History of Kendo in South Africa (1985 - 2018)


Kendo in South Africa had existed since 1985 and has a long history. The details of this history (from 1985 to 2016) is a collection of writings from the first two presidents of the South African Kendo Federation (SAKF), the official national body for Kendo, Iaido and Jodo in South Africa:

1985 - 2010 By Buster Sefor, SAKF President (1996-2015)

Kendo was introduced to South Africa by Sensei Malcolm Dorfman (8th dan Karate), one of the country’s leading karate senseis, when on a visit to Japan in 1985 for a karate grading, he practised kendo and was graded shodan. On his return to South Africa a number of his karate students started kendo and on his next visit to Japan he was awarded his nidan in kendo.


In 1987 Malcolm Sensei had to devote his full attention to karate and stopped practicing kendo. However a small group of 2 to 3 members continued practicing at his dojo. The activity nearly died out until a revival in 1988 saw the start of a slow growth.

In January 1989, the current President of the South African Kendo Federation, Buster Sefor joined and started kendo. There were 5 regular members at that time, Alan Walker was the senior, Derek Ashburn, Barry Gordon, Peter Furness and Buster Sefor.


Malcolm Sensei had practised his kendo in Tokyo at the Kyumeikan dojo under Kubo Sensei (7th dan kendo, 7th dan iaido, 6th dan jodo), and in March 1989 Kubo Sensei sent one of his best young students, Takashi Shimamura, to South Africa. Takashi was at university at that time and came to South Africa for an extended stay to study English. He was 20 years old and had then a 3rd dan in kendo and iaido and 2nd dan judo. He joined the dojo and injected enthusiasm and good teaching and allowed the members to experience real Japanese kendo for the first time. As it turned out Takashi stayed for 2 years with the Sefor family.


Membership grew slowly and in July 1990 at the invitation of Kubo Sensei, Buster Sefor and Takashi Shimomura visited Italy to take part in a joint Japanese-Italian kendo gasshuku for two weeks. As a result of this experience an invitation was extended to Kubo Sensei to visit South Africa.


About this time the South African Kendo Federation was formed with Peter Furness as President and Buster Sefor as Secretary. We also became members of the Confederation of Martial Arts which subsequently became the Martial Arts Authority. In October 1990 we moved our dojo from Malcom Sensei’s dojo to the Ulmann Park Recreation centre in order to practice on a wooden floor. Dojos were started in Cape Town (by a 3rd dan visitor from France) and Durban (by Barry Gordon who moved down to Durban).


In February 1991 we were delighted to host a Japanese delegation comprising two 7th dans (Arakawa Sensei and Kubo Sensei) and three 3rd dans who ran a one week workshop and officiated at a South African grade examination. This was not an official grading as we were not yet members of the International Kendo Federation, however it gave a guideline as to our progress. The visit was enormously successful. It was with sadness that we said goodbye to Shimomura San who had to return to Japan to complete his studies.


As a result of these contacts we applied to the International kendo Federation for membership. This resulted in an invitation to send delegates to the Kendo Foreigners Summer Camp in Kitamoto during August 1991. Peter Furnsess, Buster Sefor and Mike Moore (from Cape Town) traveled to Japan where they participated in training with Kubo Sensei as well as practicing for two weeks at Kitamoto with delegates from 31 other countries. All three were successful in their grade examinations for shodan. The chief sensei at Kitamoto this year was Nomasa sensei (hachidan hanshi) , and unbeknown to us this was ultimately to be of great benefit to South African kendo.


During this visit we met with the Secretary General of the IKF who advised us that South Africa had been provisionally accepted as a member to be ratified at the next IKF general assembly in Paris in 1993.


On our return from Japan in September 1991 we hosted a visit by Ohno sensei (6th dan kyudo) and his son Naoshi (2nd dan) who ran a workshop and introduced the fascinating martial art of Japanese archery to South Africa.


We were now practicing without any teachers, our highest grade being shodan. We recognised that being so isolated, if we were to advance in kendo, iaido and jodo, we would have to commit to going to competitions and workshops internationally and if possible have teachers visit South Africa. Our first international visit was to compete in the 9th World Kendo Championship in France in April 1994. We sent a team of 8 in order to gain as much experience as possible. Mario Walluschnig, Gareth Bell and Ray Fleming received their shodan grade. This was a fantastic learning experience for us and the first time most members had experience real kendo. We attended the board meetings of both the IKF and EKF and were officially accepted as members of both organizations.


