EKC28 SA TEAM

SUMMARY REPORT – 28th EUROPEAN KENDO CHAMPIONSHIP (EKC), Budapest, Hungary (12-14 May 2017)

The 28th European Kendo Championships (EKC) was held in Budapest, Hungary from 12-14 May 2017, and featured 40 nations and 700 participants taking part in in the Junior, Ladies and Men, team and individual competitions.

The 2017 National Kendo Team selected to represent South Africa consisted of 5 men, 1 women and 1 junior.  Unfortunately, unlike the previous year, we were unable to send a women’s team to represent our country this year.  However, we did have one Junior participating – which was only the 2nd time that it had been done in our SA Kendo history.

Day 1 begun with the Junior Team Championship in which no South African  Junior team was represented.  However, our excitement mounted as the next day would be the commencement of our team’s competitive involvement in the Championships!

Day 2 started with the Junior Individual Championships in which Andrew Ingle (17 years old and comes from our Cape Town Dojo, Kenshin) would represent the South Africans. Ingle put up formidable fights in his pool matches, beating his Latvian opponent convincingly, and loosing narrowly to his Greek opponent. This placed him 2nd in his pool that allowed him to progress to the 1st KO rounds. Unfortunately, his loss was against a Hungarian opponent, and who has been a product of an illustrious history of strong Kendo in their country.

In the afternoon, the Men’s Team Championships took place in which the 5-man team fought admirably against Belgium and Italy in their pool round, both teams of whom have had members who had been past EKC Champions in the team and individual events. Although the South African team lost, they fought valiantly and even scored a few points against these European Kendo powerhouses. Most notably was the intriguing Taisho (5th position) fight against SA Team Captain, Brendan Dateling, and his Belgium counterpart in which Dateling won the fight by 2 convincing strikes. Although the overall team score resulted in a loss, this together with his performance against the Italians earned him one of the 4 Fighting Spirit Awards for that day – A South African first, yet again!

Day 3 started with the Ladies’ Individual Competition of whom our sole representative, Natalie Morris, took part in. Morris’s spectacular performance in the pool rounds against Sweden and Portugal put her first in her pool that allowed her to proceed to the 1st KO round. Unfortunately, she was pitted against the eventual Bronze Medal winner from Belgium, but not without putting up a decent fight. This performance, combined with her performance at the pool rounds, led to another South African first – Winning one of the 4 Fighting Spirit Awards for The Women’s Individual event! It should be noted that Morris had also won another Fighting Spirit award the week prior to these Championship at the London Cup in the UK, a club competition that attracts Kendo players from around the world.

Later that day, the Men’s Individual Competition took place. Only 4 of the 5 men from the men’s team were able to participate due to the EKC rules.  Matthew Price and Brendan Dateling were the only 2 of the 4 men who were able to proceed out of their pool rounds after beating their opponents from Luxenburg and Denmark; and Lithuania and Moldova, respectively. However, both lost in the 1st KO rounds against Turkey and Hungary, respectively.

As in previous years, many rookie mistakes were made resulting in unnecessary points being lost. Again this boils down to a lack of international shiai experience. However, the SA Team put up a sterling performance by winning matches and awards that led to a comment by one of the referees: “By winning (mates and awards), the other European players will be taking note of the South Africans in future!”

The SAKF and the SA National Kendo Team would like to thank all the South African sensei’s who had helped prepare them for the EKC, including Buster Sefor sensei (7th dan, Renshi), Tony Hughes sensei (6th dan, Renshi) and Ray Fleming sensei (5th dan); as well as our German sensei’s, Uwe Kumpf sensei (7th dan, Renshi) who again came out to SA prior to the Championships to help prepare the team.

Thanks must also go out to the Martial Arts Authority of South Africa (MASA) and the South African Sports Confederation & Olympic Committee (SASCOC) for endorsing the SA National team, and for allowing them to proudly fly the South African flag high in Hungary.

Lastly, the SA National Team is grateful to all those SAKF members who helped them in the months leading up to the competition by taking part in the team training sessions, and also the many supporters tuned-in via live video streaming to cheer the team on. Your support was greatly appreciated.

2018 will be the year for the 17th World Kendo Championships (WKC) in Incheon, Korea, and will be an even bigger event than the EKC as it will host all the countries represented by the International Kendo Federation (FIK), including the current top 3 counties in the world, namely Japan, Korea and USA.

Preparation for this championship will begin immediately and the SAKF will work closely with the community to ensure that the 2018 SA National Team is well-prepared to represent South Africa proudly in Korea.

Yours sincerely

Warren Ho

SAKF President & 2017 EKC28 Delegation Leader

EKC28 Dateling Fighting Spirit

Pic 1: SA Team Captain, Brendan Dateling, wins 1 of 4 Fighting Spirit Awards for his performance during the Men’s Team Event.

 

 

EKC28 Morris Fighting SpiritPic 2: Natalie Morris wins 1 of 4 Fighting Spirit Awards for her performance during the Women’s Individual Event.

