15 members of the Rivonia Kendo Dojo (RKC) participated in this past weekend’s SAKF (South African Kendo Federation) mini-seminar and grading, held at the Rivonia Sports and Recreational Club in Paulshoff. It was an impressive turnout with just under 50 participants coming from all around the country, as well as 2 participants from the Musashi Dojo, based in Windhoek, Namibia. This was the first time since lockdown that all the dojo’s members have been able to practise together.
The seminar was overseen by Buster SEFOR sensei (Renshi, 7th Dan) and led by 4 other local 5th Dan Instructors, 3 of which are Rivonia Kendo Club members anyway. This included Ray FLEMING sensei, Cedric JACQUES sensei and Warren HO sensei. The Saturday sessions, as well as the Sunday morning session consisted of training and grading practise. By 11am Sunday, the hall was reconfigured into a kendo examination hall that required all participants to be seated in the hall while the respective Dan and Kyu grade candidates demonstrated their skill to the panel of sensei-examination panel.
Warren HO sensei had this to say: "As the head sensei at the RKC, I was extremely proud of all the RKC member as we achieved a 100% pass rate! Amongst the most notable members who passed were Logann NAIDOO and Ki Shun CHAU ("Terry"), who both passed their sandan (3rd dan) examination. Logann has been one of my oldest students who started with me when the RKC first opened its dojo doors back in Feb 2015. Terry is originally from Hong Kong and had practised kendo there, but decided to move to SA early in 2020 (just before the lockdown). Our 2 new shodans (1st Dan), Aura NAIDOO and Heinz WEILERT are respectively, the youngest (14) 1st Dan Kendoka female in South Africa, and the oldest (57) 1st Dan Kendoka in South Africa – each earning a huge accomplishment on their own!
I am equally proud of my other 6 kyu grade candidates who successfully passed their exam. For some, this would have been their 1st martial arts exam – a daunting task by any standard! However, by taking this first step on their martial arts journey, they have made a commitment to personal development for the betterment of society. This concept or philosophy is emphasised by our dojo’s creed of "Kō Ken Chi Ai" (交剣知愛), a Kendo proverb that translate to, “the desire to achieve mutual understanding and betterment of humanity through sword training”.
Personally, I feel that my students’ accomplishments comes from their passion for Kendo, which hopefully has been installed through our dojo principles of FOCUS, FUN and FAMILY. As their sensei (or teacher), pride is definitely a word that would describe how I feel right now. But, there is also a sense of responsibility to them as I have to ensure that they have the best possible kendo experience through my teachings whilst they are on this journey with me. It is therefore also my responsibility to constantly perfect my skills, expand my understanding of the martial arts and accumulate greater experiences so that I can in turn, share my knowledge with them. Many a times, I find myself also learning from my students which will make me a better teacher. This too has been very rewarding. "
In closing, Warren HO sensei leaves us with this: "Respect the Past. Be in the Present. Prepare for the Future. And of course, keep doing Kendo as best you can!"
As the only dojo in South Africa practising the 3 martial arts (Kendo, Iaido & Jodo) endorsed by the International Kendo Federation (FIK), the Rivonia Kendo Club looks forward to soaring to greater heights with ALL its members in 2021!