In June 1994 one of our members, Cheryl Jay visited Japan, trained with Kubo sensei and attended the summer camp at Kitamoto where she graded shodan in kendo. This was a major achievement for her as she is deaf. We also had a visit from a German kendoka, Uwe Kumpf, a 5th dan then, who spent two weeks with us training and being on holiday.


Early in 1995, Mr. Ishimaru, a businessman working for Sumitomo was assigned to South Africa, and fortunately for us he was a 5th dan in kendo. He had been asked by his sensei, Nomasa sensei (8th dan, hanshi), who Buster Sefor had met in Kitamoto in 1991, to start teaching us. We started to practice and learn in a more effective an proper manner. In April 1995 we sent a team of 5 to compete in the European Kendo Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. We continued to gain experience and Peter Furness, Buster Sefor and Mario Walluschnig passed their nidan grade examination in kendo. Peter and Buster also obtained their nidan in iaido and Mario a shodan in iaido.


As a result of meeting the British delegation in Glasgow we had a visit from Jock Hopson Sensei (now 7th dan kendo, iaido & jodo) who gave workshops in Johannesburg and in Natal. He also officiated at our trials to select a team for the EKF Championships to be held in Hungary in April 1996.


Unfortunately at the beginning of 1996 there was a split in the SAKF due to a difference of opinion between the President and the Secretary. As a result, most members supported Buster Sefor who then became the President of the SAKF. Peter Furness started another group, the SAKA. The conflict lasted nearly 2 years and finally under direction of the National Sports Council and the Martial Arts Authority, the SAKF was declared the only official body for kendo, iaido and jodo in South Africa.


This internal conflict resulted in us sending only one unofficial delegate, Tony Hughes to the EKF Championships. He also passed his nidan in kendo at this event.


We continued to train under Ishimaru sensei and in March 1997 we sent a team, with Ishimaru Sensei as coach, to Kyoto, Japan to take part in the World Iaido Festival and the 10th World Kendo Championships. In comparison to the previous world championships our standard had improved markedly. Buster Sefor gained his sandan in iaido and Mario Walluschnig his nidan in iaido. Gareth Bell and Ray Fleming were awarded their nidan in kendo and Rian van Zyl his shodan.


In July 1997 Buster Sefor attended the All United States Kendo/Iaido summer camp in Colorado Springs where he successfully graded sandan in kendo.


In 1998 we sent a team of 5, with Ishimaru Sensei as coach, to take part in the EKF Championships in Basel, Switzerland. Mario Walluschnig received his sandan in kendo. Also during this time we initiated our development program for previously disadvantaged communities in South Africa.


In April 1999 we were delighted to welcome to South Africa a delegation from Japan of Nomasa Sensei (8th dan, hanshi), Seto Sensei (7th dan, kyoshi) and Irii Sensei (7th dan, kyoshi – now 8th dan) as well as from Germany, Kumpf Sensei (6th dan, renshi). Together with Ishimaru Sensei (5th dan) we had for the first time in South Africa sufficient senseis to make a grading panel to grade up to 3rd dan. We held a very well attended workshop with a number of beginners taking part. Gareth Bell and Ray Fleming achieved sandan grade, Rian van Zyl, Cheryl Jay and Kobus van Wyk received nidan grade and Gert Botha, Deon de Jongh and Cedric Jacques received shodan grade. The visit was a great success all round.

Due to this seminar we were unable to send a full team to the 1999 EKF Championships in Lourdes, France as the dates coincided. However we felt it important that we were represented and Tony Hughes attended and took part in the competition.


In July of 1999 Ray Fleming and Tony Hughes visited Japan to take part in the Kitamoto summer camp. In addition they spent time in Tokyo with Nomasa sensei and had the privilege of training at the famous Mitsubishi dojo with Nomasa sensei. Tony was also successful in obtaining his sandan grade at Kitamoto.


A team of five under the direction of Ishimaru Sensei, competed in the 11th World Kendo Championships in Santa Clara, California, United States during April 2000. Again our standard had noticeably improved compared to the previous championship. One of our new development members, Vusi Gubuza, fought very well and also was graded shodan. We were also delighted that Ishimaru Sensei passed his 6th dan examination.


