Sunday, January 05, 2014

Iaido Championship in Oita

I had a piece on the championships published over at Kendo World so if you haven't checked it out, head on over there.  Get a subscription while you're at it!  They are working hard to share Japanese-language information on the sword art, as well as bringing you original content, so give them your support.

Meanwhile, I said I was going to upload a few more pictures from the event.  A lot of these pictures are not very good, technically (it seems that I still don't really know how to use my camera ... probably because I only seem to use it to cover important events, so I don't get enough practice with the damn thing) but I like them for one reason or another. 

As Haruna-Sensei used to put it: Ssssu-PAAA-t!!

Zanshin

Like a coiled spring...

I really like the sense of lower-body stability here!

I had the pleasure of training with Mr. Inoue from Fukushima while I was living there a few years back.

Ohira, 5-dan, Oita, doing Sekiguchi-ryu's characteristic tobichigai

Past 7-dan champion Akiba from Chiba

Kosaka Ryoichiro, Oita, 7-dan


I've talked before about the fact that the results of the All-Japan championships are basically a foregone conclusion.  Well, this year the hosts Oita won the overall (i.e., team) title, and Mr. Kosaka from Oita, whom I have had the pleasure of training with regularly, won the 7th-dan division.  I would like to take a moment and point out how much he deserved to win it this year, by drawing your attention to some of his past achievements:

2000 (Oita): 1st place (6th dan division)
2001 (Yamagata): 1st place (6th dan)
2002 (Osaka): 2nd place (6th dan)
2003 (Saitama): 2nd place (6th dan)
2012 (Shizuoka): 2nd place (7th dan)
2013 (Oita): 1st place (7th dan)

In addition, I know he has quite a few 3rd- and 4th-place finishes.  So, congratulations to him for finally achieving the 7th-dan victory!  I believe he earned it and was the best iaidoka on the floor that day.

Technical note: I rented a 70-200 mm f2.8 lens for the event.  If I had known what I was doing, I would have fixed my camera aperture at 2.8 as well, to get more bokeh to blur out the backgrounds.  Live and learn... Speaking of screw-ups, at some point I unwittingly pressed the small "exposure bracketing" button on the side of the camera, and couldn't figure out why so many of my photos were coming out under- and over-exposed.  Duh!  I also learned why a tripod is so invaluable.  I thought that, since I would be moving from place to place on the floor, a tripod would just slow me down.  Well, there are two reasons why a tripod is necessary.  First, that 70-200 lens is heavy!  It will definitely give you a sore back and shoulders hefting it all day.  And second, (perhaps more importantly) it saves you having to go into Photoshop on every damn shot and fix the inevitable tilt that hand-holding has introduced! Fixing tilt always seems to soften the focus, as well... so you end up with a straight, but soft image that is pretty mediocre-looking.

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