by Sue Lytollis
The typhoon was quite challenging for the NZ kendo team with half the team flying from a water logged Nagoya airport to Korea and the other group led by Sue and Liz via an overnight cruise ferry to Busan.
For some of this group of 8 it was their first time to experience a ferry but there was no sea sickness. Then a fast train to Seoul and another train then taxi to get to our hotel near Namdong stadium.
This World Kendo Championships has had some unique challenges. However, the women's team did the best it has ever done in a world championship. Auckland player Shawn Zhang won her fights to get out of the preliminaries and into the tournament proper. She was defeated by a Netherlands player.
In the teams event our draw was with USA, and Argentina. Christchurch fighter Akiyo Yamaguchi Ellin won a note (wrist) cut against her American counterpart, it would be the only point scored but we drew two fights to lose by three matches.
In our Argentinian fight Rina Igararashi won her match, Shawn won hers and with strategic draws in the matches we took this win. For the first time in NZ history, NZ women went into the tournament proper placing us in the top 24 countries. We drew a very strong Netherlands team but this match was a nail biter. Fighter one took two points, fighter 2 and 3 drew their matches and fighter 4 lost by 2 points. This meant our Taisho, local Wellington player Haruko Tsuzuki, had to win by 2 points to create a draw. And she did!
A wrist cut followed by a Men head cut kept NZ in play. What happens in this situation is called a Daihyosen. Each team chooses their best fighter for a one point match play off. Although Haruko had just fought we put her back in play.
Sadly she lost to a head cut from her opposition but at this stage of the competition to lose by one point is still pretty good. This was evidenced in the awards ceremony when Haruko won one of 10 fighting spirit awards for the team match event.
We can be very proud of our achievement.