On our return it was with great sadness that we said our farewell to Ishimaru Sensei who had completed his five year commitment in South Africa and was reassigned to Japan. His contribution to South African kendo in terms of teaching, donations of equipment and financial assistance is inestimable. We were also happy to welcome another businessman from Japan assigned to South Africa, Sakabe Sensei (5th dan) who has also started to instruct our members.


In May 2000, the President of the SAKF, Buster Sefor attended an Iaido and Jodo seminar at the University of Guelph, Canada in order to improve knowledge of Iaido and Jodo.


In August 2000, Buster Sefor and William van Straaten attended the Kitamoto summer camp in Japan. Buster passed his 4th dan grade examination and William his shodan. They were also fortunate to spend time and train with Nomasa Sensei and Ishimaru Sensei at the Mitsubishi dojo. They were also greatly appreciative of the many kindnesses shown to them. Buster also was please to spend some time with Kubo Sensei and also Takashi Shimomura.


In November 2000, for the first time, the SAKF sent a team of 3 to compete in the European Iaido Championships in Sittard, Holland. This was a very important learning experience in terms of further developing Iaido in South Africa.


In the April of 2001 we sent a team of 6 to compete in the European Kendo Championships in Bologna.


In June of 2001 we were privileged to host an official delegation of the International Kendo Federation who led a 2 day workshop and grading examination. The delegation was lead by Tetsuya Watanabe (hachidan hanshi) and included Tomoharu Ito (hachidan kyoshi), Teruo Oboki (nanadan kyoshi) and Hiroshi Kanzaki (nanadan kyoshi). We were also delighted to welcome Ishimaru sensei who returned to South Africa for a short visit. 6 members passed dan grade examinations and 17 passed kyu grade. 32 attended the workshop. In July William van Straaten attended the Kitamoto Summer Camp and obtained his kendo nidan.


In April 2002 we once again welcomed Ishimaru sensei together with Idogawa sensei (nanadan) and Tsuruda sensei who ran what was now becoming an annual workshop. 12 members passed their grade examinations. In July Tony Hughes and Ray Fleming attende Kitamoto summer camp where Tony was successful in his yondan examination.


April 2003, for our annual workshop, saw the return of Ishimaru sensei with Hiroshi Ogawa sensei (nanadan) as well as Uwe Kumpf sensei (rokudan) and his wife Kazuko Kumpf sensei (godan) from Germany. From 31 attendees, 22 received their grades. In July we sent a team of only 2 members to the World Kendo Championships in Glasgow.


In May of 2004 we welcomed Ishimaru sensei together with Kiyifumi Mori sensei (rokudan) for our annual workshop. This time we had 67 attendees with 55 passing the grade examination. We now had about 100 active members. April 2004 we sent a team of 5 to the EKF Championships in Budapest where we advanced further than we had done previously. In July Buster Sefor and Llewelyn Roderick attended the Kitamoto Summer Camp where Llewelyn was successful in his sandan examination.


Each year Ishimaru sensei returns with kendo friends to teach at our annual SAKF seminar which slowly grows larger.


In 2005 Buster Sefor attended a seminar in Brussels where he was awarded his 5th dan in kendo and 4th dan in Iaido. Soon after in 2006 we sent a delegation top take part in the renowned Rickmansworth seminar in the UK run by Sumi sensei (hachidan hanshi). At this workshop, Tony Hughes was awarded his 5th dan in kendo and Ray Fleming his 4th dan in kendo. Later in the year we sent a team of 5 members to compete in the World Championships held in Taipei, Taiwan.


In 2007 & 2008 we sent delegations to the Kitamoto camp in Japan and once again to Rickmansworth where Mitchell Kyle became the youngest South African to be awarded a 3rd dan. Also in 2008 we sent a team to Helsinki to compete in the European Kendo Championships where Mitchell Kyle was granted a fighting spirit award..


In February 2009 Buster Sefor attended the EKF referees seminar where he passed his 6th dan kendo examination becoming the first South African to do so. The SAKF will be hosting an EKF delegation in May for the Annual SAKF seminar and will also be sending a team to the 14th Kendo World Championships in Sao Paulo during August.


As can be seen, despite our small size, we have been as active as possible in growing kendo in South Africa and encouraging senior members to obtain international experience.


