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testimonials

Jim Grace

3rd Dan


 

I started doing Kendo in January 1984, when a friend of mine, Shane Kirkwood, took me along to the YMCA in Elizabeth St one Wednesday night. The person in charge of training was Paul Macak, who seemed to run us ragged during the warm ups, then we were ushered into the "ballet" room to learn the basics whilst the main class trained in the basket ball room. Trainings in those days was the "Y" on Wednesdays nights and Sunday mornings whilst Friday nights was down at Richmond High School gymnasium, which had a very dusty worn out floor, but it never gave you any splinters and the gym has lovely wide doors, which when they were opened let in plenty of oxygen, so trainings were hard but you felt like you could go on forever


In those days the Kendo clubs were only found in the eastern states, so Easter was always the nationals and they were always in Canberra. I remember piling into a minibus with virtually the entire Victorian members ! on a Thursday night ,driving through the night and arriving in Canberra early good Friday morning. Everyone who turned up got to enter the championships and many friends were made on the Friday and Saturday nights. Then in October everyone would arrive by bus at the Y for a weekend of just general training, appearing on the calendar as Octoberfest. As this event attracted more people we out grew the Y and were forced to hire halls around the Melbourne metro area. I remember Frankston one year and Werribee another year, taking advantage of their large basketball stadiums.

There was also , or it seemed, a lot more weekend camps in those days. Lake Eildon i remember due to how cold it was. Sunday morning 6am warm ups, there were many non regulation "trackie" pants underneath hakama for that session. I suppose due to the smallness of the MKC at the time, there were many social functions at member's houses on Saturday nights followed by training Sunday mornings when Paul Macak , to warm us up, would have us run up and down the stairwell of the Y or frog hop around the edge of the basketball court. When Paul went off to Japan , Mark Wild took over taking trainings, and we thought Paul had been tough!!! Always here and there was Sensei Szwarcbord, not a Sensei in those days but always pushing himself. I remember one day at Richmond High, he had had a back injury, but he still turned up to training, spent an hour or so warming up before joining training and making all of us look like the ones with the injury.

Then there was Tadashi Harada, affectionately known as "Helicopter" due to his one handed side men cut that always came in horizontal and left your ears ringing.

The one story I remember from the World Championships in Paris 1985, where I was the bag boy for the team, was concerning Sensei Macak. We had had the afternoon off and gone sight seeing when i realised we had lost Yakov. Running back the way we had come I found him watching some workers digging a hole. When I asked what was wrong, he said, “nothing, I just wanted to see how they dug a hole”.

The other incident I remember was: Our team had been invited to the French champion's Dojo for training. Only Sensei Fennessey and myself were able to attend. The people there were very friendly and were totally amazed when I explained the whole team had to pay our own ways to get to Paris. The other thing I remember was Jamie playing a superb match against the French Champion and really dominating him.


Jim Grace



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