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Mr Takeuchi and Mr Guerillot at the front of Paul’s Dojo, taken in 1975.

 

Paul’s daughter, Marika Szwarcbord recalls...

 

“We lived in the dwelling part at the back - and upstairs originally but as the number of students grew, we had to make room for an extra training area and so had to give up the first floor”.

 

In an effort to demonstrate the advances and correctness of Kendo, Takeuchi San

arranged for the Sydney Kendo Club to visit Paul’s Dojo the following year. This was to become the first Australian Kendo Championships and marked the initial beginnings of a truly national AKR.


The First National Kendo Championship

During Easter 1975 a Sydney Kendo Club delegation led by Rex Lawley (4th Dan) drove their private cars the long 17 hour trip to Paul’s Dojo. Included in their group were Ron Bennett, Rex’s son Steven Lawley, Michael Payne, Doug Milton, Peter Heinrich and several others. Arriving at 1.00 p.m. what follows is again captured by John Butler’s vivid description;



 

“The Victorians and New South Welshmen lined up on opposite sides of the long, narrow Dojo, staring across at their respective alter egos. Someone shouted,”Hajime!” It was hot and cold running blood. The air was thick with slivers of bamboo. The strangest blood curdling kiais of insults and invective filled the tiny Dojo. Takeuchi Sensei very nearly joined a monastery after witnessing the brutality of the first battle. Almost all the combatants finished the day with red and purple welts across arms, torsos and legs down to the ankles from poorly placed Do cuts.

 

At the end of Saturday training they all limped their way to the local pub for a meal and litres of amber fluid. It wasn’t all bad though. From that first meeting the Australian Kendo Renmei was founded and many life-long friendships developed.

(Butler 1994 page 13)

 


At this meeting an open competition was held with Steven Lawley becoming the first Open Individual Champion and NSW winning the team event.

As it turned out the Sydney Kendo Club had been invited to attend the first International Kendo Summer School in Japan. The venue was to be the Budokan Annex in Katsura, Chiba Prefecture with four places available to Australia. Michael Payne, Ron Bennett and Peter Heinrich accepted for Sydney and Ron Bennett invited John Butler to make up the fourth position.



Back Row: 1st on left, Terry Holt (UK), 3rd from Left, Michael Payne,
4th from Left, John Butler.
(author’s note: note the koala in bogu logo on the tee shirts,
later to become the Melbourne Kendo club emblem).


The 25 foreign students who attended that inaugural Summer School included Terry Holt from Great Britain. The attending Sensei included Nakakura, Matsuwa, Sugo, Matsunaga and Shioiri. What followed was two extremely austere weeks of hard Kendo the likes of which the Australians had never seen before.

At the grading on the final Saturday Ron, Michael and Peter gained Shodan while John achieved Ikkyu in Kendo and sankyu in Iaido.




Nagashima Sensei, Iho Sensei & Kiyono Sensei

 

Soon after their return to Australia Takeuchi San received word that three Japanese Sensei would be visiting Melbourne. Paul Guerillot’s Dojo was used in the planning for the visit. Iho Sensei and Nagashima Sensei from the recent Summer School attended together with Kiyono Sensei. Takeuchi San remembers their seminar and demonstration being held in August / September 1975 in the Melbourne Town Hall.

Takeuchi San was berated for the standard of Kendo, which apparently didn’t impress the three visiting dignitaries who “arrived

and took us apart” according to John. Indeed, Takeuchi describes how the Melbourne students,”jumped at the Senseis as savage dogs to get IPPON, but all students had been completely knocked down. Finally they realized how great the real Kendo was”. (Takeuchi 2007).

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