All of the above activities over the years have been financed by the individual members of the SAKF as, despite many approaches, we have as yet received no grants from government or the appropriate sports controlling bodies. During the life of the SAKF we have taken an active role in serving on the committees of the IKF, the EKF and the Martial Arts & Games Committee of South Africa.


Our continual quest is to have kendo more widely known in South Africa and to promote membership. We also have an active development program for previously disadvantaged communities. In this regard, we demonstrate at school fetes, we demonstrate for the Japanese Embassy when requested, we have demonstrated at product launches at major exhibition as well as appeared in TV adverts. We have promoted kendo in programs on television and radio and have had articles in newspapers and magazines. Despite all this we find it difficult to attract and retain members as kendo is so little known in the West.


President’s Report 2011 (By Buster Sefor)

Summary

I can say without doubt that 2011 has been one of the most disappointing years for kendo in South Africa. From a promising start at the beginning of the year we have seen our membership decline by over 30%. The commitment of both administrators and members to advancing kendo and to regular practice has been dismal.


The attendance at our most important event, the Annual Seminar and Open Competition in February was less than a third of our members. Even more disappointing, the attendance at our Summer Seminar, when your committee went to great efforts to have 2 hachidan and 2 nanadan senseis from Japan lead the seminar, was still less than 50% of our membership. The lack of interest in representing South Africa at the European Championships in Poland meant that we could only manage to send 3 competitors. Of more concern is the low number of beginners starting kendo last year and that we do not have a regular stream of kyu grades coming through to test for shodan. In fact we currently only have 4 1st kyu members and no 2nd kyu members.


The Durban dojo has all but ceased to exist and despite efforts to start activities in Kimberley and Port Elizabeth, we still await positive results.


A further indication of the lack of commitment this last year was that we had not a single inter dojo competition.


Highlights of the Year:

Once again we were privileged to welcome Ajiro sensei, Irii sensei and Ishimaru sensei from Japan to lead our Summer Seminar. We were also pleased to welcome the delegation from Mozambique together with Suenaga sensei.


Tony Hughes sensei passed his 6th dan examination in Kitamoto.


For the first time we had a senior enough grading jury to test up to 4th dan and Mitchel Kyle was successful in passing this examination.


13 members challenged in the 1st dan to 3rd dan examinations.


We sent a team of 3 to compete in the EKF Championships in Gdynia, Poland.


Other

We continue our membership of MASA. We are now part of the Japanese block comprising kendo, aikido and jujitsu. Your president is chairman of the block.


Masa has now elected a new president, Louise Viviers. We still await a reply from the Lottery Board regarding the application put in 2 years ago.


The constitutional change in voting structure at the AGM as proposed last year was passes by a 2/3 email vote and is active for this AGM.


As mandated by the EKF your executive committee has defined the rules and procedure for the application and awarding of the Renshi Shogo by the SAKF. These have been approved by the EKF.


My thanks to my executive committee for their continued support for kendo. The committee met 4 times in the year. Details of development, technical matters, finance and dojos will be presented by these EXCO members.


2012

Your president and Ray Fleming attended the Shimpan Seminar in Brussels We will soon be holding trials for team selection for WKC15 to be held in Italy in May. We are expecting Ishimaru sensei to be here for 2 weeks in May to assist in preparing the team for WKC15. He will travel with us as coach.


The SAKF Annual Seminar and Open Competition will be held at the end of March.


We have nominated one member to attend the Kitamoto Summer Camp.


We once again expect to welcome Ajiro sensei, Irii sensei and Ishimaru senei in October for our Summer Seminar.


It is vital that we again initiate beginners courses and resurrect the inter dojo competitions


END


President’s Report 2012 (By Buster Sefor)

Summary

I am happy to report that 2012 was a significant improvement over 2011. Attendance showed a marked improvement, both our Annual and Summer Seminars were well attended and we had a significant increase in membership. Our finances are in good shape and I must thank the Executive Committee for the hard work they have done on your behalf during the year. Details will be presented in the various portfolio reports.


