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2003 Victorian Kendo Championships

This year’s event saw another significant rise in skill level, with all events fought with tenacity and spirit. Our thanks go to Ben Kelly and his team for their organization on the day. There was a minor glitch (the venue was double booked!) but this was beyond Ben’s control and could not be helped. To everyone’s credit the move to the other venue was completed in about 40 minutes with limited distraction.

Held over two days for the first time this is a reflection of how much Kendo has grown and developed since our beginnings in the 1970’s. A new event this year saw Kata competition for the first time. First place this year went to the team of Claire Chan and Vui Tung Mau.

Chiaki Kobayashi 1st in Individual Kyu Event

The march in and traditional opening

Women’s Individual Championship won by Yoshida San

Open Dan Individual championship won by Brett Smith, Ben Kelly second and Gary Oliver and Arpad Maksay 3rd.

Ballarat versus Inagawa Challenge

In November a team of six from Ballarat flew to Inagawa Cho in Hyogo Ken to contest the inaugural Ballarat versus Inagawa Challenge. These two sister cities were celebrating their 15 year friendship. The team of Gary Oliver, Ryan Oliver, Tony Pickering, Tarl O’Mara, David Tannard and Walter Butler spent a week training in Japan with local clubs and the Hyogo Ken Police Club.

Walter Butler, Tony Pickering, Tarl O’Mara, Gary Oliver,
Ryan Oliver and David Tannard


Tony Pickering and Marcus Lee Steere worked long and hard to make the week long seminar and National Iaido and Jodo Championship a great success. The venue was the State Netball and Hockey Centre in Melbourne from 19th – 25th January.

A good attendance saw a large contingent attend from Western Australia where Iaido students outnumber Kendo ka. Other friends who made the journey included Sensei Kuramochi from Cairns and David Kolb and wife from Brisbane.

An extremely talented group of Japanese Sensei included Sensei Haga 8th Dan, Oda 8th Dan, Ohta 8th Dan, Ueno 8th Dan and Nagayama 7th Dan among others.

2004 Jodo Championships Results:

NAGAYAMA CUP ( Jodo Pairs - Kyu Grade)
1st Place: Andrea Juresko/Vui Tung Mau (VIC)
2nd Place: Marcus Lee-Steere/Luis Pires (VIC)

LAWRENCE CUP (Jodo Pairs - Dan Grade)
1st Place: Anthony Pickering/Marcus Lee-Steere (VIC)
2nd Place: Mark Hird/Russell Lawrence (WA)

Encouragement Awards
Kyu Grade: Vui Tung Mau (VIC) & Luis Pires (VIC)
Dan Grade: Denichi Jacob (WA) & Bob Brown (NSW)

2004 Iaido Championship Results :

Iaido 6-4 Kyu Individual (Inaugural year)
1st Place: Susanna Golestos(VIC)
2nd Place: Luis Pires (VIC)

HAGA CUP (1-3 Kyu Individual)
1st Place: Chris Goletsos (VIC)
2nd Place: Dave Puzey (WA)

UENO CUP (1-2 Dan Individual)
1st Place: Brendon Frost (VIC)
2nd Place: Jason Flockton (WA)

BLUE LEAF CUP (3+ Dan Individual)
1st Place: Claire Chan (VIC)
2nd Place: Jason Flockton (WA)

1st Place: VIC "A" - Claire Chan, Brendan Frost, Anthony Pickering
2nd Place: WA "A" - Jason Flockton, Russell Lawrence, Jeri James

Encouragement Awards
Kyu Grade: Susanna Goletsos (VIC) & Jeremy Nemeh (VIC)
Dan Grade: Hans Groesslinger (WA) & Brendan Frost (VIC)

“Hokutomaru” Visit

The "Hokutomaru"

On 9th February a Kendo Team from the Japanese training ship, “Hokutomaru” visited Kenshikan. Comprising three men and two women they fought a friendly match which Victoria won 3:1. They presented us with a beautifully framed photo of their ship as a memento of their visit.

