Page 17


Anthony Pickering

5th Dan Iaido


I remember entering the Ballarat Kendo Club back in 1988 very vividly, a very clumsy very over weight 17 year old, with a bad mullet who had seen an add placed in the local paper. The Dojo was an unused, unheated spare room above a real-estate agent. My first year was punctuated by the sound of water coming thought the pipes that ran from the roof through this room to the storm, water and by the intense Ballarat cold . It was also helped by the fact that I had fantastic teacher in Gary Oliver who was to become one of the great influences in my life.

To be blunt….… I was hooked!

To be honest I did not even know that an organization existed called the VKR, it wasn’t till I had to pay fee’s and had attended my first grading that I saw I was part of something bigger. It was to be many years latter before I learnt just how valuable being a apart of that greater picture would be.

My first years where probably the happiest as they are to everyone, it was just plain fun. We had few bogu, very few of us even used hakama and the practice of wrapping splintered shinai in electrical tape to extend the life of them was the norm but everyone in the state was just about practicing Kendo and having a good time.

This was also the formulative years of my work career and in that time I worked a lot of shift work and yet was always able to some how “con” my way to get to Thursday night trainings I also got to know the road to the YWCA very well as I started traveling there to train with the Melbourne Kendo Club for Sunday training.

During this time Kuramachi Sensei visited and latter to moved to Ballarat and I started to train in both Iaido and Jodo.

I graded in Kendo in shoDan and traveled to Japan to several times over the next few years for several months at a time to attend the Summer Camp.

This travel for the sake of training planted the seed of travel that would take me many places. The training I received expanded my horizon and made me realize that there is far more can be achieved than any of us think.

Ironically it was because of this “seed” that was planted that I actually stopped training for 4 years. After some personal issues I decided to travel and went to places as diverse as Greenland, Europe to North Africa. The bogu I took with me to England went from friends home to friend’s home for storage until I finally sent it home unused at all after 3 years

But as so often happens, it was my travels and that “seed” that brought me back. I traveled to WA and meet Ramon Lawrence who I had not seen since my first Australian Kendo Championships and took up Kendo, Iaido and Jodo again and realized how much I had missed them.

Since then I have pretty much just trained (in between the odd trip to travel). I had to have a 6 month break when I damaged my Achilles tendon in 1999 and yet still came back swinging. This injury pushed me into my Iaido to ease back into training. I took up Nito after a visit by Toda Sensei something I had seen the great John Butler practice so many years ago and had never imagined I would ever do I also heavily took up Jodo being very lucky to find a truly great teacher in Nagayama Sensei who is still my Jodo Sensei.

It was also during this time that I took on the role of the VKR secretary doing four years of the job. It was this that showed me just how lucky we where to have such an outstanding organization and to be a part of it. It has it flaws as do all such organisations but the founders of the renmei should justifiably be proud that they have created an institution that has allowed the growth of the arts far beyond anything they might have imaged at the time.

In 2004 I decided to start my own club teaching Jodo and Iaido and very quickly developed an even greater respect for those brave VKR people who started and persevered in the arts at the beginning.

I have been lucky enough to achieve my GoDan in Iaido, YonDan in Jodo, NiDan in Kendo to have won championships and learnt things I never believed I would ever be fortunate enough to learn. And even luckier to have realised how much more there is to learn.

If that overweight uncoordinated 17 year old that had walked in a Dojo in 1988 and has now trained on and off for 20 years in the VKR had simply the skills that the arts that the VKR governs he would consider himself very lucky. But there is so much more that I have been given by my association with this organisation, I have felt its influences as I travel as I work as I have climbed and as I live my daily life.

I can only offer my humblest and deepest thanks along with my congratulations to the founders of the VKR some 30years ago. In starting the VKR which has stood the test of time you have allowed me to travel a wonderful path, I hope that it continues to grant people the chances I received and look forward to another 30 years

Anthony Pickering

Page 17