Highlights of the Year:

Once again we were privileged to welcome Ajiro sensei, Irii sensei and Ishimaru sensei from Japan to lead our Summer Seminar. Joining them were Tscherter sensei and Kumpf sensei from Europe. We were also pleased to again welcome the delegation from Mozambique together with Suenaga sensei. For the first time in SAKF history, we had 6 senseis, 7th dan and higher as a grading panel. This meant that we could grade to 5th dan level. History was made when Ray Fleming passed his 5th dan examination. Also Warren Ho passed his 4th dan examination. In both the Annual Seminar and Summer Seminar 56 members passed their kyu grade test and 18 passed their dan grade test.


The South African Open kendo Championship was won by Mitchel Kyle; 2nd was Brendan Dateling and joint 3rd were Adam Cullen and Fernando Witbooi.


We sent a team of 6 to compete in the World Kendo Championships in Novara, Italy. Once again we were unable to progress beyond the preliminary round, However it was noticeable that the standard of world kendo had improved significantly and some countries are getting close to the Japanese standard.


Your President attended both the board meetings of the International Kendo Federation and the European Kendo Federation.

MASA

We continue our membership of MASA. We are now part of the Japanese block comprising kendo, aikido and jujitsu. Your president is chairman of the block.


SASCOC has become proactive in all sporting codes, including MASA. MASA has had to rewrite its constitution and set up Provincial structures to fall in line with SASCOC requirements for affiliation. Soon it seems, SASCOC will require all affiliated members to be active in all 9 provinces. This is going to be a challenge for the SAKF that we must start working on. It was reported that the Lotto has allocated R3 million to MASA for its development and distribution to its members. The funds have not yet materialised and your president is in regular contact with MASA in this regard.


Other Items

The membership promotion through Groupon has been a great success with over 100 enquiries. It is important that we track the fall out rate over a 6 month and 12 month period and the Development Director will do this.


Warren Ho and his team are to be congratulated for producing and marketing our excellent SAKF calendar for 2013.


A number of very successful workshops and inter dojo competitions were held during the year.


Ray Fleming participated in the Rickmansworth seminar under the leadership of Sumi sensei and Andre Coetzer attended the Kitamoto Summer Camp in July.



2013

Trials were held on 10th February to select the team to participate in the EKF Championships in Berlin during April The SAKF Annual Seminar and Open Competition will be held on the 16th & 17th March. 4 inter-dojo competitions are planned.


We have nominated two members to attend the Kitamoto Summer Camp during July.


We once again expect to welcome Ajiro sensei, Irii sensei and Ishimaru senei in October for our Summer Seminar.


We will soon advertise on Groupon for our next intake of beginners.


END


President’s Report 2013 (By Buster Sefor)

Summary

2013 was pleasing in the continued growth of kendo and interest in opening new dojos. Both our Annual and Summer Seminars were well attended we were


We were able to hold dan grade exams to 4th dan level. Our finances are in good shape and I must thank the Executive Committee for the hard work they have done on your behalf during the year. Details will be presented in the various portfolio reports.


Highlights of the Year:

We were happy to welcome Chiba sensei, Irii sensei and Ishimaru sensei from Japan, Suenaga sensei from Mozambique and Kumpf sensei from Germany to lead our Summer Seminar. Every indication is that we will be hosting Ajiro sensei, Chiba sensei and Irii sense again in 2014, the first time we will have 3 x 8th dans to lead our seminar. With 6 x 6th dan senseis and higher, we were able to grade up to 4th dan and it was most pleasing that Craig Stewart & Fernado Witbooi passed the 4th dan exam.


During the year we welcomed 2 x 4th dans; 2 x 3rd dans; 2 x 2nd dans and 3 x 1st dans. We awarded over 80 kyu grades during 2013.


The South African Open kendo Championship was won by Mitchel Kyle again; 2nd was Andrew Whittaker and joint 3rd were Adam Cullen and Carle Joubert.


We sent a team of 3 to compete in the European Kendo Championships in Berlin, Germany. Once again we were unable to progress beyond the preliminary round, However it was noticable that the standard of world kendo continues to improve.


Your President attended the board meeting of the European Kendo Federation.


MASA

We continue our membership of MASA. We are now part of the Japanese block comprising kendo, aikido and jujitsu. Your president is chairman of the block.


SASCOC has become proactive in all sporting codes, including MASA. MASA has had to rewirite its constitution and set up Provincial structures to fall in line with SASCOC requirements for affiliation. Currently we must be active in 5 provinces to be eligible for colours. The importance of being approved by SASCOC was highlighted by the support the Kickboxing Federation received after the death of one of their fighters in Turkey. The Lotto funding has still not materialised.