Nittaidai Students visited again on 12th March and we used the University High School as a venue for our cultural exchange. They departed for the Gold Coast on 15th March. They again presented a huge demonstration at MSAC.

2004 Australian Kendo Championships - April 8th - 12th

Tallebudgera, Queensland was this year’s venue for our 29th Annual Australian Kendo Championships. Thanks to Kevin Humphries and his team the seminar and competitions were a resounding success. Sensei Taguchi, Sueno and Hiyagira, all 8th Dan Hanshi represented the AJKF.

Our team was extremely well prepared by Arpad Maksay and the team spirit was high. I can’t remember when our members were so well settled and ready.

Our women as always showed their skill and achieved their usual top placing in all events. Similarly our Dan and Kyu teams gave their all and came out professional and focused. Our Dan Team fought well going down to Queensland who eventually won the Open Team competition. This was their first win in our 29 Year history and a popular result on the day. Hayami Aboutaleb also won a record fourth Open Women’s Individual Championship.

The Victorian Squad

Our women as always showed their skill and achieved their usual top placing in all events. Similarly our Dan and Kyu teams gave their all and came out professional and focused. Our Dan Team fought well going down to Queensland who eventually won the Open Team competition. This was their first win in our 29 Year history and a popular result on the day. Hayami Aboutaleb also won a record fourth Open Women’s Individual Championship.


Kyu Grade Individual :

1st: Michael Henstock
2nd: Andrew Van Hammond
3rd: Anthony Tilbury
3rd: Kai Huang


Women's Individuals :

1st: Hayami Aboutaleb
2nd: Kate Sylvester
3rd: Claire Chan
3rd: Melanie Smith


Women's Teams :

1st: Victoria
2nd: New South Wales


Veterans Individuals :

1st: Greg Nicholas
2nd: Hong Soo Kim
3rd: Ken Okamoto
3rd: Yoichi Yano (NSW)


Kata Teams :

1st: New South Wales
3rd: Western Australia
3rd: South Australia


Dan Grade Individuals :

1st: Brett Smith
2nd:Stuart Burke (NSW)


Dan Grade Teams :

1st: Queensland
2nd:New South Wales


Fighting Spirit Award :

Chiaki Kobayashi
Nick Bartlett
Daniel Kim
Peter Strauss


John Butler Award :

Susan Bonar

Grading Results:    


Ben Sheppard


Soon after the Championship Arpad left for Japan and a new career. Importantly for Victoria, Ben Sheppard achieved his Godan at this event.

Our Executive for the 2004 year as elected was Gary Oliver (President), Yakov Macak (Vice President), Tony Pickering (Secretary) and Kenji Sugimoto (Treasurer).

On February 7th Richard Ward officially began the Seishin Iaido Club in Balwyn.

University of Melbourne Kendo Club Training Camp 2004

From the 7th to the 9th May, the University of Melbourne Kendo Club (UMKC) held its annual training camp in Ballarat. This year saw the largest number of camp attendees (44 members in total), bolstered by an unprecedented number of beginner Kendoka.

Training sessions were held in the Eastwood Leisure Complex over the course of Saturday (8th) and Sunday (9th). Highlights of the training included visits from Ballarat Kendo Club members such as Ryan Oliver, David Tannard, Tarl O’Mara and former member Arpad Maksay (now of Fudoshin KC).

Another highlight of the training session was the introduction of the new Kendo bokuto exercises that were first introduced to Australian shores at the 2004 National Championships. Additionally, many of the beginners started to wear bogu for the first time.

The camp concluded with a kirikaeshi competition for the beginners and a friendly intra-club shiai amongst the other players. Overall, this camp was extremely enjoyable, and afforded members with an excellent opportunity to foster relationships and develop stronger fundamentals in the practice of Kendo.

2004 University of Melbourne Training Camp

The ACT Kendo Championships & Shimpan seminar was held at Canberra University from 13th – 14th June.

The Otsuka Memorial Tournament took place on 17th July at the Kenshikan.

Chiba Sensei and Sato Sensei visited Melbourne on August 3rd and held a Kendo and Iaido seminar through until 8th August. Both Sensei further developed the new training methods using the bokuto.

