Interview with the Winner of the 11th All Japan Invitational 7th Dan Tournament (Hatakenaka Kosuke)



Photography: Sasai Takamasa
Translation: Pepijn Boomgaard

Hatakenaka Kosuke

Born in 1986 in Mie prefecture. Went to Wakayama Higashi High School and Kokushikan University. After graduation, he joined the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. His achievements include placing 3rd at the All Japan Championship three times, participating in the World Kendo Championships, participating in the All Japan Tozai Taiko Tournament, winning the All Japan Interprefecture Tournament, and winning the All Japan Police Tournament individual and team titles. Currently, he is an assistant professor at the Metropolitan Police Department’s 1st riot unit. Kendo Kyoshi 7th Dan.

Hatakenaka Kosuke won the Yokohama 7th Dan Tournament, held on February 4, 2024, in what was his first appearance. He said that he had not expected to win the tournament. He received the invitation to participate in the tournament last year, when he had just retired from the Tokuren and started his new career as assistant professor at the 1st riot unit.

“When I received the invitation, I asked them whether I was really the right person to participate. However, it was an honor to be invited, so I accepted. On the day of the tournament, I was thinking about the victims of the earthquake which occurred at the Noto Peninsula on New Year’s day, as well as my friend who is battling illness. I hoped that I could be a source of energy for them. I am happy that I was able to win this time.”

During the six months between receiving the invitation and the day of the tournament, he had to adjust to an environment different than when he was a Tokuren member. He trained with the mindset of “doing what he can.”

In this tournament, there is no knowing which of the 16 selected players will be victorious. This is why rather than focussing on results, he was more concerned with just doing his best. “I’m glad that I approached the tournament with this kind of mindset. I feel like I was able to fight in my own way.”

He placed first in his group by winning twice and drawing once. In the quarterfinals, he defeated Katsumi Yosuke (Kanagawa), who is the same age as him, with one point. In the semifinals, he defeated Uchimura Ryoichi (Tokyo) in overtime by scoring Men. Hatakenaka and Katsumi have been competing against each other since they were students, and Uchimura is Hatakenaka’s senior at the Metropolitan Police Department. The strong ties he has with these two players led to fierce fights.

He was focused and sharp.

“As is the case with all tournaments, once you start winning, it is easy to become greedy, thinking, ‘I want to do this’ or ‘I want to try this.’ When I coach my team members, I always tell them to prevent these feelings from appearing and to focus on the things that they can do. As I was advancing through the tournament, I remembered this and thought to myself, ‘If I’m telling my team members this, then I also have to be able to do it myself.”

In the final match, he faced Matsumoto Katsunori, who is also from Kanagawa. Around 1:30 into the match, Matsumoto went for Men, and Hakatenaka moved slightly backwards to the left and struck Men. Then, 3 minutes into the match. He struck a sharp Kote and won the match. It was a brilliant two-point victory. 

Finding what I can do now and giving it my all

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