EKC2016

Insights For 2017 & Beyond – Trust, Respect, Integrity

As 2016 comes to an end, I reflect on our kendo year in awe due to the many events that we held and took part in. From the German-Delegation seminar; to the Arnold Classic Competition; to the EKC in Macedonia and making history there; to the Foreign Leaders’ Kendo camp in Kitamoto, Japan; to more seminars and shiais (competitions) around the country; then finally ending the year off with our International Kendo Seminar with participants from 10 countries around the world! It has been an extremely busy year. However, I will save the details of the past year in my Presidential Report for the forthcoming SAKF AGM in February 2017.

As many will know, at this AGM, a new SAKF Executive Committee (EXCO) will be elected. Any SAKF member in good standing with their dojo and the SAKF can be nominated as an EXCO candidate. Thereafter, the dojos will vote on who they feel should lead the SAKF for the next 2 years.

As the SAKF’s President for the last two years, there have been moments of both ups and downs. On the “ups”, it has been an exciting journey to be able to introduce different aspect of Kendo to our community. Things such as shimpan training, Kata-specific seminar and the 30,000 suburi challenge, allowed for different facades of Kendo to be experienced. Furthermore, we experimented with some merchandising such as t-shirts, jerseys and towels; as well as had conducted two movie-going outings to try and raise some funds for the organization. It was my hope that by introducing these elements, it would inject a renewed and sustainable energy  to both our junior and senior practitioners. However, there were plenty of “downs” too. Internal disputes; disagreements; delays in delivery; lack of follow up; failure to complete task; poor communications and dismal participation and some events, led to many  frustrating and challenging moments. Coupled with these “downs” was also the fact that my role and that of the rest of the EXCO members and dojo leaders are all done on a voluntary basis and does not compensate us in any way, whatsoever. As a business owner, this became frustrating for me when I had to sacrifice my billable work time (more than what I expected) for the greater good of the SAKF community. All these “downs” and other negative elements has made me seriously consider whether or not I would like to stand again as an EXCO candidate for the next two years.

With that said though, I still have a firm belief that Kendo in South Africa is on the verge on a massive breakthrough. Besides the growth in membership in the forthcoming years, I foresee the Kendo skills of all the practitioners improving drastically, thereby making us not only a formidable competitive nation in our international Kendo community, but also in terms of having more highly-graded dan members and instructors.

In light of this, there are 3 foundation blocks that I’d like to suggest to the SA Kendo community to help prepare us for the events that are to come. Keeping in mind, these blocks are interlinked and are integral to the success of the SAKF.

Trust – There has to be a feeling of trust amongst all members, dojos, leaders and instructors. Both teacher and student must trust each other to be able to give and receive the kendo knowledge and skills that will be transferred so as to move to upper echelons of Kendo. In very much the same way, the SAKF to Dojo’s and Dojo’s to Dojo’s must trust each other to be able to move to a higher level of organization that will be mutually beneficial for all. There have been new policies and procedures that the SAKF had introduced over the past 2 years – things like limiting the use of the SA-Flag bearing nafuda’ s to current national team members only, to a zero-tolerance rule on any forms of harassment or discrimination. Rules and policies such as these, and more, must be abided to by each SAKF member and enforced at each dojo.

Respect – Kendo is a traditional martial art and has a particular etiquette that we abide to. Unlike most martial arts though, there are no coloured-belts to indicate a practitioner’s grade or seniority. Kendo in this way is very homogenous – when training and sparring in particular, there is no separation of ages, sexes, weight-divisions and skill-level – we all train together. However, with that said there are unspoken “rules” that dictate when engaging in training with each other. For example, there is no need to strike excessively hard and fight maliciously with those physically weaker (such as a young, strong male against an older member or female kendo player); respect the higher dan-grades as they put in the time and effort to get to where they are. Be wary that as one progresses in dan-grades, they may regress in speed and stamina due to their increased age – this is inevitable and should be respected as such. Lastly, respect the leaders of your organization – They are the ones teaching and ensuring the organisation continues to exist and grow so that we can do Kendo.

Integrity – Do what you say. As a student, if you have committed to becoming a member, be sure to train regularly as per your dojo-schedule. Furthermore, pay your fees when they are due, and participate in the many other SAKF events that are organised for your benefit. As a leader within the community, whether it is as an instructor or as an administrative person, be sure to play your part in fulfilling those roles. Even though the role is in all likelihood a voluntary one, be sure you set aside sufficient time to do what your community expects from you and do them.

These building blocks are not new in the martial arts, nor are they original in thought. Rather, they have been contextualised for our current situation and is to be considered seriously by the next SAKF leadership team, whether it is headed up by me, or by another suitable candidate.

With that note, on behalf of the SAKF, I’d like to wish everyone within our local and international kendo community a safe and relaxing festive period. See you in the dojo in 2017!

Warren Ho (SAKF President; 2016-12-21)

zero-tolerance

SAKF Adopts a ZERO-TOLERANCE-RULE to Harassment & Discrimination

In light of the Kendo’s growth in South Africa, the SAKF has had to mature and professionalise some of its ways in which to help it’s members of all levels to interact with each other both in and out the dojo, in a safe and trusted manner.

As such, the SAKF has adopted a ZERO-TOLERANCE-RULE to Harassment & Discrimination.