EXCO

Your EXCO met 6 times during the year.


Other Items

Again the membership promotion through Groupon has been a great success with over 100 enquiries. However only 25% are redeeming vouchers. We now plan to include a T-Shirt in the offer to up the rate of redemption.

A number of very successful workshops and interdojo competitions were held during the year and we participated twice in the Japanese Embassy Martial Arts day in Johannesburg and Pretoria.


2014

Trials are scheduled for 23rd February to select the team to participate in the EKF Chamionships in Clermont-Ferrand, France in April.


The SAKF Annual Seminar and Open Competition will be held on the 22nd & 23rd February. At least 4 inter-dojo competitions are planned. Your EXCO are planning a number of additional events including film evenings and shimpan seminars amongst others.


The new SAKF T-Shirts for the Groupon promotion will also be available for sale to members at R90.


We have nominated two members to attend the Kitamoto Summer Camp during July.


We will soon advertise on Groupon for our next intake of beginners.


Finally, even though there is no election for office bearers this year, I am giving advanced warning that I will not be standing for re-election as President in 2015 and intend this year to be a year of handing over duties and functions. My last official duty will be to coach and take the team to the world championships in Japan in 2015 and introduce the new President to the FIK and EKF.


END


President’s Report 2014 (By Buster Sefor)

Overview

It is with mixed feelings that I will be stepping down as President and from committee functions after 25 years as Secretary & President. Of course, health permitting, I will still continue kendo practice. Later tonight you will elect a new EXCO and President to serve for the next two years and I have no doubt that younger and fresher outlook will take kendo in South Africa to new heights. My congratulations in advance to the new committee.


Highlights of the Year:

We were happy to welcome Chiba sensei, Irii sensei and Ishimaru sensei from Japan and Tscherter sensei from Switzerland and Kumpf sensei from Germany to lead our Summer Seminar. With 5 x 7th dan senseis and higher (with permission from the EKF), we were able to grade up to 5th dan and it was most pleasing that Cedric Jacques passed the 5th dan exam and Henk Son from Mozambique passed the 4th dan exam.


During the year we welcomed 1 x 5th dan, 3 x 3rd dans and 5 x 1st dans. We awarded over 70 kyu grades during 2014. The South African Open Kendo Championship was won by Brendan Dateling; 2nd was Mitchel Kyle and joint 3rd were Adam Cullen and Cedric Jacques.


We sent a team of 7 to compete in the European Kendo Championships in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Once again we were unable to progress beyond the preliminary round, and once again the standard of world kendo continues to improve.


Your President attended the board meeting of the European Kendo Federation.


MASA

We continue our membership of MASA. We are part of the Japanese block comprising kendo, aikido and jujitsu. Your president is chairman of the block. SASCOC has become proactive in all sporting codes, including MASA. MASA has had to rewirite its constitution and set up Provincial structures to fall in line with SASCOC requirements for affiliation.


Currently we must be active in 5 provinces to be eligible for colours.


LOTTO

Finally we received LOTTO funding in tha amount of R170k for development purposes and R30k for equipment purchase to support ‘previously disadvantaged’ members. Your committee is dealing with MASA on the best use of the funding. We now need to display the LOTTO logo on all out stationery.


EXCO

Your EXCO met 5 times during the year and are handling day-to-day matters via WhatsApp.


Other Items

The new Groupon initiative has been launched and we await the results with interest.


A number of very successful workshops and interdojo competitions were held during the year.


2015

The 16th World Kendo Championships will be held from the 29th to 31st May at the Budokan in Tokyo, Japan. The first phase of trials to select a team for the World Championships was held on 24th January 2015.


The SAKF Annual Seminar and Open Competition and Trials will be held on the 7th & 8th February.


Your Technical Director will outline plans for seminars and events in 2015.The new SAKF T-Shirts are available for sale to members at R90.


Every indication is that we will be hosting Ajiro sensei, Chiba sensei and Irii sense again in October 2015, the first time we will have 3 x 8th dans to lead our seminar.


Finally, thank you to all the members and the EXCO committee for their support during my tenure and I wish you the best of fortune for the future.


