The 1st All Japan Kendo Championship (1953)

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The 1st Kendo Championship Final
Tadashi Sakakibara (Renshi) against Saburo Abe (Kyoshi)

The 1st Kendo Championship was held on 8 November 1953 in Tokyo. Over 10,000 spectator gathered to see the matches participated 53 Kenshi.

The championship was very innovative since it ignored the traditional custom of dividing professional and amateur players and invited all the kenshi regardless of their age and title instead. The kenshi went through regional qualification matches for the championship.

Tadashi Sakakibara, who won the championship, was 33 year old from Aichi who later became Hanshi 8 dan. Saburo Abe, who took the second place, was a 34-year old police officer who later became Hanshi 9 dan. Abe had trained under Shigeyoshi Takano Hanshi in Manchuria before WW2.

Sakakibara, who became the honourable first champion of the Kendo Championship, looked back at the match and said, “I was so absorbed in the match whether I would win or lose when it began. After some time I had this moment of ‘it’s now!’ and I found myself hitting Degashira Kote. The bell
to end the match rang immediately after the nihonme began. I won with Ippon. Five minutes seemed to have passed quite quickly.” (from Kendo Jidai Magazine May 2005 issue)

Reference: Kendo Hyakunen written by Munemitsu Shoji

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