Aichi Teams Match – Senpo

Commentary by Simon Larsen

I have a better win ratio in the teams than the individuals, especially if I play in the first position (senpo). As far as I am aware the psychology of going first is not so much to win but to set a good mood for your team i.e. if you lose it should be in a manner which makes your team members think they were robbed and hype them into their matches for revenge, not make them depressed that the other team is awesome. If you win it should be in a flamboyant display of aggression and determination, not a display of shiai skill or strategic thinking. I don’t think your match in the first position should ever go to time, it should be a 2-0 match win or lose.


That psychology seems to fit me well for my match as I never feel stressed going into the match unlike if I am in other positions where I start thinking about who has to win and so on. I am not sure I do the job very well though.


Going into the match I knew I wanted to get the first point and I have been practicing shou ippon a lot. So I made sure I got to the centre fastest to try and set a good dominant image in my opponent’s mind. Getting the point wasn’t so much the aim, just ensuring that I didn’t stop halfway to the centre as I have done so many times before and lost a point immediately.


I also knew I wanted to use a lot of seitai attempts to make him nervous about getting close. A lot of these guys are way faster than I will ever be and letting them be comfortable in close is a really bad situation for me to be in, I am old and slow but I am big and strong. Even a failed seitai attempt can let them know just what will happen if I get a decent grip on them.


Managing to do the two things I had planned seems to have worked as I scored my first point against what I think was a much more hesitant and slower attack than I think Iwamoto is capable of. Pressuring from the non normal side of the tanken is often a set up for a seitai attempt and I am hoping that is what he thought was happening.


So far so good but I do have an unfortunate habit of not getting my second point which I’ll have to rectify.


Lacking any real plan (I am not smart enough to plan that far ahead) I decided to apply closing pressure while using a straighter arm in kamae and my longer reach as defense against his attacks. I got lucky on a few of his strikes when I dropped my hand before the strike and definitely need to work on that but at least my bad form didn’t cost me a point.


After the judges break I started going downhill, forgetting to keep moving, attempting men and other stupid choices, I think hiki men is an okay-ish idea for some people but realistically I can probably knock a person of this size over with a decent push to his shoulder from tsubazeriai so hiki men is kind of stupid for me to use. Men from issoku ito no mai is absolutely daft for anyone of my low skill level. I think luckily for me my stupid decision of going for men encouraged Iwamoto to start doing the same and his potential to capitalise on my steadily deteriorating standard was reduced.


At about 03:30 I think he realised he had been wasting time and went back to playing in a manner much more likely to beat a “standing still nodo striking” person with his series of do strikes. However I got lucky and time out ran out for him.


My takeaway from this match is I need to have an aggressive second point, I don’t think fitness let me down, I think it was mindset. It is much too easy for my ego to score a point and become defensive rather than viewing the point as a safety factor allowing me to be riskier and more aggressive. As starting player I think my team mates would go into their matches better if my match finished with thunder and fire than “oh they are out of time”. I am fairly sure the other teams next player came into the match thinking I had scored a lucky point and wanting revenge against our second player (chukken) which is not what I should have caused. I shall have to buy my team mates beer to apologise for my ego wanting to win overshadowing my duty to the team.

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