Tag Archives: SAKF

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)

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)

The Future of SA Kendo

The Future of SA Kendo

Almost a month has passed since the 27th European Kendo Championships (EKC) in Skopje, Macedonia and soon, I will be heading off to London, UK to take part in the 9th London Cup, a goodwill tournament that will bring together kendoka from different nations around the world to enjoy a weekend of kendo shiai!

Although I have been to two other EKC’s in the past (Helsinki, Finland in 2008; and Debrechen, Hungary in 2010), as well as three World Kendo Championships (Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2009; Novara, Italy 2012; Tokyo, Japan, 2015), this year was the first year in the 26-year history of the SAKF, that the SA Men’s team was able to progress through to the knock-out rounds! Furthermore, this was my career-best performance – winning 2 of my 3 fights! Needless to say, the shiai-bug has bit me again, and suddenly, I find myself debating whether to come out of “kendo Shiai retirement” and put it all in for another 2 years; or sit back and let the kendo youth carry our green and gold torch high for the years to come.

Both options are very appealing – By retiring, I can finally focus on making my kendo big, straight, precise, and really focus on the deeper teachings of Kendo and how it can enhance my life through the elusive “spiritual” side of the martial art.

Alternatively, I can continue to compete for the next 2 years and really push my body and mind beyond what any soon-to-be 40 year old should logically be doing at that age!

But here came the epiphany – why not do both? Why not continue to both compete on a local and international arena, and pursue those deeper layers of kendo through the preparation to accomplish that? By doing so, I strive to incorporate body, mind and spirit into my kendo and ultimately express my kendo through its unity. In my opinion, that is the “do” of “Ken-do”.

However, the purpose of this treatise is not only about my kendo situation – after all, it is entitled, “The Future of SA Kendo”. But, it’s important to note that I had to first understand my kendo and the future of my own kendo, before I could make some decisions for the organisation I was elected to lead.  In my definition of a leader:  it is that individual who is put in that position, either through mutual agreement by the greater masses, or via certain emergency circumstances; who is expected, as a leader, to lead by example through their actions; inspire and motivate through their vision and optimism; and understand and stabilise through their practicality and diplomacy.

These 3 points are discussed in greater detail below:

Lead by example through action – Earlier in the year at the SAKF AGM, I made the announcement that our focus for the next few years are to be on 3 objectives: 1) Improve the shiai skills of all those members  who wish to compete; 2) Improve the shimpan (referee) skills of both those who wish to compete, as well as those non-competitors (the logic is because kendo skills and shimpan skills go hand-in-hand); and lastly 3) To optimise the administrative processes of the SAKF.

With my decision to compete for another 2 year, I took our first objective quite literally and committed myself to train at least 3 times a week, with an optional 4th time over the weekends during competition times. I will also start supplementing my kendo training with other exercises during the days I don’t do kendo.

Furthermore, I intend to go to Brussels, Belgium next year to take part in the EKF Shimpan seminar, so as to enhance my shimpan skills.

This for me is leading by example.

Inspire and motivate through vision and optimism – I have high hopes for the future of SA Kendo. Again, looking at our last performance at the EKC, I cannot but feel that we are on the verge of a major breakthrough. Our kendo, besides the obvious lack of more international experience and perhaps some regular training with more shiai-focused opponents, is on par with every other Kendo nation out there. To counter some of these challenges, we have started to have regular shiai-focused training. Brendan Dateling, our SAKF Technical Director and SA’s current No. 1 fighter, has been doing a sterling job trying to get people to join him on Saturday morning for this much needed Shiai-practise. Furthermore, the seminars we have organised, such as the recent Kumpf Sensei Seminar In March, and our upcoming seminar in October again with Kumpf sensei who will be joined by Frey Sensei from Finland, and Brunel De Bonneville Sensei from France; is a testament that we are committed to the objectives mentioned previously. With this shiai-focus, we hope to unlock and showcase the dynamisms of Kendo to attract more people to kendo. This does not mean that there will be no growth for our “non-shiai members”. On the contrary – As our kendo numbers increase, we need our non-shiai members to be their sempei and their mentors. Big, straight and precise Kendo is still after all, the bread-and-butter of our kendo, and we must never lose sight of this. As I prepare for my 5th dan grading later in the year, I am going back to basics to show good, straight kendo. I can still recall my first few months of starting Kendo and having Buster Sefor sensei and Tony Hughes sensei drill “big, straight cuts”, quite literally, in and on my head!  As much as we have a vision of the future going forward, we must always look back to see where we have come from, and acknowledge the solid foundation that was established by our “Kendo Elders” over the past 26+ years.