To help members define what constitutes  Harassment & Discrimination, the below post has been put together:

 

What is harassment?

No-one should…

  • Verbally abuse you or anyone else
  • Make racist or sexist jokes or comments, or jokes or comments about sexual preferences
  • Look at or touch anyone in ways that make them feel uncomfortable
  • Make uninvited sexual comments that offend, intimidate or humiliate
  • Discriminate against or harass anyone else

Harassment of any kind denies people the right to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness.

If left unchecked, harassment can create a hostile or unpleasant environment not to mention the negative effects it has on those directly involved.

In general terms, harassment is:

…behaviour by a person or people towards another that is offensive, abusive, belittling or threatening or unwelcome; the sort of behaviour a reasonable person would recognise as unwelcome.

Harassment can be either physical, verbal, sexual or emotional and most often involves a combination of these elements. It can also be based on issues such as sex, sexuality, race or disability.

Harassment can also be an abuse of power, where one person is in a position of power over another, or has the trust of another, and then abuses that relationship.

Some forms of harassment are illegal and can attract the attention of the police or other government agencies.

 

What is  discrimination?

Discrimination is treating or proposing to treat a person less favourably than someone else in certain areas of public life on the basis of an attribute or personal characteristic such as:

  •  Age;
  • Disability;
  • Marital status;
  • Parental/Carer status;
  • Physical features;
  • Political belief/activity;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Race;
  • Religious belief/activity;
  • Sex or gender;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Transgender orientation

 

We all need to consider our actions

It is important for all of us to remember that not everyone views behaviour in the same way. For example a congratulatory hug or kiss might be perfectly acceptable to some but could make others feel uneasy and vulnerable.

Cultural differences can lead to behaviour or conduct which is acceptable and tolerable to some, but invasive, uncomfortable and even threatening to others.

It does not matter that a person did not intend their behaviour to be harassing or mean to abuse their position of power or trust. It is the effect of the behaviour on the other person that is most critical.

We all need to be aware of the ways in which our language, our actions and even our jokes can exclude, alienate or offend others.

 

What do I do if it happens?

If you witness, reasonably suspect or are the subject of an incident of harassment  or discrimination, you are encouraged to report this to your dojo leaders, the dojo instructor, or the SAKF. There will also be appointed “member protection officers (MPO’s)” to whom you can report the incident to and who will ensure who will ensure the proper procedure is carried out Promptly, Seriously, Sensitively and Confidentially.

 

How will the report be handled?

Your report will be treated Promptly, Seriously, Sensitively and Confidentially. Every effort will be made to protect all parties involved under the principles of natural justice and will involve the minimum number of people possible.

 

What action will be taken?

After the investigation, there are four possible outcomes that :

  1. The complainant and MPO agree that the conduct does not constitute harassment.
  2. The complainant brings evidence of harassment and chooses to pursue an informal resolution of the complaint.
  3. The complainant brings evidence of harassment and decides to lay a formal written complaint.
  4. The complainant brings evidence of harassment but does not wish to lay a formal complaint.

There are further steps thereafter the investigation in with the MPO will assist the complainant with.

For more detail on the SAKF’s Harassment & Discrimination Policy and Procedures, please click here.

Kendo, being one of the more “traditional” martial arts, is still greatly influenced by it samurai heritage and its budo philosophy.  As such, the training methodologies are still greatly steeped in this vigorous, rigid and disciplined way of teaching and training.  However, with that said, there is still ALWAYS an element or respect and trust among teachers and students. For more SAKF’s Code of Behaviour, please click here.

Special mention and thanks must be made to the South Australian-based, Golden Knights Martial Arts Group, and Gary MacRae, Chief Instructor and Founder of Golden Knights Martial Arts (Kin Bushi Ryu), who had given the SAKF explicit permission to adopt and distribute their “Harassment & Discrimination Policy and Procedures” and “Code of Behaviour” material. For more information on the Gold Knights, please refer to: www.goldenknights.com.au

2016 SAKF International Seminar

2016 SAKF International Kendo Seminar Feedback (14-16 Oct 2016)

The Annual SAKF International Kendo Seminar was held last weekend (14-16 Oct 2016) at the University of Johannesburg’s Bunting Road Campus in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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 7 sensei’s.

The weekend’s agenda was jam-packed with 4 different groups of participants with 2 sensei’s per groups, spread across 2 dojo’s. Each group had their allocated sensei’s for the weekend, however, for some activities, the sensei’s got to revolved around each group.

The objective of this year’s seminar, as well as the general objective that was set earlier in the year, was to start making SA kendo faster and more skilful in competitions, yet still maintaining a high technical standard. With Uwe Kumpf Sensei as the delegation leader, he did not disappoint. Pulling in the Kendo experience of both the French and Finish, Thibault De Bonneville sensei and Markus Frey sensei, respectively, give our local African kenshi a taste of what their respective national teams are subjected to on a regular basis! Fast, powerful and deadly accurate, the methods of training the familiar kendo strikes have now been taken to the next level!

As an added bonus, late-comer to the delegation, Hongjum Lee sensei also brought her unique Korean flair to the mix, which complimented the European kendo style very well.