END


President’s Report 2015 (By Warren Ho)

OVERVIEW

This first year of my presidency has been an exciting but challenging one. Exciting because there had been so much happening this past year ranging from 7 grade examinations, 6 national shiai’s, 5 seminars, 5 kendo demonstrations, 3 new dojo’s, 1 international competition, to 1 fundraising function. Challenging because of the limited resources we had to accomplish all these events. Nevertheless, each initiative was successful thanks to the combined efforts of all the SAKF members!


16WKC

The first half of the year was dominated by preparations for the 16th World Kendo Championships (16WKC) that was scheduled to happen in May 2015 in Tokyo, Japan.


A National Kendo Team of 5 men and 1 woman was selected at the open trials in late January, followed by an intensified team training schedule that included the invitation and subsequent month-long visit by Ishimaru sensei to help prepare the team for the upcoming 16WKC.


At the 16WKC, although the men’s team and individual fighters performed amicably, they failed to progress past the preliminary rounds. However, it was our one female fighter, Carle Joubert, who was able to making it through the pool rounds, as well as to the 2nd stage of the Knock-Out rounds, putting her in the top 32 Kendo Female players in the world– A South African first! So impressive was her performance, the Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV), decided to feature her and part of her fights in a kendo documentary that was screened on national TV a few days later!

It was also at this WKC that our ex-president of the SAKF, Buster Sefor, had challenged and successfully passed his 7th dan grading, making him the 1st South African to accomplish such an accolade.


SHIAI

Besides the hype of the 16WKC, SAKF members were also treated to 5 other shiai’s throughout the year – The Open Championships and Interdojo shiai’s hosted by Mushin, Rivonia Kendo Club, Niji No Senshi, Ken Yu Kai and San Kawa. With each event, different competition types kept it interesting for everyone, ranging from beginners’, kyu-grade, dan-grade, individuals, 3-person teams and women-only competition.


SEMINARS

There were also 5 seminars held during the year that included the Summer Seminar in February; Seminar with Ishimaru Sensei in April; The Western Province Seminar in August; A women’s only Seminar with Yuri Aoki sensei in September; and our annual SAKF seminar with our high-ranking sensei’s from Japan and Europe – Chiba Sensei, Irii sensei, Ishimaru sensei, Tsherter sensei and Kumpf sensei. On a sad note, it was said that this would be the last visit by some of our Japanese sensei as they felt they have done all they could for South African kendo. We are grateful for their support and instruction and hope that the knowledge they imparted onto our members will be put to good use and continue to guide our kendo for years to come.


DEMOSTRATION

It was also a busy year of demonstrations – 6 in total. One in particular to mention was the demonstration at the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria on Japan National Day in December. Kendo, was 1 of only 2 martial arts that were invited to perform by H.E. Shigeyuki Hiroki (Ambassador of Japan) and his guests.


GRADINGS

The SAKF hosted 7 gradings this year which includes the 2 gradings that were hosted by the dojo’s (and endorsed by the SAKF). In total, an impressive 171 kyu grades were successfully passed. Furthermore, 8 x new 1st Dan were initiated into the “black belt” fraternity. More impressive yet was the successful gradings of 6 x 2nd, Dans, 4 x 3rd Dans, 3 x 4th Dans and 1 x 5th Dan. With the successful grading of the 5th Dan by Mitchel Kyle, the SAKF is now able to grade up to 3rd Dan. This is huge milestone for South African kendo, as in the past, anyone wishing to grade to 3rd dan would have to travel overseas.


NEW DOJO’s

4 new dojo’s joined the SAKF this year, 3 of which were new Kendo dojo’s, namely the Rivonia Kendo Club based in Rivonia Johannesburg; the Kenshin Dojo in Durbaville, Cape Town; and Shishigashira Dojo in Cape Town.


It should be noted that the Kendo Kids program was also piloted at the Rivonia Kendo Club and has been successful to date. The intention is to later role out this program to all the dojo’s, thereby, allowing them to target younger kendo players whom we can groom to be great kendo players both in the local and international kendo arena in the future.


Garden Dojo, an affiliated dojo in New Castle, was an existing karate dojo that intended to include Iaido into their curriculum and hence join under the SAKF banner, however, they have subsequently decided to part from the SAKF due to various reasons.


FUND RAISER

The SAKF held one fundraising event in the form of hosting a movie screening – Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The event was successful in that it both raised a small amount of money for the SAKF, as well provide a relaxing social event to end the year off.