On 18 June 2019 three members from Kenshin Kendo Dojo (Jürgen, Andrew and Simone) joined up with other kendo members from Johannesburg (Damian and Zaid) to travel to Frankfurt Germany to participate in the annual Tengu Cup hosted by Kumpf sensei’s dojo Katana Frankfurt.
This was the second time that a team from South Africa was sent to compete at the Tengu Cup. The team normally do not represent South Africa but rather compete under the same banner of a specific dojo. This year we represented Shi Hoko Kendo Dojo, seeing as how Wendy Vermeulen (President of Shi Hoko) was the tour coordinator.
The team consisted of:
Jürgen Beck – KKD
Simonè Basson -KKD
Andrew Ingle -KKD
Damian Rogans -SKD
Zaid Gabriel -SHKD
Quintin Goodyear -SHKD
Wendy Vermeulen -SHKD
This tournament provides an opportunity for members to get some international exposure for competitions, and provide a steppingstone to possible SA team selection. From the previous group that attended in 2015, three out of the six members made it to the national team.
The trip served as small vacation for all members, we arrived on the Wednesday before the tournament and had the opportunity to explore the wonderful city of Frankfurt as well as Heidelberg on an excursion with our kendo hosts. There was a lot to see in such a short time, from climbing 60m up the stairs of St. Bartholomew’s cathedral to get a bird’s eye view of the city landscape to walking through the famous Römerberg in the heart of Altstadt (Old town) that houses the Old Town Hall (the scene of many weddings during our stay). Many tourist booklets mentioned the museum strip, a street on the banks of the river Main, that is home to numerous different museums ranging from architecture, art to communications and film. One museum, the German Film Museum, was great fun, it had four floors dedicated to different sections of the film industry. We had the opportunity to pose with famous artefacts like H. R Geiger’s Alien, the helmet of Darth Vader and even a real Oscar trophy. And that was only the 1st day!
On our second day we had a day trip out to Heidelberg town and it’s castle with our kendo hosts, after a full day of sightseeing and good German food we had the opportunity to train with Kumpf sensei at his dojo and enjoyed a great social afterwards.
After all that fun it was time to get down to kendo. It is something different seeing more than 200 competitors for a single event, compared to our small local kendo get-togethers. It is a surreal feeling of hearing the collective kiai of all those people as we warm up and compete together. The cacophony of shouting, shinai hitting and fumikomi is indescribable. The competition was fierce, and the local Germans put up an amazing fight. We saw some amazing kendo during those two days, and even had the opportunity to fight against kendoka from Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Netherlands.
Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end, the group slowly made their way back home to SA the following week, and now aim to impart some of the knowledge and observations we made that side on local kendo.
This trip was a great opportunity to learn, improve and grow in our personal kendo, and I would recommend any and all kendoka to put their names up to join the next team to visit the Tengu Cup in Germany.