For those without bogu, or those who are still at the beginning stages of their bogu-kendo life, there was an emphasis on kihon (basics) and kata under the instruction of Nobuo Moriya Sensei, Buster Sefor Sensei and Kazuko Kumpf Sensei.

The seminar also included practical shimpan training and 3 shiai competitions for those in bogu. The 1st was an individual shiai for kyu grades up to shodans in bogu. The 2nd was also an individual shiai for 2nd and 3rd dans. Lastly for 4th dans and up, there was a “kachinuki” styled team competition (i.e. a type of match where the team member keeps fighting as longs as he keeps winning). The results of the various competitions are as follows:

Kyu Grade to Shodan Competition: (1) R Dykes (Ken Yu Kai); (2) T Mabokela (Ken Yu Kai); (3) L Ntshabeleng (Ken Yu Kai) & R Rosão (AKIMO)

Nidan & Sandan Competition: (1) M Price (San Kawa); (2) G Maddison (San Kawa); (3) M Grice (Ken Yu Kai) & A Shamu (Mushin)

Kachinuki team Competition: Team A (W Ho; P Courteille; H Son; B Dateling) Beat Team B (C Stuart; A Sakata; C Jacques; E Knight)

Well done to all!

On the final day of the seminar, a grading up to 5th dan was conducted. The results are as follows:

3RD DAN
Shamu Anesu  – MUSHIN
Price Matthew  – SKKD
Pedro Leonid  – AKIMO
Grice Michael  – KENYUKAI

2ND DAN
Ingle Andrew – KENSHIN
Ma Tsz Him Bryan  – MUSHIN
Dykes Richard  – KENYUKAI
Augusto  da Silva – AKIMO

1ST DAN
Kraft Aidan  – SKKD
Issel Ramiz  – KENYUKAI
Vos Angelique  – KENSHIN
Giani Toni  – KENYUKAI
Pienaar André  – NAMIBIA

1ST KYU
Sean Pauwels -KENSHIN
Emille Odendaal- MUSHIN
Carlos Serra- AKIMO

2ND KYU
Caitlynne Collender – KENYUKAI
Logann Naidoo – RKC

3RD KYU
Melvern Matthew – SKKD
Johann Venter – KENSHIN
Hiren Makkan – KENYUKAI
Sifiso Msibi -MUSHIN

4TH KYU
Bernard Cloete – MUSHIN
Alexander Kent – KENYUKAI
Roedolf Walker – MUSHIN
Marc Labuschagne – MUSHIN
Morné Stephan du Toit – MUSHIN
Ezra Smollan – RKC
Remelda Munien – RKC

5TH KYU
Lex Anderson Gruver – KENYUKAI
Brookstone Bridget – KENYUKAI
Jody-Lee Loubser – RKC
Matt Van Der Westhuizen – SKKD
Ann Brookstone – KENYUKAI
Gavin Brookstone – KENYUKAI

6TH KYU
Thomas Lee Gruver – KENYUKAI
Tish Bagwathpersad – SKKD
Liz De Jongh – KENYUKAI
Daniël Petrus Steyn – MUSHIN

7TH KYU
Devin Anton Dreyer – MUSHIN
Jean Coetzer – MIDRAND
February Jerome – SKKD

That evening the traditional sayonara party was held in the trendy suburb of Melville, marking the conclusion of a very successful weekend of Kendo.

On behalf of the SAKF, I would like to thank all the sensei’s and participants for once again supporting our event and SA Kendo.

Furthermore, I would like to thank each member of the Organising Committee who tirelessly gave their time and effort before, during and even after the seminar, to ensure that everything would run smoothly and successfully.

It is through this continual support in the spirit of collaboration and co-operation will we be able to take our kendo to the next level and beyond!

Till next year, keep training hard! GAMBATE!

Regards

Warren Ho

SAKF President

21 October 2016

30KSuburi

30,000 Suburi Challenge

The 30,000 Suburi Challenge is a challenge to all Kendoko, regardless as to whether they are a beginner, senior, in bogu, on no bogu! The only requirement is that you are willing, able and committed to doing the following challenge:

1,000 Suburi EVERY day for the next 30-days (11 September to 10 October 2016) that will accumulate to 30,000 saburi!

Terms & Conditions are as follows:

  • 1,000 Suburi to be done within a 24-hrs period;
  • Any Suburi is acceptable (men, kote, do);
  • The challenge can be done at your own pace (fast, slow, etc…);
  • PROPER Suburi is encourage with correct footwork and counting-kiai (unless there are valid reasons for not being able to do so);
  • The Suburi can be broken down into any segments to suit your schedule, but must equate to 1,000 at the end of each day (e.g. 500 in the morning, 250 at lunch, 250 at dinner);
  • If you miss a day’s 1,000 Suburi, it will rollover to the next day (i.e. You will do 2,000 Suburi the next day). If you missing it a 2nd time, the accumulated total will rollover to the next day (i.e. 3,000 the following day);
  • You can only skip up to a maximum of 3 consecutive days. Thereafter, you are required to exit from the challenge by notifying the SAKF;
  • If you only do 800 in the one day, the FULL 1,0000 will rollover to the next day;
  • Normal Kendo class training DOES NOT count towards to 1,000 Suburi per day;
  • All challengers are to post to the Facebook group event at least 3 times a week of a picture/video/comment/status of them regarding the challenge.  Event address is: www.facebook.com/events/1658543494474594/
  • If you are not a Facebook user, you are to post to this blog on the  SAKF website (at least 3 times a week);
  • All challengers are to be included in a WhatsApp group which will help motivate everyone in keep with the challenge for the next 30 days;
  • The honour-system will be in place. No one is there to ensure that you are doing your 1,000 Suburi everyday in earnest. You will hold yourself accountable and will be expected to be truthful in this challenge;
  • Challengers who are successful will be presented with a certificate of participation at the 2016 International Kendo Seminar in October. If you are not present at the seminar, it will be sent to you via mail;
  • Please mail info@sakf.co.za with your full name, contact details and dojo name to confirm your participation (latest by 10 September 2016).

Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it is done”. Join us and let’s make the impossible, POSSIBLE!

GAMBATE!

2016 SAKF International Kendo Seminar

The 2016 SAKF International Kendo Seminar (14-16 Oct)

This year, we have an impressive host of both local and international Kendo sensei’s:

  • 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

DATE:

14-16 Oct 2016.

VENUE:
UJ Karate and Basketball Gymnasium Halls
University of Johannesburg Auckland Park
Bunting Road
JHB
2092

AGENDA:

Friday, 14 October 2016

Time Event
10:00 Sensei’s Training session
12:00 End
15:00 Special Squad Training Session
17:30 End
18:30 SEMINAR STARTS – Opening ceremony
18:45 Session 1:  Kihon
19:30 GiKeiko
20:00 Day 1 End

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Time Event
08:00 Registration
08:30 Welcome and Introductions
08:45 Warmup and Suburi
09:00 Session 2:  Kihon
10:30 Break
11:00 Session 3: Shiai Wazza / Kihon
12:30 Lunch
13:15 Session 4:  Shimpan Theory  + Practise
14:45 Break
15:00 Team Shiai
17:00 Gikeiko
17:30 Day 2 End

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Time Event
08:00 Registration
08:30 Warmup and Suburi
09:00 Session 6:  Shiai Wazza / Keiko-ho
10:30 Break
10:45 Session 7: Nippon Kendo Kata
12:15 Lunch
13:00 Session 8: Grade Examination up to 5th Dan
15:30 Session 9: Shiai Wazza
17:00 Seminar Closing
17:30 Certificates & Logistics
18:00 Day 3 End
19:00 Sayonara Party

NB: The agenda is subject to change without notice

 

COSTS

ADULT RATES RANDS EURO USD
Seminar Fee (ASF)  R            1 540  €                  85  $                110
Sayonara Party (ASP)  R               250  €                  16  $                  18
Team Competition (Per Team of max 5)  R               100
SCHOLAR RATES RANDS EURO USD
Seminar Fee for Scholars (SSF)  R               770  €                  43  $                  55
Sayonara Party for Scholars (SSP)  R               125  €                    8  $                    9
FAMILY RATES (seminar only)
1st Member 100% of Adult / Scholar  Rates
2nd Member 50% of Adult / Scholar  Rates
3rd Member or more 30% of Adult / Scholar  Rates
GRADING FEE Application  Fee Registration Fee Total
Fee
8th Kyu – 5th Kyu  R                  40  R                  60  R               100
4th Kyu – 2nd Kyu  R                  60  R                  90  R               150
1st Kyu  R                  90  R               140  R               230
1st Dan  R               140  R               210  R               350
2nd Dan  R               210  R               350  R               560
3rd Dan  R               350  R               560  R               910
4th Dan  R              560  R               840  R            1 400
5th Dan  R               840  R            1 260  R            2 100

RSVP:

1 October 2016

Please note: If you are an international visitor wishing to grade, you must have the proper authorization in the form of a written and signed letter to do so by your National federation.  This is to be emailed to the SAKF email address below by 1 Oct 2016.

MAIL info@sakf.co.za for more information and/or registration forms!

Niji No Senshi shiai

Shimpan Theory & Practise

This weekend was the NIji No Senshi shiai and grading event in Witbank. With over 40 participants for the event, I thought that was a great turnout, especially considering it’s almost 1.5 hrs outside of Johannesburg, and that this was one of the coldest weekends we have yet to experience!

While participating and observing the competitions for the kyu and dan grades, a few issues came to mind that I felt I needed to write about:

For both the kyu and dan grade competitions, dan-graded members who were not immediately competing were asked to participate as shimpan.  It was important that those member who had participated in the previous week’s shimpan seminar with Buster Sensei, be able to put their shimpan theory skills into practise.  Important to note, in Japan, shimpan skills is part of the 6th and 7th dan examination requirements (as per the FIK guild lines for dan examinations).  Furthermore, only those members who are of sufficient dan-level and with relevant shimpan training are allowed to shimpan in various competitions.  Our challenge in South Africa, is that we currently do not have a large enough high-dan grade base that can fulfil the need for shimpans, hence we use our “mid-dan” grades to fulfil that gap.  But, in a way, this is a good thing as it give those “mid-dan” grades a head start in learning and applying their shimpan skills for their “eventual” 6th and 7th dan examinations.  Perhaps some of the conditions to be shimpan at these regional competitions is that the shimpan must be consistently training kendo, and that their shimpan theory must be at an acceptable level.