Lastly, “understand and stabilise through practicality and diplomacy”. We live in a busy world and people are leading busier and fuller lives. Our members are no different. In the past, we were adamant about member’s attendance rates and if it was less than a certain level, they should seriously consider whether they would want to continue doing kendo or not. That thinking is still very much the same; however, I’d like to think that now we take into account people’s busy lives too and make provisions for such so that they can lead a healthy balanced life. Keep in mind that the cornerstone of our federation is that we practise good kendo. We are a sporting organisation and hence, the basic requirement for ALL members is that they train on a regular basis. What we have done is increased the number of kendo initiatives that is NOT only limited to regular training. Initiatives such as more shiai’s, more seminars and more social events. Not only are they more, but also wider spread throughout the country.  Through these initiatives we hope to ignite that “kendo-flame” in each individual so that they can find that bit within themselves that will keep them motivated to train continuously. Put in a different way, we hope to ignite that bit that will be self-sustaining with the occasional varied initiative. The bottom line is that we want everyone who starts kendo to find their WHY and WHAT of kendo it is that will keep them doing it.  I have been criticized in the past for “forcing” members to take part in “initiatives they just don’t want to do”. Asking for applications to the Foreign Kendo Leaders Camp in Kitamoto, Japan (known simply as “Kitamoto”) was one of those initiatives.  As an attendee of two previous Kitamoto’s, I can definitely say both experiences have been the highlights of my kendo-career and in my life in general. Not only was I submersed in kendo and Japanese culture for a week each time, but I also made some life-long, like-minded friends who are on the same journey of self-development through kendo as I am. Those experiences were irreplaceable that further reinforced my fortitude to continue on my kendo journey. It’s not that I was forcing anyone, but rather hoping to expose them to a different side of kendo so that they too could reach some revelations of kendo (and themselves) through that experience. Again, I stress to each member that they MUST find their WHY and WHAT of kendo that will keep them doing it. If they don’t, then really, it is a waste of a few valuable hours of their lives each week.

To conclude, I have made a decision to continue competing for the next 2 years at least. I will continue study and train hard, with the hopes to one day reach that upper echelon of becoming a wholly integrated human being who contributes positively to society. Through my kendo practise, I hope it will give me the insight and strength to lead this organisation to new heights. And lastly, I hope that through my actions and vision, I can inspire a new generation of kendoka who will come to enjoy and love this dynamic martial art and allow it to lead and direct their lives in a profound manner.

Written by Warren Ho, current President of the SAKF, on 24 April 2016.

2016 Annual SAKF Seminar PROMO

NEED HELP! Annual SAKF Seminar 14-16 Oct 2016)

The Annual SAKF  seminar has been scheduled for 14-16 October 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The following sensei’s have already been confirmed to be attending:

  • Uwe KUMPF Sensei (7th Dan, Kyoshi) – Germany
  • Markus FREY Sensei (7th dan Kyoshi)  – Finland
  • Thibault BRUNEL DE BONNEVILLE  Sensei (7th dan) –  France
  • Kazuko KUMPF (6th dan) – Germany
  • Tony HUGHES (6th dan) – South Africa

It will be a jam-packed agenda over the 3 days that will cater for kendoka of all levels, including a kyu and dan grade examination, and an open competition for those in bogu!

Because of the high calibre of sensei’s that are going to be at this seminar, we anticipate a few international kendo players will be coming to this event too!

