The 16th World Kendo Championships was help in Tokyo, Japan from 29-31 May 2015 and was represented by 56 countries from around the globe. The men’s individual, women’s individual, women’s team and men’s team completions were once again dominated by the formidable Japanese as they took 1st place in all the events. However, Korea, USA, Brazil and Hungry are catching up quickly by claiming the 2nd and 3rd spots in some of the events.
Unfortunately, none of the 4 South African men’s individual players were able to proceed beyond their pool rounds, nor was the men’s team able to progress beyond their pool rounds against Ireland and Latvia. However, with that said, there has been significant progress with their Kendo over the past 3 years since the last championships in Novara, Italy in 2012. Unfortunately, the progress of the other countries has been greater, and hence, were able to over-power the South African men’s team.
However, the highlight of the championships was that our single female player who took part in the women’s individual competition, Carle Joubert, who not only excelled by making it through the pool rounds, but was also able to make it 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! Furthermore, 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 screen on national TV a few days later! A YouTube link to that documentary can be found at: http://youtu.be/p8KxtaYOq_Y
Furthermore, another South African first, was the successful grading at the FIK examination to 7th Dan (nanadan) by the ex-South African Kendo Federation (SAKF) president, Buster Sefor. This landmark achievement is testament to his +40 years plus of dedicated kendo practise and will serve the future development of kendo in South Africa well.
On behalf of the SAKF and the SA National Kendo Team, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the organizations and individuals who had assisted us during the build-up to the WKC16 in Japan. Our greatest appreciation must go out to our 3 most senior senseis, who spent countless hours of training the team to get the team to a position to compete on an international level. Our thanks go out to: Teruaki Ishimaru sensei, who had had flown from Japan and spend the last month prior to the WKC16 in South Africa so as to assist with the team training; Buster Sefor sensei, Delegation Leader, who also effectively assisted in all the administrative and logistical matters pertaining to this championship; and Tony Hughes sensei, National Team Coach, for his focused and intensive training sessions that gave the team the much-needed confidence-boost.
Furthermore, whilst in Japan, we are grateful for the support and encouragement by our international sensei’s, who have in the past visited South Africa to take part in our annual SAKF Kendo Seminars. These include Agiro sensei, Chiba sensei, Irri sensei, Kumpf sensei, Tscherter sensei, Goto sensei and Matsunami sensei. Special mention must also be made to Iwata sensei who arranged for team training session at the famous and prestigious Norma Dojo soon upon our arrival.
We are also very grateful to all those SAKF members who helped us in the months leading up to the competition by taking part in the team training sessions, and also the many supporters who both turned up at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo; or tuned-in via live video streaming in the early hours of the South African mornings, to cheer the team on. Your support was greatly appreciated and was inspiring!
Lastly, we also thank 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 Japan.
The 17th WKC will be held in Korea in 2018 and I would like to encourage all SAKF members to take up the challenge to start preparing themselves for more intensive training over the next 3 years. The SAKF will embark on various initiatives to further grow our pool of young Kendo practitioners as well as start investing in grooming a strong female team that can compete at an international level.
I look forward to your support for the next 3 years and beyond, as we prepare to create more history for South African kendo. On behalf of the SAKF and the SA National Team, thank you very much- Domo arigatou gozaimasu.
SAKF President & 2015 WKC16 National Team Captain