A case in point of these 2 conditions was evident this weekend during a few matches. Firstly,  when making decisions about “yuko-datotsu” (or a valid strike), a shimpan must be actively training his own kendo to ensure he/she understands and knows what a “valid strike” is. Secondly, understanding what acts are prohibited in shiai that would warrant a penalty (“hansoku”). Both are explained in article 12 and 17, respectively, of the ‘Regulations of Kendo Shiai and Shimpan’ booklet, and were thoroughly explained at the Shimpan Seminar. It should also be noted that the experience of the shimpan also plays a vital role in both these points.

An important thing to remember was also what was last mentioned in the shipman session with Uwe Kumpf sensei earlier this year: The shimpan are not the most important people in the shiai-jo – the fighters are. Therefore, it is of uttermost importance that the shimpan be able to judge correctly, fairly and objectively.  Being able to determine a valid strike is the 1st step of judging correctly.  Understanding and applying the rules of the shiai is the 2nd step of judging fairly. And the final step is that of remaining objective at all times.

There is nothing more frustrating than knowing you have scored a perfect “yuko-datotsu”, but not having it validated by the shimpan. Perhaps the only more frustrating event is having a point scored against you and you know it was not a valid strike.  Hence, the importance of having well-trained and objective shimpan.

We have a bit of a way to get there, but I believe with constant focus and effort by those members who have prioritised kendo in their lives, we can all get there together which will bode well for the future of Kendo in South Africa.

Regards

Warren Ho (SAKF President)

2016 Shimpan Seminar

1st South African Shimpan Seminar – 9 July 2016

The SAKF hosted its 1st South African Shimpan seminar on 9 July 2016, led by our 2 sensei’s, Buster Sefor and Rey Fleming. 32 kenshi of various grades came to the seminar not only to understand the theory of being a good referee, but to also understand, how as a kendo competitor, they could improve their shiai skills. Out of the 32 kenshi, 7 were 3rd dans above and also had the opportunity to put their shimpan theory into practise by being shimpan in some matches. However, considering we have 21 registered 3rd dans and higher on the EKF database, this is a mere 33% of those members who attended.

But rather than express my disappointment at those members who were not in attendance, I’d rather want to focus on the those who did attend.

Kendo, and the proliferation and continuity of Kendo in South Africa is dependent on the continual support and dedication by those members who care enough to prioritise Kendo in their life. Understandably, we all have family, friends and other social activities to attend to – some more so than others. However, if Kendo is not made a priority, it very quickly becomes the lowest priority in one’s life, and pretty soon, it becomes a “no priority”.

In earlier posts, I wrote about finding different aspects of kendo that will allow a practitioner to prolong his/her interest and practise in this dynamic martial art. Kendo offers a multitude of elements from which one can choose one all from – provided they are willing to put in the effort.

Shimpan’ing is one aspect, but to be able to do it well, you need to practising Kendo long enough so that you are at a sufficient and proficient enough level to be able to do it (shimpan).

As Buster sensei said, “You can’t be a good shimpan if you aren’t regularly practising kendo – You have to be “in it” to be able to understand it.”

To further emphasis the importance of shimpan and shiai development, the SAKF gave each dojo in attendance a set of 3 x red & white shimpanki, 1 x yellow flag, and 5 x red & white tasuki. The intention is that each dojo will in turn continue to practise and hone their shimpan skills at their own dojos. This will also imply that their members will have more exposure to shiai, and specifically, how to score a valid point.

It is planned for the near future to have each member’s shimpan skills assessed and accredited to a certain level for certain levels of competition. Based on this, only those members who have the proper accreditation will be allowed to be shimpan at their respective level of competition.

A sincere thank you must be made to Buster sensei and Ray sensei for taking the time to conduct this seminar, as well as to the team of Yentl Krugel, Frances Deyers and Anika Solanki who hand-made all the shimpan items that were gifted to the dojo’s.

Regards

Warren Ho (SAKF President)

SA Kendo Senior Council

SA Kendo Senior Council (SAKSC)

Kendo has become a martial arts that is practiced by numerous nations around the world. However, as globalised as kendo has become, it still holds on to its very traditional samurai-roots, and pays homage to its ancient past in its practise and philosophy.

Kendo, therefore teaches us never to forget our past and respect what had come before us.

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 over the past 25 years. They will now also play a vital role in the future of SA Kendo development.

The Senior Council currently consists of 3 members, namely Buster SEFOR (7th dan, Renshi), Tony HUGHES (6th dan) and Ray FLEMING (5th dan). All three members had served in the SAKF EXCO in various positions, as well as been sensei’s at the various dojo’s during the Kendo formative years. It is due to their skill, knowledge and passion for Kendo that we had progressed to where we are today, and as such, pay respect to their contributions by making them our inaugural members of the SAKSC.

As senior council members, they are the trusted members within our community to which we at the SAKF EXCO can turn to in times of need for advice and guidance.

