World Kendo Championship 2018, Incheon, Korea

As some of you might remember, in the beginning of the autumn Otto, Saara and Merci travelled to Korea, to participate at the 17th World Kendo Championships. Saara and Otto were competing, and partly due to an injury Merci accompanied the team as a manager this time. What can we say? We had a blast!

It would be impossible to summarize everything that happened during the trip, so just to make things easier, here are Merci’s thoughts, from the managerial (fancy!) perspective:

It was the first time for me to take part at an international competition as a manager – until now, I have always been in the shoes of the competitors, and took my share from some of the managerial duties. I have to say that it was pretty exhausting! For those who are not familiar with the “regular WKC schedule”: the competition takes place on 3 consecutive days (Fri, Sat, Sun). Small details vary, but basically all the divisions where ladies are involved (individual and team competition) are held on one day, whereas the men’s individual and team competitions are separated to two different days. The whole event closes with a rather formal sayonara (or in this case, annyeong) party.

When you are a competitior, you have easier and lighter days, but of course when you are a manager/delegation leader/coach/cheerleader, you have to be present all the time, and try to make sense out of the often “chaotic” scene on sight, while supporting your team and inform them about all the info and potential changes that occur during the competition. So well, I don’t want to get much in details, but boy, it wasn’t easy! I have to say, I learned much more from this role than I expected and I also feel quite ignorant when as a competitior I have never really thought about the amount of work our “non-competing delegation members” put into the whole competition from their own free-time. So basically I would like to say thanks for all the work these guys have ever put into helping us, and would also like to say thanks in advance for all the upcoming dudes and dudettes, who will join the team delegation as non-competitors. <3

On the more general level, I think I can safely assume that I was not the only one, who was expecting this competition to be something “HUUUUUUGE”. Not in terms of size obviously. Most of you probably know, that the peak of the WKC is the men’s team final, where in 99% of the cases Japan faces Korea. Well, after the 16th WKC held in Tokio, most of the kendo world knew that the Korean team is going to put 150% of their efforts into the preparations for the competition that was organized in their own country, and well all I can say: they surely did live up to the expectations! I don’t really want to get into long lamentations about the men’s team finals (I am happy to do that in person, of course), but I think we have seen a crazy entertaining competition, where all the competitors truly wanted to win with every bits and pieces of their hearts. I don’t know how do other people feel, but I was very grateful for the experience, not only because the performance of all competitors was exceptional, but also because I have learned a lot both on the “to do” and on the “not to do” levels. I was also happy to see how much did kendo in general changed in the past few years (and also in the past decades) in Europe: some teams and some competitors truly showed us that everything is possible. Being home in Europe, it was amazing to see the development some European countries went through recently.

Talking of which – you probably know this, because I am pretty late with this article – the Finnish boys (with Captain Otto!) gained their place in the best 8 teams of the men’s division. They were amazing and their work truly showed in the competition. Joel Salmela from Tampere was awarded a fighting spirit award for his performance. The ladies team and its members were a little bit shy, but they had some really nice fight, and I think they did very well, especially given that with the exception of Saara, the rest of them were first-timers at WKC. So to sum-up this not super well-constructed article: it was a great experience, I learned a lot again, and Finland was great. Amen.


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