Tomorrow we head out for the Rose City Taikai in Portland, OR. This will be the third year I've competed in this taikai. This is also a special time for me. Three years ago, at this very taikai, was my first experience competing in kendo. I've never really competed in many things in my life before I started kendo. A couple of local skating competitions when I was a teenager. A spelling bee here and there for school. But other than that not much. I wasn't big into sports growing up so I never had the opportunity for competition.
The one thing I've noticed, in my own experience, is that it's not about winning and losing to me. Don't get me wrong, winning is nice and it feels good to come out on top, but to me that's always just icing on top of the delicious cake that makes up the taikai experience. I enjoy seeing my friends that I've made throughout the area, ones that I don't get to see or hear from much because we live in different parts of the state. I enjoy the atmosphere and all of the wonderful matches and great kendo that goes on. And I love putting myself against others to see where my strengths and weaknesses are. I always learn so much about myself after a taikai; that aspect alone is worth the trip. And I always come back to my dojo a rejuvenated man. I believe that this year will be no different.
This year is going to be a tough one, though, because about 90% of the people going from our dojo will be in the same division. Despite that I feel ready, and I feel confident in myself. I know that they'll be giving everything they've got, and I plan to do the same. I will give everything to each one of my opponents this weekend, and win or lose I know that we'll both come out of it improved in some way.