The expectation is also that most of our South African members will also be coming to the event, so please DIARISE these dates NOW!

HOWEVER, the implication is that that we are now on the HUNT for a bigger venue to host the event.

We require the assistance of ALL our members to please assist us in finding a suitable venue. The following venue criteria is required:

  • A venue with a hall that has a well-kept wooden floor with high ceilings, adequate lighting and is well-ventilated that can accommodate 80- 100 people;
  • Have 2 additional rooms at the venue that can accommodate +- 20-30 people (wooden floor and high ceilings preferable);

If you have a venue in mind, but not sure if it meets the requirements exactly, kindly let the SAKF know and we will conduct a site-visits!

With your assistance, we can make this one of our biggest and successful seminars yet!

EKC27 – The Macedonian Experience!

SA Kendo

(L-R): Anesu Shamu; Wendy Vermeulen; Matthew Price, Buster Sefor; Adam Cullen; Natalie Morris; Catherina Joubert; Brendan Dateling; Yentl Krugel; Warren Ho

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.

Day 1 begun with the Junior Team Championship in which no South African team was represented.  In the afternoon, the Ladies’ Team Championship commenced in which our 4-women strong team fought hard in their pool matches but losing unfortunately to Great Britain and the eventual bronze-medal winners, Germany.  A worthy mention must go out to Wendy Vermeulen who put 1 point on the scoreboard against Great Britain with a convincing men-strike.

Day 2 started with the Junior Individual Team Championships in which again, no South Africans were represented. In the afternoon, the Men’s Team Championships took place in which the 5-man team (4 of which had represented South Africa last year at the World Kendo Championships in Tokyo, Japan) fought hard against Spain and Macedonia. The initial pool match against Spain did not go too well. However, a worthy mention is that of Anesu Shamu, who played in the 4th position, Fukusho, who managed to score a brilliant hikki-do against his Spanish counterpart. Given the Spanish eventually won the bronze-medal, the defeat was “acceptable”.  The 2nd pool match against the Macedonian team was a challenging one – besides the pressure of having to beat this team in order to proceed to the knockout rounds, the Macedonian team had the full support of the spectators, volunteers and majority of the court staff rooting for them! It was a tight game, but the kote strike by the Taisho (5th person) position player, Brendon Dateling (Men’s Team Captain), made SA history by making this the first SA team to ever proceed beyond the pool matches (and crushing the host-nation’s dreams of proceeding further in the team championships)! This excitement was short-lived, as the next match in the KO rounds was against Austria, which although the initial fight by the Sempo (1st person) position player, Warren Ho, was won under a minute by scoring 2 quick kote’s, the remaining fights did not fair too well. Many rookie mistakes and unnecessary points being lost could be boiled down to a lack of international shiai experience. Regardless, SA history had been made and we can start working towards improving our performance in the next Championships to come.

Day 3 started with the Ladies’ Individual Competition. All four ladies of the women’s team participated. Both Wendy Vermeulen and Natalie Morris won a fight each in the pool rounds against Czech Republic and Great Britain, respectively. However, it was only Natalie who was able to proceed to the knock-out rounds due to losing fewer points in her pool.  Natalie’s 1st KO fight was against the eventual bronze-medalist from France. Although she lost, she put up a good fight by lasting the fully allocated time of 5 mins and only conceding 1 point (men).

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.  Although all fought admirably, only Matthew Price was able to win in his pool convincingly enough to proceed to the knockout rounds.  In the KO rounds, he lost his match against Finland.

Although the write up above does not reflect the amount of hard work and effort the team had put in both before the championships, as well the spirited-grit by each individual at the championships themselves, the 27th EKC championships have been one of the more successful international competitions to date.  With a women’s team, a men’s team that finally proceeded to the knockout rounds, and both men and women individuals who also proceeded to the knockout rounds; this can create a platform that will expedites the development and progress of kendo in SA.