It is with great honour and deep gratitude that I welcome Buster sensei, Tony sensei and Ray sensei into the SAKSC.

Regards

Warren Ho (SAKF President): 2016-06-28

 

Warren Ho at 9th London Cup

9th London Cup Feedback

It’s been over a week since I participated in the 9th London Cup, held at a community sports hall behind the London Nautical School in the UK. In a nutshell, the overall experience was an eye-opener for a number of reasons. The most notable one being that it was a “private event” that was hosted by the Tora Kendo Dojo, rather than by the national governing body, the British Kendo Association (BKA). This implied that the Tora dojo’s members arrange pretty much everything themselves, including all logistical matters, shimpan duties and prizes. With just under 200 competitors from both the UK, various European countries and of course, me from South Africa, you can imagine how tightly the logistics had to be managed to make this 2-day competition event run as smoothly as possible. The good news is that despite a few hiccups here and there, the overall event was very well co-ordinated! I boil this down to 3 things: 1) good management by the London Cup organisers; 2) equally good management by the other dojo leaders of their respective clubs; 3) active participation by all the attendees to assist in the shimpan duties when required.

Point no. 3 is of particular interest that is worth exploring. When I signed up for the London Cup, I was under the impression that I was only going to take part as a competitor in the team and individual competition. However, upon arrival at the venue and soon after the opening ceremony, all 3rd Dans and higher were informed by the organisers and some of the BKA officials who attended, that they would be required to shimpan for matches before and/or after their own matches. For me personally, I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity for me to put my shimpan skills to the test at an international level. However, it also did highlight something very importance – our South African kendo community members that were in the 3rd dan and up category would be at a disadvantage and probably should NOT be volunteering to do shimpan duties. This is due to the fact that in the past, shimpan skills was never really emphasised much and very rarely did the SA kendo community get instructed in the shimpan theory, let alone have opportunities those theory to the test in being able to referee at a shiai. I was fortunate enough to have had attended the Kitamoto Foreign Leaders Camp twice in Japan, whereby a number of sessions at the camp were dedicated to shimpan theory and practical.  Besides a handful of other SA kendoka, not many others have had this opportunity.  As explained at the Kitamoto camps, shimpan skills and the keiko skills of a kendoka go hand in hand – having that ability to be able to see and score a point correctly is AS IMPORTANT as being able to physically do it in keiko. Both sets of skills complement each other and should grow and mature as the kendo player’s skills and grade level increases. As a matter of fact, as explained by Sato Sensei (8th dan, hanshi), the head sensei of the Kitamoto camp on both my occasions, the one skill cannot be done without the other and must be constantly practised and refined.

With that said, the SAKF has already started putting steps in place to rapidly increase the shimpan skills of the SA kendo community. In the last SAKF seminar in March 2016 with Uwe Kumpf sensei, an afternoon on one of the days of the seminar was dedicated to shimpan theory and practise. This was met with positive feedback by all those who attended, regardless of grade. The reason for this was that it made so much sense to them as it was now explained why certain points were scored in a shiai and others were not. As an inexperienced shiai player, knowing these finer points of how shimpan score points would have encouraged me very early on how to do correct kendo, as well as kendo that would score a point in a match.

In July this year, a shimpan seminar will be held by our senior kendo sensei’s for 2nd dan holders and up. Furthermore, those who are 1st dan and lower would also be invited to the shimpan theory session, as well as asked to participate in a special shiai for them only that would allow the 2nd dans and above to put their shimpan theory into practise. Overall, everyone will benefit by knowing what the shimpan is looking for when doing shiai, and how to actually do the shimpan.

Then, in October, the SAKF’s annual international seminar will be conducted by 3 high-ranking European sensei’s that have been active in the shiai-arena. All these sensei’s have a sound knowledge of shimpan theory and have been shimpan in many European and international kendo events. Again, there will be a section of the seminar that will be dedicated to improving our SA kendoka’s shimpan skills.

To conclude this point, a discussion with one of my fellow shipman peer at the competition highlighted the fact that the shimpans must have the uttermost confidence in his/her decision when making a judgement call which can only be accomplished by having the relevant knowledge and sufficient practise.

Back to the shiai itself at the London Cup, here are a few additional points that I would like to highlight as a competitor:

  1. A good captain/coach/manager/ leader who can inspire and motivate is important – My team was a slapped-together group of individuals who had met each other in the morning of the competition. For whatever reason, I was nominated to be the team captain. As captain, I had to come up with a quick way to get my team to perform positively for the upcoming matches. During my time in the corporate world, one of my tasks was to produce results using a group of individuals that were expected to operate as a team. As their manager, I knew that before those individuals could become a high-performing team, they needed to undergo various stages and metamorphosis to be able to produce high-performing results. The stages they underwent were: 1) Forming – The stage of getting to know each other and everyone is generally pleasant and tolerant of each other. 2) Storming – As the members of the team become more familiar with each other, they begin to notice the others’ various idiosyncrasies. Furthermore, they start to get into arguments over these idiosyncrasies. 3) Norming – Eventually the team starts to accept each other for who they are and learn how to work with each other, rather than against each other. 4) Performing – It is now that the team is able to perform optimally and are able to set specific goals and work together to achieve them. 5) Disbanding – Eventually the team will disband as the goals it had sets out to accomplish had been met. Some stages are longer than others and sometimes go through a number of iterations, but all high-performing teams go through this cycle. A kendo team is no different and in our case, we had to go through all 5 stages in a day. The importance, therefore, of the captain/coach/manager/leader is to be aware of these stages and skilfully navigate the individual members and the team through this metamorphosis to a stage where they are performing optimally.
Irish Ronin's

The Irish Ronin Team consisted of a Polish, German, English, Italian and a South African!

