” Food for thought.

Then comes the time for the women’s competition. It is very interesting to observe how women practice, as there is indeed more subtlety and grace in their fights than in those of men. I take note of this and promise myself to pay particular attention to it when I am in Japan the following week, in order to gain finesse and efficiency. Adeline, Fanny, and Carole will step onto the podium.

Finally, the men’s championship will conclude this day of effort and camaraderie. The enthusiasm of the youth meets the experience of the elders, everyone’s energy focused on their opponent. There is still so much to accomplish to reach the level of the best, and a good practice of mitori keiko allows me to measure it. Guillaume, Loïc, and Benoît will also show their skills on the podium after an explosive final.

We end the day by celebrating everyone’s victories or defeats, and after a lively evening, the time for rest finally arrives. A short rest, because after a good breakfast (thanks, Anh!), it is already time to participate in the team competition.

Once again, we witness beautiful confrontations that will result in the victory of Versailles 2, followed on the podium by TUESG 2 and Rocquencourt 2.

Congratulations to all, it was a pleasure to see you again and practice with you. See you next year!