Our challenges remain the same, namely the lack of funding that allows our local kendo players to take part in more international competitions and bring that much-needed skills back home. Lack of funding also limits the growth and opportunities we as the SAKF can undertake locally.  Nevertheless, the SAKF will preserver in its mission to develop Kendo in South Africa and endeavor to produce more local kendo players that will give the international Kendo community a good challenge.

On that note, it should be noted that 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 SAKF and the SA National Kendo Team would like to thank all the South African sensei’s who helped prepare them for the EKC, including Buster Sefor sensei (7th dan, Renshi), Tony Hughes sensei (6th dan) and Ray Fleming sensei (5th dan); as well as our German sensei’s, Uwe Kumpf sensei (7th dan, Kyoshi) and Sabrina Kumpf (5th dan), who 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 Macedonia.

Special mention and thanks must be made to Macedonia Kendo and Iaido Federation President, Zlatko Kesko, and the rest of his members who graciously hosted the South African team at their dojo on several occasions, knowing that they would eventually face their national team on the Shiai-jo (competition battlefield).

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.

2017’s EKC will be in Budapest, Hungary; and thereafter, the 2018 World Kendo Championships will be held in Korea.  Team squad selections for these 2 events will take place very soon, and preparation for these 2 championships will begin immediately.  The SAKF has made it its prerogative to be a prominent kendo player in the global Kendo community and calls upon all its members to assist in making this a reality by consistently training hard and spreading the word of Kendo!

Yours sincerely

Warren Ho

SAKF President & 2016 EKC27 Delegation Leader & National Team Member


A DIFFERENT VIEW….

Nats KO Round

“For a first time competing in an international Kendo championship, and the EKC no less, was a very sublime experience or me. To be able to experience and feel what European kendo is and how different it is as well as how it compares to the kendo style back home in SA was most definitely an exhilarating feeling. This was also one of my goal to achieve when heading into the tournament.

I was most definitely surprised to see that South African kendo is actually not very far behind the rest of the world in terms of skill and fighting ability. This was made evident when the woman’s team were able to have a decent fight against the German team who we thought were going to clean us out. But throughout the competition it became more and more clear (with the brilliant performance of both teams and the individual fights of each member) that as a Nation we are becoming a team that will start placing in the future. We need only a little bit more refinement and experience.

Personally I realised, from this experience, that International kendo places a lot of strain on the mind during the fights and this is where I found that I need to focus more attention. Its not just about how much stamina or endurance your body can pump out because its when the mind weakens from fatigue that you give away openings. This became very obvious to me when I i was fighting France in the knock out rounds. It was such an exciting fight but near the end and afterwards my mind was completely drained, this in turn also affected how my body reacted. It really was such an educational experience that left me in Awe.

I think the biggest and most profound finding for me, during this tournament, was that the team is everything and even if you’re competing in individuals, those friends and comrades around you are what give you the extra edge, the boost in motivation. This is not because you want to do well in front of them but because their support makes you feel like you deserve to be there and that squashes any doubts that happen to be sitting in the mind.

It has been a most wonderful adventure for me to have competed alongside the team that I did and for that I am most grateful.

Regards

Natalie Morris

2016 EKC27 National Team Member”


 

“Participating at the EKC was a completely different experience that was both enjoyable and nerve wrecking. The completion in terms of kendo style is very different to what I am used to here in South Africa, with shimpan mostly looking for very flamboyant Zanshin to show that you have scored your point. The points are also very soft with a short flick and then major Zanshin. The pacing of the kendo is much to my liking and it counts to get control of the pacing instead of following your opponent’s pace. The team competition mentality was more defined, for me, at the championship as one had to be quick to gauge what your team’s position looks like and what you should to change or keep things as they are (keep that one point, don’t take unnecessary risks). The individuals felt as if the entire World’s weight rested on my shoulders. Quite a lot more pressure there than anything else. Hence, I enjoyed the team comp fights a bit more than the individual fights.

Overall, it was enjoyable, especially with the help of the team managers having your back with fight logistics. Learnt a lot and luckily didn’t get caught up in the awe of the entire thing – Anesu Shamu, 2016 EKC27 National Team Member”