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Eric Jeffrey

4th Dan - VKR Secretary


Recollections of the early days of the Victorian Kendo Renmei

In the early ‘70s I was studying Tomiki Aikido. One of my fellow students mentioned that he was interested in learning Kendo and had found a club that had just started in Melbourne. As we were using Bokken in our Aikido practice I thought it would be a great addition to our training, so the next week we turned up at the small 1st floor Dojo in Little Bourke Street. There we met Sensei Jun Takeuchi and John Butler for the first time. The year was 1975.

In those days there were not many students, so we were fortunate to receive good training in the basics of Kendo.

Training was usually on two nights during the week and on Sunday mornings. I remember that the floor of the Dojo required regular maintenance with a hammer to stop the nails from damaging our feet and that there was a shortage of Bogu and Shinai. Training was often followed by a meal at Kuni’s Japanese restaurant.

Occasionally we used to visit Japanese ships docked at various Melbourne wharves to see if any Kendo people were on board. This lead to regular visits to the club by people such as Mr. Okamoto. It was a great joy to have them visit and add to our Kendo knowledge and for us to show them the sights of Melbourne.

I recall that our first interstate Kendo trip was to Canberra in 1976, where I first met the Kendo people from Canberra and Sydney. An intense but friendly rivalry between Victorian and New South Wales Kendo developed in subsequent years at Australian Championships.

There were some important times in the history of the Renmei which seemed to lead to improved skills in the club:

In 1977 an enthusiastic contingent of Kendoka from the Victorian Kendo Renmei and from other parts of Australia attended the International Summer Seminar held in Saitama, Japan.

In 1979 we attended the 4th World Kendo Championships held in Sapporo, Japan. This was followed by another summer seminar at Saitama.

Most of all I recall the wonderful camaraderie and enduring friendships which developed amongst the members of the Victorian Kendo Renmei during these early times.

Eric Jeffrey

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