Monday, 19 September 2011

2011 Ontario Iaido Open Taikai

Iaido taikai (competitions) don’t occur very often in Canada (only once a year), but they sure are a blast!

On Saturday, August 27, the 2011 Ontario Iaido Open, was held at the Etobicoke Olympium. Over 25 participants from across Ontario and New York State made their way to Toronto for a day of challenging themselves to through technical and mental competition.

Seminar organizer, Pam, and Volunteer organizer, Hanna, were really on the ball, as they worked tireless to ensure a smooth and pleasant event.  Members from every dojo generously donated their time and efforts to ushering, time-keeping, score-keeping and other necessary tasks.  Their enthusiasm and energy gave the competitors even more motivation to do their best.

Individuals were divided into (1) Shodan and below, (2) Nidan, (3) Sandan, (4) Yondan, and (5) Godan and above. The competition was split into two phases.

The Exhibition Round - Each competitor participates in a minimum of two rounds.

The Elimination Round - The top four competitors from each division, based on flags in the exhibition round, are seeded into the semi-finals.

A team competition, consisting of three individuals judged on synchronicity completed the series of events.

Leading up to this day, a shimpan (judge) seminar was held on Friday at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, where our resident nanadans conducted an informative discussion on the actions and criteria for judging. Yondan and above participants each took turns going through entering/exiting the dojo, unexpected stoppages, and the act of decision making, with various sandans acting as examples players.

By the end of the night, our group of judges, headed by Ohmi-Sensei (Renshi 7 dan, Toronto), Cruise-Sensei (Renshi 7 dan, Etobicoke), and Taylor-Sensei (Renshi 7 dan, Guelph), were ready to decide the outcome of matches to come.

I'm usually quite fatigued by the start of taikai day. For the last four years I've been organizing the score-keeping, seeding and recording activities, and last minute entrants always make for a late night.  My job during the day was to organize the scoring table and train the volunteers for score-keeping while monitoring the results for scheduling tie-breakers and final placements and seeding.  Thank goodness for the competent work of Amy and Jeff so I could spend more time preparing for my matches.

The resulting contests were exciting to watch as all the competitors were very closely matched. In the end I was extremely pleased with the results of our club.

1. M. Ross (Kenshokan)
2. H.J. Choi (Jung Ko)
3. H. Shafman (Mu Mon Kai)
4. M. Stabler (Kenshokan)

1. M. Suen (Mu Mon Kai)
2. P. Suen (Mu Mon Kai)
3. K. Adams (Mu Mon Kai)
3. R. Beck (Mu Mon Kai)
1. C. Galligan (Mu Mon Kai)
2. E. Gardonio (Mu Mon Kai)
3. P. Schramek (Mu Mon Kai)
1. H. Ikeda-Suen (Mu Mon Kai)
2. A. Konovalev (Mu Mon Kai)
3. P. Morgan (Sei Do Kai)
3. D. Le (Mu Mon Kai)

1. M. Gan (Mu Mon Kai)
2. J. Brett (Aikido Yoshinkan of Canada)
3. K. Morgan (Sei Do Kai)
3. R. Mattie (Etobicoke)

Following the individual competition, an embu (demonstration) taikai was held with the winners of the five divisions. A single individual was selected from this group to be awarded a Kantosho (Fighting Spirit Award). Mark Ross (Ikkyu) from Kenshokan, Peterborough, was a unanimous decision from Ohmi-, Cruise-, and Taylor-Sensei. There was also an Fighting Spirit award for the overall seminar presented to Ron Beck (Sandan) from Mu Mon Kai, Rochester, NY.

R. Beck (Mu Mon Kai)

M. Ross (Kenshokan)

With the pressure of the individual matches over, the seminar proceeded to the final, lighter side, event: Team Taikai! Often the highlight of a full day of competing, the team taikai allows us all to unwind with a little bit of fun. 

Limited time, meant that this year’s judging criteria was synchronization, where a team’s performance was decided by their ability to stay in time with each other’s movements. One koryu and four shitei waza were selected for this event. In the past, outcomes were also decided comparing individuals from each team separately.

Besides the regular competition, the following prize-less awards were also given:

- Most Rank Stuffed into a Team Award = X'Mas Carole
- Bathing Cap and Nose Plug (Synch. Swimming) Award = Team Suen
- Flimsiest Reason for a Team Award = Lunch Table
- Most Hopeful Name Award = Winning

Medal results are below:

 1. Team SUEN
     M. Suen (Mu Mon Kai)
     P. Suen (Mu Mon Kai)
     H. Ikeda-Suen (Mu Mon Kai)

     C. Galligan (Mu Mon Kai)
     K. Morgan (Sei Do Kai)
     P. Morgan (Sei Do Kai)
     P. Schramek (AYC/MMK)
     R. Mattie (Etobicoke)
     R. Iafallo (Hayakama)

     P. Anderson (Kenshokan)
     M. Stabler (Kenshokan)
     M. Ross (Kenshokan)

Thanks again to all the organizers, volunteers, and judges for their time! Looking forward to next year! =D

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