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Haga Sensei had urged John to introduce Iaido to the Melbourne group despite John’s reluctance due to his 2nd Dan rank in that martial art. Together with Hideo Nakayahara he began instructing a small group including Gary Oliver from 8 a.m. on the Sunday morning prior to the Kendo class which began at 9.00 a.m. There were some tensions especially when John ran a bit overtime and missed the formal rei for the commencement of Kendo but from these humble beginnings Iaido became more established.

Lessons in Iaido were interesting also in that Nakayahara would not instruct due to his low rank (3rd Dan). This resulted in explanations and “refinements” being made in rhetorical discussions and referrals to errors seen by “other” Iaido students far away at some previous time.

In NSW the Sydney Club had been without a Sensei for some time and it was during this year that Kunio SHIZAWA, 7th Dan from Nittaidai University was appointed for 12 months by the Japan Ministry of Education to investigate and promote Kendo. The story goes that the IKF had refused to send a Sensei to Sydney as the group was so small. At that year’s Summer School John Butler told Sensei Kasahara, Secretary of the IKF not to worry because a Korean 6th Dan had arrived in Sydney and that instruction would be sought from him. This may have resulted in Shizawa Sensei’s appointment.

Shizawa Sensei (seated centre) with some early Melbourne Kendo ka.
Standing from left: Yakov Macak, Sophie Macak, Marika Szwarcbord, Stilts, Tadashi Harada,
Paul Macak, Nagae Sensei holding his dog, “Whiskey”,
Bob Collins, Peter Day, Mrs Nagae, Eric Jeffrey and Peter Szwarcbord.
Seated 2nd from left Margaret Irwin with Ron Jones 2nd from right

A superb Kendoka and teacher, Shizawa Sensei made a substantial contribution to Sydney’s Kendo that year. John Butler joined the Sydney group for a weekend training on the Hawkesbury River early in the year.

In October Shizawa came to Melbourne as guest instructor for a week before returning to Sydney. It was a brief visit but one which provided a glimpse of great things to come from this man.


1981 - Shizawa Sensei & John Butler

The 6th Australian Kendo Championships

The 6th Australian Championships were held in Sydney with the places in the respective competition as follows;


1st Place - S. Lawley
2nd Place - R. Prince
3rd Place - B. Collins

1st Place - Victoria
2nd Place - New South Wales
3rd Place - Queensland

During this year Paul Guerillot announced his retirement from teaching Kendo. His son in law, Peter Szwarcbord arrived one Sunday morning at the YWCA with a number of bogu all donated by Paul for the Melbourne Club. Peter was by this stage a dedicated and regular student of Kendo at the YWCA.

In September the Japan Naval Defence Force Fleet visited Sydney and Melbourne and exchanged Kendo skills with Australian students. In Melbourne this took place at Nunawading in a display with other Melbourne martial arts groups. Interestingly no jigeiko took place, the navy officers perhaps not believing Australian Kendo ka would be ready.(2)

The Octoberfest was held at the Footscray Institute of technology. Kendo ka came from Sydney and Canberra to attend.

In November Brent Gazzaniga, 2nd Dan emigrated to Australia from Great Britain. Brent was a student at London’s Mumeishi Kendo Dojo under Terry Holt and brought with him new perspectives and skills to add to Melbourne’s growing group.

It was also during November that Kendo joined the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme. Sensei Nagae was nominated as Coaching Director for Kendo. Investigation of a system for Kendo coaching began.


The YWCA proved a perfect venue for the Melbourne Kendo Club and membership slowly increased due to the prominence and public nature of the venue.

Special trainings like the one at Portsea were held and under Nagae’s leadership the Melbourne Club took on more of the etiquette that one would associate with a Japanese Kendo Dojo.


Back: Stilts, Yakov Macak, Eric Jeffrey, Paul Macak.
Middle centre; Mr Hirano, Peter Day.
Front: Jamie Fennessy, Sensei Nagae, Sophie Macak.

7th Australian Kendo Championships 1982

1st Place - J. Fennessy
2nd Place - W. Hughes
3rd Place - S. Lawley

1st Place - Victoria
2nd Place - New South Wales
3rd Place - Queensland


Contestants line up beside each other
prior to the battle royal.

Rex Lawley, Sensei Nagae, Ikeda and Ron Bennett

Later in the year at the Kyu Championship in Melbourne held during the Octoberfest, a young Peter Szwarcbord took first place over Gary Oliver second. Special beach training took place that year at Torquay with members of Paul Guerillot’s Karate Club. In November a Level 1 Coaching Accreditation Course was approved by the ACC. Sensei Nagae did much in establishing a suitable training program for level 1 Kendo specific accreditation.

The 5th World Kendo Championships

This prestigious event was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Due to the high cost of travel John Butler was the only member able to represent Australia. As one would expect, John made a good account of himself. (3)


Jamie Fennessy and Paul Macak fought for the Individual Title at Easter this year, with Jamie winning although he was now living in Sydney and fighting for N.S.W. He was a strong competitor for NSW who broke their three year drought by defeating Victoria in the Team finals.

Prominent new comers to the Melbourne Club at this time were Les Watson and Ivan Robotham who both did much in developing a strong Club spirit. Also during this year, a young Koichi Hara, exchange high school student from Japan did much to inject a sense of fun and enjoyment into training.

Gary Oliver began a boys’ Kendo Club at Deer Park North Primary school where he was teaching. The Club ran for two years until he moved to another teaching position. Sensei Nagae and Peter Szwarcbord attended a training there to encourage the youngsters.

Deer Park North Primary School

A highlight of the Octoberfest was a demonstration of Kyudo by Andrei Sollier (4)

At the Octoberfest that year Ian Peel won the Kyu Individual with Gary Oliver second. Children from the Deer Park school attended and obtained their first gradings. The Club had achieved much in its short history and fellowship was very much a part of its success. The photos below reflect much of that feeling as shown at the 1983 Christmas Party.

Left corner; Koichi Hara, head of table, John Butler, right corner, Paul Macak.

Koichi Hara & Ivan Robotham

Les Watson

Continued >

(2) Interestingly this occurred exactly 100 years after that first demonstration aboard the Japanese frigate, “Ruijio” in 1881. One member from the future Ballarat Kendo Club took part in this 1981 exchange. Sensei Tino Ceberano led a mixed group of karate ka from member styles of the Victorian Branch of the Federation of Australian Karate do Organisations (FAKO) on the night and they also did not engage in Kumite against the navy visitors.

(3) As Australia’s only competitor and representative John did us all proud. Not only did he make it through to the fourth round of the individuals but he also gained his third Dan in Iaido at the grading held there. A very humorous account of his time there appears in his book beginning on page 33. Highly recommended reading.

(4) Sensei Sollier passed away in April 2007.

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