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.
Warren Ho (SAKF President)