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18th Hong Kong Asian Open Kendo Championships

What a weekend that was! Last March 2-4, 2018, the Hong Kong Kendo Association (HKKA) held the 18th Hong Kong Asian Open Kendo Championships in Tin Shui Wai, HK. The Manila Kendo Club sent its members for the 1-Dan and 3-Dan examinations, as well as the men’s 3-members and 5-members team event and boy, did they make history for the Philippines!

For months, the Manila Kendo Club had practiced for the Hong Kong Asian Open Kendo Championships. Sunday practices had been reserved especially to train the team for this occasion but even outside of Sundays, the Dan examinees and tournament members would practice their kata and techniques diligently. The senseis also gave tremendous support to the team. They would inspect their kata closely, work on their weaknesses in keiko and give them valuable advice. From last week’s performance, we can see how well this paid off!

Manila Kendo Club Sunday keiko watched over by Naoko Morishima sensei. (Photo by Ryan Bondoc)

On Thursday, March 1st, several members of the team began flying to Hong Kong and by Friday, March 2nd, it was time for the Dan examinations! It was a nerve-racking experience for everyone – first time examinees, 3-Dan examinees, and even Manila Kendo Club NON-examinees alike! Many of the club members stayed in the Philippines, but it felt as though they were all with them in Hong Kong as they waited for the play-by-play updates and sent their well-wishes online. (Thank you, Tin Shui Wai Sports Center for the free wifi. 😉 ) By 2 in the afternoon, the examinees have begun to assemble and by 6 pm, HKKA has announced that ALL Manila Kendo Club Dan examinees have passed! Congratulations to the new shodans and sandans, and congratulations to the club for a 100% passing rate!

Shodan examinees:

  • Melduen Castillon

  • Miks Lozano

  • Paul Andre Puertollano

Sandan examinees:

  • Ian Earl Navarro

  • Ralph Lee

  • Trey Dela Cruz

Manila Kendo Club shodan and sandan examinees posing by the HKKA announcement board with their exam numbers. Everyone passed! (MKC members from L to R: Miks Lozano, Mel Castillon, Trey Dela Cruz, Chenney Navarro, Ralph Lee, Andre Puertollano)

The next day, March 3rd, was the day of the men’s 3-member team event with Matt Arce, Ralph Lee and Chenney Navarro representing the Manila Kendo Club. Historically, it has been several years since any team in the Philippines had placed significantly in this tournament so the club joined with little expectations other than getting experience from international matches. By 1 in the afternoon, HKKA has released the tournament brackets and doubts began to set in as we found that MKC was grouped with Hong Kong (“香港”), who were champions the previous year.

Our bracket for the men’s 3-member team event (“MKC”)

At 2 in the afternoon, MKC was up for its first match against Shanghai. In high spirits, they won the match with 2 wins and 1 draw. The second match was against another local kendo club in Manila (“Manila Kendo Club B”) where MKC won all rounds, resulting in a total of 5 wins and 1 draw which tied them with Hong Kong A. An encho match would determine who would move up the bracket and the team chose Ralph, the current club president, as its representative. With a killer kote, Ralph won the match against Hong Kong A!

Moving up the bracket, MKC’s next opponent was the Hanoi team, the 2nd place team in the B2 bracket. MKC won the match with 1 win and 2 draws, which moved them up the quarterfinals against CKOU A!

MKC in the quarterfinals!

Unfortunately, their journey ends at the quarterfinals with 1 draw and 2 losses against CKOU A. CKOU A will go on the next round and become champions of the 3-member team event.

The Manila Kendo Club is extremely proud of Matt, Ralph and Chenney, who have set the bar higher for kendo in the Philippines as part of the best 8 teams in the event, losing only to the champions! The club is also proud of Matt for winning the Fighting Spirit Award!

MKC men’s 3-member team event representatives. (MKC members from L to R: Chenney Navarro, Ralph Lee, Matt Arce)

While still ecstatic from the results of the 3-member team event, the team had to prepare themselves the next day for the men’s 5-member team event. The Manila Kendo Club had sent 2 teams for this; “MKC-Peenoise” composed of the club’s senpais Matt Arce, Trey Dela Cruz, Ralph Lee, Chenney Navarro and Ralph Figueroa (from Iloilo Kendo Club), and “MKC-Japan Amigos” composed of the club’s senseis Tomo Akita sensei, Masato Kosuge sensei, Toshiharu Madokoro sensei, Iku Sakuhara sensei and Ryutaro Takaku sensei.

Manila Kendo Club 5-member team event representatives and friends!

In the afternoon of March 4th, Sunday, the 5-member team event begins and both teams win their first match. MKC-Peenoise wins against Hokkaido/Fukuoka, while MKC-Japan Amigos wins against UTS. Unfortunately, MKC-Peenoise gets eliminated on their 2nd match against Shanghai’s sensei team with 2 draws and 3 losses. MKC-Japan Amigos continue their winning streak and advance to the Finals! Unfortunately, they lose to Sony – last year’s champion for the 5-member team event – for the Championship title.

Manila Kendo Club’s 5-member sensei team, MKC-Japan Amigos, advance to the Finals!

The Manila Kendo Club is overjoyed with our senseis’ 2nd place win at the 18th Hong Kong Asian Open Kendo Championship, and for Sakuhara sensei’s Fighting Spirit Award! This is the first time for the club to be this close to an international title and the members are truly inspired to work even harder!

Manila Kendo Club’s MKC – Japan Amigos are awarded 2nd place at the 18th Hong Kong Asian Open Kendo Championship

For now, it’s back to the dojo for us! See you next year!


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