The Victorian Kendo Championships were held at Melbourne University High School Gymnasium on August 28th – 29th.

Mid way through 2004 Tony Pickering began the Tojinkai Club which specialised in Iaido and Jodo. In September Nagayama Sensei flew to Melbourne to solve some problems with Jodo in our State. Several meetings were held between those involved to try and sort out this complicated matter. He departed on 27th September with many issues still unresolved.

The Mumeishi 3’s were well represented as usual. A Strong team from Fudoshin led by Ben Kelly defeated Ballarat in the final. Guest at the tournament was again Sensei Holt from London.

It was 10 years ago that Damian Carmody Stevens and Brett Smith took the brave move to establish their own Kendo Club in Melbourne. A small group of founding members including Gerard Everton and Hayami Aboutaleb helped start what has become a stable of many of this country’s top performers.

In the second weekend in December a goodly sized group of Fudoshin members celebrated their milestone with a gasshuku in Ballarat. Damo Sensei came down from Singapore and Gerard Sensei came from New Zealand for the two days of training. A BBQ was put on on the Saturday evening thanks to the help of Walter Butler of the Ballarat Kendo Club.

Richard Ward

An open training in mid afternoon for non Fudoshin members was attended by some representatives of VKR clubs including Sensei Brent Gazanigga who drove up from Gembrook.

Saitama Summer School
Richard Ward was selected to attend the annual Summer School for Foreign Kendo Leaders in Saitama in late July (2)

(2) The 29th Summer Seminar for Foreign Kendo Leaders - By Richard Ward

With the three young adults in the back, Gary and Glenda in the front it was going to be a fair trip. Emily announced the night before they left that she was quitting smoking. Two days into the trip her periods were due consequently when they reached Perth Ryan was totally prepped to fight anybody! It was in reality one of the best family times that the Olivers have ever had.

For many years I've had a strong desire to attend the Summer Seminar for Foreign Kendo Leaders that is conducted in Japan by the All Japan Kendo Federation, but for a variety of reasons, I was unable to attend. Early in 2004, I submitted an application to the VKR for nomination to attend the Seminar in 2004. In due course the nominations from all AKR affiliates were reviewed by the AKR Kendo Board, which then submitted a list of nominations to the hosting organisation, the AJKF. I was humbled and grateful to be amongst those who were nominated.

The All Japan Kendo Federation organises and conducts the Summer Seminar to aid the growth and development of correct Kendo throughout the world. A list of nominations to attend is compiled by national Kendo federations and submitted to the AJKF for final selection.

A few months prior to the above process, I commenced a program to increase my Kendo and personal fitness, to cope with the demands of the seminar, if I was to be selected. I also had a desire to be skilled sufficiently to be assessed successfully for 4th dan, so I was also working to further develop my Kendo skills. In between interstate work commitments, I pursued those aims with the support of my Sensei at Fudoshin, Brett Smith and other dojo Senseis who welcomed and assisted me at their training sessions.

In May the AJKF advised the AKR that Takashi Itakura (nominated by the NSWKA) and I, had been selected as the two Australians to attend the Seminar. They also advised that an expected fifty-one Kendo students would attend, five females and forty-six males from thirty-five countries.

The Seminar was held from the 28th of July to the 4th of August 2004. Just like the preceding 28 annual seminars, the venue was the Gedatsu-kai Training Centre in Kitamoto city, Saitama prefecture, Japan, about an hour train travel time north of Tokyo.

I left Melbourne on a sunny dry winters day of 9 degrees and got off the plane at Narita to be greeted with a 39 degree, very humid evening! My bag weighed 35 kilos and I had a back pack and shinais as well! However all was well on night 1. I got to my ryokan, showered, changed, found the best food in the area and it was just around the corner!

In order to acclimatise, I had arrived in Tokyo a week prior to the Seminar. During that week I focussed on preparation for the Seminar by running every day, exercising on alternate days and training at the Kobukan Dojo, where it was like an oven. For me this strategy was a wise one, as by the time I got to Kitamoto, my massively readjusted hydration routine seemed to be OK and I did not suffer from training in the heat, unlike some others.

