The Melbourne University Kendo Club (MUKEN) has proved that they are the dominant force in the state through their performance last weekend.
Held in Victoria University Footscray Park, the Victorian Kendo Championships is the most important state event of the year, where kendoka from around Victoria and South Australia convene to find out the strongest individuals and club.
Saturday started off with the Men’s Kyu Individuals, with four of the senior kyu members of the squad comfortably making it out of their respective pools. Justin Ireson (3rd year Bachelor of Science) showed strong attacking spirit as he overcame more experienced competitors, making it up to 3rd place while also earning a Fighting Spirit Award. The winner of the division was Jularaj Suthibutr, who only lost 1 point
throughout the tournament.
Following on was the Women’s Kyu Individuals. The MUKEN women performed equally well. Joanne Chow (3rd year Bachelor of Arts) reached 3rd place, as Meera Chandrananth took 1st place – A title she had won a number of times in previous years.
The Men’s Dan Individuals division was a more intense encounter. Kenji Sugimoto and Richard T’en reached the Quarterfinals. It was Daniel Kwang Yul Jeong who took the this year’s title, after a close and exciting match against
last year’s winner, Kazuya Kimura from Melbourne Budokai. After 20 long minutes of extended time, Daniel launched into a strong men cut onto Kazuya, who was starting to settle down, and scored the decisive winner.
Out of 4 events, MUKEN had 3 champions – a commanding start to the weekend.
On Sunday, the team events were held. This was the chance to evaluate the strength of the club rather than the individuals. The Men’s Kyu Team Competition started off the morning, with the MUKEN A Team steamrolling their opponents up until the finals. Unfortunately, they met stiff competition in the Fudoshin Team. A lost match in the early stages proved to be the deciding factor, with the MUKEN A Team having to contend themselves with silver.
The MUKEN Women’s Kyu Team fared much better, defeating the Monash Kendo Club Team to earn gold.
The last and most important division was the Men’s Open Team Division. The MUKEN Team consisted of our strongest players and we overcame stiff competition from Ballarat Kendo Club and Fudoshin, whose members consisted of past National Champions. In the finals, they met last year’s winners Melbourne Budokai. The atmosphere was tense and the match close, but after Kenji Sugimoto scored a lightning quick men cut immediately after the start, everyone knew that we won. After a twelve year wait, MUKEN are finally the Open Team Champions.
Left: 2014 Women's Kyu Team Champions: (L to R) Joanne Chow, Meera Chandrananth, Yaya Bonggotgetsaku
Right: 2014 Men's Kyu Team Runner Up: (L to R) Justin Ireson, Faiz Jais, Jularaj Suthibutr, Michael Yeung, Richard Zhou
Above: 2014 Men's Open Team Division Champions: (L to R) Richard T'en, Vincent Laiwin, Daniel Jeong, Yakov Macak Sensei, Kenji Sugimoto, Son Nguyen
The performance capped a remarkable year for our club, with our performance in the Victorian Kendo Championships this year possibly the most successful in history. Rather than individual successes, this was a culmination of all the effort put in by members of all levels throughout the years, in the training and organization of the club. We hope to emulate this success in the upcoming Australian Uni Games.
This year MUKEN sent in 30 competitors, one of the largest contingents in the tournament. The number is not surprising considering that MUKEN is the second largest kendo club in the state, as well as the largest university kendo club in terms of members. The size is a reflection of both the success of the club’s recruitment strategies in recent years, and the quality of the club that allowed us to retain a significant number of members.
For more information on the club please visit http://www.muken.com.au
1st Place Men's Kyu Individuals: Jularaj Suthibutr
3rd Place Men's Kyu Individuals: Justin Ireson
1st Place Women's Kyu Individuals: Meera Chandrananth
3rd Place Women's Kyu Individuals: Joanne Chow
1st Place Men's Dan Individuals: Daniel Jeong
2nd Place Men's Kyu Team: MUKEN A (Justin Ireson, Faiz Jais, Jularaj Suthibutr, Michael Yeung, Richard Zhou)
1st Place Women's Kyu Team: MUKEN A (Yaya Bonggotgetsakul, Joanne Chow, Meera Chandrananth)
1st Place Men's Open Team: MUKEN (Richard T'en, Vincent Lai, Daniel Jeong, Kenji Sugimoto, Son Nguyen)
Fighting Spirit Award: Justin Ireson