  1. Looks can be deceiving – don’t underestimate or overestimate your opponents. There was a team of 5 women that totally dominated some of the teams, while others, although fearsome in physical appearance and attitude, didn’t even make it out of the pool rounds. Furthermore, I had to be careful of mistakenly judging people based on their attitude towards me during the competition days. Some of the more serious kendoka would get into a “zone” that would, at first glance, seem very rude or obnoxious. However, this was just their way of preparing for the competition. For me, when I get into this zone, I have to strike a fine balance between keeping a competition-focused mind-set and my usual amiable personality that just naturally wants to socialise with other people.

 

  1. Stay in the game – As a competitor, it was easy to feel disheartened and demotivated after being knocked out of the competition. However, there is a lot of lessons that I learnt from losing, firstly it helped me understand what in my performance needed to be worked on in order to do better in future matches; and secondly, my attitude towards the competition and other competitors after losing – as much as I wanted to turn away from those who had done better than me, I had to swallow my pride and just observe them in more detail and try and understand what was it about their techniques and various ways of preparing themselves for the next fight that made them better competitors. Back home, it has been common practise for many competitors, who have been knocked out of the competition, to leave directly after they are done. Many have legitimate reasons for leaving, but often it really is just that they let their own disappointment in their performance get the better of them. This happened at the London cup too. The difference is that because we have a much smaller number of competitors (30 vs 200), it becomes very noticeable when there is only a handful of participants are left at the end for the prize-giving formalities. Furthermore, at the London Cup, there was an opportunity for all remaining kendoka to take part in some goodwill gei-keiko at the end. Those who had already left had missed out on a great opportunity to do more kendo with a bunch of different people. For me, I had met a number of fellow kendoka over the weekend and would now also have the opportunity to keiko with them. There is a kendo maxim that says you can only truly know a person once you have crossed swords with them.

 

  1. Use every opportunities available – This refers to meeting, volunteering and training. I like meeting new people anyway, so the first one was easy. With that said, because of my SAKF duties, I am constantly on the lookout for those individuals who can contribute to our local SA community back home. Whether it is meeting a new sensei that might consider coming to South Africa to conduct a seminar; or interested kendoka who would like to train at one of our dojo’s whilst on holiday, thereby giving our local kendoka a taste of some international kendo. With regards to volunteering, like the shimpan duties at this London Cup, if the opportunities arises to do so, I’d volunteer to assist with whatever I can (provided I am  of course capable of doing so). And lastly, training – besides the goodwill keiko at the end of each day, I took the opportunity to train at the London Kenyukai dojo when invited to do so by their sensei. The thinking was that since I was in a faraway place anyway, why not do as much training as possible with the local kendoka. I had mentioned in a previous article that one of the challenges that SA kendoka face that prevents them from being able to perform at an international-level shiai, was the lack of international experience. This referred not only international shiai, but also to exposure to more international keiko. Traveling abroad and training with the local kendoka at their dojo is one of the ways to overcome this challenge (there are some other ways to alleviate this challenge, but this will be discussed in a future post). Earlier this year in Skopje, Macedonia, after the European Kendo Championships (EKC), the SA National Team was invited to train with the Macedonians at their main dojo. Myself and one other team member attended the session and not only got to train with the Macedonians, but also with their visiting sensei from Japan and members of the Italian, Malta and Croatian national teams. These are invaluable opportunities that not only help me improve my kendo, but also enriched my experiences of each trip. The reasoning behind each of these sessions that since we had already come such a distance to do some kendo, why not go all-out and train as hard and as often as possible.
With Young Park sensei and some of the London Kenyukai Dojo members

With Young Park sensei and some of the London Kenyukai Dojo members

 

  1. Lastly, have fun – Although not always obvious initially, I always try and find the fun of why I am doing kendo. Whether it’s the whole experience of traveling abroad; getting to meet and keiko with different people, or perhaps, just the fact that I get to train in some exotic location, there needs to be a reason of WHY I do what I do. For me, I have found that the more I do kendo, the more I learn about myself, and like my kendo practise, the harder I work at it, the better person I become because of it. It’s not easy and often takes a lot of work to make some progress, but the important thing is that I try and have fun while doing it.

 

Irish Ronins having fun!

Irish Ronins having fun!

That concludes my feedback on the London Cup 2016. I had tremendous fun and must say thanks to the organisers for firstly allowing me to compete at such at a late stage, and secondly, for putting on an inspirational event that spurred me to relook at how we will conduct our shiai’s here in South Africa.

More information on the London Cap can be found here: http://www.londoncup.co.uk/ 

Written By Warren Ho (16 May 2016)

London Cup 2016