President’s Report 2016 (By Warren Ho)

OVERVIEW

2016 was an extremely busy year for Kendo players in South Africa. From the German-Delegation seminar in March; to the EKC in Skopje, Macedonia  in April, to the Arnold Classic Competition in May; to the Foreign Leaders’ Kendo camp in Kitamoto, Japan in July; to the last major event of the year being our International Kendo Seminar in October; then finally to the Year-End get-together in November! Scattered amongst these events were even more events ranging from competitions, more seminars and plenty of demonstrations!

Not only that, but this year saw many new initiatives being introduced that are a testament of the SA Kendo community’s maturity and growth.

Here is a review of the year:

EKC27 – Skopje, Macedonia

“A historical event – The 1st SA Women’s team in SA Kendo’s history, and the 1st time EVER that the SA Men’s team preceded to the KO rounds of the tournament!”

The 27th European Kendo Championships (EKC) was held in Skopje, Macedonia from 1-3 April 2016, and featured 38 nations competing in the Junior, Ladies and Men, team and individual competitions.

The National Kendo Team selected to represent South Africa consisted of 5 men and 4 women. This was the first year in the history of South African Kendo that a women’s team was sent to represent their country.

This was also the first time since competing in international competitions that the men’s team was able to proceed to the knock-out round of the tournament.

Lastly, another South African first, Buster Sefor (7th dan, Renshi) was asked by the European Kendo Federation (EKF) to be on the technical team for this championship. This again is testament that SA Kendo can perform on a global platform and that given the right conditions, can offer a lot to the global Kendo community.

The 2016 SA National Kendo Team consisted of:

  • Carle Joubert (c); Wendy Vermeulen; Yentl Krugel; Natalie Morris
  • Brendan Dateling (c); Warren Ho; Adam Cullen; Mathew Price; Anesu Shamu

 

This was also the first year that I went as the Delegation Leader of the South African team, as well as participate at the EKF’s General Assembly.  Insight into the inner workings of the EKF was an eye-opener and gave me some ideas for the future development of kendo in South Africa.

SHIAI

There were many other local competitions 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, Kenshin and Shishigashira.  With each event, different competition types kept it interesting for everyone, ranging from beginners’, kyu-grade, dan-grade, individuals and 3-person teams.  Furthermore, the Arnold Classic Fitness event held at the Sandton Convention centre in May, allowed the SAKF to showcase what Kendo is to the greater sporting community.

Personally, I was also able to attend the 9th London Cup in the UK and had taken part in both the team and individual competitions.  My personal account of this event can be found here:  https://www.sakf.co.za/CMS/9th-london-cup-feedback/

SEMINARS

There were also numerous seminars held during the year. The March Seminar with Uwe Kumpf Sensei (7th dan, Renshi) and Sabrina Kumpf (5th Dan, ex-German National Team member and former EKC Champion) from Germany included some specific team training sessions for the SA National Team before the EKC that proved vital to their sterling performance at the championships.

The Shimpan Seminar led by Buster Sefor Sensei (7th dan, Renshi) and assisted by Ray Fleming Sensei (5th Dan), was held in July and was another was also a 1st for SA Kendo. It was well attended and the intension was to start preparing a new generation of shimpan which would in turn, improve all member’s shiai ability both on and around the shiai-jo. Special thanks must also be made to a few members who spent countless nights making the red and white shimpanki (flags). 3 sets of red and white shimpanki were given to each dojo with the intention that they would use them for their own dojo shiai’s, thereby improving their shiai and shimpan abilities. For a detailed write up, please refer to: https://www.sakf.co.za/CMS/1st-south-african-shimpan-seminar-9-july-2016/

Two successful Western Province Seminars and competitions were held during the year that highlighted the growth of Kendo in this region. The SAKF had sent specific people to assist in their growth and will continue to support this region going forward so as to ensure that the western province dojo’s will be at the same, if not better, level of Kendo compared to their inland counterparts.

Prior to the finale of the year, the SAKF International Kendo Seminar in October, there was a Kata Seminar led again by Buster Sefor sensei. Because the intention was to start gearing the International seminars to be more shinai-kendo focused (i.e. more wazza and shiai techniques), it was important to have the Kata seminar beforehand so as to ensure that this part of kendo was not neglected.