The 2004 summer in Japan was described by locals as being hotter and more humid than usual. In the month I was away I experienced only two days that were less than 33 degrees. The temperature during the Seminar was high 30's to mid 40's every day.

The Summer Seminar program occupies 8 very full days. The first day commenced in the afternoon with an orientation session, welcome ceremony, Kendo keiko and a welcome party. What follows is 6 very full days of tuition and practice in many aspects of Kendo, with a Kendo dan examination after the final seminar day.

Late in the morning of Wednesday July 28, dedicated Kendo people started to arrive in Kitamoto City from all around the world. Japan was very hot and, I was told, also more humid than usual. When we arrived, many of us wondered - what on earth had we volunteered for? It was 45 degrees!

Some participants had also arrived in Japan earlier, to attend seminars, for business, travel, or to acclimatise and had only travelled for a short distance and time. Others had been on the move constantly for over 24 hours and had travelled some complex routes around the world to arrive in Kitamoto City.

The sight of hot, some already tired, but happy Kendoka walking from the Japan Rail station at Kitamoto, to the Gedatsu-kai Training Centre with their luggage and Kendogu, became very familiar to the locals, many of whom have seen it all before. After the short walk, seminar participants were dripping with perspiration and also with enthusiasm.

After arrival we all met for an orientation session, then assembled inside the nearby and wonderful Renshinkan dojo for the welcome ceremony, group photograph and welcome keiko.

There is always a scramble when the opportunity to test your Kendo skills against a new opponent arises. The welcome keiko was no different. Queues formed very quickly in front of the Senseis who were to conduct the seminar. The chief instructor appointed by the AJKF was Shigeaki INOUE Kendo Hanshi 8th Dan, from Nara. Sensei was assisted by four Kendo Kyoshi 8th Dan Senseis; Kazumoto SUGANAMI and Kenichi ISHIDA, who many of us met in Sydney last year. From the Saitama prefecture Kendo association, were Kenichi KURIHARA and Yoshio KOUYAMA.

Two 7th Dan Senseis also assisted with translation to individuals and small groups who did not understand the two "official" language's of the Seminar, Japanese and English. Hiroyuki SHIOIRI assisted with Portuguese, Spanish and some French, Takeda LEVINE with French. The Korean delegation included a multi-lingual 7th Dan who assisted the other two Koreans. We were amazed when we were told that Shioiri Sensei had attended all 29 Summer Seminars and he looks fit, well and younger than ever!

The AJKF had also obtained the services of Alex Bennett and Michael Okomoto, who between them shared all of the interpretation of the Seminar instruction from Japanese to English.

The Sensei pool included the above, plus many visitors, who stayed for varying times, and travelled from around Tokyo and Saitama. On one particularly well remembered day, the participants were fortunate to be faced with 28 Senseis for an hour of Sensei-geiko. It was 40 degrees and the Sensei ratio meant that there was almost no waiting!

During the week of the seminar, many other Sensei from all over Japan also contributed their talent, perspiration and time to assist us foreigners in our Kendo development, as did the childrens Kendo group from the Renshikan dojo.The next morning it was ON. We all managed to be in the dojo early with all our equipment, dressed in our Kendo costume, bogu on and ready for the 6:30 start.Somehow the Senseis were all there before us! This was a pattern that continued, despite our attempts to beat them to the dojo.

This was the first full day of the Seminar, that days schedule was typical of the following days. Wake early to get ready for Kendo to start sharp at 6:30 am; then Kendo fundamentals for an hour; followed by breakfast, showers, wash clothes and get back to the dojo to get ready for Kendo kata to commence at 9:30 for an hour, followed by an hour of coaching skill development. After a break we would all be back in the dojo and ready before 1:30 pm, for an hour and a half of shinpan (referee) development followed by an hour and a half of keiko.

Most evenings also included at least a mandatory hour or so, of Kendo-gu repair lessons, watching instructional videos, seeking advice form Senseis and on one occasion, attending a tea ceremony.

