Commentary by Nuno Almeida
As the internet saying goes…”this escalated quickly!”. After a day and a morning of trying to grasp the very basics of Jukendo – under the watchful and patient eyes of Terada Sensei – it was decided that Berlin would be the host of the very first completely unofficial and totally unrecognized Jukendo World Championship and I had just qualified to be Portugal’s (sole) representative.
With the t(h)rust of my people in me, I had to step up.
First match: Germany.
From the start, I knew I had to be aggressive and try to break through my opponents kamae and strike cleanly while protecting myself. At first – and having a Kendo background – I thought it would be hard. In Kendo, the first seconds of shiai are usually a little bit more “contemplative”, as we tend to study the opponents kamae, reactions and overall stance to then decide the best course of action. Knowing that Andreas had a Naginata background, I figured I had a slight disadvantage regarding maai calculations and weapon handling and decided to deal with that the Jukendo way: charging boldly forward.
As soon as Terada Sensei shouted Hajime, I went forward and tried to strike and gain center. Although the first thrust was wildly off-center, it was successful in creating an unbalancing (more than I had expected, to be completely honest). As he tried to regain his footing, I maintained high pressure. This pressure was successful in creating a reaction (aha!), and as he tried to neutralize my mokuju and knock it out of the way, I was able to maintain a trajectory and strike ura. As soon as I felt it went cleanly through, I tried to get out of the way and manifest zanshin. I managed to get to a safe distance and got ippon.
When we went for the second point, I briefly thought of defending the existing ippon (a strategy I often get yelled at because I am truly bad at it) but then, after some brief consideration – the first exchanges seen at the 38-40 second mark – I thought this wouldn’t be so good for my learning process. Even though the stakes were high – after all, it was the very first completely unofficial and totally unrecognized Jukendo World Championship – I kept on attacking and going after the second ippon.
Emboldened by the first one, I tried to get the second one while focusing a little bit more on the form and trying different attacks. I tried Nodo (you can see it at 50s and the first minute mark) and also tried to put into practice some of the waza Ewa had been trying to teach us in Kata practice (I know we were pretty bad, Ewa, but your hard work was not forgotten!). So I tried harai-waza (or something that vaguely resembled the concept of it) and went for the omote side. The harai motion helped me getting into a more “thin” hanmi and as I went for the omote thrust I dodged most of my opponents’ attack, managing to get only hit on the upper part of the shoulder. Second ippon was conceded and the match ended. Onwards!
On a more serious note: watching this has been incredibly helpful. With a very limited experience in Jukendo, this video highlights (by contrast) several points made by Terada Sensei during the Berlin seminar. Ashi-sabaki, the thrusting motion, kiai (hassei is done very differently in Jukendo) and kamae need serious work. I am glad that I started this path and I hope that later on I can see myself doing things differently for the better!