The final seminar of the year was the Annual SAKF International Kendo Seminar in October. With sensei’s and participants from 10 different countries, this was indeed an international seminar of note! Sensei’s and participants came from Dubai, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Namibia, Mozambique and the United Kingdom. In total there were 71 participants and the 7 sensei’s to lead them were:

  • Uwe KUMPF (7th dan, Renshi) – Germany <—– DELEGATION LEADER
  • Buster SEFOR (7th dan, Renshi) – South Africa
  • Markus FREY (7th dan, Kyoshi) – Finland
  • Nobuo MORIYA (7th dan, Renshi) – Japan
  • Thibault BRUNEL DE BONNEVILLE (7th dan, Renshi) – France
  • HongJum LEE (7th dan, Renshi) – Korea
  • Kazuko KUMPF (6th Dan) – Germany
  • Anthony HUGHES (6th dan) – South Africa

A detailed write-up of this seminar can be found here:  https://www.sakf.co.za/CMS/2016-sakf-international-kendo-seminar-feedback-14-16-oct-2016/

Regarding overseas seminars, Andrew Whitaker (3rd Dan) was selected to take part in the week-long Foreign Leaders’ Kendo Summer Camp in Kitamoto, Japan in July. Through this experience, Andrew was able to come back to SA with renewed and fresh knowledge of Kendo.

Lastly, Buster Sefor sensei (7th dan, Renshi) was also invited by the Ukrainian Kendo Federation to be a jury member for their dan grade examination, as well as a shimpan for the open championships earlier in the year.

DEMOSTRATION

The SAKF was also invited to do a number of demonstrations this year ranging from a demonstration at the Emperor’s Pal ace casino for Chinese New Year; to the demo’s at the Arnold Classic event; to a demo at Loftus Versfeld Stadium during a game between the SA Bluebulls and Japanese Sunwolves rugby team; to the Fujifilm experience demo; and finally the Japanese Spring festival demo at the Japanese School in Emmerentia. Several of these demonstrations were done at the request of the Japanese Embassy and the SAKF was happy to oblige in the interest of fostering a good relationship with the Embassy.

GRADINGS

The SAKF hosted several Kyu grade examinations this year, most of the times they would be incorporated after a competition event to be able. Furthermore, two  Dan grade examinations  were held that resulted in the successful gradings of 10 x new 1st Dans, 3 x 2nd, Dans and  3 x 3rd Dans.

On a special note: Tony Hughes Sensei (6th Dan) was awarded the shogo title of “Renshi” by the SAKF in December 2016. Shogo titles are teaching titles awarded to members of the community who have both the theoretical and practical knowledge and experience in kendo, and can teach this to other kenshi.

NEW DOJO’s

1 new dojo’s joined the SAKF this year, namely the Midrand Kendo Dojo. More details of this dojo can be found at: https://midrandkendo.wordpress.com

FUND RAISER

Again the fundraising event in the form of hosting a movie screening – Batman versus Superman, that was also the send-off for the SA National Team before the EKC in Macedonia. Other fundraising efforts included the sale of SAKF branded merchandise such as T-Shirts, jerseys, sweat towels and shinai bags.

Funding remains as one of the SAKF’s greatest challenges to being able to run the various initiatives to both grow and develop the SA kendo community, and we welcome any sponsors who would like to make a contribution to the SAKF to help fund these initiatives.

MASA

We continue our membership of MASA, the Martial Arts Association of South Africa, who in turn belong to SASCOC, the governing sports body in South Africa. It should be noted that our affiliation to MASA allows for the SAKF to apply for Full National Sporting colours for all the athletes who take part in the World and European Kendo Championships.

A special mention must also be made that Fernando Witbooi, the current SAKF Vice-President, was elected as the MASA Ethics Director.

ADMIN

Towards the end of 2016, a new online membership database and attendance tracking system was implemented.  “Dojo Expert” allows for attendance to be tracked using a phone app that can be accessed by all members of the SAKF.  At the time of writing, the new system had only been used by all the dojos for one month, and hence, still too early to report on its performance.

A YEAR OF INITIATIVES

2016 marked the 26th year that the SAKF has been in existence and has seen more changes and initiatives being conducted this year than ever before.