The week progressed perfectly on schedule, as you would expect for a Kendo seminar being conducted by eighth dan Senseis.

Most participants found the schedule and the training to be challenging, but not impossible. Injuries were only a few and fortunately none seemed to be serious. The tuition and the practice opportunities provided were hugely informative and valued by all. Some of the participants kept notes and also did some revision of the days instruction in the evenings, along with reading and re-reading parts of the various manuals on Kendo kata, shinpan and shiai and Kendo fundamentals.

The breaks between Kendo sessions never seemed long enough. That is when we had our meals, repaired shinais and bogu, washed the body and clothes, arranged gis and hakamas to dry, head to the shops for Pocari Sweat, manage injuries, run to bring in your gi and hakama when it started to rain, complete your assigned chores around the dojo and the dormitory building and then get some rest if you were lucky!

We all shared dormitory style accommodation of 8 or 9 people in each room. I guess my room was typical of the mix of nationalities; Aruba, Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Iran, Macau, Panama and Singapore and a language common to the majority was Spanish. I found that I needed to learn Spanish or Portuguese to survive in room 301!

The Gedatsu-kai Training Centre staff and volunteers all worked hard to provide a huge choice and mountains of tasty and nutritious food to very hungry foreign Kendo students and did so three times a day. The variety of taste provided was also interesting. Occasionally there were combinations of tastes that seemed strange to some of us and sparked humorous conversation. A favourite at my table was the mexican taco sauce served cold over spaghetti!

Our Korean friends also brought their own bucket of chilli sauce, which they took great humour in offering to those who they thought couldn't handle the heat! Most participants made and developed new friendships with Kendo people from all over the world, I now have dojos that I can visit (if I had the money!), in Iran, Brazil, Aruba, Gutemala, Chile, Canada and other places half a world away from Australia.

The final full day of the seminar was the culmination of all that had been learnt and naturally we were all given the opportunity to then demonstrate our improved Kendo skills during keiko with each other and as many Senseis that we could get to. During the final kata session, I was fortunate to be among ten pairs to perform all ten kata in front of the group, using kata-yo (kata practice swords) and in one of five Kendoka to also use the short sword in kata.

To conclude the seminar, we all participated in a farewell keiko, prior to the speeches and exchange of good wishes and teneguis. For an unknown reason, I was selected to then speak on behalf of all the foreign Kendo students, to thank the organisers, hosts and Senseis. This was a humbling experience also.The farewell party was fun for some and a bit of a sober event for others. The next morning was the AJKF Kendo grading exam!

The farewell party featured an act of stupidity, humour or humility provided by the occupants of each room, including the wonderful and anonymous performance by the Senseis! The traditional New Zealand war dance (haka) performed by the group from the translators' room was one very humiliating spectacle. And who would have thought that Takashi Itakura and the boys from room 302 could do a quite good taiko drum act with empty Pocari Sweat bottles?

The Kendo grading exam was conducted by the AJKF, when candidates had two one minute opportunities to demonstrate their stuff. The grading examination panel was made up of a group of 8th dan Senseis who all arrived on a bus on the morning of the grading. The chief examiner had arrived on the previous evening. He performed a management role only. None of our instructors, nor anyone else that we met at the Seminar were involved in the assessment, although some had stayed to watch the proceedings discretely and later passed on words of guidance, comfort and/or congratulations to the candidates.

Once that was over, we changed, said our goodbyes and left. Some went directly to the airport to head home while others embarked on a holiday in Japan. Some made plans to meet and train together again in places as far away as Osaka and Kyoto and others were not unpacking their bogu until they returned home.

The 29th Summer Seminar for Foreign Kendo Leaders is an event that will never be forgotten by those who were fortunate to attend and that seems also to be the case for those who have attended over many years.

If your Kendo skill level is advancing and you meet the AJKF and AKR criteria, I recommend that you make or take the opportunity to attend the Summer Seminar for Foreign Kendo Leaders. As Kate Sylvester said to me before I went "It will change your life". It did.

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