As such, the SAKF has had to update a number of its policies, one of which was the “ZERO-TOLERANCE-RULE to Harassment & Discrimination” policy. Under this policy, harassment and discrimination is clearly defined and will not be tolerated in any of its forms.  The SAKF prides itself in its founding statements of its constitution, namely: “..the SAKF is a non-political, non-profit friendly organization for its related martial arts regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, age, creed or belief…”. I personally urge all members to familiarise themselves with this policy. Please refer to: https://www.sakf.co.za/CMS/sakf-adopts-a-zero-tolerence-rule-to-harassment-discrimination/

In 2016, The SA Kendo Senior Council (SAKSC) was formed with the intention of recognising those SA kendo community members who had contributed to the development of SA Kendo in the past and who could still actively contribute to the kendo community with the knowledge and experience. Buster SEFOR (7th dan, Renshi), Tony HUGHES (6th dan, Renshi) and Ray FLEMING (5th dan) were nominated as the inaugural members of the SAKSC.

The South African Kendo Federation Women’s Commission (SAKFWC) was also formed mid-way in 2016, and has as its main objectives:

  •  The increase of women’s participation and the broader geographical representation;
  • Help to develop strategies to support the promotion of woman’s kendo;
  • Raise funds for the inclusion of a female Sensei at the S.A.K.F seminars;
  • Address woman kendo specific issues in training;
  • Build a strong community of kendo females whose goals in kendo are alike;
  • Increase female practitioners in SA Kendo.

During the year, the SAKFWC had several meetings, from which vital feedback was sent to the SAKF to make various adjustments to the Federation’s policies and procedures.

The SAKF also assisted in the formation of the Namibian Kendo and Iaido Federation. Their president, Andrew Pienaar, attended the International seminar in October and successfully graded to 1st dan, giving them a platform on which to start growing their community.

Prior to the International seminar in October, we also initiated a “30,000 suburi challenge”! The objective of this challenge was to get the participants excited for the upcoming seminar by challenging them to do 1,000 men suburi a day for 30 days! Surprisingly, when the challenge was put published on social media, there was huge interest from the global kendo community! Kenshi from Europe, America and Australia all signed up for the challenge and participated in the challenge and posting their results online. It was a huge success and something we definitely will continue doing in future.

Lastly, we also initiated the bi-monthly Dojo Leaders’ Gikeiko and Meeting sessions to help stimulate better communications amongst the dojo leaders and the SAKF.

Special mention must also be made to the exceptional marketing video that was produced by the “Man Of Action Concepts (MOAC)” group, and to the members of the San Kawa Kendo Dojo for arranging the production. It was well received by both the local and international kendo community. To watch this video, please go to: https://vimeo.com/156612899. 

THE YEAR AHEAD

2017 is already in full-tilt. There is weekly squad training that a group of national team hopefuls had signed up for and have been training hard since the last quarter of 2016. The 28th EKC will be in May 2017 in Budapest, Hungary and the SA National Team will be announced upon publication of this report.  Preparations for the March seminar with Kumpf sensei are also already underway. Over that same weekend, the SA Open Championships, a competition in which all bogu members of any grade can take part, will be held. Furthermore, it was decided that the championships will now be renamed as, “The Sefor Cup – SA Open Championships”, in honour of Buster Sefor Sensei’s contribution to the SA kendo community for the past three decades.

The 2017 calendar is again a full with a variety of seminars, competition, demo’s and other events. All of which is to benefit the growing SA Kendo community and provide them with as much exposure to every aspect of this dynamic martial art.

As usual, the SAKF is pushing harder than ever to make Kendo a more prominent martial art in the South African landscape. Our challenges remain the same, namely the lack of funding to keep these initiatives growing, and the limited committed groups and individuals to keep the inner workings of the organisation working.

I therefore urge all members to play their part by not only by training regularly at their home-dojo’s, but to also volunteer their knowledge, skills and time to assist the SAKF in their mission.

The 2017 AGM will require a new SAKF Executive Committee (EXCO) to be elected, and I urge you again to assist the new committee in whatever way possible.

Finally, I’d like to thank the current members of the SAKF EXCO and the SAKF Deputies who had served tirelessly with me on the SAKF these past two year – We’ve accomplished significant milestones together and I can only commend you on giving your very best to the greater SA Kendo Community that we serve.  Domo Arigato Gozaimashita

Yours sincerely

Warren Ho

President: South African Kendo Federation (SAKF)

Written on 24 February 2017

SA Tengui

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